French leader Napolean restarted Miladun-Nabi festival while Salahiddin Ayubi stopped it

Miladun-Nabi was purposely stopped by Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi, and later restarted by French military commander Napolean Bonaparte.

After defeating the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt, Saladin abolished all the ceremonies and celebrations that Fatimids had in Egypt.

Researchers say that he was aiming to strengthen the state to be able to face external threats, and that he also wanted to uproot the Shiite doctrine by erasing all social events that characterized the Fatimid era.

No textual evidence can be found regarding the Milaadun-Nabi celebrations from Prophet himself nor his companions, while it was introduced by a Shitte King of Erbil in the seventh century.

Miladun-Nabi was purposely stopped by Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi, and later restarted by French military commander Napolean Bonaparte.

According to the famous Muslim scholar, Ibn Katheer in his book al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya, Miladun-Nabi was first introduced by a Shitte king – Muzaffaruddin Abu Saeed Kowkaburi – “he used to decorate the festival/gathering of Eid Milad in the Rabbi ul Awwal and one Sheikh Ibne Dehiya gave a book prepared concerning to this Milad on which this king happily gave 1000 Dinar to Ibne Dehiya, the (people who) entered to the prepared/decorated festival/gathering of Muzaffaruddin describes the scene this way that there were numerous camels, cows and goats used to be slaughtered for entertainment with same there were halwa (dense sweet confection), gathering used to begin by Zuhr (noon) till Fajr (Dawn) and along with mystic, king also used to dance.”

During the Mamluk era, sultans were keen to hold religious celebrations and to celebrate the Prophet’s birth in particular, but it was not that great.

Politics exploiting the Prophet’s birth did not only happen in the Middle Ages, it also extended to the modern era.

In August 1798, which was the second month for Napoleon in Cairo, it was the day to celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birth, and the famous French leader realized that he can exploit this occasion to his benefit in Egypt.

The Egyptian historian Abdulrahman al-Jabarti gave a precise description for what happened on that occasion in his famous book “The Marvelous Chronicles: Biographies and Events”.

In the book he says: “The Leader of Napoleon’s army asked why Egyptians were not celebrating the birth of the Prophet as usual, and Sheikh Khalil al-Bakri, apologized and said that the celebrations have stopped.

“The leader refused his answer and gave him money for celebrating and ordered putting up decorations.”

On the occasion, the book says that the French gathered and Napoleon joined al-Azhar sheikhs and supervised the festival night.

Napoleon participated in the festival by eating with his bare hands, which was how the Egyptian used to eat at that time, and he listened to the Sufi singers who praised the Prophet, according to the book.

After the French left Egypt, Egyptians kept celebrating the birth of the Prophet.

Article extracted from Al Arabiya English.