Praising the Prophet in El Cerrito
By Ras H. Siddiqui

Syed Jehangir Hamdani (R) and a guest

Our San Francisco Bay Area community exceeded its own Eid-e-Milad-ul-Nabi expectations at many locations throughout the region this year. The effort included the annual “Naat” gathering held by Hamdani Brothers Foundation at the Veterans Memorial Hall in the City of El Cerrito on May 7, 2005. And quite an affair it turned out to be too.
For those not familiar with such gatherings, a “Naat” is a verse delivered in praise of our Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in our native Urdu or other regional languages (in a similar vein a “Humd” is a verse delivered in praise of Allah (SWT)).
This four-plus hour event with a Yaum-e-Milad at its core is what people from our part of the world often observe on or around Eid-E-Milad ul Nabi (the birthday of the Prophet of Islam). This tradition (to hold such an event) in Northern California started around 35 years ago in the Woodland-Live Oak area of our state and has since been continuing to express love for Islam and its Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him).
This year the presenters of the Naat once again came from all over California and even a visitor or two from Pakistan joined in. Syed Jehangir Hamdani and the entire Hamdani family coordinated the event’s activities. Both men and women usually participate here. Some of the vocal presentations this year were superb but there were a couple that were long on inspiration and bit short on talent.

Eid-e-Milad in El Cerrito

Aspects of this gathering that were noteworthy included its respectable size, as the number could have easily exceeded 300 people. The environment and spirit that it generated was very warm and friendly. One could easily mistake this venue for the one held in Pakistan where the love of God and Prophet is often expressed in the Urdu language via verse at such gatherings. And in the end one could never overlook the “langar” buffet meal served downstairs throughout the afternoon and evening, The “zarda” or sweet rice alone made many of us nostalgic.
Once again this was a spiritually enriching experience for us. The credit certainly goes to the Hamdani Brothers for keeping this beautiful tradition embedded in South Asian Islamic practices alive for our next generation. It was a pleasure to remember the Prophet (PBUH) in such a manner here in El Cerrito and to experience the cultural aspect and joy of collective worship that Muslims share at Eid-E-Milad ul Nabi every year.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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