Sunday, March 8, 2009

Should Muslims celebrate the birthday of their prophet?

This is one of the issues faced by Muslims these days; whether we can/should/must celebrate Maulidur Rasul (Prophet Muhammad's Birthday) or not. Like any other contradictions, Islam always teaches us to turn to the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.
O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination. (an-Nisaa' 4:59)
One thing that we have to realize is that the scholars never have an agreement about when Prophet Muhammad was born. Some said that he was born in the month of Rabiul Awwal while others said otherwise. For those who believe that he was born in Rabiul Awwal, they have further contradictions about the day; whether it was the 8th, 9th, 12th, 17th, etc.

The truth is that we never have a clear record of when Prophet Muhammad was born. This is because the Companions never celebrated his birthday even though they were the closest ones to him. Prophet Muhammad never ask them to. If his birthday was celebrated, then they would be tonnes of Hadiths about how they celebrated Prophet Muhammad's birthday, just like there are a lot of hadiths about solah, fasting, zikir, etc.

The fact is, he was born just like everybody else. The birth of Prophet Muhammad was a major turning point in the history of the world. However, the issue of when he was born is not important. If we can't determine it, it doesn't mean that he didn't exist. There are other influential individuals that we don't know when they were born but we still acknowledge their existence and all the significant and wonderful changes they brought to the world.

Ibn Kathir narrated that one Companion once suggested to Saidina Umar al-Khattab, one of the Khulafa ar-Rasyidin, to start the Hijriah Calendar with Prophet Muhammad's birthday, but Umar rejected that proposal and made the day of Hijrah as the starting point of the Hijriah Calendar.

In Fatawa al-Azhar, it was agreed that Islamic historians do not know who started the celebration of Maulidur Rasul except for the fact that the government of Syiah Fatimiyyah in Egypt did it. They also celebrated other Ahlul Bait's (Prophet Muhammad's family) and Prophet Isa's (Jesus) birthdays. It was then put to a halt by their Khalifah (leader), al-Musta’la billah. Then, it was being practiced again by certain governments and states. That's the history of Maulidur Rasul.

It is indeed proper to reminisce the history of Prophet Muhammad with the intention of following his footsteps. However, we have to keep in mind what have been stated above. It's not wrong to make public talks about Prophet Muhammad's jihad (struggle) in bringing Islam to the world during the month of Rabiul Awwal or other months for that matter. However, we can't be "seasonal Muslims" who only remember Prophet Muhammad on certain days and occasions.

Other than that, we have to realize that if we truly follow his footsteps then we would never add or innovate anything to the religion that he had completely delivered to us in perfection.
...This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion... (al-Maidah 5:3)
Follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the well guided Khalifah who are after me. Hold firmly to it with your teeth, and beware of innovation. Verily, every innovated matter is bid'ah and every bid'ah is misguidance, and every misguidance lead to Hellfire. (A hadith from Ahmad, Abu Daud, Ibnu Majah, Muslim)
Because Prophet Muhammad never showed us specific Ibadah on his birthday (if we were to celebrate it) such as solah, fasting or specific recitations. So how are we to say that the Ibadah we do on this day were from the Sunnah?
He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds). (an-Nisaa' 4:80)
In conclusion, Prophet Muhammad's main goal was that he was followed, not celebrated. So, the issue that we have to put forth is how much of the Prophet's teachings do we follow. Every year we celebrate "Maulidur Rasul". Are we closer to the path that Prophet Muhammad had paved for us?

Credits :
1. This article was translated from and can be found on Ibnu Azlan's blog

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is the view of a wahhabi preacher from Malaysia.

if one is already a follower of the prophet why can't he also celebrate His birthday.

this wahhabi choose to ignore many of the practices of the prophet in celebrating his birth.

a wahhabi, like this writer is always a contrarian, going all out to prove that the celebration like this is akin to that of non muslim practice. therefore they are a non believer, and they are the wahhabi enemies and killing them is permitted.

their interpretation of islam is skewed, the opposite of mainstream Islam.