Mawlid un-Nabi: To celebrate or not
The Mawlid (known as Mawlaad an-Nabi)
Throughout Islamic history, there have been people who have introduced and adopted different ways of worshipping Allah, ways that were not practiced by the noble companions. An example of this is specifying the 12th of Rabiul-Awwal for celebrating the Prophet’s (sa) birthday. On this day many innovated actions take place, including: lighting a special kind of lamp, hoisting flags to march in the streets, making images of the green dome and parading it in the streets, distribution of food, and forming congregational gatherings in order to send peace and blessings upon the Prophet (sa) in a collective audible fashion.
All the above acts are without doubt, innovated matters in the religion, and are in opposition to the way of the companions. The Prophet (sa) said: “Upon you is to cling to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs.”
(Abu Dawud, Tirmidhee)
How did the Mawlid come about?
Celebrating the Mawlid is an innovation introduced by the Shee‘ah Faatimids of Egypt after the three best centuries of Islam, in order to corrupt the religion of the Muslims and to call the people to Ismaeeli Shi’ism.
Shaykh Muhammad bin Bakheet al-Mutee’ee, a former muftee of Egypt said about the origin of the mawlid: “The first to introduce them in Cairo were the Fatimid rulers, and the first of them was al-Mu’izz Li Dinillah, he advanced from Morocco to Egypt in 361H. He entered Cairo with seven [days] remaining of the month of Ramadan in that year. He then innovated six birthday (celebrations): The Prophet’s birthday, the birthday of Ali bin Abi Talib, the birthday of Faatimah al-Zahraa, the birthday of al-Hasan and the birthday of al-Husayn and the birthday of the presently serving ruler”
(Ahsan al Kalaam fi ma yatlaq bi sunnah wal biddah minal ahkaam – pp. 59-60).
The Mawlid is in opposition to Allah and His Messenger
The Prophet (sa) passed away only after he had conveyed the complete message of Allah to the Ummah. He also stressed that all things invented by people and then attributed to the religion of Islam are innovations (bid’ah) and to be rejected even if their inventors did so in good faith. He (sa) said, “I warn you of the newly invented matters (in the religion), and every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire”
The Companions of the Prophet (sa) and the righteous successors after them also warned the people severely against innovations. This is because the one who innovates is bringing something new and claiming that it is a part of the religion which the Messenger (sa) did not bring. This implies that the Messenger (sa) did not fully explain the religion to the people and that the deen is incomplete and imperfect. Such a belief is not only an evil but contradicts the following verse: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” (5:3). This verse shows clearly that Almighty Allah has completed and perfected the religion for this Ummah, and there was no Mawlid when this verse was revealed.
Had the celebration of Milaad been a praiseworthy action, the Prophet (sa) would have explained this to his companions and would have celebrated it during his life. However neither did the Prophet (sa) or the Companions do so. If they didn’t do it, then why should we? The great Caliph, Umar Ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez said: “Stop where the people (i.e. the Companions) have stopped! For indeed, they stopped upon knowledge”
[Ibn Qudaamah in Al Burhaan li Bayaanil Qur’aan].
Therefore celebrating the Mawlid has nothing to do with Islam. It is rather among the innovations which Allah and His Messenger (sa) strongly warned us against. So do not be deceived by seeing a large number of people doing it throughout the world because the truth is known and recognised by the Qur’an and Sunnah and not by the acts of a large number of people. Allah says: “And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s path”
[Surah Al-An’aam, ayah 116].
The Mawlid is the way of the Christians
To celebrate the 12th Rabiul-Awwal as the Prophet’s (sa) birthday is not part of the Prophet’s Sunnah or the Sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs. But what we can say is that it is part of the sunnah (i.e. way) of the Christians, who celebrate Isa’s (as) birthday on the 25th December. And we have been commanded to oppose and differ from Jews & Christians as the Prophet (sa) said: “Be different from the mushrikeen” (Muslim) …especially with regard to things that are the symbols or rituals of their religion. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
[Saheeh – Reported by Ahmad]
Did the Companions celebrate the Prophet’s birthday?
