Though the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad is not an official holiday in Qatar, with no celebrations being organized or time off granted for residents, hotels here said they have been instructed not to serve alcohol in their restaurants today.
Speaking to Doha News, employees at several five-star hotels said that the no-alcohol service rule during the Prophet’s birthday is observed annually in Qatar.
But it still appears to be causing some confusion. For example, a charity gala concert that was supposed to be held by local group Doha Jazz at the W Doha hotel tonight was abruptly canceled yesterday.
On the group’s Facebook page, Doha Jazz said:
“Due to to the prophet Muhammad’s birthday – this event is postponed. More details to follow.”
Qatar’s hotels also go dry during the fasting month of Ramadan, which Muslims are supposed to spend in a more spiritual way, strengthening their faith and doing good deeds.
Across the GCC
Many Muslims in the world mark the birth of the Prophet Muhammad by gathering to recite songs or poetry in his name, review his teachings and donate to charity. Some scholars say this is a way for people to express their love of Muhammad.
However, other Muslims argue that the practice is not part of Islam, as the Prophet himself never celebrated his birthday.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, the UAE annually declares the Prophet’s birthday a national holiday, which fell just two days after a paid New Year’s day holiday there.
But in Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mufti has warned against commemorating the event, saying it was a superstitious practice, Arab News reports.
In a sermon in Riyadh on Friday, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said:
“It is a bida (a sinful religious innovation) that crept into Islam after the first three centuries when the companions and successors of the companions lived.”
The newspaper added:
The sheikh said that those who urge others to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet are evil and corrupt. “The true love of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is manifested by following in his footsteps and supporting his Sunnah (traditions) … that is how the love for the Prophet is expressed.”