Rabīʽ al-Awwal (Arabic: رَبِيع ٱلْأَوَّل, Rabīʿ al-ʾAwwal) is the third month in the Islamic calendar. The name Rabī‘ al-awwal means "the first [month] or beginning of spring", referring to its position in the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar.
During this month, majority of Muslims celebrate Mawlid - the birthday of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Other Muslims do not believe the celebration is evidenced as necessary or even Islamically permissible in the Quran or authentic Hadith and has evolved as an innovation. Although the exact date of the Mawlid is unknown, Sunni Muslims believe the date of birth of Muhammad to have been on the twelfth of this month, whereas Shia Muslims believe him to have been born on the dawn of the seventeenth day.
The word "Rabi" means "spring" and Al-awwal means "the first" in Arabic language, so "Rabi' al-awwal" means "The first spring" in Arabic language. The name seems to have to do with the celebration events in the month as "spring" is the end to winter (symbol of sadness) and consequently the start of happiness. The Arabic calendar being lunar calendar, the month is naturally rotating over years and Rabī‘ al-awwal can be in spring or any other season every now and then, so the meaning can not be related to the actual season.
Although historians and scholars disagree on the exact date of Muhammad's birth, it is celebrated by some Muslims on 12th or 17th of Rabi' al-awwal.
However, many Muslims do not celebrate the Prophet's birthday as neither the Prophet himself nor any of his Companions of the Prophet observed any such birthday celebrations and they do not consider it an Islamic obligation nor an act of any religious merit with any basis in the Quran or in any authentic Hadith.
Where the celebration of the Mawlid is done by some Muslims, it is done differently depending on the country. In some areas celebrations begin as early as the first of the month and can continue till the end of the month. Muslims generally put coloured lights on roads, streets, and their homes and put green flags as well to celebrate.
In many countries a procession is also conducted on 12th or 17th of Rabi' al-awwal night and day. On these occasions sweets and drinks are also distributed widely from home to home and to the general public. In some areas Muslims also exchange gifts.
For the first time in 457 years, both the 12th Rabi' al-awwal and Christmas shared the same date on December 25, 2015  although this co-incidence has no significance given many Muslims, while noting the historic importance of the Prophet's birth date, do not recognize the annual Mawlid to have any Islamic relevance.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Rabī‘ al-Awwal migrates throughout the seasons. The estimated start and end dates for Rabī‘ al-Awwal are as follows (based on the Umm Al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia):
|AH||First day (CE/AD)||Last day (CE/AD)|
|1439||19 November 2017||18 December 2017|
|1440||9 November 2018||7 December 2018|
|1441||29 October 2019||27 November 2019|
|1442||18 October 2020||15 November 2020|
|1443||7 October 2021||5 November 2021|
|1444||27 September 2022||25 October 2022|
- 01 Rabī‘ al-Awwal 897 AH, the fall of the Emirate of Granada, the final Muslim kingdom of al-Andalus
- 08 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, death of Imam Hassan Al-Askari Twelver Imām, Hasan al-‘Askarī (see: Chup Tazia)
- 09 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, Eid e shuja
- 12 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, some Sunni Muslims observe Mawlid in commemoration of Muhammad's birthday
- 13 Rabi al-Awwal, Death of Bibi Rubab ( Beloved Wife of Imam Hussain)
- 17 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, Shia celebrate the birthday of the Imām Ja‘far al-Sādiq.
- 18 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, birth of Umm Kulthum bint Ali
- 26 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, death of Abu Talib ibn Abdul Muttalib
- 26 Rabī‘ al-Awwal 1333 AH, death of Khwaja Sirajuddin Naqshbandi, a Naqshbandi Sufi shaykh
- The Hijra (migration) took place in this month
- Eid-e-Zahra (a.k.a. Eid e shuja), a celebration of Shi‘ah Muslims
- Marriage of Muhammad to Khadijah bint Khuwaylid
- Building of the Quba Mosque (first mosque in Islam)
- The week including 12th and 17th is called Islamic Unity Week in Iran to address both Sunni and Shia views on the birth date of Mohammad.
- Annemarie Schimmel (1994). Deciphering the signs of God: a phenomenological approach to Islam (illustrated ed.). Edinburgh University Press. p. 69.
- Eliade, Mircea, ed. (1987). The Encyclopedia of religion, Volume 9 (illustrated ed.). Macmillan. p. 292. ISBN 9780029098004.
- Youssof, R. (1890). Dictionnaire portatif turc-français de la langue usuelle en caractères latins et turcs. Constantinople. p. 479.
- Youssof, R. (1890). Dictionnaire portatif turc-français de la langue usuelle en caractères latins et turcs. Constantinople. p. 476.
- َAl-Monjed dictionary and encyclopedia - the word Rabi' al-awwal
- What is the Authentic Date of Birth and Death of Prophet Muhammad?
- Talley, Gwyneth (30 December 2015). "https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2015/12/30/jesus-and-muhammad-share-a-birthday-for-first-time-in-457-years/". National Geographic. Retrieved 25 December 2019. External link in
- Umm Al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia
- Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Institute of Islamic Studies. Days on viewpoint of Imam Khomeini. Tehran: Islamic research center. p. 176.