General view of the mawlid of Sidi Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, a mediaeval mystic and founder of the Shadhiliya brotherhood, in Humaythara (Eastern desert).
In Egypt, the word mawlid (pronounced mulid in
colloquial Arabic) means an annual festival for the
commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad or a saint
(known as a friend of God; in Islam).
Mawlid means literally birthday but usually it is
celebrated on the date of the death or on a date of
convenience, for example after the harvest or during
the summer holidays. Mawlids are celebrated around the
tombs of saints. Usually they are in the centres of
cities and villages but some, like the mawlid of Aboe
al-Hasan al-Shadhili in this picture, takes place in
the middle of the desert and people travel hundreds of
kilometres to turn the desert into a veritable city
for one week every year.
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Humaythara (Eastern desert), January MMV, middle format colour negative, scan from c-print
(c) Samuli Schielke