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Ruling on celebrating the birthday of the Prophet 

May 7, 2008 at 2:19 pm (Bid'ah, Fiqh and Ahkaam, Manhaj)

Tags: Bid'ah, Mawlid

Shaykh Dr. Saalih ibn Fawzaan al-Fawzaan
Member of the Committee of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia. 

Praise be to Allaah the Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.

The commands mentioned in the Qur’aan and Sunnah to follow the laws of Allaah and His Messenger, and the prohibitions on introducing innovations into the religion are quite clear. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love Allaah, then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’aan and the Sunnah), Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins’”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:31]

“Follow what has been sent down unto you from your Lord (the Qur’aan and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah), and follow not any Awliyaa’ (protectors and helpers who order you to associate partners in worship with Allaah), besides Him (Allaah). Little do you remember!”
[al-A’raaf 7:3]

“And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path”
[al-A’naam 6:153]

And the Prophet (SAWS) 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-Bukhaari, no. 2697; Muslim, no. 1718). According to a version narrated by Muslim, “Whoever doe anything that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), will have it rejected.”
Among the reprehensible innovations that people have invented is the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet (SAWS), calling upon him, seeking his support against their enemies and so on.

Whatever form it takes and whatever the intentions of those who do this are, there is no doubt whatsoever that it is an invented, haraam innovation which was introduced by the Shi’a Faatimids after the three best centuries, in order to corrupt the religion of the Muslims. The first person to do this after them was the king al-Muzaffar 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 and others. Abu Shaamah 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.

Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer said in al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah (13/137), in his biography of Abu Sa’eed Kazkaboori: “He used to observe the Mawlid in Rabee’ al-Awwal and hold a huge celebration on that occasion… some of those who were present at the feast of al-Muzaffar on some occasions of the Mawlid said that he used to offer in the feast five thousand grilled heads of sheep, ten thousand chickens and one hundred thousand large dishes, and thirty trays of sweets… he would let the Sufis sing from Zuhr until Fajr, and he himself would dance with them.”

Ibn Khalkaan said in Wafiyaat al-A’yaan (3/274): “When it is the first of Safar they decorate those domes with various kinds of fancy adornments, and in every dome there sits a group of singers and a group of puppeteers and players of musical instruments, and they do not leave any one of those domes without setting up a group (of performers) there.

The people give up work during this period, and they do no work except going around and watching the entertainment. When there are two days to go until the Mawlid, they bring out a large number of camels, cows and sheep, more than can be described, and they accompany them with all the drums, songs and musical instruments that they have, until they bring them to the square… On the night of the Mawlid there are performances of nasheed after Maghrib in the citadel.”

This is the origin of this celebration on the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday. More recently idle entertainment, extravagance, and wasting of money and time have become associated with an innovation for which Allaah has not sent down any authority.

What Muslims should do is to revive the Sunnah and put an end to bid’ah (innovation); they should not do any action until they know the ruling of Allaah concerning it.

Ruling on celebrating the Prophet’s birthday
Celebrating the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet (SAWS) or of the khaleefahs who succeeded him. Since this is the case, then it is a forbidden innovation, because the Prophet (SAWS) or enjoined by him, and was not done by the khaleefahs who succeeded him, this action implies that he is accusing the Messenger of not explaining the religion to the people, and that he disbelieves in the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you”
[al-Maa'idah 5:3]
because he is adding something extra and claiming that it is a part of the religion, but the Messenger (SAWS) is an imitation of the Christians, because they celebrate the birth of the Messiah (peace be upon him). Imitating them is extremely haraam. The hadeeth tells us that it is forbidden to imitate the kuffaar, and we are commanded to differ from them. The Prophet (SAWS) is also a means that leads to exaggeration and excess in venerating him, which even goes as far as calling upon him (making du’aa’ to him) and seeking his help, instead of calling upon Allaah, as happens now among many of those who observe the bid’ah of the Mawlid, when they call upon the Messenger instead of Allaah, and ask him for support, and sing qaseedahs (odes) of shirk praising him, like Qaseedat al-Burdah etc. The Prophet (SAWS) forbade us to exaggerate concerning him lest the same thing happen to us as happened to them, so he said:
“Beware of exaggeration, for those who came before you were destroyed because of exaggeration” (narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 5/268; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Nasaa’i, no. 2863).

4 – 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. Hence you find that the innovators are very active when it comes to bid’ah and very lazy when it comes to the Sunnah; they hate it and regard those who follow it as enemies, until their entire religion is innovated anniversaries and Mawlids. They have split into various groups, each of which commemorates the anniversary of its imaam’s birth, such as the births of al-Badawi, Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Dasooqi and al-Shaadhili. No sooner do they end the celebration of one birthday but they start the celebration of another. This results in exaggeration concerning these dead people and others, and in calling upon them instead of Allaah, believing that they can bring benefit and cause harm, until they deviate from the religion of Allaah and go back to the religion of the people of the Jaahiliyyah of whom Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And they worship besides Allaah things that harm them not, nor profit them, and they say: ‘These are our intercessors with Allaah’”
[Yoonus 10:18]

“And those who take Awliyaa’ (protectors, helpers, lords, gods) besides Him (say): ‘We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allaah’”
[al-Zumar 39:3]

Discussing the specious arguments of those who celebrate the Mawlid

Those who think that this bid’ah should be continued produce specious arguments which are flimsier than a spider’s web. These specious arguments may be dealt with as follows:
1 – Their claim that this is veneration of the Prophet (SAWS) the most were the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them), as ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ood said to Quraysh: “O people, by Allaah I have visited kings. I went to Caesar, Chosroes and the Negus, but by Allaah I never saw a king whose companions venerated him as much as the companions of Muhammad venerated Muhammad (SAWS), and what is proven from the Prophet is that innovations are forbidden in general, and this is an innovation. What people do, if it goes against the evidence (daleel), does not prove anything, even if many of them do it.

