Christmas Lessons: Prophets Birthday

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“Say O People of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds of (what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth. Nor follow the vein desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, — who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even Way.” [Al-Maidah, 5:77]

Both Muslims and serious Christians can learn a lot from Christmas, the annual celebration of the victory of paganism over the religion of Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ), alayhi salam.

No one disputes that the event and all its symbols came from pagan religions; it has nothing to do with the birth or teachings of Jesus Christ. For one thing, no one knows with certainty the date of birth of Jesus Christ. “In fact, dates in almost every month in the year were suggested by reputable scholars at one time or another,” notes The American Book of Days. For another, the celebration of birthdays is itself a pagan idea, never promoted by any Prophet or Book of God, including the Bible. Early Church leaders opposed it strongly. As late as 245 CE African Church father and philosopher Origen wrote that it was sinful even to contemplate observing Jesus’s birthday `as though he were a King Pharaoh.”[The American Book of Days].

But the pagan world did have prayers and celebrations during the winter season. Those who worshipped the sun god because of its apparent power, used to become concerned about the fate of their god, in a world of many gods, as days became shorter and air very cold. It looked like the sun was being defeated by the god of snow that brought death and misery with it. “… in Rome, the sun in its winter solstice was at its weakest on December 25 and had to be born anew with the help of bonfires, lights, processions and prayer.” [Reader’s Digest Book of Christmas]. The Roman pagan celebration was called Saturnalia. The Persians also had similar celebrations for Mithras, their sun god.

The evergreens, holly, ivy, and mistletoe plants, which remained green even during this wintertime, were similarly considered by the pagans to have magical powers. The Druids, whose Stonehenge temples can be seen in England, regarded mistletoe with reverence and used to burn it in sacrifice during the solstitial festivities. They also used to hang it in their houses. When you don’t know the One True God, even leaves and plants can become god. They thought it brought good luck, fertility, and protection from witchcraft, and was an antidote to poison. Mistletoe is used even today, although the U.N. might consider banning it if the fertility claim proves true!

In 1822 a Dr. Clement Moore, professor of divinity, wrote a poem titled “The visit of St. Nicholas.” The poem became popular and Santa Claus was born. The reason for popularity? “… the time was ripe. A myth was needed, and the recreation of `old Christmas’ was well in the wind.”[William Sanson, A Book of Christmas]. Some decades later The New York Sun answered an 8 year old’s question: Is there a Santa Claus? The answer has become classic and is worth noting. “Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.” So Santa Claus is divine, and judging from the Christmas celebrations, certainly more important than Jesus Christ himself.

Early church leaders wanted to Christianize the pagan festivities, but their operating principle became: When you can’t beat them, join them. For as Pope Gregory declared in 601 CE, “… from obdurate minds it is impossible to cut off everything at once.” It was a license for another pearl of “wisdom”: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

And so they did. First slowly and then rapidly. The Son of God replaced the sun god. Saturnalia was replaced by the ceremony for Christ or Christ Mass, which later became Christmas. For several centuries it was solely a church anniversary, observed by religious services. “At Christmas, men and women were not, repeat not, to dress up or mime; there were not to be auguries, such as superstitions about fire; houses were not to be decorated, no presents given, no well-laden tables, and a strict watch was to be kept on drink.” But false religion drives out true religion. Consider Christmas gifts, a carryover from the Roman practice of giving dolls as gift in lieu of their earlier barbaric custom of offering human sacrifices. “The early Church frowned on gift giving as a pagan custom. But the people enjoyed it too much to abandon it, and so finally the Church accepted the idea and sanctioned it.” [Barbara Rinkoff, The Family Christmas Book]. Evergreens? “The early church forbade the use of them, but here again the custom was too deeply rooted and the ban was ignored. Finally the church accepted the use of evergreens for decoration.” And on and on. Now consider this portrait of Saturnalia and contrast it with the original don’ts mentioned above: “… a fortnight of near riot, of drunkenness, noise and games, naked slaves singing, men dressing up as animals and behaving with less dignity, sex, often with perversion.” [Reader’s Digest Book of Christmas]. Anyone can see which picture represents today’s Christmas more closely.

