During those wee hours, my thoughts turned to Mohammed - a winning point going to my pre-dawn muezzin who apparently did his job very thoroughly this morning. It was either that or the dogs. So my thoughts ran (or more accurately stumbled) like this: if the Prophet Mohammed (the PM) were alive now, he'd be turning 1437 (give or take a year) on Sunday, as this weekend marks the Mawlidu n-Nabiy, or the PM's birthday. Or roughly 205 in dog years. (The dogs got under my skin this morning).
So, you ask, how does one celebrate the PM's birthday? Well if you ask a number of our students, one does not assign homework as that pretty much defiles the sancity of the day. I suspect, that given the opportunity, the same students would trot out the same tripe on Groundhog Day and Secretary's Day, but who knows. One cannot help but think that if Allah hadn't wanted them to have homework, then I would not have handed out exercise sheets for them to do. After all, he is "the most powerful".
Now not all Muslim countries consider the Mawlid a bonafide custom - the fun-seekers in Saudi Arabia being a notable, but not sole, example. "Celebrating the Mawlid is an innovation introduced by the Shi’a Faatimids after the three best centuries in order to corrupt the religion of the Muslims". So yes, on the Islamic Dogmatic Metre, it doesn't fare very well. Nonetheless, the celebration entered the mainstream some eight hundred years ago and became a public observance. But I digress. So how is the day celebrated?
Processions are held, homes or mosques are decorated, charity and food is distributed, stories about the life of Prophet Muhammad are narrated, dhikr (the repetition of holy names & such) and poems are recited by children.Okay, this isn't too bad, given that good Muslims are refrained from celebrating their own birthdays. It certainly doesn't sound like the police are going to be called in at 3 in the morning, but it could be worse. Now if I were the birthday boy, if I were the PM, how would I want my birthday to be celebrated?
1) Cake. There has to be cake. How can you have a birthday without cake? My preference is yellow cake with chocolate icing. And big pretty roses that I would get first choice of. Or better yet, a big cake slab decorated with my image - I can just hear a gazillion generations of God-fearing Muslims rolling over in their graves. (Thank you Mr. N for that party suggestion). And lots of candles too - afterall, I want to get a wish.
2) Champagne. Lots of it. No tea, no juice, no coffee - champagne. There should be so many corks popping that every cat in the Muslim world will be hiding under beds, cars, and chairs for a fortnight afterwards.
3) Fireworks. If, as many believe, I revealed the word of God to the world, then I should get a big freaking fireworks display. I want pyrotechnic engineers to work on this all year. If my believers don't develop accute tinnitus then I'd be majorly peeved.
4) A Party in which I would invite Buddha, Confucius and Jesus. Discussions of politics and religion would be verboten but many many rounds of "happy birthday" would be encouraged. Presents are optional (Jesus gets presents). I'd like themed parties too - something different every year. As the PM, I'd be tired of the same old, same-old. Maybe one year a Hawaiian luau, another year a Hello Kitty! theme. Perhaps a murder-weekend. There would definitely have to be a planning committee (perhaps Mr. N would be up for the challenge?).
5) Ponies and/or donkeys. For the kids. Okay, for the adults too.
5) No puppet shows. I hate puppets. They're just little clowns. Which leads us to ...
6) No clowns. Enough said. No animal balloons either.
7) No blasting of recitations - even those in my honour - from loudspeakers. I already know how great I am.
8) World Peace and Mutual Understanding. Just kidding. I hate when people waste a wish on that.
So there we go: a birthday party fit for a Prophet. When Sunday dawns and there are no pony rides and only the squawking of loudspeakers, good odds someone will be not a little disappointed. Of course, that someone will probably just be me. But chances are, that when Sunday dawns, all I'll probably hear is the splash splash beep beep splash splash, as Rabat is once again inundated with its mercurial rain patterns.
Happy Birthday PM! Hope you blow out all your candles!