Palestinians in Nablus mark Al-Mawlid with special social, religious traditions
Thousands of Palestinians flow to Nablus annually to mark birth anniversary of Muslim Prophet Muhammad on Al-Mawlid
On the roads of the old city of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, Mais Shafie walks among the crowds gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad, offering gifts and sweets to family and friends.
Shafie, a social activist and resident of Nablus, is used to observing these customs that the city is known for in Palestine during the celebrations in the schools as they mark the day, known as Mawlid al-Nabawi.
In preparation for Al-Mawlid, social committees hang decorations around home entrances, markets and along the roads in the old city, where the main celebration take place with the participation of thousands from all over the country.
"Al-Mawlid for us is a festival, the city begins its preparations a week before the day of Al-Mawlid, the young people in the neighborhoods compete to hang the most beautiful decorations," Shafie told Anadolu Agency.
The people of Nablus used to offer sweets everywhere, at homes, as well as in shops, mosques, and on the street on Al-Mawlid, so sweets shops work hard during the celebrations.
Still, most do not shy away from lowering their prices in reverence of the day to honor the day and the Prophet Muhammad, whom it honors.
Shafie also mentioned how songs praising the prophet reverberate through the city via loudspeakers until the end of the day and tradespeople give sweets and coffee to people in the streets.
People also visit family and friends on Al-Mawlid, said Shafie, recounting how her father would visit his sisters with gifts as part of this custom.
"It's an important tradition that every family has to give gifts to their daughters, whether they are married or not, and the best gift is the almond covered with chocolate and a piece of gold," she said.
As a life-long Nablus resident, Shafie recalled how families meet at the home of their matriarch to have a meal together before the evening celebrations in the old city.
Religious celebrations are spread across several mosques from midday until sunset. The Al-Salahi mosque which is the largest in the old city begins the celebrations with sermons on the life and personality of the prophet, until the afternoon prayer, known as Asr.
After this, people gather in the courtyard of Al Nasr mosque awaiting the Sufi Shaikh Nazmi band which begins with performs religious songs on its way from the west of the old city to its east .
"During the day, the children wear traditional Syrian or Turkish clothes and distribute candies in the city or receive it," said Shafie.
Known as little Damascus, Nablus has historically been a commercial and social link to the city that is today Syrian's capital, affecting its religious and social identity in a unique way not found in other Palestinian cities.
A religious women's group known as the Fadwa sisters that are relatives of Fadwa Homied, an Islamic icon in Nablus, also has its special Al-Mawlid traditions. Members of the group stay at the home of one of the sisters, where they hold religious sermons and give handouts to the needy.
"They do their celebrations in several stages. The morning until the midday is for young girls and after them come the older women until sunset. They are a highly organized group known for their by their social impact, particularly on religious days," Shafie told Anadolu Agency.