With the advent of Capitalism, the old pagans got a new supporter in the form of the adman. George Bernard Shaw observed: “Christmas is forced on a reluctant … nation by…shopkeepers and the press.” This is how they can serve God, and make money at the same time. This in itself is a pagan idea and it is alive and well today.

This defeat of Christianity at the hands of paganism must be contrasted with Islam’s resounding victory over it. Before Islam, Arabia was a pagan country–big time. But none of the pagan customs survived after Islam. None whatsoever. There was no such thing as `the people wanted it very much so the church allowed it.’ Islam completely eradicated not only the beliefs but also the practices and the symbols of paganism. This in itself is a miracle that serious students of comparative religions must reflect upon. Here is a living proof of the authenticity of the last Messenger, Salla-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

The success continued throughout the centuries. The secret of this great success lies in what Stuart Brown (The Nearest in Affection, see book review), deplores as Muslim “antipathy to innovation.” The first Khalifah, Abu Bakr, Radi-Allahu anhu, had declared in his first address as the new ruler, that he was a follower not an innovator, thereby setting the tone for all successors.

Throughout Islamic history there have been attempts to introduce bida (innovation) as innocent good practices, but unlike Christianity, there have always been rightly guided ulema who fought them strongly. The struggle continues today. Yes, Muslims can learn from Christmas. Those of us who may be wondering what is wrong with Milad Nabi celebrations may do well to realize that Christmas also started as Milad for Jesus Christ.



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Rabi ul-Awwal

From Superstitions into Light

Rabi’ul-Awwal is the most significant month in the Islamic history, because humanity has been blessed in this month by the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Before the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, not only the Arabian peninsula, but also the so-called civilized nations of Rome and Persia were drowned in the darkness of ignorance, superstitions, oppression and unrest. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came with the eternal truth of Tawhid (Oneness of Allah), the only faith which provides a firm basis for the real concepts of knowledge, equity and peace. It was this faith which delivered humanity from ignorance and superstitions and spread the light of true knowledge all over the world.

Islamic Celebrations

Thus the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most significant and the most remarkable event in human history. Had there been room in Islamic teachings for the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would have undoubtedly deserved it more than the birthday of any other person. But that is against the nature of Islamic teachings. That is why, unlike Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism, there are very few festivals in Islam, which provides for only two Eids (Eidul-fitr and Eidul-Adha) during the whole year. The dates of these two Eids do not correspond to the birthday of any of the outstanding persons of Islamic history, nor can their origin be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened in these dates.

Both of these two Eids have been prescribed for paying gratitude to Allah on some happy events that take place every year. The first event is the completion of the fasts of Ramadan and the second event is the completion of Hajj, another form of worship regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.

The manner prescribed for the celebration of these two Eids (festivals) is also different from non-Islamic festivals. There are no formal processions, illumination or other activities showing formal happiness. On the contrary, there are congregational prayers and informal mutual visits to each other, which can give real happiness instead of its symbols only.

No Birthdays

On the other hand, Islam has not prescribed any festival for the birthday of any person, however great or significant he may be. The prophets of Allah are the persons of the highest status amongst all human beings. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them. Even the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, which was the most happy day for the whole mankind was never celebrated by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself, nor by his blessed Companions.

The Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, remained alive after him for about a century, but despite their unparalleled and profound love towards the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, they never celebrated the birthday or the death anniversary of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Instead, they devoted their lives for promoting the cause of Islam, for bringing his teachings into practice, for conveying his message to the four corners of the world and for establishing the Islamic order in every walk of life.

