Mawlid (Eid Milad an-Nabi) (Qur'anic Arabic: مَوْلِدُ آلنَبِيِّ mawlidu n-nabiyyi, “Birth of the Prophet” Standard Arabic: مولد النبي mawlid an-nabī, sometimes simply called in colloquial Arabic مولد , mawlid, múlid, mulud, milad among other vernacular pronunciations) is a term used to refer to the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which occurs in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.
carnival manner, large street processions are held and homes or mosques are decorated. Charity and food Mawlid falls in the month of Rabi' al-awwal in the Islamic calendar. Shias observe the event on the 17th of the month, coinciding with the birth date of their sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq, while Sunnis observe it on the 12th of the month. As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the corresponding date in the Gregorian calendar varies each year. The following table gives a list of dates showing the date Mawlid will be observed. In 2007, Mawlid fell on March 31 for the Sunnis or April 5 for the Shi’as.
Approximate dates for Mawlid, 2008-2013  Gregorian Year 12th of Rabi'-ul-Awwal
The earliest accounts for the observance of Mawlid can be found in eighth-century Mecca, when the house in which Muhammad was born was transformed into a place of prayer by Al-Khayzuran (mother of Harun al-Rashid, the fifth and most famous Abbasid caliph). The early celebrations included elements of Sufic influence, with animal sacrifices and torchlight processions along with public sermons and a feast. The celebrations occurred during the day, in contrast to modern day observances, with the ruler playing a key role in the ceremonies. Emphasis was given to the Ahl al-Bayt with presentation of sermons and recitations of the Qur'an. The event also featured the award of gifts to officials in order to bolster support for the ruling caliph.
The first public celebrations by Sunnis took place in twelfth-century Syria, under the rule of Nur ad-Din Zangi Though there is no firm evidence to indicate the reason for the adoption of the Shi'ite festival by the Sunnis, some theorise the celebrations took hold to counter Christian influence in places such as Spain and Morocco. Theologians denounced the celebration of Mawlid as unorthodox, and the practice was briefly halted by the Ayoubides when they came to power, becoming an event confined to family circles. It regained status as an official event again in 1207 when it was re-introduced by Muzaffar ad-din, the brother-in-law of Saladin, in Arbil, a town near Mosul, Iraq.
The practice spread throughout the Muslim world, assimilating local customs, to places such as Cairo, where folklore and Sufic practices greatly influenced the celebrations. By 1588 it had spread to the court of Murad III, Sultan of the Ottoman empire. In 1910, it was given official status as a national festival throughout the Ottoman empire. Today it is an official holiday in many parts of the world.
 Legality of Mawlid
Islamic scholars are divided on whether observing Mawlid is necessary or even permissible in Islam. Some see it as a praiseworthy event and positive development, while others say it is an improper innovation and forbid its celebration.
A number of Islamic scholars, such as Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki, Gibril Haddad, and Zaid Shakir, all subscribing to the Sufi movement, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the primary scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, have given their approval for the observance of Mawlid. They cite hadith where Muhammad recommended fasting on Mondays, as that was the day he was born and also the day prophecy descended on him. They suggest that fasting on Mondays is also a way of commemorating Muhammad's birthday. However, there is division among them on the lawfulness of the methods of the celebrations. Most accept that it is praiseworthy as long as it is not against sharia (i.e. inappropriate mingling of the sexes, consuming forbidden food or drink such as alcohol, playing music etc).
Notable scholars who consider Mawlid to be bid'ah and forbid its celebration include Muhammad Taqi Usmani, a Hanafi scholar from Pakistan who has served as a judge on the Shariah Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and subscribes to the Deobandi movement, and Abd-al-Aziz ibn Abd-Allah ibn Baaz, who was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia subscribing to the Salafi movement. Although all agree that the birth of Muhammad was the most significant event in Islamic history, they point out that the companions of Muhammad and the next generation of Muslims did not observe this event. Furthermore, they highlight that Muhammad did not observe the birth or death anniversaries of his family and loved ones, including that of his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, nor did he advise his followers to observe his birthday.
Milad Procession in India.
Blackburn, UK Under supervision of Shaykh Sufi Riaz Ahmed Naqshbandi Aslami
Where Mawlid is celebrated in a carnival manner, large street processions are held and homes or mosques are decorated. Charity and food is distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children. Scholars and poets celebrate by reciting Qaṣīda al-Burda Sharif, the famous poem by 13th century Arabic Sufi Busiri.
Mawlid is celebrated in most Muslim countries, and in other countries where Muslims have a presence, such as India, Britain, and Canada.       Saudi Arabia is the only Muslim country where Mawlid is not an official public holiday. Participation in the ritual celebration of popular Islamic holidays is seen as an expression of the Islamic revival.
Among non-Muslim countries, India is noted for its Mawlid festivities. The relics of Muhammed are displayed after the morning prayers in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir at Hazratbal shrine, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Shab-khawani night-long prayers held at the Hazratbal shrine are attended by thousands.
During Pakistan's Mawlid celebration, the national flag is hoisted on all public buildings, and a 31 gun salute in the federal capital and a 21 gun salute at the provincial headquarters are fired at dawn. The cinemas shows religious rather than secular films on 11th and 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal.
 Other uses of the term
In some countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, Mawlid is used as a generic term for the celebration of birthdays of local Sufi saints and not only restricted to the observance of the birth of Muhammad. Around 3,000 Mawlid celebrations are held each year and attended by tens of thousands of people. These festivals attract an international audience, with the largest one in Egypt attracting up to three million people honouring Ahmed el-Bedawi, a local 13th Century Sufi saint.