Door marker:  Muhammad, Messenger of God

Door marker: Muhammad, Messenger of God Author collection

Today many Muslims are honoring the birthday (Mawlid) of the Prophet Muhammad.

Many Muslim communities decorate their streets in a way that would seem familiar to Christmas audiences:  lights, family gatherings, religious poems, sweets, and more.

There is a rich tradition of poetry honoring the birth of the Prophet, as i have documented previously here.

To honor the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, here is a little poem from Rumi honoring the Prophet as the “mother” of the Path of Love. This was a way in which the Sufi poets honored the Prophet as the “maternal” (ummi) prophet, playing on the pun of Ummi as both “unlettered” and derived from Umm (mother).   This was a fairly common “gender-bending” way in which mystical poets of Islam called on the Prophet to suckle the faithful through the “breast of compassion.”    The imagery might seem odd to a more prudish modern Muslim audiences, but was familiar to a pre-modern Muslim audiences more at home with erotic and sensual imagery.

Muhammad ZakariyaWith that, here is Rumi’s short poem, honoring the Prophet as the Mother of the Path of Love:

عشق است طریق و راه پیغمبر ما
Love is the path of my Prophet.

I was born through love,
Love is my mother.

This love is hidden in my veil
Hidden from my unfaithful nature.

I wasn’t born from a mother.
This love gave birth to me.

A thousand blessings on this motherly love.

Happy Birthday to the Prophet!  Mawlid Mubarak….


  1. being a mother or suckling a child is not really erotic. just sayin’. it’s actually a very spiritual thing.

    not sure i agree, as a woman, with the limited way you describe this imagery.

  2. i also hardly think it’s gender bending. gender bending is when you are facing rigid ways of ascribing gender, and then go bend the gender to resist those ways.
    the Arabic language is richly gendered in such a way that many feminine words apply to males, and vice versa. and this is not seen as an issue. Since Arabic is the carrier of the Divine Message, we constantly see the manifestation of the masculine and feminine in all humans and all concepts, in the faith of Islam.

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