The Origins of Christmas

In fact, commemorating the birth of a distinguished person has never been prescribed by any religion attributing itself to divine revelation. It was originally a custom prevalent in pagan communities only. Even Christmas, the famous Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ finds no mention in the Bible or in the early Christian writings. It was only in the 4th century after the ascension of Jesus Christ that Christmas was recognized as a regular Christian feast. To quote the Collier’s Encyclopedia:

“It is impossible to determine the exact date of the birth of Christ, either from the evidence of the gospels, or from any sound tradition. During the first three centuries of the Christian era there was considerable opposition in the Church to the pagan custom of celebrating birthdays, although there is some indication that a purely religious commemoration of the birth of Christ was included in the feast of Epiphany. Clement of Alexandria mentions the existence of the feast in Egypt about the year A.D. 200 and we have some evidence that it was observed on various dates in scattered areas. After the triumph of Constantine, the Church at Rome assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of the feast, possibly about A.D. 320 or 353. By the end of the fourth century the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day, with the exception of the Eastern Churches, where it was celebrated on January 6. The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god, and that the Saturnalia also came at this time.” (Collier’s Encyclopedia 1984 ed, v. 6, p. 403).

A similar description of the origin of Christmas is found in-the Encyclopedia Britannica with some more details. Its following passage will throw more light on the point:

“Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church, and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on Jan. 6, March 25 or Dec. 25. The earliest identification of Dec. 25 with the birthday of Christ is in a passage, otherwise unknown and probably spurious, of the philos of Antioch (c.180), preserved in Latin by the Magdeburyg centuriators (i, 3, 118), to the effect that the Gauls contended that since they celebrated the birth of Lord on Dec. 25, so they ought to celebrate the resurrection on March 25. A passage, almost certainly interpolated, in ‘Hippelates’ (c. 202) commentary on Daniel iv, 23, says that Jesus was born at Bethlehem on Wednesday, Dec. 25, in the 42nd year of Augustus, but he mentions no feast, and such a feast, indeed, would conflict with the then orthodox ideas. As late as 245, Origin (hem. viii on Leviticus) repudiated the idea of keeping the birthday of Christ “as if he were a king Pharaoh”. (Britannica, 1953 ed. v. 5, p.642)

These two quotes are more than sufficient to prove the following points:

1. The commemoration of birthdays was originally a pagan custom, never recognized by a divine scripture or prophetic teaching.

2. The exact date of the Birth of Sayyidna ‘Isa is unknown and impossible to be ascertained.

3. The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ was not a recognized practice in the early centuries of the Christian history.

4. It was in the 4th or 5th century that it was recognized as a religious feast, and that, too, under the influence of the pagans who worshipped Sun-god.

5. There was a strong opposition against the commemorating of the birthday by the early Christian scholars like Origin, on the ground that it is originally a custom of pagans and idolaters.

Original Islamic Resources

In original Islamic resources, also we cannot find any instruction about the celebration of birthdays or death anniversaries. Many Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, passed away during his life-time. His beloved wife Sayyidah Khadijah, Radi-Allahu anha, passed away in Makkah. His beloved uncle Sayyidna Hamzah, Radi-Allahu anhu was brutally slaughtered during the battle of Uhud. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, never observed their birthday or their death anniversaries, nor did he ever advise his followers to celebrate his own birthday in Rabi’ul-Awwal.

What is Wrong with These Celebrations

The reason for abstinence from such celebrations is that they divert the attention of people from the real teachings of Islam towards the observance of some formal activities only. Initially, these celebrations may begin with utmost piety and with a bona fide intention to pay homage to a pious person. Yet, the experience shows that the celebration is ultimately mixed up with an element of merrymaking and rejoicing and is generally confused with secular festivals and the secular, and often sinful, activities creep into it gradually.

The Transformation of Christmas

The example of Christmas will again be relevant. This Christian feast was originally innovated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and, of course, to remember his teachings. But once the occasion had been recognized as a feast, all the secular elements of public festivals crept in. The following quotation from the Encyclopedia Britannia is worth attention:

“For several centuries Christmas was solely a church anniversary observed by religious services. But as Christianity spread among the people of pagan lands, many of the practices of the winter solstice were blended with those of Christianity because of the liberal ruling of Gregory I, the great, and the cooperation of the missionaries. Thus, Christmas became both religious and secular in its celebration, at times reverent, at others gay.”

