Monday, March 9, 2009

Moulid el Nabi

Today is a holiday in Egypt. It's an Islamic holiday, Moulid el Nabi, and it celebrates the birth of Mohammed. I don't know much about the birth and life of Mohammed, so I won't try to give any history of this holiday or its origins.

I looked online for information about Moulid el Nabi and how it's celebrated, so I could share that information here. However, I wasn't able to find anything. Fortunately, my Arabic teacher, Hatem, likes to share information about local holidays and practices when the occasion comes up. For example, just after his first son was born, he taught me the words for "pregnant" and "give birth"; he also taught me about the subua (a celebration held seven days after a baby's birth).

According to Hatem, there are two primary ways that Egyptians celebrate Moulid el Nabi. The first way is not something that the Quran or Islam dictates, but I bet it's the celebration that the children enjoy the most. They make sweets to give to the children. The most well-known sweets for Moulid el Nabi are sugar dolls for the girls and sugar horses for the boys. However, they also make hummuseyya (hummus and sugar), sudaneyya (peanuts and sugar), mishmisheyya (apricot and sugar), and gozanhind (made of figs, coconut, and rolls).

The second way that Moulid el Nabi is celebrated, and the Islamic way of celebrating (according to Hatem; I have no idea myself), is with the reading of the Quran. This usually occurs at home. The celebrant is to read the Quran and to remember and emulate the life of Mohammed. On this day, a few large, well-known mosques may hold festivals, but this type of celebration is not the best way of celebrating Moulid el Nabi. Arabic-language television stations also show Islamic movies on this day, rather than the usual more secular fare.

Hatem also told me that the traditional greeting on Moulid el Nabi is "Kollesana tatuib," which means roughly the same as "Many happy returns." I know that "kollesana" means "all years," but I'm not sure of the literal translation of "tatuib." I'll just take Hatem's word for it that it's the appropriate greeting today.

So I say to all the Muslims and Muslimahs out there ... Kollesana tatuib!


  1. Kull sana we enta tayieb
    kull - every
    sana - year
    we - and
    enta - you
    tayieb - good

    we Copts say it too in our feasts cuz it's not an Islamic traditional greeting in Islamic holidays only, it's a general greeting.

  2. Thank you, Bastawisi! Looks like I missed a couple of words there.

  3. very interesting. i am always up for a reason to celebrate. by the way - your comment on my blog totally cracked me up. thanks for starting my day off right! :)


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