This holiday (in Arabic it is called «Eid Al Mawlid Al Nabawi») doesn’t have a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar, it is determined annually. The fact is that in Islam all historical events are calculated according to the lunar calendar (Hijri calendar), and it is shorter than the solar one by 11-12 days. As a result, every year the date of the celebration shifts closer to the beginning of the month of the usual Gregorian calendar. For example, in 2016 (1438 on Hijri) it was celebrated on December 12th, while in 2017 – on December 1st.
It is believed that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was born in the year 570 (or in the year 571, as the other sources say) according to the Gregorian calendar. The exact date is unknown, so theologians chose day 12 of Rabi’ al-awwal (literally «the beginning of spring») month of Hijri — the date of death of the Prophet in the year 632. After all, death is nothing but a meeting with Allah and the beginning of eternal life. However, in some countries a different date is adopted — the 17th day of the month Rabi’ al-awwal.
According to some studies, this date was chosen during the reign of the Fatimid dynasty. And this happened almost four centuries after the death of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Initially, the holiday was celebrated only by the elite, but subsequently, it became celebrated by the common people and became widespread. Historically, celebrations included colorful processions, public prayers, and sermons.
On this day, meetings in mosques, congresses of Muslims, and big open-air celebrations are held throughout the country in the UAE. Also, family gatherings traditionally take place. Many people congratulate each other and give gifts as for a usual birthday. In the cities, they hang posters with ayahs from the Holy Quran. But also there are many people that keep a fast and spend the whole night in prayers, avoiding public events.
On this day, it is customary to talk about the acts of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the history of Islam to the youth, in order to introduce them to the Islamic culture. Then, in the following week, there are sermons in all mosques of the country. Celebration of Prophet’s Birthday gives co-religionists the opportunity to become even more united.