Then, what kind of activities have been adopted to celebrate Christmas is mentioned in the next paragraphs of which the following quote is more pertinent here:

“Merrymaking came to have a share in Christmas observance through popular enthusiasm even while emphasis was on the religious phase. … In the wholly decked great halls of the feudal lords, whose hospitality extended to all their friends, tenants and household, was sailing, feasting, singing and games, dancing, masquerading and mummers presenting pantomimes and masques were all part of the festivities.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 v. 5, p. 643)

This is enough to show as to how an apparently innocent feast of reverence was converted into a secular festival where the merrymaking and seeking enjoyment by whatever means took preference over all the religious and spiritual activities.

Being fully aware of this human psychology, Islam has never prescribed, nor encouraged the observance of birthdays and anniversaries, and when such celebrations are observed as a part of the religion, they are totally forbidden.

The Religion is Complete

The Holy Qur’an has clearly pronounced on the occasion of the last Hajj of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: “Today, I have completed the teachings of your religion.” [Al-Maida 5:3]

It means that all the teachings of Islam were communicated to the Muslims through the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. No one is allowed after it to add any thing to them as a part of religion. What was not a part of religion during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, can never become part of it. Such additions are termed by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as Bid’ah or innovation.

Thus, the observance of the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as a religious feast is not warranted by any verse of the Holy Qur’an or by any teaching of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Had it been a part of the religion it would have been clearly ordered or practiced by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his blessed companions or, at least, by their immediate pupils. But no example of the celebration of the occasion can be traced out in the early centuries of the Islamic history. It was after many centuries [Albalagh Note: According to Maulana Yusuf Ludhinavi it was in the year 604 A.H.] that some monarchs started observing the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, without a sound religious basis, and the congregations in the name of Maulood or Milad were held where the history of the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to be narrated.

Disagreement About the Date

The observance of the 12th of this month as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is not only an innovation having no basis in the Islamic teachings, but the accuracy of this date as the real birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is also very much doubted. There are different dates suggested in different traditions, and the majority of the authentic scholars is inclined to hold that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was born on the 9th of Rabi’ul-Awwal. This difference of opinion is another evidence to prove that the observance of the birthday is not a part of the religion, otherwise its exact date would have been preserved with accuracy.

The life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, no doubt, the most important source of guidance for all the Muslims, and every Muslim is under an obligation to learn and study the events of his life, and to follow the practical example set by him in every sphere of life. The narration of his pious biography (the Seerah) in itself is a pious act, which invites the divine blessings, but the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah have not prescribed a particular time or method for it. This pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times. The month of Rabi’ul-Awwal has not been designated by the Shariah as a special season for holding such congregations to commemorate the birth or life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is thus an innovation (Bid’ah) to restrict the Seerah meetings to the month of Rabi’ul Awwal only, or to believe that the meetings held in this month are worthy of more reward than the meetings held on any other date during the year. In fact, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to commemorate the life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, throughout the year, not only by studying and conveying his message to others, but also by following his way of life and acting upon his teachings in each and every branch of their activities, and this is exactly what a Muslim is required and supposed to do.

By this we do not mean that the Seerah meetings should not be held in the month of Rabi’ul-Awwal. The point is only that they should not be restricted to it, nor should it be believed that the Shariah has laid any kind of emphasis on holding such meetings in this particular month.

Another point that should always be kept in mind while holding such meetings is that they must be in complete conformity with the rules of Shariah. A Muslim is supposed to abide by the rules of Shariah in all his activities. But at least the meetings held in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, should be free from all the acts forbidden by the Shariah.

Contemporary Seerah Meetings and Shariah

It is often observed, especially in the Western countries, that the people hold the Seerah meetings where men and women sit together without observing the rules of hijab prescribed by the Shariah. The teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are obviously against such mixed gatherings. How can a Seerah meeting bring fruits where such fundamental teachings of the Shariah are openly violated?

