Dates for assembly

15th April 2005 at 01:00
April 21 Maulid al-Nabi

Although some Muslims criticise this "Day of the Prophet" because it has no basis in the Qur'an, it is a popular time of celebration in many communities.

Outline script for assembly leaders

In the 6th century, in a city called Makkah, there lived a young boy. His parents died when he was six and he was looked after by his grandfather and later by an uncle. They were quite poor and the boy wasn't taught to read or write, but by the time he was 20 he was working for his uncle who was a trader in that city. Because the young man (who was called Muhammad) never swindled their customers by overcharging them, he became known Al-Amin, which means "the Trustworthy".

In later life, Muhammad began visiting a cave, north of the city on a hill called Mount Hira. One night, when Muhammad was in the cave, he heard a voice. In front of him he saw a holy spirit, an angel. "Recite," said the angel.

"What should I recite?" asked Muhammad.

This happened three times and then the angel spoke again. "Recite, in the name of God."

Muhammad repeated the words the angel then spoke to him until he knew them by heart.

After that, the angel appeared often to Muhammad, giving him many more messages which he shared with his family, friends and those people of Makkah who would listen to him.

From then on, he was called the Prophet or God's Messenger. All that the angel told him was written down in a book called the Holy Qur'an, which is treasured by Muslims as the word of God.

Since the 10th century, some Muslims (especially in Egypt) have celebrated his life and example at this festival.

Follow-up

The Prophet is said to have been born on the 12th day of the month of Rabi ul-Awal in 570, and to have died at the same time of the year in 632. This festival, therefore, marks both his birth and death. Those Muslims who observe it do so by telling the story of the Prophet to their children.

The Prophet is never illustrated in Islamic art. Following this convention, try picturing the key scenes of this story in symbolic form.

Further information is available by visiting www.bbc.co.ukreligionreligionsislam A Muslim site offers articles and games for children: www.playandlearn.org

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