Egypt celebrates Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday on 12 Rabi al-Awwal. One tradition has it that Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday first began to be celebrated among the gentry of Egypt during the early years of Islam. And today the tradition lives on and is enshrined as a national public holiday.
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While a minority of Muslims in Egypt object to the keeping of Mawlid al-Nabi, “the birthday of the prophet”, as a time of celebration on religious grounds, most take part heartily. The streets and mosques of Cairo and other major cities will be well lit on this day each year, and crowds will be bustling up and down the streets.
As in other Muslim lands, the prophet’s birthday celebration is a time to attend special mosque services, recite the Koran, and greet friends and relatives. In Egypt, it’s also a time when food is donated to the poor and kids are given candy and treats.
The most distinctive Mawlid tradition in Egypt is giving doll-shaped pieces of candy to kids. The candy dolls are often dressed up in cloth clothes or even hold a paper accordion.