The origin of Mawlid observance reportedly dates back to the period of the early four Rashidun Caliphs of Islam. The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588. The term Mawlid is also used in some parts of the world, such as Egypt, as a generic term for the birthday celebrations of other historical religious figures such as Sufi saints.
Most denominations of Islam approve of the commemoration of Muhammad's birthday; however, some denominations including Wahhabism/Salafism, Deobandism and the Ahmadiyya disapprove its commemoration, considering it an unnecessary religious innovation (bid'ah or bidat). Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world except Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are officially Wahhabi/Salafi.
The date of Muhammad's birth is a matter of contention since the exact date is unknown and is not definitively recorded in the Islamic traditions. The issue of the correct date of the Mawlid is recorded by Ibn Khallikan as constituting the first proven disagreement concerning the celebration. Among the most recognisable dates, Sunni Muslims believe the date to have been on the twelfth of Rabi' al-awwal, whereas Shi'a Muslims believe the date to have been on the seventeenth.
Mawlid is celebrated in almost all Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim population, such as India, the United Kingdom, Nepal, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Canada. The only exceptions are Qatar and Saudi Arabia where it is not an official public holiday and is forbidden. However, as a result of Wahhabi and other strict traditionalist Muslim influence, since the last decades of the late 20th century there has been a trend to "forbid or discredit" Mawlid (along with similar festivals) in the Sunni Muslim world.