Please refer to 12 Points on Mawlid | Part 1 before reading further.
The purported date of birth of the Prophet ﷺ is the same date of his death (Monday 12th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal). Therefore, joy on that day is not more appropriate than sadness as expressed by several scholars, like Ibn Al-Haaj Al-Maliki and al-Fakhany.
Ibn Al-Haj Al-Maliki said that: “The most surprising of their celebrations is that, they give parties of songs and pomp for his birth on that day, while he moved into dignity in heavens (his death) which is the worse distress the nation has ever been afflicted with and for which – according to the criteria they drew for themselves -, they should weep and sorrow instead of the pomp and ceremony.” [Al-Madkhal 2/16].
It is worthy of mention that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet ﷺ is common in Muslim territories adjacent to Christian nations such as Egypt and Shaam (now including Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan) even though the Christians celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus – peace be upon him -, and the anniversaries of his family members as well. Unfortunately, the Muslims imitate them in that, and consequently, the heresy spread among the Muslims.
So celebrating the birthday of the Prophet ﷺ was another confirmation of his saying in the Hadith that: “You will follow the ways of those who came before you, a span by span and an arm by an arm, even if they enter into a dabb lizard’s hole you will follow them.” We said, “Oh Allah messenger! (You mean) the Jews and Christians?” He replied, “Who else?” An authentic hadith collected by al-Bukhari and Muslim in their Saheehs.
The Muslims’ imitation of the Jews and Christians reached a degree that the scholar As-Sakhaawi said, “…as those who worship the Cross have taken the birthday of their prophet as their greatest day of feast, so the Muslims are much eligible to take their prophet’s birthday as a day of feast.” However, this view was refuted by Mulla Ali Al-Qarri, that, “The fact is that Muslims are instructed to contradict them and not follow them…” [Al-Mawrid Al-Rawi pg. 29].
Loving Allah’s messenger is not indicated by celebrating on his birthday but by following his Sunnah, and giving it preference over any other view or opinion and practice. We must realize that the Prophet ﷺ and his companions – may Allah be pleased with them all -, were the best of those who worship Allah – the Mighty and Sublime – and the most virtuous of this nation; yet, they never held celebrations on his birthday, and our religion orders us to follow them!
The fact that we must be pleased with the Prophet ﷺ is not a one day affair; that must be every day. We should be pleased with obeying his orders and refraining from his prohibitions, empowering our faith therewith and earning the goodness and prosperity of this world and the hereafter.
The Prophet ﷺ had said that, “Do not glorify me as Christians glorify the son of Maryam; I am Allah’s servant. Therefore you should rather say, ‘Allah’s servant and His Messenger.”
The most of those celebrations constitute exaggerated glorification and veneration of the Prophet ﷺ, thereby flouting his orders!
Quite strangely, even the scholars who defend celebrating the Prophet’s birthday admit that there is dispraised exaggerated glorification during the celebrations as serious as words of disbelief! Worst still when some people overstepped all bounds and composed books including fabricated statements ascribed to the Prophet ﷺ.
For instance, Abdullah Al-Ghumari, one of the prominent contemporary Sufi figures said that:
“The books about the prophet’s birthday are full of fabricated ahadith which have become a stable creed in the brains of the generality of the people! I am looking forward to composing a book about the prophet’s birthday but it will be free from two things: The fabricated ahadith and the ugly rhymed texts.”
The point here is that: Going overboard in the matters of worship is generally prohibited in Islam. Allah the Mighty and Sublime says:
“O people of the book (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah except the truth.” [Surat An-Nisaa: 171]. And the instruction applies to us.
Additionally, praising the Prophet ﷺ with something not confirmed in our religion falls under the meaning of the Hadith that: “… and anyone who ascribes a lie to me, let him occupy his place in the Hell.” An authentic Hadith collected by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in the Saheehs.
Moreover, the virtues of the Prophet ﷺ are not from the things that should be taken with negligence. They are traits Allah has endowed him and negligence and nonchalance regarding them could dangerously be used to alter the entire Shariah in the minds of the weak. Otherwise, the Islamic Shariah is preserved by Allah – the Mighty and Sublime.
The matter is so sensitive that Abu Muhammad Al-Juwayni, the father of Imam al-Haramayn considers whoever lies and ascribes such to the Prophet ﷺ as a disbeliever. Therefore, all exaggerations and extremism must be thrown to the flames; otherwise, their holders will burn in the Fire.
The events that hold in these dispraised birthday celebrations are clearly noticed by all; things of corruption such as:
Accusing others who don’t support such birthdays of hating the Prophet ﷺ forgetting that the epitome of love and reverence for the Prophet ﷺ lies in following his lines of conduct and avoiding heresies in the name of the religion.
Dancing and use of fabricated expressions, actions, made up stories and so on.
In this context, Sheikh Ali Mahfoud Al-Azhari said, “There is excessive spending and wasting of properties and time…” [Al-Ibdaa’ pg. 324].
I add: And such waste of time and money are clearly prohibited in the sources of Islam. They are grievous sins seriously condemned in Islam even when that is regarding things that are allowed in the religion; how about when the extravagance is has to do with dispraised and prohibited affairs?!
There is a consensus of Muslims that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet ﷺ is a heresy added to the religion of Islam even though some of the scholars differ whether it is a good or bad thing to do. A few of scholars consider it a good innovation due to some advantages they think it brings!
However, many of the researching well-grounded scholars – past and present – affirm that conducting such birthday celebration is prohibited in Islam. It is a sin according to the Islamic Shariah which absolutely prohibits newly-invented matters in the religion.
Of course the religion has approved and legislated the ‘Eid festivals but not birthdays at all. So, even though some consider it fabulous good (!), by way of blocking the means towards grave evils most of the scholars rule that it is prohibited. It was something that was never established by the Prophet ﷺ nor his companions and neither those upon their lines of conduct in succeeding generations!
More so, the Prophet ﷺ never distinguished between good heresy and any other; he rather affirmed that, “…every heresy is misguidance.”
Imam Malik had said: “Whoever introduces a heresy into this religion and considers it good has claimed that Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) betrayed the message he had been sent with. Allah – the Exalted – says:
‘Today I have completed your religion and have perfected my grace on you.’ [Surat Al-Maidah: 3]
So, whatever wasn’t part of Islam on that day, will never be a part of the religion on any other day.” From Al-I’tisaam by Ash-Shaatibi.
Some of the scholars who ruled that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet ﷺ is heresy:
- Imam Ash-Shatibi in his book Al-I’tisaam 1/34; he mentioned in its first pages along with other heresies he condemned.
- Imam Al-Fakhany.
- Ibn Al-Haj Al-Maliki.
- The scholar of Indian sub-continent, Abu Al-Tayyib Shams Al-Haq; and his Sheikh, Bashier Al-Deen Qannoji, who had compiled a book specifically on the subject. See his comments on the authentic Hadith, “Anyone who invents in our religion what is (originally) not from it, it will rejected” in his annotation of Sunan ad-Daaruqutni.
- The highly esteemed scholar, Abu Abdullah Al-Haffar Al-Maliki from the Arab Maghreb said that: “Celebrating the birthday of the Prophet ﷺ was not done by the most virtuous generation after the Prophet ﷺ who were his companions. They did not use to distinguish it from other nights with any act of worship which was something they learnt from the Prophet ﷺ who did not use to worship his Lord except according to what He revealed to him.” [Al-Mi’yar Al-Muarab 7/99].
- The highly esteemed scholar, Ibn al-‘Uthaymeen – may Allah shower blessings on him – said that, “They hold celebrations of birthdays for the Prophet ﷺ because – as they say – they love the Prophet ﷺ. We say: “Welcome, if you love him, and Welcome if you love to hold celebrations for his birthday. But, be aware that there is a balance authorized by the Lord of this universe, the Best of judges who has said in his Book that: ‘If you (really) love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ [Surat Al-Imran: 31]
So if the person is faithful in his claim to love Muhammad ﷺ, he must follow him (his Sunnah); otherwise he is rather lying and doesn’t love the Prophet ﷺ because this measure is one of faith and justice. Now let’s see; was the birthday done by the Prophet ﷺ? By the rightly-guided caliphs and other companions? Was it done by those in the succeeding generations who were upon their ways? The answer to all these questions is absolute “No”, and if anyone pretends another answer, we will say: “Give us you proof if you are honest.”
- Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qardaawi, said that, “They said that these birthdays were invented by the Fatimid State in Egypt and from there it got spread to other parts of the Muslim lands whereas, there were some political objectives that lie beyond inventing these occasions. May be to make the public busy with these birthdays and other celebrations as not to think of political affairs and other matters. But to consider the birthday celebrations as part of the religion cannot be right at all.”
- Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ghazali ruled that: These birthdays are not more than fabrications. In his book, “Not Islamic” pg. 252, he said that: “Worshipping Allah by holding these birthdays is not a fundamental worship. Therefore I prefer the judgment over all of these celebrations as Fabrications and they must be rejected and not excused. Doing away with these birthday celebrations is a worldly and religious necessity. The same applies regarding celebrations of the birthday of the prophet, the night of the middle of Sha’ban, the night of the Prophet’s Ascension, Al-Qadr night and the Hijri new year! The dates of these nights would be randomly appointed, parties would be held, money extravagantly spent and public figures and leaders give speeches and provide food. To claim that they are serving Islam therewith is ironical!”
I think it is our duty to remind our Brothers and Sisters to study the history of the Mawlid and find out reality regarding its baselessness in the religion of Allah so that it enables us further love and stick to the teachings and practices of the Prophet ﷺ and the lines of conducts of his companions and their students.
I have compiled this piece based on the work of Sheikh Hasan Al-Husaini with some additions and note I feel the reader will find beneficial. – Allah willing.
For more studies on the subject, kindly refer to the booklet titled, Ruling concerning the Mawlid by Sheikh Saalih Fawzan – may Allah preserve him – published By Dakwah Corner bookstore.
May Allah accept this piece as something done for His sake; may it be of benefit to its writer and reader. I ask Allah for His protection and blessings, He is the most Generous. Oh Allah, my Lord, make my feet firm on the right path and accept our acts of worship; You Alone guide to the right path.
And the end of our supplication is: All praise and thanks to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.