12 Rabi’ul Awwal has come and gone again. In the past, I’ve written about a famous book of poetry about the birth of Prophet Muhammad (s) called Mawlid Daiba’i. Actually the Mawlid poetry more widely read in Malaysia is Mawlid Barzanji, named after its composer, Imam Zayn al-`Abidin Ja`far ibn Hasan al-Barzanji (d. 1177) (r). Imam Barzanji was an Iraqi Kurd, a people with a rather surprising connection to Islam in the Nusantara. It is worth remembering that the author was no mere poet or singer, but rather the Mufti of Medinah al-Munawwarah, a position that could not possibly be held by other than an accomplished scholar and pure soul. Malaysians can read a biography of the Imam in Bahasa Malaysia at Bahru Shofa.

It is unfortunate that in our present day and age, our knowledge of and respect for our own ulama is so little that a contemporary young mufti of a much more modest part of the world can cast aspersions on such a luminary. Regardless, Mawlid Barzanji is widespread throughout the country, with copies to be found in just about every masjid or surau. It is so ubiquitous that it is common to hear people say they will do zikr, when they mean they will recite from Mawlid Barzanji. It is read not just on 12 Rabi’ul Awwal but on other occassions as well, most commonly after the aqiqah for a new child, after a boy’s circumcision or at wedding receptions. Members of our neighborhood gather at the surau to read excerpts between maghrib and isha prayers once a week.

I’ve recently been informed that an English translation of the Mawlid Barzanji exists. It is attributed only as a work of the Zawiyyah Qadariyyah, 1426 AH, but presumably they are connected to the hosting website, AbunaShaykh, an order connected to the African Shaykh Muhammad Ahmed al-Mahi. I’m not qualified to pass comment on the translation, but it reads very well in English and the production quality is quite nice. May God bless them abundantly for their work. If anyone is unable to download it from their site, contact me and I will email it to you. They also have the Mawlid of Imam Uthman al-Mirghani available for download, which I had not previously heard of.

UPDATE: The AbunaShaykh website is gone from the internet.  As the translation appeared to be a public work for the sake of Allah, I’m hosting it here.  Click here to get the English translation of the Mawlid Barzanji by the AbunaShaykh order of Shaykh Muhammad Ahmed al-Mahi.

Also, a lovely Islamic magazine was just released in the UK: Illumination Magazine. The topic of the first issue is Mawlid celebrations around the world. I am beside myself with pride that an article of mine was included alongside the many distinguished writers such as Sidi Aftab Malik and the charming and mysterious Tuan Awang Goneng. A few copies are still available – see the website for details.

Finally, rounding out a rather belated Mawlid posting is my first offering on YouTube, a brief clip of Nashid recitation from a mawlid gathering here in Kuching last month. I’ve just started fooling around with video recording so apologies for the quality.

Turban tip to Yursil for helping get YouTube working.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

Join the Conversation


  1. Salaam ‘alaikum.

    Off-topic: Dude, you do know that, if you’re going to squat like an Asian, you can’t be doing it against a column like that. 🙂 That breaks all the rules. You’ve gotta do a free-standing squat if it’s going to be authentic. 😉

  2. Barzanji is one of my favourite part of during weddings. Thanks for the info. Insya-allah it is very informative

  3. wa alaykum salam,

    JD, in my youth I could squat with the best of ’em. Now with five kids crawling all over me I need all the support I can get!

    Thanks, Fay. Readers should zip over to look at Fay’s Barzanji post too.

  4. Yep, that’s the picture. In S’pore, squatting a bit of a lost art – very few people do it publicly (although there are plenty of toilets to keep people in practice). When I was up in Korea, it was *very* common to see people squatting outside.

    I very rarely squat unless I absolutely have to. 😉

    (Sorry to hijack your post.)

  5. A wonderful and informative post 🙂 I am going to email you for the translation, as my old computer is having trouble. Must be that we share the ailments of old age lol.

    Ya Haqq!

  6. assalamualaikum..that “contemporary young mufti” u referred to certainly have lotsa bones to pick with the respected ulamas..just because he studied hadith, doesnt mean he can diss the scholars like that..

  7. As-salamu alaykum,

    Does anyone know where I can get the mawlid Asrar ar-Rabbani by Sayyid Uthman al-Mirghani? Preferably with English translations…I knew of a website but I cant seem to find it … Any help would be much appreciated.

    Barakallahu feekum

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply