Question # 161: What is ruling with respect to Celebrating Prophet Muhammad (saws) birthday – Eid-e-Milad un-Nabi?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: There is no festival in Islamic shari’ah called ‘The Prophet’s Birthday’ [or Mawlid or Eid-e-Milad un-Nabi]. Neither the Rightly Guided Caliphs, Sahaabah nor the Taabi’een nor the four imams nor anyone else recognized such a day as part of their religion. Its obligation, allowance or recommendation is not stated in any verse from the Book of Allah, nor in the authentic sayings of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Rather this festival was introduced by some ignorant innovators after the three best centuries of Islam, then the people began to follow this innovation but the imams have denounced it in every time and place. Lastly, it should be noted that scholars differ concerning the exact date of the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and there are several opinions. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever innovates anything in this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), that is not part of it will have it rejected” and “…every newly invented matter is an innovation (a bid’ah) and every bid’ah is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.”

The best way to show love and respect for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is by following and obeying him, heeding his commands, reviving his Sunnah both inwardly and outwardly, propagating the message with which he was sent and striving hard to do that, in one’s heart and by one’s actions and words.

Long Answer: There is no festival in Islamic shari’ah called ‘The Prophet’s Birthday’. Neither the Sahaabah nor the Taabi’een nor the four imams nor anyone else recognized such a day as part of their religion. Rather this festival was introduced by some ignorant innovators, then the people began to follow this innovation but the imams have denounced it in every time and place.

…Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not celebrate his own birthday, nor did he encourage anyone else to do so. The Rightly Guided Caliphs after him, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Alee (رضي الله عنهم), likewise did not celebrate his birthday, and nor did they celebrate their own birthdays, and nor of any Prophet that came before our noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Its obligation, allowance or recommendation is not stated in any verse from the Book of Allah, nor in the authentic sayings of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم)… The term ‘Eid (i.e. celebration) was never used for the occasion of the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). (‘The Origins of the Celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday’ by Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Waahid Alam)

The commands mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah to follow the laws of Allah and His Messenger, and the prohibitions on introducing innovations into the religion are quite clear. Allah says: “Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins’.” (Soorah Al-Imran, 3:31).

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever innovates anything in this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), that is not part of it will have it rejected.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim). According to a version narrated by Muslim, “Whoever does anything that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), will have it rejected.”

The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) clearly stated in an authentic narration: “The best of speech is the Speech of Allah, the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The most evil of all affairs are the newly invented matters [introduced into Islam] and every newly invented matter is an innovation (a bid’ah) and every bid’ah is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.” (Reported by an-Nasa’i, and in al-Mishkaat)

ACTS OF BID’AH (INNOVATION)

Among the reprehensible innovations that people have invented is the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal. They celebrate this occasion in various ways:

  • Some of them simply make it an occasion to gather and read the story of the Mawlid, then they present speeches and qasidahs (odes) for this occasion.
  • Some of them make food and sweets etc., and offer them to the people present.
  • Some of them hold these celebrations in the mosques, and some of them hold them in their houses.
  • Some include in the above mentioned gatherings haram and reprehensible things, such as free mixing of men and women, dancing and singing, or committing actions of shirk such as seeking the help of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), calling upon him, seeking his support against their enemies and so on.
  • [Other acts include lighting of candles and decorative lights for the occasion, along with singing, parading in the streets, dancing with joy, visiting the graveyards, eating and drinking, handing out sweets to children, exchanging gifts and engrossing in long sessions of (‘The Origins of the Celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday’ by Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Waahid Alam)]

ORIGIN OF BID’AH OF MAWLID

The first people to innovate this celebration of the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) were the tribe of Banee ‘Ubaid al-Qaddaah, those who called themselves the Faatimids… They appeared during the Abbaside Caliphate and ruled Egypt from 360AH onwards for two centuries, and were a sect of the Shi’ites known as the Isma’ilis, due to their connection to Isma’il Muhammad bin Ja’far. They used to believe that Allah is in-dwelling in His creation, in the concept that the Revelation has hidden esoteric meanings that are only known to their own scholars and ‘saints’, leading them to be considered as unbelievers by the great scholars of ahl-us-Sunnah of that time. Before them, there was no celebration of the Mawlid of Allaah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). (‘The Origins of the Celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday’ by Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Waahid Alam)

The next person to do this after them and re-introduce it was King Al-Mudhaffar Abu Sa‘eed Kawkaboori, the king of Irbil, at the end of the sixth century or the beginning of the seventh century AH, as was mentioned by the historians such as Ibn Khalkaan (may Allah have mercy upon him), and others. [Ibn Katheer said in his biography of Abu Sa’eed Kazkaboori that the occasion was marked by feast and singing and dancing by Sufis.]

Abu Shaamah (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “The first person to do that in Mosul was Shaykh ‘Umar Ibn Muhammad Al-Malaa, one of the well-known righteous people. Then the ruler of Irbil and others followed his example.”

DATE OF PROPHET (صلى الله عليه و سلم) BIRTH

It should be noted that the scholars differ concerning the exact date of the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and there are several opinions. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (may Allah have mercy on him) thinks that he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was born on the second of Rabee‘ al-Awwal; Ibn Hazm (may Allah have mercy on him) thinks it most likely that he was born on the eighth. It was also said that he was born on the tenth, as was the view of Abu Ja‘far al-Baqir. And it was said that he was born on the twelfth, as is the view of Ibn Ishaq. Ibn Abu Shayba relates this too in his compilation, on the authority of ‘Affan, from Sa’id b. Mina’, from Jabir and from Ibn Abbas, the latter two having stated, “The Messenger of God (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was born in the ‘year of the elephant’, on Monday the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal. On that same day he received his mission, was carried up to heaven, emigrated from Mecca, and died. And this is what is widely known to most people; but God knows best.” It was also said that he was born in the month of Ramadan, as was narrated by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr from az-Zubayr ibn Bakkaar. (‘The Life of Prophet Muhammad’ ‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’ by Ibn Kathir)

CONCLUSION

Celebrating the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is forbidden and is to be rejected for a number of reasons:

  • If a person does anything in order to draw closer to Allah which was not done by the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) or enjoined by him, and was not done by the khaleefahs who succeeded him, this action implies that he is accusing the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) of not fully explaining the religion to the people, and that he disbelieves in the words of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى): “This day I have perfected for you your religion.” (Soorah Al-Maa’idah, 5:3)
  • Celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is an imitation of the Christians, because they celebrate the birth of the Isa (عليه السلام)…The Hadith tells us that it is forbidden to imitate the Kuffaar, and we are commanded to differ from them. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawood)
  • It is a mean that leads to exaggeration and excess in venerating the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), which even goes as far as calling upon him (making du‘aa to him) and seeking his help, instead of calling upon Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), as happens now among many of those who observe the bid‘ah of the Mawlid, when they call upon the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) instead of Allah, and ask him for support, and sing Qasidahs (odes) of shirk praising him, like Qaseedat Al-Burdah The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade going to extremes in praising him, as he said: “Do not extol me as the Christians extolled the son of Maryam. For I am just His slave, so call me the slave of Allah and His Messenger.” (Al-Bukhari)
  • Observing the innovation of the Prophet’s birthday opens the door to other kinds of bid‘ah and being distracted by them from the Sunnah.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “With regard to what some people have introduced, …out of love for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and to show respect for him – may Allah reward them for this love and effort, but not for this innovation – of taking the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) as a festival, despite the difference of scholarly opinions concerning the date of his birth, this is something that the early generations did not do, despite the fact that the same reason for doing it (i.e., love for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was present and there no impediment to doing so. If this was something that was purely good or mostly good, the early generations (رضي الله عنهم) would have been more likely to do it than others, because they had greater love for the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and greater respect for him than us, and they were more eager to do good. Rather the best way to show love and respect for him is by following him and obeying him, heeding his commands, reviving his Sunnah both inwardly and outwardly, propagating the message with which he was sent and striving hard to do that, in one’s heart and by one’s actions and words. This is the way of the earliest generations, the Muhaajireen and Ansaar and those who followed them in truth.” (Iqtida’ as-Siraat) (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)

(Most portion of the above is an excerpt from the book ‘Celebrating the Birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)’ by Shaykh Salih al-Fawzan, unless stated otherwise)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam