The seventeenth of Rabi’ al-Awwal is the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah – may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his Household. This is the famous opinion adopted by the Imamiyyah scholars. It is well-known that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was born in Makkah, in his house, at the break of the morning of Friday in the year known as “The Elephant Year” during the reign of the Anushirwan, the fair king of Persia (also called Khosrow the Just).
Also, on the seventeenth of Rabi’ al-Awwal, AH 83, Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq(a.s.) was born. This event has added further honor to this day.
In brief, the devotional acts that should be practiced on this holy day are as follows:
First: it is recommended to bathe oneself on this day.
Second: It is recommended to observe fasting on this day, since this brings about many rewards. In this respect, it is narrated that to observe fasting on this day brings about the reward of observing fasting for a whole year. It is, in fact, one of the four days the observance of fasting on which has been exclusively confirmed.
Third: It is recommended to visit the tomb of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) from near or remote distance.
Fourth: It is recommended to visit the tomb of Imam AliAmeer al-Momineen(a.s.) with the form of Ziyarah that Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq(a.s.) taught to Muhammad ibn Muslim. This form will be cited in the coming book of Ziyarat.
Fifth: It is recommended to offer, in the forenoon, a two unit prayer and to recite at each of which Surah al-Faatehah once and repeat Surah al-Qadr ten times and Surah al-Tawheed ten times. After accomplished, it is recommended to sit in one’s place of prayer and say the supplicatory prayer that begins with the following statement:
اللّهمّ انت حىّ لا تموت
Because I could not find this lengthy supplicatory prayer reported from any of the Holy Infallibles (a.s.), I will not mention it herein for fear of lengthiness. Yet, it is found in the book of Zad al-Ma’ad.
Sixth: Muslims are advised to honor this day; they may give alms, do righteous deeds, give pleasure to the brethren-in-faith, and visit the holy mausoleums. In Iqbal al-A’mal, Sayyid Ibn Tawus has expatiated upon the necessity of honoring this day, saying, “I noticed that Christians and some Muslims honor the birthday of Prophet Jesus (a.s.) in a matchless, remarkable way. I thus wonder how those Muslims accept to honor the birthday of their Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in a way less than their honoring another Prophet!”b