Can We Celebrate The Prophet's Birthday?
What is the ruling on celebrating the Prophet's birthday?
The companion 'Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"Five matters result when five things happen: If people break their covenant with Allah, He will send an enemy against them; If they rule by other than the Law of Allah, poverty will spread among them; If they become deceptive in trade, Allah will deprive them of crops and they will be struck with famine; And if they withhold the payment of Zakah, they will be struck with drought." (Tabarani). In another narration he (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: "If they break the covenant of Allah and His Messenger, Allah will send an external enemy against them who will seize some of their possessions; If they do not rule by the Book of Allah, nor attempt to implement everything in it, Allah will spread enmity among them."
In a few days time, the newspapers, radio and television stations in most of the Muslim countries will broadcast the events of celebrating Al-Mawlid, which is the claimed birthday of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). These celebrations are usually held in huge canopies for the commemoration of this occasion on the twelfth of Rabi’ Al-Awwal of every year.
If we were to judge these celebrations according to Islamic criteria, we would discover that they should be classified as misguided innovations in the religion of Islam. It is forbidden for any Muslim to participate in these celebrations for the following reasons:
1) The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) never celebrated this during his lifetime, nor did his companions after his death. We must know that all goodness lies in following the way of the Salaf, or the first three generations of Muslims, and all evil lies in the innovations of those who came after them. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to follow the way of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). There are many evidences in this regard:
"[He] who has created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed ..." [Noble Quran 67:2]
Al Fudhayl Ibn 'Iyadh, may Allah have mercy on him, commented upon this verse by saying: ""the best in deed" means the most sincere and correct." Then he said: "If the deed was sincere in intention but incorrect in action, it will not be accepted (by Allah), and if it was correct in action but insincere in intention, then it will also be unacceptable. The correct deed is the one which coincides with the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) and is performed purely for the sake of Allah. Then he recited the verse:
"...whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous deeds and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone." [Noble Quran 18:110]
'A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"He who performs any deed which is not according to what we are upon (i.e., the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions) then it is rejected." [Sahih Muslim]
Al-'Irbadh Ibn Sariyah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"He who lives long enough will see many things which he will not recognize, therefore, hold on to my Sunnah and that of the rightly guided caliphs who succeed me; bite onto it (i.e., the Sunnah) with your molars. Stay away from innovations, because every innovation is misguidance." [Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Tirmidthi]
'Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
"Follow (the way of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him)) and do not innovate, for you have been sufficed (in guidance)."
Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
"The Sunnah is like the rescue ship of Noah, whoever who gets on board will be saved and whoever is left behind is doomed. That which made the former part of the Muslim nation guided is the only thing that will make the latter part of it guided."
Shah Al-Karmani, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
"Whoever beautifies themselves externally by adhering to the Sunnah and internally by being mindful of Allah, and purifies themselves from earning unlawful provisions, their insight will rarely be wrong." History testifies to the fact that Al-Karmani’s insight was rarely wrong.
2) This event has no firm historical foundation with regard to the exact date on which it occurred. The books of history have narrated vast differences between the scholars of Islam regarding the birth-date of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). They cannot agree on whether it was on the second, eighth, tenth, twelfth, seventeenth or twenty-second of this month. Also, there is no evidence which makes any of these opinions more correct than others.
Moreover, it is an irony that those who celebrate Al-Mawlid are partial to astronomical calculations; they consider it the only acceptable method in determining, for example, the first day of Ramadan. Yet, if we were to use this method of calculation to determine the birth-date of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), then this would show that it definitely was not on the twelfth of Rabi’ Al-Awwal. This is because we know for certain due to accurate historical sources that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) was born on a Monday. Therefore, according to astronomical calculations, he (Peace and blessings be upon him) was born on either the second, ninth, sixteenth or the twenty-third of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, which is not the twelfth as they claim.
The fact that there is such controversy regarding this date is irrefutable proof that neither the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) nor his companions, ever attached any importance to this event whatsoever when it came every year.
3) We know for sure that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) died on the twelfth of Rabi’ Al-Awwal in the eleventh Hijri year. Therefore, surely this makes that day worthier of sadness than happiness?
4) Celebrating birthdays is a Christian tradition. The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: "He who resembles a people is from them". It is the Christians who initiated the celebration of birthdays and this custom was adopted by the Muslims when their adherence to Islam became weak and resembling the disbelievers became widespread among them.
5) These festivals involve many prohibitions and some of them even lead to associating partners in the worship of Allah. In some of these festivals, poems such as the famous Al-Burdah poem are recited. Here are some of its verses which refer to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him):
You are the most honorable of all creation
I have none but you to resort to when adversities befall me
From your generosity you have provided this world and the Hereafter
Your know what is in the preserved tablet and you know the divine decree
There are many other poems which include seeking refuge with Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), seeking his aid and attributing knowledge of the unseen to him. This is despite the fact that Allah says that which translates as:
"Say: 'I [i.e., Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him)] hold not for myself [the power of] benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe.’" [Noble Quran 7:188]
The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, as narrated by 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him:
"Do not exaggerate in praising me like the Christians have praised 'Isa Ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary). I am but a slave, so call me the slave of Allah and His Messenger." [Bukhari & Muslim]
Moreover, some of these festivals include dancing, music and free-mixing between men and women. These are nothing but actions of those who take their religion as a form of amusement and distraction.
6) Every innovation removes a Sunnah - and the innovation of Al-Mawlid has eradicated much of the Sunnah. Those who celebrate Al-Mawlid think that by doing so, they have fulfilled their duty towards the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). Therefore, you find many of them, after celebrating Al-Mawlid abandoning prayers, committing sins and prohibitions and abandoning their real obligations towards the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him).
O Muslims! The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) has rights upon his nation. These rights are a way for us to express our gratitude to him for the effort he exerted in conveying Allah's message to us. He was merciful and compassionate towards the believers, just as Allah described him to be. Through him, Allah unsealed and unlocked people’s hearts and opened the ears which were hitherto deaf to guidance. Allah says:
"Just as [other bounties] We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves reciting to you Our verses and purifying you and teaching you the Book and wisdom [i.e., the Sunnah] and teaching you that which you did not know." [Noble Quran 2:151]
Among the rights of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) upon his nation are that they:
Believe in, honor and support him.
Accept what he came with to be true and not to doubt him in any matter whatsoever. He (Peace and blessings be upon him) was the most truthful and trustworthy person ever, even his enemies, the tribe of Quraysh, attested to this when one of them said to Heraclius, the Roman Ruler: "We have never experienced him to lie" to which Heraclius replied: "If he does not lie to people, then he would never lie about Allah."
Evidences for the truthfulness of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) are not restricted to the miracles that he came with, for everybody who claimed prophethood after him has been exposed as an unmistakable liar. "Uthman ibn 'Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "Anybody who conceals evil, Allah will expose it on his face, and by slips of his tongue."
Sheikh Salim Morgan