The flickering flame of a candle casts a light on a child’s face, causing it to glow…and something magical happens. The six-year-old opens his mouth to sing salawaat on the Prophet…and hearts soften.

An older sister takes her brother by the hand as they march off to the beat of a daff, singing nasheeds under a full moon, falling in line behind fifty other young ones…and tears spring to my eyes.

It is known as Mawlid by Moonlight and it took place this month of Rabi ul Awwal in celebration of the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alaihi wasallam).  A dream of my friend’s for the past ten years — with the permission of Allah, it has finally become the reality she had envisioned almost a decade earlier.

Back when our children were pre-schoolers, we gathered with them every 12th of Rabi ul Awwal to decorate candles, singing Ta’ala al-Badru ‘Alayna while we worked with our glitter and colored wax and beads.  We taught them songs and explained the significance of the noor of the Prophet, comparing him to a candle who leads people out of the darkness and into the light of knowledge of Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala.  We read stories from the Seerah, highlighting our Messenger’s special relationship with children and animals and his divinely inspired message of mercy to the worlds. My friend’s wish that the children participate in a candlelight parade, marching in the darkness while holding their candles and singing, couldn’t come to fruition due to the fact that the month of Rabi ul Awwal arrived during the summer months in those days.  Most of the children would be asleep long before the sun had set…even longer before the white moon had risen.

Our older children are in middle school now while younger siblings have joined the growing families, masha’Allah, and the tide turned a few years ago when Rabi ul Awwal finally arrived in the spring months.  As we have done for the past few years, we gather on a friend’s ranch where our homeschooling co-operative meets during the week, hiking up and down green hills with the neighing of horses and the calling of a peacock accompanying our children as they sing, “Salallaahu ala MuhammadSalallaahu alaihi wasallam”.  The flames dance in our boys’ and girls’ excited eyes, a father beats the daff, a mother calls out, “Look at the moon, children!  The skies have cleared!  SubhanAllah!”

Earlier in the week, I had shown a poem to our children’s Islamic Studies teacher who is also the father of one of my fifth grade students.  “Do you want to hear what your daughter wrote in class?” I asked him.

“I would like that,” he responded, turning from his computer work in the teachers’ lounge.

I read from the paper I held in my hands…

If the Prophet spent a day with me,

I’d give him my finest chair,

And give him my finest tea.

If the Prophet spent a day with me,

I’d bake the bestest cupcakes,

And serve him with lots of glee.

If the Prophet spent a day with me,

I would be so delighted,

If the Prophet spent a day with me,

I would be so excited.

If the Prophet spent a day with me,

I’d be sure to make it last,

If the Prophet spent a day with me,

It’d be an awesome class.

I looked up, pleased and smiling, to find that he had removed his spectacles and was wiping his eyes with his thumb.  No one said anything for a few moments before he cleared his throat and quietly addressed the parents in the room.

“You know, we worry about our children being too slow in this or not good enough at that, but, at the end of the day…if they love Allah and His Prophet, what else really matters?  What else really matters?”

As I watch the children cluster around the tables laden with sweets and treats and scintillating candles, excitedly showing each other their glow-in-the-dark bracelets before heading off to join the congregation which will pray Isha under the inky black sky, I realize that love really does conquer all.  Glancing up to catch the moon emerging from behind the clouds, I imagine the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) gazing upon that same moon all those years ago.  I hear the children singing the lyrics “O the white moon rose over us from the Valley of (al)Wada, and we owe it to show gratefulness where the Call is to Allah”, and I think I can hear the Ansar of Medina-al-Munawwara singing the same song in joyous welcome to the Prophet’s long-awaited entrance into the blessed city.  I want to reach out and hug the blue-eyed, golden-haired children with kohl in their eyes and kufis on their heads, the cheerful African-American boys in their thawbs, the little girls in sparkling shalwar-kameezes.  Finding myself surrounded by kids of all colors and races who believe “La ilaaha illAllah” in twenty-first century America, I marvel at the success of the Prophet’s mission.  “Truly, you have delivered the message,” I silently tell him.

“You are so fortunate!”  A father turns, letting the night carry his voice out to the children as they gather together at the end of the parade, carefully clutching their votives and plastic cups with candle pillars alight.  “The Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) is your Prophet!  Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala sent him as a mercy to us all!  Who is going to make him proud?  Who is going to follow what he taught?”

“We are!  We are!” the children respond.  “Salallaahu alaihi wasallam!”

I look down at my kindergartener when I feel him tugging on my hand.  “He’s my Prophet too!  Right, Mama?”

The comforting scent of the crackling bonfire soothes me and I inhale deeply.  The stars continue to twinkle in the velvety night sky as I nod my head and squeeze his hand in affirmation.  I can’t seem to find my voice, so I simply smile and try to blink away the wetness on my lashes.