We are already in the fourth day of Rabi’ul awwal today. Rabi’ul awaal (ربيع الأول) is the third month in the Islamic calendar. The significance of this month is of course the Maulidur Rasul or the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the twelfth of this month. The corresponding Gregorian calendar would be next Thursday, 20 March 2008, and yes it is a public holiday for Brunei.
Muslims are encouraged to recite the selawat or praises to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) more in this month. As a tradition for Brunei, the national level celebration is held annually on the 12th of Rabi’ul awwal at the Taman in the capital and the other three districts. There would be Quran recitals, zikir and selawat and special sermon. This would be followed by the mass procession where each year, it would never fail to reach up to almost a third of the population.
I remember taking part in the procession when I was small. There would be banners and slogans and even competitions for the best banner and the most disciplined team. Those who do not know what’s happening might thought that there were some kind of mass demonstration going on.
Hundreds of people flocked very early to the Taman, representing schools, departments, association and what-have-you, reciting the selawat. I would usually yelled at the top of my lungs doing that, something which was considered un-lady-like but hey, I was small then.
Many years back, even in the 80’s, women and girls were allowed to march with the procession. However there was one particular year, couldn’t remember which, sorry, the format changed where the women were to hold a separate national level Maulud event at the ICC. I remember there was also one time when the ladies (and girls) were asked to stay behind at the Taman rather than taking part in the procession.
Anyway, procession or not, the idea of celebrating the Maulidur Rasul is actually to follow Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) lifestyle and teachings, in all aspects such as marriage (ehem); conducting business; leadership and family.