Ruling on Celebrating the Birthday of the Prophet

By Shaykh Sâlih ibn Fawzân al-Fawzân
(Credit to Islâmic Network)

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Celebrating the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) is forbidden and is to be rejected for a number of reasons:

1 – It is not part of the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) or of the khalîfahs who succeeded him. Since this is the case, then it is a forbidden innovation, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) said: "I urge you to follow my Sunnah and the way of the rightly-guided khalîfahs after me; adhere to it and cling to it firmly. Beware of newly-invented things, for every newly-invented thing is an innovation (bid'ah) and every innovation is a going-astray." (Narrated by Ahmad, 4/126; at-Tirmidhî no. 2676).

Celebrating the Mawlid is an innovation introduced after the three best centuries in order to corrupt the religion of the Muslims. If a person does anything in order to draw closer to Allâh which was not done by the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) or enjoined by him, and was not done by the khalîfahs 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 Allâh (interpretation of the meaning):

"This day, I have perfected your religion for you." [al-Mâ'idah 5:3]

Because he is adding something extra and claiming that it is a part of the religion, but the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) did not bring this.

2 – Celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) is an imitation of the Christians, because they celebrate the birth of the Messiah (peace be upon him). Imitating them is extremely harâm. The hadîth tells us that it is forbidden to imitate the kuffâr, and we are commanded to differ from them. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) said: "Whoever imitates a people is one of them." (narrated by Ahmad, 2/50; Abû Dâwûd, 4/314). And he said, "Be different from the mushrikîn." (narrated by Muslim, 1/222, no. 259) – especially with regard to things that are the symbols or rituals of their religion.

3 – Besides being bid'ah and an imitation of the Christians, both of which are harâm, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) is also a means that leads to exaggeration and excess in venerating him, which even goes as far as calling upon him (making du'â' to him) and seeking his help, instead of calling upon Allâh, as happens now among many of those who observe the bid'ah of the Mawlid, when they call upon the Messenger instead of Allâh, and ask him for support, and sing qasîdahs (odes) of shirk praising him, like Qasîdat al-Burdah etc. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) forbade going to extremes in praising him, as he said: "Do not extol as the Christians extolled the son of Maryam. For I am just His slave, so say, the slave of Allâh and His Messenger." (narrated by al-Bukhârî, 4/142, no. 3445; al-Fath, 6/551), i.e., do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians exaggerated in praising the Messiah and venerated him until they worshipped him instead of Allâh. Allâh forbade them to do that when he said (interpretation of the meaning):

"O people of the Scripture (Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allâh aught but the truth. The Messiah 'Îsa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allâh and His Word, ("Be!" — and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Rûh) created by Him." [al-Nisâ' 4:171]

Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) 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 an-Nasâ'î, 5/268; classed as sahîh by al-Albânî in Sahîh Sunan al-Nasâ'î, 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 Imâm's birth, such as the births of al-Badawî, Ibn 'Arabî, al-Dasûqî and al-Shâdhilî. 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 Allâh, believing that they can bring benefit and cause harm, until they deviate from the religion of Allâh and go back to the religion of the people of the Jâhiliyyah of whom Allâh says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And they worship besides Allâh things that harm them not, nor profit them, and they say: 'These are our intercessors with Allâh'." [Yûnus 10:18]

"And those who take Awliyâ' (protectors, helpers, lords, gods) besides Him (say): 'We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allâh'." [az-Zumar 39:3]

Shaykh Sâlih ibn Fawzân al-Fawzân
Member of the Committee of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia
Huqûq an-Nabî bayna al-Ijlâl wa'l-Ikhlâl, p. 139


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