Asad Tahir Jappa
The 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal is an occasion of rare festivity and religious zeal when Muslims across the globe celebrate the birth of our holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also known as Eid Milad-un-Nabi. Although, Eid Milad-un-Nabi is celebrated by the vast majority, there are some odd voices who not only term the celebration a bid’a or shirk but also raise their eyebrows over the validity of the day as 3rd Eid for Muslims. The answer is simple. Eid Milad-un-Nabi is neither a Bid’a nor any addition to prescribed Eid of Adhaa and Fitr. Instead, it’s a matter of language. In Arabic language, the translation of the word birthday is “Eid Milad”. Since it is the birthday of Nabi, it is, therefore, called Eid Milad-un-Nabi. It is not the issue of two or three Eids but a linguistic one that many people are unaware of.
There is Quranic evidence as well wherein the birthdays of Prophets (peace be upon them) are declared as blessed days by Allah and Prophets themselves. For instance, Surah Maryam Ayat 15 says, “So peace on him (Yahya Alaihissalam) the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)! Similarly, Ayat 33 of Surah says, “So peace is on me (Eesa Alaihissalam) the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!” There is no denying the fact that the beliefs, values and ideas of religious traditions have made and will continue to make significant contributions to the development of human societies and cultures. It is a widely acknowledged fact that the religion provides a frame of reference for understanding the world and for guiding personal and communal action.
It is realization of this fact that government of Pakistan is making efforts to put the country on the path of “Riasat-e-Madina” and for the purpose, announcement of Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalamin (PBUH) Authority by PM Imran Khan is indeed a watershed development. Regrettably, both ideas have been targeted in a traditional manner by the opponents thus making it even more important to highlight why such an authority and a concept of welfare state are imperative in today’s world. In a recently held Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalamin (PBUH) Conference to which he addressed as chief guest, PM IK announced formation of Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalamin (PBUH) authority comprising of religious scholars. A few stated objectives of the authority are; spread the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings among children and adults and make it relevant to their lives, educate the world about the Prophet’s (PBUH) life and that Islam is a religion of humanity, promote a culture of fairness and accountability. monitor the schools’ curriculum and courses on the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) biography, teach other religions such as Hindu[ism] and Sikh[ism] side-by-side as all religions talk about humanity. promote research in universities such as the causes behind the sudden ascent of Muslims after Islam’s arrival as well as analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of western culture, monitoring the media including all mediums from print to social media; media content development to introduce Islamic culture to our children.
Religion is a system of sacred belief and practices both in the tangible and intangible form. It can serve the dual role of ideology as well as institution. It acts as an agency of socialization. Thus, religion helps in building values like love, empathy, respect, and harmony. Islam established a clear system of worship, laws about how to live life, civil rights, political rights, social issues and rights, laws of marriage and divorce, inheritance rights and all others which we deal with our daily life routine. Islam is a complete code of life and its teachings transcend beyond all times and climes. They have universal appeal and are relevant to our daily life even today. They will continue to act as beacon of light and guidance till eternity. On the other hand, the so-called glory and gleam of West is on the wane. Patrick J. Buchnan in his book “the Death of the West” highlights that the West is dying. The western civilization, culture, and moral order are passing away and foresee a new world order that has terrifying implications for our freedom, our faith, and the preeminence of American democracy. Glenn Dinesen’s work “The Decay of Western Civilization and Resurgence of Russia: Between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft” highlights that Europe/ western civilization is at critical juncture because of the imbalance between civic nationalism (liberalism/ modern society) and the ethno-cultural and religious (traditional community). By trying to exist solely on civic nationalism, Europe has lost its way. A conceptual article highlighting causes of state collapse said, “For the Ming, the Mughal, the Romans, and Venetian states, what began in exuberant phases of intense state-building effort, ended when the leadership inexplicably undermined the core values and practices. As a result, the societal threads of effective cooperation and security were torn, and once prosperous nations and empires were exposed to the dual threats of invasion and decline.
Ben Ryan in his book “How the West Was Lost” argued that the EU’s lack of values or appeals to humanity is symptomatic of the West’s decline. “The EU has lost the ability to articulate a moral endpoint that resonates with its citizens. The economic means of the 1950s have become the political ends of the 2010s.” Likewise, the EU is also on the decline. Civic strife in France grows worse with each passing month while the emergence of populist parties in Germany, Italy, Spain and Hungary suggest that the road ahead will be rocky and tumultuous.
Keeping this in view, the official 10-day celebrations of Eid-Milad-un-Nabi is a welcome development and a step in right direction within a society that has been polarizing along religious lines. Formation of Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalamin (PBUH) authority is an excellent initiative to address all the challenges faced by Muslim world in general including Islamophobia. As Muslims, we must thank our lucky stars that we have been eternally blessed to have the Hazrat Muhammad(PBUH) as our guide, role model and the benefactor. His life and manners are the best available model for us which if implemented can carve a path of progress, growth and welfare for the state and society of Pakistan in particular and the Muslim world in general. Following the path of Sunnah under guidance of enlightened and moderate scholars from all over the world, will serve as a befitting response to hostile states working on dividing Muslims all over the world along sectarian lines. The criticism to ideas like Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalamin (PBUH) authority or Riasat-e-Madina exposes own hypocrisies in the name of religion and Islam which ultimately give reasons to adversaries to exploit and use Muslims against each other.
Therefore, it can safely be inferred that PM IK’s initiative is an important milestone towards restoring values of fairness and justice in a society with critical focus on Muslim religious code, including practices like charitable giving, prayer, and honoring one’s parents are virtually identical to those of Christianity and Judaism. But western conservatives promote alarmist notions about a nearly 1,500-year-old religion for a variety of sinister political, financial, and ideological motives. Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalamin (PBUH) initiative is and would be a rational answer to such propaganda in coming days. It is time that through our acts and utterances, we must prove that we are the proud progeny of the last and the best of all Prophets- Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) sent for the guidance of mankind. By all means, he carries the seal of Prophet-hood. We strongly believe that only by following his glorious footprints and eternal teachings, we can model our lives to make the best of both the worlds. The sooner we realize our rare privilege and its compelling imperatives, the better. Let us make our actions do the talking!