Napoleon (1769 – 1821) and The French Army supported and Aided Celebrations of Mawlid.
It is mentioned by J. Christopher Herold regarding Celebration of Mawlid and Napoleon.
The Cairo notables seemed that they were not going to keep the festival. Napoleon therefore encouraged them, providing both a place and funding. Cairo celebrated for three days –sufis danced in the streets until they fell over from exhaustion, the French soldiers had fanfares and fireworks. During this time, Bonaparte was the guest of the sheikh Al Bakri. ‘In his black uniform, buttoned up to the neck, he made stark contrast with the sheikhs in their ceremonial robes, turbans, nodding to the rhythm of the verses of the Koran and telling their beads’ (Herold, J.C. in his book Bonaparte in Egypte, published in 1962, taken from http://www.napoleon.org/en/reading_room/articles/files/napoleon_egypt.asp).
This was also mentioned in عجائب الآثار في التراجم والأخبار by Abdul Rahman Jabarti (1756 – 1825) who lived at the time of Napoleon,
He said when he was talking about the events of 1213 h the month of Rabi al Awwal, when Napolean came to Egypt.
وفيه سأل صاري العسكر عن المولد النبوي ولماذا لم يعملوه كعادتهم فاعتذر الشيخ البكري بتعطيل الأمور وتوقف الأحوال فلم يقبل وقال لابد من ذلك وأعطى له ثلثمائة ريال فرانسا معاونة وأمر بتعلق تعاليق وأحبال وقناديل واجتمع الفرنساوية يوم المولد ولعبوا ميادينهم وضربوا طبولهم ودبادبهم وأرسل الطبلخانة الكبيرة الى بيت الشيخ البكري واستمروا يضربونها بطول النهار والليل بالبركة تحت داره وهي عبارة عن طبلات كبار مثل طبلات النوبة التركية وعدة آلات ومزامير مخلفة الأصوات مطربة وعملوا في الليل حراقة نفوط مختلفة وسواريخ تصعد في الهواء.
which roughly translated as
When the commander of army asked (Shaykh al Bakri) regarding birthday of Prophet peace be upon him, that why it has been stopped when it was your habit to celebrate? Shaykh al Bakri excused because of delaying in the matters. He did not accept his excuse and aided the shaykh with three hundred french currency saying it is must to celebrate, and ordered for fireworks and Lamps. The French gathered on the day of Mawlid and played the Tabal (The drum). And a drum was sent to the house of shaykh al Bakri and played it day and night.. That was a huge Tabal like the Nauba (a Musical instrument) made in turkey, There were other instruments as well and different types of fluets….
During the French occupation of Egypt, Napoleon ordered that people should celebrate the Mawlid, and he donated to this project himself and attended it personally, because it entails opposing Islaamic legislation and included mixing between men and women, and is a form of following desires and committing prohibitions. (Taareekh Al-Jabarti 306/2)
He established it on the grounds of corrupting people’s faith, and some of those who celebrate the Mawlid are mercenaries who are there in order to make money out of this celebration, while others are common people who imitate others and seek to fulfill their religious emotions even if it is through an innovation.