If celebrating the Prophet’s (sa) birthday was a good act, then the companions would have done it before us. They had more love and reverence for the Prophet (sa). They were more concerned in doing righteous actions and they were better followers of the Prophet (sa). They sacrificed their wealth and lives and fought bravely in Jihaad alongside the Prophet (sa). These true believers who responded to every call of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) did not express their love for Allah’s Messenger by celebrating his birthday. If we want to know how to love the Prophet (sa), we should read the biographies of the Companions, and see how they showed their love for the Prophet (sa).
Loving the Prophet
There is no doubt that belief in the Prophet (sa) and love of him is an essential part of Imaan. Every second of his noble life is a torch of guidance for our lives. In fact no one can truly be a believer until the love of the Prophet (sa) has preference and precedence over his life, wealth, parents, children and the whole of mankind. No true Muslim would ever disagree with this.
We believe that Abu Bakar, Umar, Uthmaan, Ali and all the other companions loved the Prophet (sa) to the highest degree possible and due to this they became known as those whom: “Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him.”
(Quran, Surah Tawbah: verse 100).
How do we love the Prophet (sa)?
Love of the Messenger (sa) means complete submission to his orders and commandments. Allah says: “Say (O Muhammad): ‘If you truly love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins,” [Quran, Surah al-Imraan: Verse 31]. The manner in which to love and obey the Prophet (sa) was demonstrated to us through the companions.
When was the Prophet (sa) born?
It is commonly believed that Prophet (sa) was born on the 12th Rabiul-Awwal. However Imam Ibn Kathir in his book “Al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah” has narrated seven opinions of the scholars on his birth date. They are: the 8th of Rabiul-Awwal, 10th of Rabiul-Awwal, 12th of Rabiul-Awwal, 18th of Rabiul-Awwal, 17th of Rabiul-Awwal, 12th of Ramadhan and 9th Rabiul-Awwal.
The honorable Imams were not able to specify an actual birth date for the Prophet (sa). How then is it possible that the so called scholars of today are able to specify a birth date ? Were the Imams, the scholars of history, and the Muhadetheen, able to do so? And what evidence do these so called scholars refer to? In fact the only thing that is certain about the 12th Rabiul-Awwal is that this was the date that the Prophet (sa) died.
Some misconceptions about the Mawlid.
1. The celebration of the Prophet’s (sa) birth is due to our love for the Prophet (sa).
Reply: Indeed loving the Prophet (sa) is an obligation. But to say this is a justification to celebrate the Mawlid is a distortion of the Quran and Sunnah! None of the companions celebrated his birthday and they all loved the Prophet (sa) more than us. The love of the Prophet (sa) is not shown by celebrating his birthday, but by obeying him, believing in his teachings, keeping away from what he prohibited and by worshipping Allah in the way he prescribed for us.
2. The Prophet (sa) was asked about the fast of Monday, and he answered: “That is the day that I was born and that is the day I received the prophecy” (Sahih Muslim). The Prophet (sa) emphasized the day of his birth and expressed his happiness for that day by fasting. So surely, other types of worship to emphasize that day are also acceptable – e.g. giving charity, or coming together to praise the Prophet (sa).
Reply: First: the Prophet (sa) fasted every Monday not just on the Mondays of Rabiul-Awwal – so there is no evidence to connect the hadith to celebrating the Mawlid??
Second: with regards to eebaadah, everything is haram except that which the Prophet (sa) legislated. In other words, we can’t introduce new acts of worship (like the Christians have done) – we stick to what the Prophet (sa) came with. Also, every act of worship must be done exactly in the manner that the Messenger (sa) taught us. So when he (sa) said: “fast on Mondays” – then we cannot change that action from fasting to celebrating his birthday.
Third: There is another reason why we fast on Mondays, that is because the doors of paradise are open on Mondays and Thursdays, so we increase in good deeds on those days.
Fourth: No-one understood the hadith better than the Companions. And the Companions did not apply this hadith by celebrating the Mawlid, rather they fasted on Mondays.
In conclusion if the celebration of the Mawlid was something good, then it is inconceivable that the Messenger of Allah (sa) and his Sahaabah unaware of this good!