Mawlid un Nabi | The Lawfullness of Celebrating the Prophet’s Birth

By reciting mawlid, Muslims explain about Rasûlullâh’s (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) birth, the Mi’râj and his life, and remember and praise him. It is necessary for every Muslim to love Rasûlullâh very much. He who loves Rasûlullâh much remembers him, repeats his name and praises him very frequently. The hadîth ash-sharîf narrated by ad-Dailamî and quoted in Kunûz ad-daqâ’iq declares, “The one who loves very much remembers the beloved very frequently.” All ’ulamâ’ of Islam have written in detail that it is necessary to love Rasûlullâh very much.

Even the Wahhâbite book “Fat’h al-majîd” notes this fact:

“It is declared in a hadîth sharîf, ‘One’s îmân is incomplete unless he loves me more than his children, his parents and everyone.’ That is, ‘His belief is not perfect,’ he meant. It is wâjib for him who loves Allah to love His Prophet. And he also has to love Allah’s pious servants.”

The recitation of a mawlid is an ’ibâda is proven with documents in the book An-ni’mat al-kubrâ ’ala ’l-’âlam fî mawlid as-Sayyid al-walad al-Âdam by Ibn Hajar al-Hîtamî, in Ar-raddu ’alâ man ankara qirâ’at al-mawlidi ’n-Nabî by Jalâl ad-dîn as-Suyûtî, in Jawâhîr al-bihâr (Part Three) and Hujjat-Allâhi ’ala ’l-’âlamîn (pages 233-9) by Yûsuf an-Nabhânî, in Ithbât al-mawlid by Ahmad Sa’îd al-Mujaddidî and in Sharh al-Mawâhib al-laduniyya (Part One, pages 136-40) by ’Allâma Muhammad az-Zarkânî. Sa’îd al-bayân, the book of mawlid written in Urdu by Ahmad Sa’îd al-Fârûqî al-Mujaddidî, and the Turkish Mevlid Kirâetinin Fazîleti (The Virtue of Reciting Mawlid) by Sayyid ’Abdulhakîm Effendi (rahmat-Allâhi ’alaih) are very valuable.

In the Persian book Tas’hîh al-masâ’il, which was written in 1266 A.H. (1850), Mawlânâ Muhammad Fadl ar-Rasûl al-Badâyûnî (rahimah-Allâhu ta’âlâ), one of the prominent scholars of Islam in India, refuted the book Miata Musa’îl by Muhammad Is’hâq, an Indian man of religious profession who had sold himself to the Wahhâbîs. On page 253 of his book, Fadl ar-Rasûl wrote, “The recitation of mawlid was not practised in the first three centuries [of Islam]; it was introduced later. Therefore, the ’ulamâ’ disagreed on whether it was permissible to congregate for a mawlid; their words did not conform with one another’s. This disagreement of the ’ulamâ’ has been dealt with in detail in the book As-sîrat ash-Shâmî by Muhammad ibn Yûsuf ash-Shâmî (rahimah-Allâhu ta’âlâ), who passed away in Egypt in 943 A.H. (1536). Yet, only the opposing views are reported and no preference is made in this book. Nevertheless, he quoted many ’ulamâ’ who, had said that congregating for a mawlid was mustahab. He also noted that his master had refuted those who opposed it. If, leaving the majority aside, the mawlid congregation is accepted as permissible on account of a few opposing ones, confidence in many of the affairs of fiqh will lessen,” and quotes the book As-sîrat ash-Shâmî:

