As we start our run-up-to-Christmas parties, a lot of us are unaware that today most Muslim countries in the world have one of the biggest celebrations of the year.
It is different from country to country, but in many there is a carnival type celebration with parades. Homes and city streets are decorated. There is a lot of singing and the reading of the 13th century poem, Qasida Burda (The Travellers). Charity and food are distributed. There are sweets for children and pageants in which they recite stories or poetry about Muhammad’s life.
Born in Mecca in 570 Muhammad is believed by Muslims to be the last living prophet.
During his lifetime it was common to go to the desert to learn Arab traditions. This was where one would learn the qualities of self-discipline, nobility, and freedom. Besides, the city was corrupt and the desert offered respite.
It also enabled one to learn the eloquent Arabic of the Bedouins. Muhammed was sent there as a baby and spent several years there. It was in the desert that two angels appeared to him.
As he grew into manhood, he became a respected member of the community who was known for his good looks and generosity. He continued to go to the desert for meditation and when he was 40, was visited by the archangel Gabriel. His preaching of the revelations gained him thousands of followers and would later form the basis of the Qur’an.
Throughout his life he continued to have revelations.
Continually these revelations taught of equality and peace in a 7th century Arabia.
He lived to be 60. In his farewell sermon at his final pilgrimage, he said,
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”