Today is the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, according to the Hijri year (Islamic calendar), in my home country: Pakistan. The birthday of Prophet Muhammad is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor. The occasion is called Eid Milad-un-Nabi and is a public holiday.
The celebrations of Eid-e-Milād-un-Nabī (known as milad for short) are an important part of the Pakistani culture. While growing up, I had attended many such celebrations at my home, school, university, and at the homes of my neighbors, relatives and friends.
In fact, as a child, I remember that I had liked to recite naat (poetry in praise of the Prophet) at such occasions. Even though I liked the festivities (especially the sweets) that were part of the milad celebrations, I always found it hard, in my heart, to adulate Prophet Muhammad in the manner a Muslim is supposed to.
Now that I have openly declared my agnosticism, I further confess my lack of (spiritual) connection with Prophet Muhammad. I have always found it hard to love Prophet Muhammad.
I had, at one point in time, when I really considered myself a Muslim, sincerely tried to love and adore the Prophet. But, somehow, I was never able to develop any feelings for Prophet Muhammad. In retrospect, I think I failed to adore Prophet Muhammad due to a number of reasons:
1) Prophet Muhammad, as a personality, failed to intellectually and emotionally inspire me.
2) Prophet Muhammad had passed away more than 1400 years before my birth and belonged to a culture that was markedly different from the culture I was born and brought up in.
3) Prophet Muhammad made claims about the nature of Reality that I find very hard to believe in.
Honestly speaking, I found Bertrand Russell much more inspirational than Muhammad ibn Abd’Allah. I don’t mean to disrespect the Prophet in any way. It’s just that, to me, loving and admiring Prophet Muhammad doesn’t mean much. It is difficult to openly confess one’s indifference about the personality of Prophet Muhammad especially in Pakistan, where such confessions are likely to be called ‘blasphemous’. However, I think it is important for Muslims, all over the world, to increase their tolerance levels and allow free-thinkers like myself to express their views about Prophet Muhammad. Anyway, happy birthday, Prophet Muhammad! Cheers!