Mawlid: Celebrating the Prophet’s Birthday

Abdullah bin Hisham narrates: ‘We were with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and he was holding the hand of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab. ‘Umar said to Him, “O Allah’s Messenger! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self.” The Prophet said, “No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self.” Then ‘Umar said to him, “However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.” The Prophet said, “Now, O ‘Umar, (now you are a believer) (Bukhari, Hadith 628.)

The companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) loved their Prophet in the truest meaning of the word ‘love’. And what better way to describe the truest sense of love than the verse; ‘say, if you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you.’ In this verse, we have a criterion for judging love, that is, if you love some one, you will try to follow all his commands to the best you can. It is no wonder then, that Allah praised the companions of the Prophet at various places throughout the Quran commenting on their belief, their love, and their following of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).

The companions were the one whose knees shook and heart trembled upon the hearing of demise of their Prophet (Peace be upon him). They are the ones who adhered to his Sunnah so much so that if the Prophet (Peace be upon him) stopped at a particular place during their journey, then they would also want to stop at the same place, and if the Prophet (Peace be upon him) placed his foot on a certain place during tawaf, then they will also try to do likewise. Such were the followers of Muhammad, and they were truly followers and not innovators.

They understood what it means to love the Prophet and how they knew how to express that love in a meaningful and appropriate way. They knew the teachings of Islam and how to implement them under the guiding light of the Prophet. They are the ones whom the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was satisfied with and whom he left responsible for spreading the message of this deen.

After them came a people who introduced new matters into the religion of Allah based upon their logic or upon what influenced them from the non-Muslims societies. Among such innovations is the innovation of celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). This is a clear innovation because our salaf[1] were unaware of any such deed that we now so proudly claim to be a part of Islam.

Each and every one of the companions was happy about the birth of their Prophet and they celebrated this blessing not on a particular day but rather throughout their lives in the form of obedience to his each and every command. That is the true acceptance of his message and that is the truest form of love that you can express. We do not have a single narration that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) celebrated his birthday or ordered for such to happen. Consequently, we do not have a single example where any of the companions, or the righteous scholars that followed them celebrated such an event.

On the other hand, we have authentic narrations that mention only 2 forms of (Eid) celebrations in a year for any Muslim; Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. For both these times we have detailed explanation of how the Prophet (Peace be upon him) spent his day and night in Worship and enjoyment. This third eid; Eid Milad-un-Nabi, is an innovation that was unknown at the time of the Prophet and the roots of which can be traced back to Fourth Hijri in Cairo by the Fatimi State (Shia sect) who used to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet, Ali, Fatima, Hassan Hussain and their present monarch.

The mawlid[2] is most commonly celebrated on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awal whereas the scholars differ greatly upon the exact date of birth of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). All agree that he was born in the year of elephant (when Abraha attacked Makkah) and that he was born on a Monday[3] but when it comes to the day of the month, there are a lot of different opinions and none of them can be fully confirmed. However, one thing is for sure, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) passed away on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awal at the age of 63. That was a catastrophic day for the companions and the ummah and it makes no sense for us to celebrate a day in which the ummah suffered an irrevocable loss.

Many of those who celebrate the mawlid present different verses from the Quran[4] while playing with its meaning or interpretation as a means of justifying their actions. Do these people not realize that if the order of celebrating mawlid was in the Quran and/or the Sunnah then the prophet (Peace be upon him) would also have done it and shown us (his ummah) how to do it properly? Did the Prophet (Peace be upon him) not know the interpretation of the Quran like you now know? And we seek refuge with Allah from saying that. The truth is, no matter how many unauthentic ahadith are presented, and no matter how many wrong interpretations are offered, if the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his companions did not celebrate mawlid and did not consider it as a religious duty or a form of expression of love, then we are in no position to do so.

