Celebrating Prophet’s Birthday is Bid’ah

Celebrating Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Birthday is Bid’ah

Praise be to Allah.

Should this occasion truly be celebrated? This is a question that arises every single year upon the advent of the Islamic month of Rabi' al-awwal. The almost self-evident counter question here would be, did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself ever celebrate his birthday? Did his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) ever celebrate it? Are there any reports of this Ummah’s pious predecessors (the Salaf) ever having celebrated it? The answer is an obvious and resounding NO, thus providing a huge problem for those who wish to take this day as a day of ‘Eid alongside the two ‘Eids as legislated in the pure prophetic Sunnah.

Should this occasion truly be celebrated? This is a question that arises every single year upon the advent of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-awwal. The almost self-evident counter question here would be, did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself ever celebrate his birthday? Did his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) ever celebrate it? Are there any reports of this Ummah’s pious predecessors (the Salaf) ever having celebrated it? The answer is an obvious and resounding NO, thus providing a huge problem for those who wish to take this day as a day of ‘Eid alongside the two ‘Eids as legislated in the pure prophetic Sunnah.

There is nothing in the Quran to say that we should celebrate the Mawlid or birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Prophet himself (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not do this or command anyone to do it, either during his lifetime or after his death. Indeed, he told them not to exaggerate about him as the Christians had exaggerated about Jesus (upon whom be peace). He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not exaggerate about me as the Christians exaggerated about the son of Maryam. I am only a slave, so say, ‘The slave of Allah and His Messenger.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari).

What has been reported is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made the day of his birth a day of worship, which is different to celebration. He was asked about fasting on Mondays, and he said: “That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I was entrusted with the Mission or when I was first given Revelation.” (Reported by Muslim, al-Nisaa’i and Abu Dawood).

Moreover, we know that the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) were the people who loved the Prophet most.

Was it reported that Abu Bakr, who was the closest of people to him and the one who loved him the most, celebrated the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)?

Was it reported that ‘Umar, who ruled for twelve years, or ‘Uthmaan, did this?

Was it reported that ‘Ali, his relative and foster son, did this?

Was it reported that any of the Sahabah did this?

No, by Allah! Is it because they were not aware of its importance, or did they not truly love the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? No one would say such a thing except one who has gone astray and is leading others astray.

Did any of the imaams – Abu Haneefah, Maalik, al-Shaafi’i, Ahmad, al-Hasan al-Basri, Ibn Seereen – do this or command others to do it or say that it was good?

By Allah, no!

It was not even mentioned during the first and best three centuries. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said in a saheeh hadeeth: “The best of mankind are my generation (or my century), then those who come after them, then those who come after them. Then there will come a people who will not care if their testimony comes before their oath or vice versa (i.e., they will not take such matter seriously).” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Muslim and al-Tirmidhi).

The celebration of the Prophet’s birthday appeared many centuries later, when many of the features of true religion had vanished and bid’ah had become widespread.

Thus this celebration became a sign of one’s love for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? But can it be possible that the Sahabah, the Imaams and the people of the best three centuries were unaware of it, and it was only those who came later who were aware of its importance?!

The first ever Mawlid (celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday was on the 12th of the Islamic month Rabee al-Awwal) was organized by Shi’a Fatimids they belonged to the Ismaili branch of the Shi’a. They ruled Egypt between the years of 297-567 Hijri year. Mawlid was organized in the palace and only the statesmen could attend them.

The first Mawlid by Sunni Muslims was organized by Muzaffar ad-Din ibn Zain al-Din, who was the ruler of Irbil (in Iraq), in Hijri year of 604. Those ceremonies which were organized with long-term preparations were attended by all people. Muzaffar ad-Din invited Islamic scholars, student of knowledge and Sufis from the neighboring regions to Irbil.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Every innovation is misguidance and going astray” [Reported by Abu Dawood (no. 4607), at-Tirmidhee (no. 2676) and it is saheeh. Ibn Hajr authenticated it Takhreej Ahaadeeth Ibn ul-Haajib (1/137).]

Plus the Prophet (pbuh) said: “… and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Hellfire.” [Reported by an-Nasaa’ee (1/224) from Jaabir bin Abdullaah and it is saheeh as declared by Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmoo’ ul Fataawaa (3/58).]

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “He who innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it, will have it rejected.” Recorded in, Bukhari and Muslim. Also the prophet said, “Whoever does an act which is not in agreement with our matter, will have it rejected.” [Sahih Muslim]

The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Never was a prophet before me, but he disclosed to his people what he knew to be best for them, and warned them of what he knew to be evil for them.” [Sahih Muslim].

Every act of worship that would bring any Muslim closer to Jannah (Gardens of Paradise) the Prophet (pbuh) taught us about it. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “There is nothing that would bring you closer to Jannah (Gardens of Paradise) and farther from the Fire but it has been clarified [by me] to you.” [Recorded by Ahmad and others; authenticated by al-Albaanee and others.]

So how could Mawlid be something that leads to Jannah (Gardens of Paradise), be best for Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never knew about (let alone teach it) when the hadiths above indicate all good act of worship the prophet taught the ummah before he died. This is why there is no bid’ah hasanahs (good innovations) as all good acts of worship the prophet taught the ummah.

Moreover celebrating Mawlid is haraam because a Muslim is only suppose to celebrate two festivals, Eid al-‘Adha and Eid al-Fitr as these are confirmed in the sunnah of the Prophet. So celebrating this day involves opposing the Sunnah of the Prophet which is clear cut haraam.

Abu Dawood (1134) narrated that Anas said: When the Messenger of Allah came to Madinah they had two days when they would play. He said: “What are these two days?” They said: “We used to play on these days during the Jaahiliyyah (before Islam).” The Messenger of Allah said: “Allah has given you instead of them two days that are better than them: the day of al-Adha and the day of al-Fitr.” [This hadith was classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih Abi Dawood]

Those who celebrate Mawlid are imitating the Christians (disbelievers) by imitating their celebration of ‘Isa’s (Jesus) birth day (Christmas). The only differences between the two are the names of the celebrations and which one of Allahs prophets’ birthday is being celebrated. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3512]

Those who deviate from the Prophet Muhammad’s guidance are destroyed. The Prophet said, “…. I have left you upon clear guidance. Its night is like its day. No one deviates (by doing bid’ah (innovation)), from it after me except that he is destroyed.” [Ahmad, Ibn Maajah (no. 43) and al-Haakim. It is declared sahih by Shaykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no. 937).]

What the Quran tells us is that love of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is demonstrated by following the guidance he brought. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Say (O Muhammad): ‘If you (really) love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Say: ‘Obey Allah and the Messenger.’ But if they turn away, then Allah does not like the disbelievers.” [Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:31-32]

The first aayah explains that love is just a claim, but the proof of sincerity is following what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) brought. The second aayah reaffirms the importance and necessity of obeying Allah and His Messenger. Hence Allah ended the aayah with a very stern warning in which those who refuse to obey are described as kaafirs, and Allah does not love the disbelievers.

We ask Allah to keep us safe from that. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us of the danger of not obeying him, and the danger of adding to what he brought. The celebration of Mawlid or his birthday is indeed an addition to what he brought – as all the scholars agree. He  (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best of speech is the Book of Allah, and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The most evil of things are those which are newly-invented (in religion), and every innovation is a going astray.” (Reported by Muslim and al-Nisaa’i).

We ask Allah to protect us from bid’ah and to bless us by helping us to follow. Allah knows best. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad.

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