Prophet Muhammad’s birthday — a holiday known as Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi — is celebrated by Muslim communities in countries throughout the world this week. Milad-un-Nabi takes place in the third month of the Islamic calendar, with origins believed to date back to the end of the 11th century.
This year, Sunni Muslims celebrate Milad-un-Nabi on Jan. 24, while Shiite Muslims commemorate the holiday five days later on Jan. 29 — a date that coincides with the birth of their sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.
Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi is marked by large crowds of Muslims gathering in public settings to hear stories about the different aspects of the prophet's life.
Large processions and a carnival-like atmosphere dominate the scene in Pakistan, but in other parts of the world the festival takes on a far more somber tone. Some Muslims see Milad-un-Nabi as contradictory to Sharia law, and choose to eschew the celebratory aspects of the holiday in favor of an opportunity to fast or spend time reading the Quran.