Madina Sharif 393

“Hâfiz (scholar of hadîth) Shams ad-dîn Muhammad as-Sahâwî [d. al-Madînat al-Munawwara, 902 A.H. (1496)] said, ‘On [assembling for] a mawlid, there is no report from the Salaf. It appeared after the third century. Every year Muslims give alms and rejoice on the mawlid night. They do charitable and pious deeds. They congregate and listen to the mawlid eulogy recited.’ Hâfiz ’Izz ad-dîn ’Alî ibn Asîr al-Jazrî [d. Musul, 630 A.H. (1234)] said, ‘Reciting a mawlid renders protection against harms and dangers for a whole year. Blessings and an abundance of rain fall on places where a mawlid is recited throughout the year.’ Hâfiz ’Imâd ad-dîn Ismâ’il ibn Kathîr [d. 774 A.H. (1372)] reported that the amîr of Arbil gathered huge congregations for a mawlid in the month of Rabî’ al-awwal. Abu ’l-Khattâb ’Umar ibn Dihya [d. 633 A.H. (1236)] gave long details of mawlid congregations organized by the amîr of Arbil in his book At-tanwîr fî mawlidi ’l-Bashîr. Many ’ulamâ’, for instance, hâfiz Abû Shâma [d. 655 A.H. (1266)], who was the master of al-Imâm an-Nawawî, praised and lauded this book. ’Abd ar-Rahmân Abû Shâma’s work Al-bâ’îs ’alâ inkâri ’l-bida’ wa ’l-hawâdith is full of such praises. ’Allâma Saif ad-dîn ibn Tughrul Beg [d. 670 A.H. (1271)] wrote in his work Durr annazîm fî mawlidi ’n-Nabîi ’l-karîm: ‘Those who love Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) hold meetings of mawlid on the nights of mawlid. Among them are the great meeting of mawlid in Egypt by Abu ’l-Hasan, who is famous with the title “Ibn Afdal”; that held by Abu ’Abdullâh ibn Muhammad ibn Nu’mân, who was the master of our master; and two others held by Jamâl ad-dîn al-’Ajamî al-Hamadânî and Yûsuf ibn ’Alî Hajjar al-Misrî. These ’ulamâ’ have remarked that they dreamt of Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) saying that those who rejoiced for him also made him rejoice.’

“The great scholar ’Allâma Ibn Battâh said in his hand-written fatwâ: ‘It is an act of respectfulness towards the mawlid night to give alms, to gather Muslims and give them food that is permissible to eat, to have permitted things recited and listened to, and to give clothings to pious Muslims. It is permissible and very meritorious to do these to please Allâhu ta’âlâ. It is not a must to do these only to the poor. It is more meritorious, though, to make the needy happy. If, as done in these days, intoxicating things are used, young boys come together, men and women are mingled or poems and songs that incite lust are said [or musical instruments such as the reed, flute and drum are played], it is very sinful.’ [Doing such harâm things as if they are ’ibâdât or during ’ibâdât is much more sinful. One should not get deceived by those who call such harâm ‘Islamic music.’] Imâm Jalâl ad-dîn ’Abd ar-Rahmân ibn ’Abd al-Malik al-Kattânî said, ‘The day and night of mawlid are estimable, sacred and reverend. It is very honourable and valuable. Rasûlullâh’s (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) existence is a means for the salvation of his followers after his death. Rejoicing for his mawlid causes the tortures in Hell to lessen. Getting happy and showing respect towards this night cause the whole year to be fruitful. The virtue of the day of mawlid is similar to that of Friday. The Hadîth ash-sharîf says that the tortures in Hell are interrupted on Fridays. Likewise, there is no torture on the day of mawlid. One should display his happiness, give alms and presents and go to the feast he is invited to on mawlid hights.’ [One should not go to meetings where the harâm is committed or present; one should strictly avoid committing the harâm, keeping company with those who commit the harâm or introducing the harâm into ’ibâdât.]

