A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Mulid of Sayyida Zaynab

Daily News Egypt
The mulid (celebration of a saint's birthday) of Sayyid Zaynab, the Prophet's granddaughter and one of he patron saints of Cairo, was this week, and Daily News Egypt has a photo gallery. Sayyida Zaynab's is probably the largest nd most colorful of the Cairo mulids, centered around the neighborhood around the mosque where she is buried. (She is also buried in a town south of Damascus, but she is a saint and the Prophet's granddaughter, and miracles happen.)

Daily News Egypt
One of the legacies of the Fatimid era in Egypt is the fact that several of Cairo's patron saints are actually ‘Alids, including Imam Hussein, Sayyida Zaynab and Sayyida Nafisa, though Egypt's few Shi‘ites are usually not allowed to conduct separate ceremonies, and the people celebrating the mulid are Sunni. (Another Cairo saint with a big mulid, Imam al-Shafi‘i, was a Sunni, but a legal scholar who didn't much approve of venerating saints. Now he is one.)

Daily News Egypt
Islamists frown on mulids as saint-worship, and during the swine flu hysteria of 2009 there was an attempt to ban public celebrations of mulids, but they remain a popular event, part festival, part carnival, part religious devotion; the Sufi orders come out in force, but so do hucksters, vendors, fortune-tellers and what-not.

Go take a look at the photo essay if you can't get to any mulids in person.

No comments: