|Part of the Prophet's Masjid showing the green dome|
above the final resting place of the Prophet SAAW
Maulid has been celebrated here as far back as I can remember. When I was younger I used to attend the Maulid recitals (poetry composed in honor of the Prophet SAAW) during the first 12 days of Rabiul Awal at Masjid India Kuala Lumpur. I even took part in the Maulid procession that was held from Stadium Merdeka to Masjid Negara in those days.
These days there are some who speak against this practice of celebrating Maulid. They claim that this is a new innovation (bida'ah). They say that the Prophet SAAW nor his Noble Companions celebrated it, neither did any of the Imams of the Four Schools of Jurisprudence.
They go on to claim that this was started by the Fatimid Caliphs in Egypt who were Shiites. This is probably true and for the same reasons why Governments today sponsor concerts i.e. to lull the population into a feeling of complacency and/or contentment.
To be fair to these people, no one knows when exactly the Prophet SAAW was born. Various historians have proposed various dates. They are not even agreed on the month. While many give the year as 'the year of the elephant', there are those who place it a few years after or even before that year. I have read one narration claiming the birth occurred 15 years before the year of the elephant.
The only thing certain from authentic traditions (hadith) is the the Prophet SAAW was born on a Monday. That was why he (SAAW) used to fast on Mondays.
Hey! Wait a minute, doesn't this mean that the Prophet SAAW did celebrate his (SAAW) birthday every week? The Companions used to follow him (SAAW) as do many of us to this day. So where does this "The Prophet SAAW and his Companions NEVER celebrated his (SAAW) birthday" come from? If by "it" they mean that we should not be celebrating the Maulid only annually but on a more frequent interval, then I think we should all agree.
Maybe it is the poetry recital that these people are against. I do not understand Arabic, so I have to rely on translations. The poems for the most part trace the life of the Prophet SAAW and his achievements. In one or two places though the praise heaped on the Prophet SAAW is rather excessive. I don't know if this is what the poet meant or if it's just what was understood by the translator. Either way, the proper thing would be to correct the mistake rather than 'ban' the poem.
We are living some fourteen hundred over years from the time of the Prophet SAAW and it is always a good idea to re-connect with the Prophet SAAW by reading his SAAW seerah (life history) listening to lectures on it. The Maulid celebrations provide an opportunity for this to happen.
One thing we are surely missing in our lives is the ADAB (often translated as 'good manners' and/or 'courtesy' but I think it means very much more than these) thought by the Prophet SAAW. When we do that, all this bickering among ourselves will be a thing of the past.
Coming back to "Should we or shouldn't we?" I respect whatever your choice, but do have the adab to respect the choice of others who may differ from you.