Also know that all the actions that we do in our lives can be categorized under one of the five categories. Either it is Fard (obligatory), or Haram (prohibited), or Sunnah (practice of the Prophet), or Makruh (disliked), or Mubah (no reward no punishment). Every action must fall into one of these mentioned categories. In regards to Mawlid we see that it is not fard or sunnah otherwise we would have found the example of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his companions. Then we are left with Makruh, Mubah and Haram. In the celebrating of Mawlid there is a clear resemblance with mushrikeen[5] and kuffar, and this resemblance (especially in religion) is absolutely haram. Also, celebrating the mawlid is a newly invented matter in the religion and all newly invented matters in the religion are haram and lead to hell fire.

Loving the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is a criteria of Eman because Allah says, “Say (O Beloved Prophet): If your fathers, and your sons, and your brothers, and your wives, and your kinsfolk, and the wealth you have acquired, and merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, and dwellings you desire, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and fighting in His Way: then wait till Allah brings His Command to pass, and Allah does not guide the disobedient people. (Quran 9:24). But this love should be expressed as the companions expressed it. They did not hold celebrations of Mawlid but rather followed him they best they could in adversity and prosperity and in peace and war.

“O you who believe! Be in reverential awe of Allah and believe in His Messenger. He (Allah) will give you twofold of His Mercy and will appoint for you a light wherein you shall walk, and will forgive you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (57:28)

“And it befits not a believing (Muslim) man or a believing (Muslim) woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter (for them), that they should (after that) claim any choice in their matter; and whoso disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has surely gone astray in manifest error.” (33:36)

 

 


[1] Predecessors. The first three generations of Islam. Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)

[2] Birthday of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)

[3] Abu Qatada al-Ansari narrates in Sahih Muslim, Kitab as-siyam, that the Prophet 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.”

[4] “Indeed Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when He sent in them a Messenger from among themselves, reciting unto them his Verses, and purifying them, and teaching them the Book (Quran) and wisdom (Sunnah),  while before that they had been in a manifest corruption.” (3:164). And Say: In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy: therein [alone] let them rejoice. It is better than what they hoard” (10:58)

[5] Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25th December

 

Glimpses of Perfection

Allah is the one who creates and then He chooses from amongst His creation. So He created the earth and chose the location of Kaba to be the most sacred. And He created the months and chose Ramadan to be the most blessed. And He created mankind and chose Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as the pinnacle of humanity. And he created the ummah and chose the companions of his messenger (Peace be upon him) to be the best amongst it.

In the lives of companions we see the clearest reflection of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) they followed. In their submission we find the elevation of mankind, and in their actions we find the tafasir of the Quran. Their speech and action portray a deep understanding of faith, and their examples serve as the benchmark for the whole humanity. They were human beings like us, yet their resolution, sincerity and perseverance in Islam allowed them to overcome obstacles to faith and acquire such a level of piety that Allah praised them through the tongue of his blessed and honorable Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

“Do not revile my companions. By (Allah) in Whose Hand my soul is!, if any one of you spends gold (piled up) like (mount) ‘Uhud it will not equal a pint of any one of them, nor its half.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari, & Muslim)

It is no secret that the times of tribulation reveal the true nature of the hearts. It is also no secret that our lives, wealth, and family are amongst the dearest things to our souls and thus the hardest obstacles to overcome on the path to faith. Glancing into the lives of the companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), we are able to witness their courage, honor, and valor as they proved their worth in front of their Lord. In their words, actions, lives, and deaths, there are glimpses of perfect faith for every Muslim to aspire and follow.

They are the sabiqoon that Allah praises in the verse “And those foremost (in faith) will be Foremost (in the Hereafter)[1]”And they are the believers whom Allah promised His pleasure in the verse, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. Thou (O Muhammad) seest them bowing and falling prostrate (in worship), seeking bounty from Allah and (His) acceptance. […] Allah hath promised, unto such of them as believe and do good works, forgiveness and immense reward.”[2] And they are the ones who have honored their promise to Allah “Of the believers are men who are true to the covenant which they made with Allah: so of them is he who accomplished his vow, and of them is he who yet waits, and they have not changed in the least.”[3] And they are the ones for whom the Quran was truly a healing and mercy, “We send down in the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe:”[4]

Verily for men and women of such standing, this world becomes a subservient slave. All the matters of this world are put under their control as they have put themselves under the control of their Lord. It is no wonder then that we find in our history bright examples of obedience and in that obedience, the glimpses of perfection of eman.

