Happiness and joyous celebrations have filled the streets and mosques of Mosul to celebrate the birth of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. This is the first time in three years that the people of Mosul are able to celebrate this occasion, making it a particularly special celebration. It is symbolic of the freedom regained after the end of ISIS and the relief felt by millions of Iraqis that lived under the militant group.
Under ISIS rule, religious practices and forms of expression were greatly restricted in towns and cities across Iraq’s northern and western regions. People of different sects were targeted and systematically killed. The militants followed and tried to propagate a puritanical interpretation of Islam that forbade even the most benign practices. Among these practices was the celebration of the birth of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad known as the Milad ul-Nabi.
The Mawlid of the Prophet of Islam is a celebrated widely across Iraq by Muslims of various sects, and across the entire Muslim world. For many Muslims it is a time of happiness and joy and a time to remember the Prophet of Islam. However, for ISIS, such commemorations are considered heretical and are forbidden.
During these three years of terror, numerous reports emerged of widespread arrests of those who celebrated this occasion as well as active purges of mosques that hosted, encouraged or did not condemn these celebrations.
However, today in the city of Mosul, streets and markets are decorated in celebration of the momentous occasion, and mosques have opened up to all those joining in in the celebrations.
The feelings felt by Moslawis across the city are summarised by a tribal sheikh attending the celebrations: “This city is used to celebrating the birth of God’s Messenger every year. However, in previous years, when ISIS occupied this city, people refrained and were scared to celebrate this occasion. Light is shining back on this city, which was freed from those terrorists by the hands of good men.”