The Celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday
In the light of the Qur’aan, Purified Sunnah, & Historical Facts
الحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام علي رسوله الكريم
قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Say (O Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’aan and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins, And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Imraan Ayah no. 31)
وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
“And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad, (صلى الله عليه وسلم)) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it). And fear Allah; verily Allah is Severe in punishment.” (Surah Al-Hashr Ayah no. 7)
The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “ I am leaving behind two things, you shall never be lead astray if you hold firm to these two, the book of Allah, and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” (Muwatta Imam Maalik, Hadeeth no. 648)
‘The Celebration of birthdays in the era of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and his noble companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين)
There is no doubt that firm belief in the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and love of him is part of strong Imaan. Every minute 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has preference and precedence over his life, wealth, parents, children, and the whole of mankind. No Muslim would ever disagree with this.
And we believe that Abu Bakar, Umar, Uthmaan, Ali and all other companions(رضي الله عنهم اجمعين) loved the Prophet to the highest degree possible. and due to this they became known as, (رضي الله عنهم ورضوا عنه) “Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him.”
(Surah Tauba Ayah no.100)
We also believe that the manner in which to love and obey the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was demonstrated to us by example of the companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), taught the companions how to love him, and their love for him was of the highest level possible. No believer whose truly loves the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) can disagree with this.
But unfortunately there are people today who have introduced and adopted different ways of love for the Prophet, ways that were not practiced by the noble companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين). There are many examples of this including: specifying the 12th of Rabiul-Awwal for celebrating the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birthday, lighting special kind of lamps, hoisting flags to march in the streets, feeding and distributing money to the poor and celebrating that day as a holiday, making images of the green mausoleum (dome) that is above the blessed grave of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) at Madeenah; and parading and rotating it around in the streets and markets, forming congregational gathering in order to send peace and blessings upon the prophet in a collective audible fashion. All the above acts are without doubt, innovated matters in the religion, are in opposition to the methodology of the companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين) and in fact contradict the actions of the companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين).
This is due to the saying of the Prophet:
“Upon you is to cling to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs.” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhee who graded it Hasan, Saheeh)
To celebrate the 12th Rabiul-Awwal as the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birthday and to perform all the above-mentioned acts is not regarded as 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 Issa’s birthday on the 25th December. And we have been commanded to oppose and differ from the People of the Book (Jews & Christians)
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: Oppose the People of Book (Jews & Christians)” (Musnad Ahmed, Hadeeth no. 2234).
If in reality, celebrating the Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birthday was such a magnificent and blessed action, than how is it possible that the companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين) did not get a chance to do it? Why did they deprive themselves of such blessing and reward? However, it is abundantly clear and a matter of consenus, that the companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين) were, without exception, zealous and enthusiastic in following all of the examples of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and they would be the first to do an action if there was reward in it.
A historical analysis of the reality in celebrating the Prophet’s birthday
Six centuries of Islam had passed and there was no sign of this innovated act. The era of the companions passed by (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين), the era of the Tabe’een passed by, the period of the great Imams of Hadeeth and Jurists passed by, not one of them observed this innovated act.
Rather it was introduced in 604 A.H by an extravagant king called Muzafar-Adeen (died 630 A.H);. He paid a worldly scholar by the name of Umar Bin Dahiyyah (died 633 A.H.) to legislate the permissibility of this celebration. Umar Bin Dahiyyah, a man devoted to worldly pleasures, was rewarded with one thousand Dinaars by the King. Thus he was responsible for introducing this innovated act1.
Now let us examine the rulings and judgments of the classical scholars, regarding the extravagant king and the worldly scholar.
The great historian Ahmed Bin Muhammad Misree writes:
“Muzafar-Deen was an extravagant king who would celebrate the Prophet’s birthday. He was the first person who introduced this act.”2
“Also nearly every year he would spend approximately three hundred thousand rupees on this innovated act.”3
Imam Ibn Kathir said that the innovating scholar Umar Bin Dahiyyah was a liar. People discarded his narrations, and held themselves back from trusting any of his sayings. As such he was totally rejected and degraded (by the people of knowledge).4
Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalaani says: about Umar Ibn Dahiyyah: “He was very impudent and would speak disrespectfully of the great Imams and the Salaf, he possessed a filthy evil tongue, he was extremely foolish, stupid, and arrogant, had a very little insight of the affairs of the Deen, and was lazy.”5
Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani also narrates: Ibn Tujjar’s saying: “I found that there was a consensus amongst the people regarding Umar Ibn Dahiyyah being a liar and weak.”6
Allamah Abdur-Rahman Maghrabee has written in his Fataawaa: “No doubt, the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday is an innovation, it was never practiced by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), nor his companions the rightly guided caliphs, and the great Imams; and nor did anyone of them command that it should be done.7
Allamah Ahmed Bin Muhammad Misree Maalikee says: “ Verily there is a consensus amongst the scholars of the Four Madhabs on the condemnation of this action.”8
Oh respectful Muslim! In the light of the above evidences as well as many other proofs, it should clear to you that not a single person from the best generations (i.e. the companions and the two generations that came after them) until the 6th century of Islam were aware of this innovated act. It only became known in the 7th century of Islam due to the effort of an extravagant king and a worldy innovating scholar.
If after knowing all this, a person still insists that this is a rewarding action, or it is a cause of attaining closeness to Allah and His messenger, or an act of love and gratitude, then the cure for this person can only be given by Allah, and the cure is guidance.
Is there a consensus amongst the classical scholars of history regarding the birth date of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)?
So let us analyze the actual day that people specify for the Prophet’s birthday. Is it really the exact day on which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was born?
Imam Ibn Kathir in his book “Al-Bidaayah Wan-Nihaayah” has narrated all the differing opinions of the scholars:
1. The Prophet was born on the 2nd of Rabiul-Awwal.
2. The Prophet was born on the 8th of Rabiul-Awwal.
3. The Prophet was born on the 10th of Rabiul-Awwal.
4. The Prophet was born on the 12th of Rabiul-Awwal.
5. The Prophet was born on the 18th of Rabiul-Awwal.
6. The Prophet was born on the 17th of Rabiul-Awwal.
7. The Prophet was born on the 12th of Ramadhanul-Mubarak9.
8. The prophet was born on the 9th Rabiul-Awwal.
Allamah Mubarakpuri chose the last opinion in his book “The Sealed Nectar”.
Respectful reader! From the above evidence, you now know that the honorable Imams were not able to specify an actual birth date for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). How then is it possible that the so called scholars of today are able to specify a birth date when the Imams, the scholars of history, and the Muhadetheen, were not able to do so? And what evidence do these so called scholars refer to?
We say in response that those who celebrate the Prophet’s birthday that in reality they are celebrating the Prophets death anniversary as the date of demise of the Prophet was on the 12th Rabiul-Awwal.10
A final word: May Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, give all the Muslims the ability to abstain from all types of innovation and desires, and guide all Muslims to follow the Qur’aan and Sunnah according to the Understanding of the noble companions (رضي الله عنهم اجمعين). Ameen!
Translated by Zulfiker Ibrahim Al-Atharee
Masjidut-Taybah, Sylvan Avenue, off Prospect Hill, Leicester, England. U.K.
مركز الأمام ابن تيميته للبحوث كراشي باكستان: ناشر 11