Baptism of the Prophet in Mali Date in the current year: September 23, 2024

Baptism of the Prophet in Mali The Baptism of the Prophet is a public holiday celebrated in Mali seven days after Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. In this context, the word “baptism” obviously refers not to the rite of admission and adoption into Christianity, but to traditional Islamic birth rights that usually take place on the seventh day after a baby is born.

The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, commonly known as Mawlid, is an important holiday for adherents of most denominations of Islam. The Prophet’s baptism, on the other hand, is a tradition unique to Mali, a predominantly Muslim country in West Africa. Although Mali, constitutionally, is a secular state, certain Muslim observances, including the baptism of the Prophet, are public holidays here.

Strictly speaking, the use of the term “baptism” in this context is incorrect, because it usually refers to a rite of admission into Christianity, whereas Islam doesn’t have religious initiation rites. However, the term is also sometimes used metaphorically to refer to any ceremony by which a person is initiated or given a name, and this is exactly the case here.

The holiday of the Prophet’s baptism celebrates the traditional birth rites that take place seven days after birth and have pre-Islamic origins (since there was no Islam before Muhammad, yet the rites are assumed to have existed before the Prophet’s birth). One of these rites is shaving the baby’s head, weighing the hair and donating an equivalent weight in money to charity.

Another birth rite that some Muslims perform on the seventh day after a baby’s birth is aqiqah, a ritual sacrifice of an animal after a child is born. It is considered a voluntary offering, so there is no sin if one fails to perform it. According to tradition, one should sacrifice two animals (typically sheep) when a boy is born, and one animal when the newborn is a girl. Some of the meat is eaten by the parents, and the rest of distributed among the poor.

Some Muslims also perform male circumcision (called khitan or khatna in Arabic) when a child is seven days old. Unlike Jewish circumcision (brit milah), which symbolizes the covenant between the Jewish people and God, Islamic circumcision is more of a cultural ritual than a religious one. Some Islamic traditions regard the practice as obligatory, some as recommendable, and some as permissible but not binding.

According to some hadiths, Muhammad was circumcised when he was seven days old by his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib. Taking this into account, perhaps, it would be more correct to refer to the Prophet’s baptism as the Prophet’s circumcision. However, other hadiths maintain that Muhammad was born without a foreskin and therefore couldn’t be circumcised, but he supposedly circumcised his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husayn ibn Ali, when they were seven days old.

It is worth mentioning that the seventh day after a child’s birth isn’t the fixed date for circumcision; in fact, the age when boys get circumcised varies among Muslim communities. Depending on the country, circumcision can be performed at age 3–4, 6 to 8, or 10 to 12. However, in some Muslim communities boys are still circumcised as early as on the seventh day after birth.

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Baptism of the Prophet in Mali, holidays in Mali, public holidays, religious holidays, Prophet Muhammad