بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
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:
[First Doubt] – Their claim that this is veneration of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):
The response to that is that the way to venerate him is to obey him, do as he commanded and avoid that which he forbade, and to love him; he is not to be venerated through innovations, myths and sins. Celebrating his birthday is of this blameworthy type because it is a sin. The people who venerated the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) the most were the Sahaabah (radiallaahu ‘anhum), 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). By Allaah, whenever he spat, it never fell on the ground, it fell into into the hand of one his companions, then they wiped their faces and skins with it. If he instructed them to do something, they would hasten to do as he commanded. When he did wudoo’, they would almost fight over his water. When he spoke, they would lower their voices in his presence; and they did not stare at him out of respect for him.” (al-Bukhaari, 3/178, no. 2731, 2732; al-Fath, 5/388).
Yet despite this level of veneration, they never took the day of his birth as an ‘Eid (festival). If that had been prescribed in Islam, they would not have neglected to do that.
[Second Doubt] – Using as evidence the fact that many people in many countries do this.
The response to that is that evidence consists of that which is proven from the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), 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-Mustaqeem; 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.
[Third Doubt] – They say that by celebrating the Mawlid they are keeping the memory of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) alive.
The answer to that is that the memory of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is constantly kept alive by the Muslim, such as when his name (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is mentioned in the adhaan and iqaamah and in khutbahs, and every time the Muslim recites the Shahaadatayn after doing wudoo’ and in the prayers, and every time he sends blessings upon the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). In all of these ways (the Muslim) remembers him and the reward equivalent to the reward of the one who does that action goes back to the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and the Messenger will disown him because of that.
The Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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, except that the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is mentioned after Him; this is sufficient veneration, love and renewal of his memory, and sufficient encouragement to follow him.
Allaah did not refer to the birth of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in the Qur’aan, rather He referred to his Mission, and says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Indeed, Allaah conferred a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:124]
“He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves.” [al-Jumu’ah 64:2]
[Fourth Doubt] – They may say that the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday was introduced by a knowledgeable and just king who intended thereby to draw closer to Allaah.
Our response to that is that bid’ah is not acceptable, no matter who does it. A good intention does not justify a bad deed and even if a person died as a knowledgeable and righteous person, this does not mean that he was infallible.
[Fifth Doubt] – They say that celebrating the mawlid comes under the heading of bid’ah hasanah (“good innovation”) because it is based on giving thanks to Allaah for the Prophet!
Our response to that is that there is nothing good in innovation. The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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 (salallaahu’alaihi wa sallam), ‘every innovation is a going astray‘ is a concise but comprehensive comment which includes everything; it is one of the most important principles of religion. It is like his words ‘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, 3/167, no. 2697; al-Fath, 5/355). Whoever innovates anything and attributes it to Islam when it has no basis in the religion, this is a going astray and is nothing to do with Islam, whether that has to do with matters of belief (‘aqeedah) or outward and inward words and deeds.” (Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hakam, p. 233)
These people have no proof that there is any such thing as a “good innovation” apart from the words of ‘Umar (radiallaahu ‘anhu) concerning Taraaweeh prayers, “What a good innovation this is.” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 2/252, no. 2010 mu’allaqan; al-Fath 4/294).
They also said that things were innovated which were not denounced by the salaf, such as compiling the Qur’aan into one volume and writing and compiling the hadeeth.
The response to that is that these matters had a basis in Islam, so they were not newly-invented.
‘Umar said: “What a good bid’ah” meaning innovation in the linguistic sense, not in the shar’i sense. Whatever has a basis in Islam, if it is described as an innovation, is an innovation in the linguistic sense, not in the shar’i sense, because innovation in the shar’i sense means that which has no basis in Islam.
Compiling the Qur’aan into one book has a basis in Islam, because the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) had commanded that the Qur’aan be written down, but it was scattered, so the Sahaabah compiled it in one volume so as so protect and preserve it.
