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Difference between Observance of Milad un Nabi (sws) and Seerat un Nabi (sws)

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The brief article explains the difference between present days concepts surrounding Milad un Nabi celebrations and Seerat un Nabi observance.
  Difference Between Observance of Milad un Nabi (sws) and   Seerat un Nabi (sws)   by: Syed Mujtaba Quader   What is the difference between those who follow 'Seerat un Nabi' (biography or study of the life journey of the Prophet ) and those who celebrate 'Milad un Nabi' (birth of the Prophet) ? This may not be a fair question because there are those who follow and participate in both activities and they are true followers and 'ashiqs' (lovers) of Rasulullah. But it seems that there is a clear distinction between the two because a silent and subtle controversy is raging among the Islamic intelligentsia about the transcendence and acceptability of one concept over the other. The followers of 'Milad un Nabi' or `Mawlid’,  observe and celebrate the birth of the Prophet on the 12th day of Rabiul Awal each year with vigour and fervour. This is done in a manner similar to Christians who celebrate the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ on Christmas Day each year as their greatest religious festival. Celebrating 'Mawlid', involves merrymaking, parading, offering gratitude to the Almighty for having sent the Prophet and importantly, showering praise and honour upon the Prophet as if he was alive and physically present. Fostering an emotional and spiritual bond to the Prophet is a vital element of 'Mawlid' rituals. Recounting the glorious life of the Prophet and discussing various aspects and phases of his life, as is the object of 'Seerat un Nabi', or 'Seerah', are also some of the methods of 'Mawlid'. In this respect 'Mawlid' encompasses the objectives of 'Seerah' observance, and yet, is different from it in fundamental ways. 'Seerat un Nabi' observance on the other hand demands rituals and rites of a different nature, since it is mainly a contemplation and study of the Prophet's life for the purpose of emulation and ultimate absorption and incorporation in one's own life. This is done in the thought that molding one’s life in the character and practices of the Prophet would earn one the favour of the Almighty and therefore  guarantee him a place in Paradise. Personal, emotional attachment to the persona of the Prophet is not considered a necessity because the Prophet is not thought of as being alive, present or amenable to being reached. The will of Almighty Allah is all important and the only focal point. However, followers of 'Seeratun Nabi' also hold parades and assemblies specially in the month of the Prophet’s birth, Rabiul Awal, which is somehow inconsistent with the fundamental purpose of 'Seeratun Nabi' observance, which is not bound by monthly or time constraints. It is possible that the followers of the 'Seerah' use these ceremonies only to differentiate themselves from ‘Mawlid’  followers specifically in the month of Rabiul Awal, but by following the very practices of 'Mawlid' followers who they oppose. The efforts of some Islamic Ullema, of the 'Seerat un Nabi' fold, to assert and establish a different approach to the understanding of the role of the Prophet in Islam is actually a manifestation of how they perceive the persona of the Prophet, past and present. The Prophet is thought of as being dead and irrelevant to the present time except in the context of the legacy that he had left behind in the  journey of his life which if followed meticulously in the present time would automatically lead Muslims to Paradise. The followers of 'Mawlid' on the other hand consider the Prophet alive spiritually, if not in other corporeal ways, and desire to cultivate a spiritual proximity to him as a means of obtaining Paradise, but also as a goal on its own merit, ultimately achieving merger with the Prophet’s being itself  . The matter of the celebration of ‘ Miladun Nabi ’  and ‘ Seeratun Nabi ’  in its present context actually goes into the core values and beliefs of the religion of Islam. Followers of ‘ Miladun Nabi ’  believe that the Prophet of Islam played in the past, and also plays in the present an active role in the Muslims’  effort to reach salvation in the world of Allah, whereas the followers of ‘ Seeratun Nabi ’  believe that an active role of the Prophet in the life of Muslims has ceased, and the only benefit that they can derive from him is from his legacy alone, in the form of the  Hadees literature and otherwise. The physical manifestation of these two forms of thought is seen in the behavior of its followers : the ‘ Milad un Nabi ’  followers being propelled towards Sufiism and its manifestations, and the ‘ Seerat un Nabi ’  followers being drawn to Wahabism, Salafism and its manifestations.
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