Prominent Sufi chanter Al Tohamy performs at Moulid of al Sayeda Zeinab closing ceremony
Egyptians reach to touch the shrine of Sayida Zeinab as people celebrate the birthday of Sayida Zeinab, the granddaughter of Prophet Mohammad, in Cairo, May 12, 2015. REUTERS/Shadi Bushra TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

CAIRO: Thousands of Muslims are expected to celebrate the closing night ceremony of Moulid (religious birthday festival) of al Sayeda Zeinab, the granddaughter of Prophet Mohamed, scheduled for Monday in Cairo’s district that bears her name.

Every year, the festival presents different cultural interpretations of Sufi music and religious chanting by inviting Sufi bands and chanters from all over Egypt. This year, renowned folkloric and Sufi munshid (performer of religious chants), Sheikh Yassin El Tohamy, will perform at the closing night ceremony, which will take place in the square facing the Sayeda Zeinab mosque, southeast of Cairo.

During the seven-day-long festival, followers of various Sufi orders have set up colorful pavilions and marquees at the square to serve free food and drinks for guests and passerby.

“The program of events and activities during the Moulid celebration follows tradition rather than religious obligations,” Fathy Khourshid, head of Islamic and Coptic History Department at Minya University’s Faculty of Arts, told The Cairo Post Sunday.

Lighting installments, Quran verses played through loud speakers, voices of drum beatings, vendors, religious chanting and Sufi dancers with colorful dresses are among the Moulid’s common aspects that took place in the alleys surrounding the mosque’s neighborhood, said Khourshid.

The activities increase daily along with the number of visitors coming from different parts of the country for the special occasion and the numbers reach its peak at the closing night ceremony, he added.

Among the Prophet Mohamed’s family, Egyptians reserve special reverence for Sayeda Zeinab, the granddaughter of the Prophet and daughter of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb; the fourth Caliph, according to Khourshid.

“Zeinab is strongly believed to have sought refuge in Egypt in the wake of deadly conflicts between the family of the prophet and the Umayyads over the caliphate following Mohamed’s death. The conflict resulted in the killing of Hussein, Zeinab’s brother,” he said.

“Moulid,” meaning birthday in Arabic, is an Egyptian celebration of a holy person performed by both Muslims and Copts to honor their saints. Held in Upper Egypt’s governorate of Asyut, the Coptic Christian Moulid of Virgin Mary is the most significant religious event and is attended by thousands of Copts and Muslims every year.

Moulid al-Naby (the birthday of Prophet Muhammad) remains the most celebrated Moulid holiday in every city throughout Egypt.

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