If such men recited Quran on a person, that person would be healed.[5] If they were to order inanimate objects in regards to something, their order will be obeyed.[6] Their prayer, in itself, would be enough to inspire the light of Islam in the hearts of the non-Muslims, and their belief in the promise of Allah rendered all hardships and pains as the lightest of breeze. They were walking on the face of this earth but living in the hereafter, the sweetness of faith had overcome their sense, and as a result, their hearts had over flown with contentment.

Look at the following example of one such man; Abdullah ibn Hudhafah (May Allah be pleased with him).

“In the nineteenth year after the Hijrah, ‘Umar dispatched an army to fight against the Byzantines. In it was Abdullah ibn Hudhafah As-Sahmi. News of the Muslim force reached the Byzantine emperor, Heraclius. He had heard of their sincerity of faith, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah and His Prophet. He gave orders to his men to bring to him any Muslim captives they might take alive.

Allah willed that Abdullah ibn Hudhafah should fall captive to the Byzantines and he was brought before the Emperor. The Emperor looked at Abdullah for a long time. Suddenly he said, “I shall make a proposal to you.” “What is it?” asked Abdullah. “I suggest that you become a Christian. If you do this, you will be set free and I shall grant you a safe refuge.” The prisoner’s reaction was furious: “Death is preferable to me a thousand times to what you ask me to do.” “I see that you are a bold man. However, if you respond positively to what I propose to you, I will give you a share in my authority and swear you in as my aide.” The prisoner, shackled in his chains, smiled and said, “By Allah, if you give me all that you possess and all that the Arabs have in exchange for giving up the religion of Muhammad, I shall not do so.” “Then I shall kill you.” “Do what you want,” answered Abdullah. The emperor then had him put on a cross and ordered his soldiers to throw spears at him, first near his hands and then near his feet, all the while telling him to accept Christianity or at least give up his religion. This he refused over and over again to do. The emperor then had him taken down from the wooden cross. He called for a great pot to be brought. This was filled with oil which was then heated under a fierce fire. He then had two other Muslim prisoners brought and had one of them thrown into the boiling oil. The prisoner’s flesh sizzled and soon his bones could be seen. The emperor turned to Abdullah and invited him to Christianity. This was the most terrible test that Abdullah had had to face up till now. But he remained firm and the emperor gave up trying. He then ordered that Abdullah too be thrown into the pot. As he was being taken away he began to shed tears. The emperor thought that he had at last been broken and had him brought back to him. He once more suggested that Abdullah become a Christian but to his astonishment, Abdullah refused. “Damn you! Why did you weep then?” shouted the emperor. “I cried,” said Abdullah, “because I said to myself ‘You will now be thrown into this pot and your soul will depart’. What I really desired then was to have as many souls as the number of hairs on my body and to have all of them thrown into this pot for the sake of Allah.” The tyrant then said, “Will you kiss my head? I will then set you free?” “And all the Muslim prisoners also?” asked Abdullah. This the emperor agreed to do and Abdullah said to himself, “One of the enemies of Allah! I shall kiss his head and he shall set me and all other Muslim prisoners free. There can be no blame on me for doing this.” He then went up to the emperor and kissed his forehead. All the Muslim prisoners were released and handed over to Abdullah. Abdullah ibn Hudhafah eventually came to ‘Umar ibn al Khattab and told him what had happened. ‘Umar was greatly pleased and when he looked at the prisoners he said, “Every Muslim has a duty to kiss the head of Abdullah ibn Khudhafah and I shall start.” Umar then got up and kissed the head of Abdullah ibn Hudhafah.” Source: “Companions of The Prophet”, Vol.1 by Abdul Wahid Hamid

Another companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon him); Khubaib Ibn Adiy (May Allah be pleased with him), left us with another shining example of the definition of Eman. This great companion was caught by the Mushrikeen of Makkah and hung on the cross. While on the cross his body was being pierced by spears and swords and he was then asked, “Would you not rather wish that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) be in your place while you are safe and sound with your family ?” Khubaib answered, “By God ! I would not like to be safe with my wife and children with the joys of the whole world while the Messenger of (Peace be upon him) is being hurt even with the prick of a thorn” Such was the firmness of the men surrounding the Prophet (Peace be upon him), such was their resolution, understanding, and love for their Prophet (Peace be upon him) and their faith.