“And if you obey most of those on the earth, they will mislead you far away from Allaah’s path”
[al-An’aam 6:116 – interpretation of the meaning]

Nevertheless, in every age, praise be to Allaah, there have always been those who denounce this bid’ah and state clearly that it is false. Those who persist in following it after the truth had been explained to them have no proof.
Among those who denounced the celebration of this occasion was Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, in
Iqtidaa’ al-Siraat al-ustaqeem; Imaam al-Shaatibi in al-‘I’tisaam; Ibn al-Haaj in al-Madkhil; Shaykh Taaj al-Deen ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar al-Lakhami who wrote an entire book denouncing it; Shaykh Muhammad Basheer al-Sahsawaani al-Hindi in his book Siyaanah al-Insaan; al-Sayyid Muhammad Rasheed Ridaa wrote a separate essay on this topic; Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem Aal al-Shaykh wrote a separate essay on it; Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz; and others who are still writing and denouncing this bid’ah every year in the pages of newspapers and magazines, at the time when this bid’ah is being done.
3 – They say that by celebrating the Mawlid they are keeping the memory of the Prophet (SAWS) is constantly kept alive by the Muslim, such as when his name (SAWS) in his prayers and when he is mentioned, and every time the Muslim does a waajib (obligatory) or mustahabb (recommended) action that was prescribed by the Messenger (SAWS). Thus the Muslim constantly keeps the memory of the Messenger alive and has a connection with him night and day throughout his life through that which Allaah has prescribed, not only on the day of the Mawlid and things which are bid’ah and go against the Sunnah, for that puts one at a distance from the Messenger (SAWS) has no need of this innovated celebration, because Allaah has already bestowed veneration and respect upon him, as He says:

“and raised high your fame”
[al-Sharh 94:4]

For Allaah is not mentioned in the adhaan, iqaamah or khutbah, but the Messenger <!–#include virtual=”/saws.htm” –>(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is mentioned after Him; this is sufficient veneration, love and renewal of his memory, ad sufficient encouragement to follow him.
Allaah did not refer to the birth of the Messenger (SAWS) 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-Bukhaari, no. 2697; al-Fath, 5/355). And he said, “Every innovation is a going astray” (narrated by Ahmad, 4/126; al-Tirmidhi, no. 2676). The ruling on innovations is that they are all misguidance, but this specious argument suggests that not every bid’ah is a going astray, rather there are good innovations. 

Al-Haafiz ibn Rajab said in Sharh al-Arba’een: “The words of the Prophet (SAWS) led his companions in praying Taraaweeh for a while, then he stopped doing that, lest that become obligatory on them. The Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) continued to pray it separately during the life of the Prophet (SAWS). This was not an innovation introduced into the religion.
Writing down the hadeeth also has a basis in Islam. The Prophet (SAWS) died, this fear was no longer a factor, because the Qur’aan had been completed and arranged in order before he died. The Muslims compiled the Sunnah after that in order to preserve it and keep it from being lost. May Allaah reward them with good on behalf of Islam and the Muslims, because they preserved the Book of their Lord and the Sunnah of their Prophet (SAWS) most and who were most keen to do good and give thanks? Are those who introduced the innovation of the Mawlid more rightly-guided than them? Do they give more thanks to Allaah? Definitely not!
6 – They may say that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (SAWS) is prescribed in Islam!
The answer to that is that undoubtedly loving the Prophet (SAWS) implies keeping his Sunnah alive, adhering firmly to it, and avoiding words and deeds that go against it. Undoubtedly everything that goes against his Sunnah is a reprehensible innovation (bid’ah) and a manifest act of disobedience. That includes celebrating his birthday and other kinds of bid’ah. A good intention does not mean that it is permissible to introduce innovations into the religion. Islam is based on two things, purity of intention and following [the Prophet (SAWS) on this occasion, they are encouraging people to follow his example!
We say to them that reading the biography of the Prophet (SAWS).
In conclusion, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (SAWS) said:
“Whoever among you lives (for a long time) will see many differences. I urge you to follow my Sunnah and the way of the rightly-guided khaleefahs who come after me. Hold on to it firmly. Beware of newly-invented matters, for every innovation is a going astray.” (Narrated by Ahmad, 4/126; al-Tirmidhi no. 2676). So the Prophet (SAWS) or in the way of the rightly-guided khaleefahs, then it is one of the newly-invented matters, one of the bid’ahs which lead people astray. This principle is what is implied by this hadeeth and is what is indicated by the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allaah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination”
[al-Nisaa’ 4:59]
Referring to Allaah means referring to His Book, and referring to the Messenger (SAWS)
bayna al-Ijlaal wa’l-Ikhlaal, p. 139

 

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