The earliest account of the observance of Mawlid can be found in 8th century Mecca. Historically, this was a festival of the Shia ruling class and the first official public celebrations occurred in Egypt towards the end of the 11th century. Gradually it spread throughout the Muslim world, with the first Sunni Muslim celebration taking pace in 12th century Syria. However, Islamic scholars and theologians are divided on whether observing Mawlid is permissible within Islam. The vast majority of Wahabi scholars forbid the celebration of Mawlid, calling it bidah (an innovation) because the companions of Muhammad and the second and third generation of Muslims did not observe the event.
Today, Mawlid is celebrated in the form of a carnival in many countries. Street processions are held and homes and mosques are decorated. Food is distributed widely. Stories about the life of Prophet Muhammad are narrated and devotional poetry is recited. One of the most popular poems recited during Mawlid is Qasida al-Burda Sharif, a poem composed in the 13th century in praise of the Prophet Muhammad.
Below, a short recitation from Qasida al-Burda Sharif: