ABOUT 2,000 Muslims marched through High Wycombe today to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Mohammed and spread a message of peace.

A colourful procession, led by an open top bus, marking the Eid-Milad-Un-Nabi weaved its way through the town centre.

Roads were closed as the march took place.

After beginning at the Jamia Mosque in Jubilee Road at about 11.30am, it made its way through Desborough, into Bridge Street and onto Oxford Road.

Sahibzada Jeelani, one of the Imams at the mosque, explained what the event is all about.

He told the BFP:“We show our gratitude and thanks to almighty God and we extend our best wishes and goodwill not only to the Muslim community but the non-Muslim community as well.

“Islam is a religion of peace and mercy and the prophet Mohammed is the messenger of mercy so we try to explain the real nature and picture of Islam.

“It's not what unfortunately gets put across sometimes in the media."

Mr Jeelani, who has been an Imam in High Wycombe since 1986, said: “Today is very peaceful and when we walk through the street we praise to almighty God and the prophet Mohammed. We send salutations and blessings on all the prophets.”

Some of the messages on the banners are compilations of verses of the Islamic holy book the Koran, he explained.

He said the Eid-Milad-Un-Nabi stands out from other Islamic festivals such as Eid after Ramadan.

“This is a very unique event in Islamic history and culture,” he said.

“It's not just confined to just a few hour sessions, actually it's really experiencing the life of the prophets through listening to lectures of the scholars and their explanation about the beautiful characteristic of the prophet Mohammed.

“This is something very joyful and very close to the heart of the people. It's very special.

“In other festivals people are usually confined to their family and friends but this is the whole community.

“As a Muslim we extend our best wishes to the whole community on this happy occasion.”

He wished readers a happy birthday of the prophet Mohammed.

The march takes place every year, but has grown over the past two decades.

Mohammed Jamil Ali, a director at the mosque, said it was about keeping the name of the prophets alive.

Mr Ali, 45, who runs Jimmy's Pizza on Brindley Avenue, High Wycombe, said:“About 20 years ago you probably wouldn't have seen anything like this in England. It's praising and singing as we walk all the way to the High Street.

“It's one of the best moments of our calendar, and Mohammed is not just our prophet but everyone's prophet, showing mercy to all humankind. There are messages for everyone”

But sometimes people get a wrong impression of what the march is about, he added.

“Sometimes when people see us walking with flags they think it's a protest,” he said.

He hopes the event helps to promote more awareness and understanding in the general public.

The final leg saw the bus and many followers go through Frogmoor, before ending in the High Street outside the Guildhall, where prayers, speeches and blessings took place from the top of the bus in a mixture of English and Urdu.

Sajid Ali, Mosque Chairman, said: “Everything went well, it's been successful and it's been a good gathering.”

He estimated about 1,500 to 2,000 took part in the march.

Marchers returned to the mosque for food this afternoon.