By Tauhirah Adams
Around the time of the Mawlid celebrations in Cape Town, the familiar sounds or ‘lagus’ are heard, dedicating praises and honouring the Muḥammad (pbuh) with riwāya recitals.
Many of us have grown up with these sounds, verses and rampies scents of traditional Mawlid celebrations– riwayat being synonymous with Mawlid. But where do these riwayat come from?
A descendent of the Kurdish born Muḥammad ibn Abdul Rashid ibn Abdul Sayyid al Barzanji Imam As-Sayyid Ja’far ibn Hasan al Barzanji composed a Mawlid eulogy for Prophet Muḥammad (pbuh). This eulogy is a biographical compilation with the birth of our
Prophet Muḥammad (pbuh) as the central focus. The Barzanji Mawlid compilation consists of two books, namely part one and part 2, which is further divided into many chapters. These books comprise poetic verses and when recited in congregation the familiar chorus can be heard: “Sallallāhu alayhi”, or “ Allāhumma salli wa sallim alayhi”.
The compilation is originally in Arabic but translations can be found in English, Java dialect (Indonesian) and even Swahili. The ‘lagu’ or way of conducting the Barzanji Mawlid must have been influenced by our great forefathers from the Indonesian Islands and surrounding areas. When “Abtadi ul imlaa...” is recited, something resonates within all of us, whether we understand Arabic or not. It is the essence of this eulogy that transcends linguistic knowledge. The heart understands, and the heart knows that this is for our beloved Prophet Muḥammad (pbuh) and our Rabb, Allāh Almighty's pleasure. Alḥamdulillāh.