In some meetings the Na’ts (poems) in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are recited by the women before the male audience, sometimes with music, which is totally against the instructions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is clearly prohibited by the Shariah to hold such meetings or to participate in them, because it is not only a violation of the Shariah rules, but it is an affront to the sanctity of the Seerah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

All other activities, often practiced on the twelfth of Rabi’ul-Awwal, like holding processions, constructing the mock tombs of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and illumination of the buildings and the roads are not warranted by any rule of the Shariah. Rather they are based on conscious or unconscious imitation of certain other religions. No example of such activities can be traced out from the earlier Islamic history.

Real Message of Seerah

What is really important with regard to the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, first, to follow his teachings, and second to make his pious Seerah available to every Muslim, to preserve it in the hearts of the Muslims from the very childhood, to educate the family members to run their lives according to it and to hold it as the most glorious example of the human conduct the universe has ever witnessed — and all this with utmost love and reverence, not manifested by some formal activities only, but also through actual behavior of following the Sunnah. This cannot be done by merely holding processions and illuminating the walls. This requires constant and consistent efforts and a meaningful program of education and training.



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Fatwa Regarding Milad

Q.) What is the truth about Milad? On the 12th of Rabi-Awwal Milad-un-Nabi is celebrated with great fanfare and Milad meetings are arranged. What is the ruling of Shariah regarding that?

A.) The gatherings arranged to remember the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the mercy to the mankind, are called Milad gatherings. Remembering the life of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and teaching others about it, is an act of great blessing and virtue. However all good deeds have to be performed according to the rules and guidelines established by the Shariah. To exceed them is a grave sin. For example reciting the Qur’an is a great act of virtue, but it is prohibited to do so while one is in ruku or sujud in prayers. Likewise, Salat is one of the most important acts of worship. Yet, it is haram to perform it at sunrise or sunset.

Similarly, there are rules governing the blessed remembrance of the Sirah. For example, this remembrance must not be associated with a particular day or month; it should be considered equally virtuous during every month of the year, every week of the month, and every day of the week. Also it can take any permissible form. For example you can arrange a reading of an authentic book on Sirah or have a lecture delivered by a scholar. Doing that is not only permissible but it will bring great reward. But it is important to stay away from the evils found in the prevalent Milad gatherings. Here are some of those evils:

  1. A particular date (12 Rabi-Awwal) has been designated for this remembrance. There is no evidence supporting this designation during the time of Sahaba (Companions), the tabiyeen (the generation that followed the companions) or taba-tabiyeen (the next generation). This designation is bida’a (innovation).
  2. The element of showoff (riya) is commonly present in these gatherings.
  3. If someone does not attend these gatherings, he is looked down upon.
  4. Distribution of sweets is considered an indispensable part of the proceedings.
  5. To meet the expenses donations are collected from sometimes unwilling people who give money under social pressure. According to the hadith it is not permissible to take any Muslim’s money without his willingness.
  6. Intermixing of men and women commonly takes place in these gatherings. People stay late at night in these meetings thereby missing the next morning’s prayers.
  7. The focus of the talks delivered there is very limited. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has given guidance for every aspect of our life. These cover acts of worship, dealing with other people, morals and manners, social relationships, business dealings, etc. However, it has been observed that the prevalent Milad talks concentrate mainly or solely on the account of the birth of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his miracles. They do not attempt to cover the vast teachings of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. [Thus, not only the form of these meetings but also the message given by them is generally a distorted one. Translator.]

For these reasons one should refrain from the prevalent Milad gatherings. However if care is taken to avoid all of these evils and to follow the Shariah carefully, then a meeting organized to remember the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, with the sole purpose of seeking Allah’s pleasure, will Insha-Allah be a blessed event. And Allah knows best.

Written: Muhammad Abdul Muntaqim Sylheti (Darul-Ifta, Darul-uloom Karachi)

Concurrence from:
Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani
Mufti Abdul Rauf Sakharvi
And many others.

Translated from Urdu by Khalid Baig.