They were the ones who, in their life and in their death, dedicated themselves to the propagation of Islam. An amazing hadith narrated in Bukhari (No. 2647) attests to this fact. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) sent some companions to give the message of Islam to a people, “…While one of them was conveying to them the message of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, they [the disbelievers] made a gesture to one of their men and he attacked him and stabbed him through. He [the companion] said, ‘Allah is greater! By the Lord of the Ka’ba, I have won!’ [and died]”.

A non-Muslim who was witnessing all this could not understand how a person who has been killed in such a way is saying such a statement out of happiness. That non-Muslim continued inquiring about this case until it led him to truth of Islam. It was then he realized that for a true Muslim, no joy is greater than the joy of dying upon Islam, and no death is more honorable than dying in the path of Allah.

These were the men who removed all obstacles to faith from their hearts, so their hearts became obedient to the words of Allah and his messenger. But as for us, we have erected countless barriers between our religion and our hearts. So, we recite the same Quran but it is not Shifa (cure) for our sick. And we perform the same Hajj but it is not an expiation of our sins. We make promises and then turn our backs, and we welcome with open hearts the comfort of this world while knowingly destroying any hopes of such in the hereafter. We know the truth, yet are content with lies. We know death is certain, yet treat it as doubtful. We call ourselves Muslims when we are far away from Islam. And we claim to love the messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), yet find it inconvenient to follow him in life and death.


[1] Quran 56:10

[2] Quran 48:29

[3] Quran 33:23

[4] Quran 17:82

[5] Narrated by Abu Said: Some of the companions of the Prophet went on a journey till they reached some of the ‘Arab tribes (at night). They asked the latter to treat them as their guests but they refused. The chief of that tribe was then bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and they tried their best to cure him but in vain. Some of them said (to the others), “Nothing has benefited him, will you go to the people who resided here at night, it may be that some of them might possess something (as treatment),” They went to the group of the companions (of the Prophet ) and said, “Our chief has been bitten by a snake (or stung by a scorpion) and we have tried everything but he has not benefitted. Have you got anything (useful)?” One of them replied, “Yes, by Allah! I can recite a ruqya, but as you have refused to accept us as your guests, I will not recite the ruqya for you unless you fix for us some wages for it.” They agrees to pay them a flock of sheep. One of them then went and recited (Suratul-Fatiha): ‘All the praises are for the Lord of the Worlds’ and puffed over the chief who became all right as if he was released from a chain, and got up and started walking, showing no signs of sickness. They paid them what they agreed to pay. Some of them (i.e. the companions) then suggested to divide their earnings among themselves, but the one who performed the recitation said, “Do not divide them till we go to the Prophet and narrate the whole story to him, and wait for his order.” So, they went to Allah’s Apostle and narrated the story. Allah’s Apostle asked, “How did you come to know that Surat-ul-Fatiha was recited as ruqya?” Then he added, “You have done the right thing. Divide (what you have earned) and assign a share for me as well.” The Prophet smiled thereupon.  (Book #36, Hadith #476)

[6] The Coptic Christians of Egypt used to sacrifice a girl in the name of the river Nile so that the river would not dry up. When the Muslims conquered Egypt, this practice was stopped, however that year, the river dried up. At that time, Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) sent the following letter addressed to the River itself. “From the servant of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) and Commander of the Muslims to the River of the Nile of Egypt. O Nile, if you flow of your own will, then do not flow. But if your flow is controlled by Allah, the Almighty, we pray to Him to keep you flowing.” The letter was thrown into the river bed, and since then the water has not dried up in the Nile river.