Madina Sharif 323a

“ ’Allâma Zahîr ad-dîn ibn Ja’far said, ‘Meeting for a mawlid is a bid’a hasana (good innovation). It is always meritorious (thawâb) to assemble the pious, to say salâwât and to give food to the poor. Yet it is a great sin to introduce any harâm, musical instrument, singing or dancing into such meetings.’ ’Allâma Nasîr ad-dîn said, ‘Holding a mawlid meeting is not a sunna, but it is very meritorious to give alms or presents, to show joy and happiness, to get the mawlid eulogy recited where male and female Muslims are not gathered together and to attend such a meeting. However, one should not ask for anything from anybody unless there is darûra (compulsion). It is harâm to do so if there is no darûra. It is an ’ibâda for the pious to congregate and to say the dhikr of Allâhu ta’âlâ and salawât. It is very meritorious.’ ’Allâma Abû Shâma wrote in his book Al-Bâ’is: ‘Rabî’ reported from al-Imâm ash-Shâfi’î that bida’ are of two types: One type does not conform to the Book, the Sunna, athars (words of as-Sahâbat al-kirâm) or to ijmâ’. It causes dalâla or dissention. The other type comprises those that conform to these four sources of Islam and are beneficial. No ’âlim has regarded this type to be bad. ’Umar (radî-Allâhu ’anh) said “very beautiful bid’a” for performing the tarâwih prayer in congregation on Ramadân nights. Such innovations are called bida’ hasana. It has been unanimously reported that it is jâ’iz and mustahab to do bida’ hasana, and it has been said that those who do them for love of Allah will be given thawâb. As such are all the innovations that are compatible with the rules of Islam. Pulpits for mosques, inns for travellers and schools for students are good and compatible with the rules of Islam and are bida’ hasana. These did not exist during the time of as-Sahâbat al-kirâm and the Tâbi’ûn and were introduced later, but they were accepted as bida’ hasana for they were helpful in carrying out Allâhu ta’âlâ’s orders.’ One of such bida’ hasana is the annual meeting of mawlid held in the town of Arbil near Musul: alms are given on the night of mawlid an-Nabî (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam), ornaments and joy are displayed, and gifts are distributed among the poor; hence, the love and respect towads Rasûlullâh are revealed. This meeting was first organized by ’Umar ibn Malâ, a great scholar and a sâlih, in Musul. The Sultan[1] of Arbil followed him. ’Allâma Sadr ad-dîn ’Umar, a Shâfi’î scholar said that holding mawlid meetings was not makrûh but jâ’iz and was given thawâb according to intention. [If the intention is bad, no thawâb is given.] Hâfiz said that holding mawlid meetings was a bid’a [that is, an ’ibâda that appeared later], but it was a bid’a hasana, since good, beneficial things were done without doing wrong things. Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu ta’âlâ ’alaihi wa sallam) saw on his arrival to Medina that the Jews were fasting on the tenth day of the month Muharram. He asked them why they did so. They answered that Allâhu ta’âlâ had drowned Pharoah and rescued Musâ (’alaihi ’s-salâm) on that day and, therefore, they fasted out of happiness and in thanks-giving to Allah. He said, “Musâ’s (’alaihi ’s-salâm) salvation makes me much happier,” and fasted. And he ordered Muslims to fast on the Ashûra day. This hadîth sharîf indicates that it is necessary to thank Allâhu ta’âlâ on the anniversaries of the days on which one receives blessings or is relieved of his distress. Thanking Alâhu ta’âlâ is done by prostrating, giving alms, reciting the Qur’ân al-karîm or by performing any similar ’ibâdât. Is there a blessing greater than the birth of the most benevolent, blessed and great Prophet? One should look for that day every year and think of this blessing. Thus, one will have copied Rasûlullâh’s thanking for Musâ’s (’alaihi ’s-salâm) salvation. Without this intention in mind; this sunna of Rasûlullâh will not have been followed and such a deed does not deserve any thawâb.’

Madina Sharif 280

Islamic scholar reports on the authority of al-Baihakî: ‘Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu ta’âlâ ’alaihi wa sallam) slaughtered an ’aqîqa for himself after being informed of his prophethood although he knew that his grandfather ’Abd al-Muttalib had slaughtered an ’aqîqa for him on the seventh day of his birth. Furthermore, it is not jâ’iz to repeat the ’aqîqa. It has been concluded that he did the second one as a thanks for his being created as a blessing for all ’âlams and that he wanted to set an example for his umma. As a matter of fact, many times he was seen to say the salawât on himself to encourage his umma. Therefore, it became mustahab for Muslims to congregate on mawlid nights, to recite mawlid eulogies, to offer sweet food and to do pious, charitable deeds, thus to fulfill the thanks due to that night. The commentary on Sunan Ibn Mâja reports that holding mawlid meetings without mixing the harâm, prohibited things, into them is mustahab and a bid’a hasana.’ ”

In As-sîrat ash-Shâmî, quotations from ’Umar ibn ’Alî al-Isqandarî al-Mâlikî al-Fâqihânî (F), who died in 734 A.H. (1334), and his master’s (M) answers to them are given as follows:

“F: ‘I do not know any basis that makes holding mawlid meetings conformable to the Book and the Sunna.’

“M: ‘Not knowing something does not indicate that it is nonexistent. Ibn Hajar, the imâm of the scholars in hadîth, reported that mawlid meetings had an origin in the Sunna. We noted above that it had a second origin as well.”

“F: ‘None of the great ’ulamâ’ has been reported to have held a mawlid meeting.’

“M: ‘The first mawlid meeting was organized by a pious ruler who was an ’alim. He did it to please Allah. Innumerable ’ulamâ’ and sâlihûn attended it. Ibn Dihya praised it. Great ’ulamâ’ wrote books in praise of this deed of the ruler. No one has ever censured it.’

“F: ‘How can the mawlid meeting be mustahab? Mustahab means the thing required by Islam.’

“M: ‘Requirement in Islam is either through the Nass or through the qiyâs. Though there is no nass about this point, there is a qiyâs.’

Madina Sharif 342th

“F: ‘The mawlid meeting cannot be said to be mubâh, either. The introduction of a bid’a into the religion has not been called “mubâh” by any ’âlim.’