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Further Question About Milad

Q.) I was brought up in a Barelwi tradition. Since I have begun seeking knowledge from the wider Muslim (i.e. not just Barelwis, but excluding Shia’s and similar groups, though including Wahhabis and Salafis) community, I can say that I have gained much. I now understand more and more of what the common ground is between groups and focus less on the disagreements. I think this kind of tolerance comes with knowledge. Just as your article, “Humility in Knowledge and Arrogance in Ignorance” would say.

I can say that I have changed certain beliefs that I had before my “quest for knowledge.” I have benefited enormously from Deoband educated imams here – as a very famous Middle Eastern Sheikh said “Deobandis know their fiqh.”

There is one issue though that remains an anomaly and that really leaves me wondering. That is concerning the Maulid (or as they would say in the Indian subcontinent, Milad). Granted, there are some things that Barelwis may do which are curious, but from all that I have seen around the world the Maulid seems to be an accepted practice among Sunni Muslims. Scholars like Jalaluddin Suyuti, Ibn Hajar Asqalani and even Ibn Taimiya described it as a praiseworthy innovation.

From the Ottoman Turks, to the pre-Salafi Arabs, the Malay Archipelago, the Persian and Indo-Pak region, the Maulid was not controversial or questionable in any way. The Sudanese uprising against the colonial forces was fueled by the emotion of the Maulid (verhandelingen). This is why the colonial forces tried to quell the celebration of Maulid in order to subdue the masses.

Today the Turks (Hanafi) still celebrate it with fervor, the Malay (Shafi’i), the Bosnians (Hanafi), some (non-Salafi) Arabs, the Barelwis, the Sudanese. In fact, the only people who don’t celebrate it seem to be the Salafis, Deobandis and the Tabligh Jamaat (the Shariah base of which is of course the books and texts of the Deobandi school).

This is curious. If imams like as-Suyuti have permitted it (if it is free of blameworthiness), was he in error? Was Asqalani in error? The establishment of a day to celebrate the Maulid is completely regarded as bid’ah by Mufti Usmani, praiseworthy or blameworthy acts aside.

A.) As I explained in my article on celebration of Eid-e-Milaad-un-Nabi, holding a meeting to discuss different aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam is a very meritorious act for which the Muslims should strive to the best of their ability. But confining this discussion to the events of the birth of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and restricting it to a particular date and holding attendance at such meetings as necessary or obligatory for every Muslim renders this practice as bid’ah or innovation. Mostly the meetings of Maulid today are of this type. Therefore, contemporary Ulema of Deoband have declared it a bid’ah.

If the life of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam is made subject of a meeting, and the meeting is free of the above mentioned defects, nobody can call it a bid’ah. It is in this context that some scholars of the past have allowed the practice.

Answer by: Justice Mufti Taqi Usmani

A Discussion of Milad and Bid’ah

[Note: Although the question does not address the issue of Milad from a fiqh point of view, but only from a historical point of view, yet it is also important to examine the issue in that context. For the most important question for a Muslim has to be whether or not a particular act is permissible according to the Shariah, which is derived from Qur’an, Sunnah, and the practice of the Sahabah, as they understood the Sunnah. The following provides that perspective.]

The establishment of ceremonial gatherings under the banner of “Eid-Milad-un-Nabee” and attaching religious significance to them is purely bid’ah and an innovation in Deen, because neither did Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam himself indulge in it, nor did the illustrious Khulafaa-e-Raashideen, Radi-Allahu anhum, organize such functions. Similarly, neither did any of the other Sahaaba-e-Kiraam, Radi-Allahu anhum, participate in such gatherings, nor is there any incident on record during the blessed era of the taabi’een or tab’e taabi’een (Rahmat-u-Allahi alayhim) that can, in any way, substantiate this innovation. These people were best acquainted with the Sunnah of Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and had total love for him. They were staunch followers of the Shariah.

