Media reports claim that the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) has blocked efforts by Muslims to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.
In Iraq, the Muslim community is used to making elaborate preparations for Eid al-Mawlid al-Nabi [Festival of the Birth of the Prophet], which is a time of great joy and happiness, especially in Mosul. ISIL has been in control of the city since July last year. According to Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency, Imams were told not to mention the birthday in their Friday sermons.
At least 50 Imams, reported Anadolu, have been removed from their positions as khatib (Friday preacher) and placed under house arrest for disobeying the ISIL order. One said that the Imams were told by ISIL that such a birthday celebration is “against Islamic beliefs” and that the people have been banned from holding any commemoration of the Prophet’s birthday. Prophet Muhammad is believed to have been born on the 12th of the Islamic lunar month of Rabi al-Awwal, which this year will correspond to either the 4th or 5th of January.
Opponents of ISIL point out that this move reflects the strict interpretation of Islam being imposed by the group. Christian Iraqis were also prevented from celebrating the New Year.