“M: ‘Bida’ may not only be makrûh or harâm; those bida’s that are mubâh, mustahab or wâjib have also been reported. Al-Imâm an-Nawawî said that bida’ in the religion were the things that, having not existed in the time of Rasûllullâh (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam), were introduced later and were of two types: hasana (good) and sayyia (evil). [Shaikh al-Islâm] ’Izz ad-dîn ibn ’Abdi ’s-salâm [ash-Shâfi’î, d. 660 A.H. (1261)] said that bida’ were divided into wâjib, harâm, mustahab, makrûh and mubâh types and that inns, schools, all charities and commendable deeds were mustahab bida’, as were the tarâwîh prayer and the ways of tasawwuf. Al-Baihakî quoted al-Imâm ash-Shâfi’î as saying that bida’ are of two categories: those that contradict with the Book, the Sunna, the Athar or the Ijmâ’ are heretical, and those that are compatible with any of these four sources are not heretical.’

“F: ‘It is not sinful to congregate one’s household and friends and offer them food on the mawlid night. [However,] it is an ugly bid’a to congregate everybody.’

“M: ‘Congregating everybody on such a blessed night is not in contradiction with the Book, the Sunna, the Athar or the Ijmâ’.’

“F: ‘If there is singing or dancing, if men and women are mixed and if there are other harâms, such meetings are harâm by unanimity.’

“M: ‘This statement is correct. However, these harâms are the very things that make such meetings harâm. If such things are present in a meeting to perform the Jum’a prayer, such a meeting also becomes harâm. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that it is harâm to congregate for the Jum’a prayer just because such a congregation has been harâm. Similarly, one cannot say that it is harâm to congregate on mawlid nights. Nowadays, it is seen that such prohibited things are introduced into congregations for tarâwîh on Ramadân nights. Can it be said that conregating for tarâwîh prayer is harâm because such things are introduced? It can never be said! It is good to congregate for the tarâwîh prayer. It can be said that it is bad to introduce unbecoming, prohibited things into such congerations. Similarly, one should say that it is good to congregate for a mawlid, but it is bad to introduce ugly, prohibited things into them.’

Madina Sharif 212a

“F: ‘Although Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) was born in the month of Rabî’ al-awwal, he passed away in this month, too. It is necessary not to feel happy but to feel sorry and to mourn in this month.’

“M: ‘As Rasûlullâh’s (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) birth is a great blessing, so his passing away is no doubt a great misfortune. Our religion orders us to thank for the blessings and to be patient and silent in case of misfortune and to conceal it. Though we are ordered to slaughter an ’aqîqa when a child is born, we are not ordered to do so or anything else when one dies; furthermore, shouting and mourning are forbidden. Therefore, one should feel joyful and happy instead of feeling sad and mourning in this month.’ ”

[According to the rules of Islam, one should not be sorry but be happy by remembering the happy events and not thinking of the sad events on the anniversary of a day on which there had been both happy and sorrowful events. In accord with this order of our religion, one should not mourn but, following Rasûlullâh’s sunna, be thankful and happy on the tenth of the month Muharram, on which Hadrat Husain (radî-Allâhu ’anh) was martyred. Martyrdom of this great imâm has been a greatly sorrowful misfortune for all Muslims. The martydom of Hadrat ’Uthmân and Hadrat Hamza in a very tragic manner was also a greatly sorrowful misfortune. However, our Prophet (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) did not mourn on the anniversaires of the day Hadrat Hamza was martyred. He did not order Muslims to mourn. He used to visit the grave of and pray for Hadrat Hamza on those days. On the tenth day of Muharram, we should not mourn by following our own reason, but we should fast in thanks-giving and be joyful by following our Prophet.]

Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) had poet companions, who used to refute the slanders of the enemies and eulogize him. He liked the poetry of Hassân ibn Thâbit the most. He put a pulpit in the masjid for Hassân, who would censure the enemies and praise him on that pulpit. Rasûlullâh used to say, “Hassân’s words are more effective against the enemies than arrow-wounds are.” He declared, “If Allâhu ta’âlâ endows a servant of His with the art of writing and speech, he should eulogize the Prophet of Allah and censure His enemies!” Reciting mawlids, as done in Muslim countries, is an ’ibâda also compatible with the order in this hadîth sharîf. One’s opposition to the recitation of mawlids shows his disapproval of what Rasûlullâh and the as-Sahâbat al-kirâm did, as well as his disobedience to this hadîth sharîf.

Madina Sharif 332a

6 Responses to “Mawlid un Nabi | The Lawfullness of Celebrating the Prophet’s Birth”

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