The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) led his companions in praying Taraaweeh for a while, then he stopped doing that, lest that become obligatory on them. The Sahaabah (radiallaahu ‘anhum) continued to pray it separately during the life of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and after his death, until ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (radiallaahu ‘anhu) gathered them behind one imaam as they used to pray behind the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). This was not an innovation introduced into the religion.
Writing down the hadeeth also has a basis in Islam. The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) ordered that some ahaadeeth should be written down for some of his companions when they asked him for that. In general terms writing it down during his lifetime was not allowed, for fear that the Qur’aan might be mixed with things that were not part of it. When the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) from being lost or being tampered with.
We may also say to them: why was this act of thanksgiving, as they call it, not done by the best generations, the Sahaabah, Taabi’een and followers of the Taabi’een, who loved the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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!
[Sixth Doubt] – They may say that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is indicative of their love for him; this is one way of showing that, and showing love of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is prescribed in Islam!
The answer to that is that undoubtedly loving the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is obligatory for every Muslim; he should love him more than he loves himself, his child, his father and all the people – may my father and mother be sacrificed for him – but that does not mean that we should introduce innovations for doing so that have not been prescribed for us. Loving him dictates that we should obey him and follow him, for that is one of the greatest manifestations of love, as it is said:
“If your love is sincere then obey him; for the lover obeys the one whom he loves.”
Loving the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)]. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Yes, but whoever submits his face (himself) to Allaah (i.e. follows Allaah’s religion of Islamic Monotheism) and he is a Muhsin (a doer of good) then his reward is with his Lord (Allaah), on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [al-Baqarah 2:112]
Submitting one’s face to Allaah means being sincere towards Allaah, and doing good means following the Messenger and implementing the Sunnah.
[Seventh Doubt] – Another of their specious arguments is when they say that by celebrating the Mawlid and reading the biography of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) on this occasion, they are encouraging people to follow his example!
We say to them that reading the biography of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and following his example are required of the Muslim all the time, all year long and throughout his life. Singling out a specific day for that with no evidence for doing so is an innovation, and every innovation is a going astray.” (Narrated by Ahmad, 4/164; al-Tirmidhi, 2676). Bid’ah does not bear any fruit but evil and it leads to a person distancing himself from the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).
In conclusion, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), whatever form it takes, is a reprehensible innovation. The Muslims should put a stop to this and other kinds of bid’ah, and occupy themselves with reviving and adhering to the Sunnah. They should not be deceived by those who promote and defend this bid’ah, for these types of people are more interested in keeping innovations alive than in reviving the Sunnah; they may not even care about the Sunnah at all. Whoever is like this, it is not permissible to imitate him or follow his example, even if the majority of people are like this. Rather we should follow the example of those who follow the path of the Sunnah, among the righteous salaf and their followers, even if they are few. Truth is not measured by the men who speak it, rather men are measured by the truth.
The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) explained to us in this hadeeth what we should do when there are differences of opinion, just as he explained that everything that goes against his Sunnah, be it words or deeds, is a bid’ah, and every bid’ah is a going astray.
If we see that there is no basis for celebrating the birthday of the Prophet, whether in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) means referring to his Sunnah after he has passed away. The Qur’aan and Sunnah are the reference point in cases of dispute. Where in the Qur’aan or Sunnah does it indicate that it is prescribed in Islam to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday? Whoever does that or thinks that it is good must repent to Allaah from this and from other kinds of bid’ah. This is the attitude of the Muslim who is seeking the truth. But whoever is too stubborn and arrogant after proof has been established, then his reckoning will be with his Lord.
We ask Allaah to help us adhere to His Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) until the Day when we will meet Him. May Allaah grant blessings and peace to our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.
Source: Huqooq al-Nabi (salallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) bayna al-Ijlaal wa’l-Ikhlaal, p. 139.
Shaykh Dr. Saalih ibn Fawzaan al-Fawzaan, Member of the Committee of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia.
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