Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday is a public holiday in Sudan and is observed by most of the population, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. Since Sudan is mostly Sunni, Muhammad’s Birthday is celebrated on 12 Rabi al-Awwal instead of on 17 Rabi al-Awwal as the Shia calculation would have it.
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What’s different in Sudan when it comes to Muhammad’s Birthday is that the celebration starts 12 days early. There are nearly two weeks of celebration culminating on the prophet’s birthday itself.
Al-Mawlid al-Nabawi, “the birthday of the prophet”, has been celebrated by Muslims since the early days of Islam, being instituted by many of the immediate successors of Muhammad’s first “inner circle” of followers. Nonetheless, since it’s not taught in the Koran, those of the Salafi sect in Sudan consider it an unworthy “innovation”.
The Sufi strand of Islam embraces Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday with the most enthusiasm. They gather in public squares to recite Koranic verses, pray, hear lectures on Muhammad’s life and teachings, and carry on other traditions.
The majority in Sudan, however, don’t care much about the dispute about celebrating the prophet’s birthday. They may stop by the public square on Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday and buy some occasion-specific candy for their kids. But they neither get heavily involved nor oppose the holiday’s events.