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has in no unclear terms, said: “Whoever introduces anything that is not part of Deen, into this Deen of ours, it shall be rejected.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

In another Hadith he says: “Hold fast onto my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided Khulafa, after me. Hold fast onto it firmly, and beware of newly-introduced practices, for every new practice is an innovation and every innovation leads one astray.” (Abu Dawood/Tirmizi)

Severe warnings have been sounded in the above-mentioned Ahadith with regard to introducing and implementing innovations in Deen. The holy Qur’an enjoins: “And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal.” [Al-Hashr 59:7]

“Verily in the messenger of Allah, ye have a good example for him who looks unto Allah and the last day, and remembers Allah much.” [Al-Ahzab 33:21]

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favor unto you, and have chosen for you a religion, al-Islam.” [Al-Maidah 5:3]

There are numerous other Ayat and Ahadith that can be quoted. But from no Ayat or Ahadith can the current form of “Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabee Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam” be proved.

Will such innovations grant proximity to Allah Taala? On the contrary, these innovations should be a cause of great concern and alarm for the Ummat-e-Muslimah!

It is a known fact that Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam is the most superior of all the Ambiyaa alaihimus-salaam and also that he is the seal of all the prophets alayhimus-salaam. He left no stone unturned in conveying Deen to us and rendering precious advice to us. If the “Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabee Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam” was a divinely inspired act, then surely Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam would have commanded the Muslims to it, or at least, either he or his beloved Sahabah, Radi-Allahu anhum, would have practiced it.

That is why, in the light of these unambiguous proofs, the Ulama-e-Haqq have always refuted and rejected the customary form of “Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabee Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam” and Mahfeel-e-Milad and have also always discouraged people from participating in such gatherings.

Some Wrongs of the Contemporary Milad Gatherings

The contemporary form of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabee Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam apart from being a manifestation of Bid’ah, also encompasses other evils such as the intermingling of sexes, usage of musical instruments and many other such evils. The most abhorring and shocking evils in these functions are the acts of shirk that take place. With hollow claims of “Hubbe-Rasul Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam” (love for Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) entreaties and supplications are made to beings other than Allah, namely to Ambiyaa alaihimus-salaam and Auliaa-e-Kiraam Rahmat-u-Allahi-alaaihim.

The Belief that the Prophet Comes to the Milad Meeting

Some people also believe that Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam comes to this function and due to this belief, they stand up in respect and veneration. This is absolutely untrue. Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam does not arrive at any “Eid-e-Milad-un Nabee Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam” function. He is in his Rawdha-e-Mubarak (grave) at Madinah Munawwarah and will emerge from it at the onset of Yawmul-Qiyaamah, or the Day of Judgement.

The following Ayat and Hadith testify to this fact: The Qur’an, addressing Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam announces explicitly: – “Lo! Thou wilt die, and Lo! They will die. Then Lo! On the day of resurrection, before your sustainer, you will dispute.” [Az-Zumar 39:30-31]

At another place, Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam is addressed together with the rest of mankind: – “Then Lo! After that you surely die, then Lo! On the day of resurrection you are raised (again)” [Al-Muminun 23:16]

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam himself has said in a Hadith: – “My grave will be the first to be opened on the day of Qiyamah and I shall be the first person to intercede and the first person whose intercession shall be accepted.”

These Ayat and Hadith as well (and there are others) prove that all of mankind will be raised from their graves on the day of Qiyamah, with Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam being no exception. On this, there is consensus of the entire Ummah.

The Importance of Durood and Salaam

Instead of squandering our money and time on futile acts of Bid’ah let us rather utilize our precious time, as much as possible in the recitation of Durood and salaam upon our beloved Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam which is indeed, a highly meritorious and virtuous act. The Qur’an enjoins: – “Lo! Allah and his Angels shower blessings on the Nabee ‘O’ ye who believe ask for the descent of blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation.” [Al-Ahzab 33:56]

Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “Whosoever sends one Durood upon me, Allah Taala will shower ten mercies upon him.” (Muslim). Particularly on Jumuah, one should increase the recitation of Durood and salaam.

[Mufti Ebrahim Desai FATWA DEPT. Jamiat Ulema Islam. South Africa]



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