Mawlid an-Nabi: The Celebration of the Prophet's Birth (SAWS)

Mawlid an-Nabi: The Celebration of the Prophet's Birth (SAWS)

Courtesy of the Habibi Chishti Sufi Order

The celebration, commemoration and observance of the birth, life, achievements and favours of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) upon the ummah (community of believers) are a practice, which is meritorious, and a necessary requirement for the education, information and awareness of the ummah. That prophet upon whom was revealed the Holy Quran, who gave us Islam, knowledge of Allah, a pattern of life second to none, who will be with us and intercede for us on the day of Qiyaamah (Judgment) to whom we owe so much, any amount of homage that we pay to him will never be sufficient. Expressions of love by the ummah in the form of Mawlid an-Nabi, Sirat an-Nabi, etc., are humble efforts by the ummah to show gratitude to Allah for His favour by blessing us with such a Nabi, and to the Nabi for bringing us out of the darkness of ignorance. This is also coupled with the practical application of the sunnah and the teachings of the Holy Quran. What is it that occurs in such gatherings and what is the basis of the establishment of such gatherings?

The essence of Mawlid an-Nabi is to remember and observe, discuss and recite the event of the birth and the advent of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam). The pregnancy of Sayyida Amina the miracles of the birth of the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), His lineage, his suckling by Sayyida Halima Sa'diyya, Na'at (Praise of the Holy Prophet in poetry or prose etc. This, if observed, recited or read, individually or collectively--in private or in a gathering--seated or standing whether recited in poetry or prose is all the observance of Mawlid an-Nabi. The discussion of the message, character and teachings of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) are also discussed in great detail. To celebrate the birth of the Holy Prophet and to express happiness and joy at the advent of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), and to give expression to this happiness by applying scent or giving charity, feeding people is what occurs at a "ceremonial" Mawlid an-Nabi. These practices are all in keeping with Quranic directives:

And solemnly rehearse/remember Allah's favours on you, And the fact that He sent down to you the book and wisdom for your instruction. (2:231)

The advent of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is the greatest favour of Allah, and Allah Himself affirms His favour upon mankind by sending His beloved Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam). Allah did confer a great favour on the believers when he sent among them a messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them His signs purifying them and instructing them in Scripture and wisdom, while before that, they had been in manifest error. (3:164). In Mawlid an-Nabi this favour of Allah is rehearsed and remembered, as Allah Himself has commemorated in this Quranic verse. Hence the observance of Mawlid an-Nabi is in keeping with this sunnah (practice) of Allah as expounded in this Quranic verse.

And the bounty of Thy Lord rehearse and proclaim (93:11)

The birth of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is the greatest bounty of Allah upon the believers; hence to proclaim and celebrate this bounty of Allah as practised in Mawlid an-Nabi is in keeping with this clear command of Allah in the Holy Quran.

Now hath come to you a messenger from amongst yourselves: it grieves him that you should suffer, ardently anxious is he over you: to the believers is he most kind and merciful (9:128)

In this verse Allah first speaks of the advent of the Holy Prophet (which encompasses his birth), then the lineage and nobility of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) and then Allah extols and praises the virtues of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam). These are the very acts, which are also performed in Mawlid an-Nabi .

Say: In the bounty of Allah and in his mercy, in that rejoice: that is better than the wealth they hoard (10:58)

Here Allah commands us to rejoice in the bounty and mercy He has bestowed. What greater bounty can one rejoice about than the bounty of the sending of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) whom Allah has called in the Holy Quran the Mercy for all the Worlds (21:107)

In this manner there are various verses of the Holy Quran wherein Allah has mentioned the advent of the Holy Prophet. From these clear Quranic verses we can then deduce that the observance, the commemoration of the birth and advent of the Holy prophet is a practice of Allah--practice which we have also been commanded to practice. Allah has also commemorated the "Mawlid" (birth) of other prophets such as Sayyiduna Isa [Jesus](alayhi salaam) and Sayyiduna Moosa [Moses] (alayhi salaam) in great detail in the Holy Quran as well.

The observance of the birth of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is also a sunnah of the previous prophets who foretold their respective nations of the birth and advent of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) in great detail. This can be found in the Torah as well as the Gospel. Allah also affirmed this commemoration of the birth of the Holy Prophets by other prophets such as Sayyiduna Isa:

And remember Jesus the son of Mary said: O children of Israel, I am the messenger of Allah sent to you confirming the Torah (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me whose name shall be Ahmad. (61:6)

The arrival of the greatest prophet of Allah and his message was also observed by Allah and all the prophets (alayum wa salaam) in a special gathering where Allah recited and discussed the characteristics and attributes of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) and took a pledge/covenant from all the prophets that they would believe in him and be his helpers:

Behold! Allah took the covenant of the Prophets, saying: I give you a book and wisdom: then comes to you a messenger, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help Allah said: Do ye agree, and take this my covenant as binding on you? They said: We agree. He said: Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses. If any turn back after this, they are perverted transgressors. (3:81-82)

Subhanallah. Allah indeed has perfected deen wherein he has made everything clear and emphasised His injunctions so that we may act upon it and not fall into dispute and be lead astray.

The Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) also rehearsed and commemorated his 'mawlid' (birth), his lineage, his nobility and his prophethood on the pulpit as- is to be found in Mishkaat ul Masaabih in the chapter on 'Virtues of the Holy Prophet'. The Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) incidentally used to fast every Monday and when asked as to the reason He replied that it were the day of his birth and the day of the first revelation. We can understand from this that the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) observed his 'mawlid' weekly, individually, as well as in the gathering of the sahaaba (companions) in the masjid on the mimbar.

Even a kafir (unbeliever) such as Abu Lahab at the rejoicing of the birth of his nephew (the Holy Prophet) for the freeing of a slave on this occasion is given respite every Monday from the punishment of Allah because he celebrated the birth of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam). (Bukhari -Chapter on Marriage). Such is the mercy of Allah upon one whom Allah has cursed in the Holy Quran because he celebrated the birth of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam). May Allah reward a Muslim if he does the same Inshallah.

The sahaaba-e-kiraam would also gather to read, recite and rehearse the birth, advent attributes and praise of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) as mentioned in detail the Torah. (Mishkaat- Chapter on Virtues of the Holy Prophet). The sahaaba such as Hassaan bin Thabit and Ka'ab bin Zuhayr (radiallahu anhum) would also compose Na'at in praise of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam). The Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) himself would set a platform for them for this purpose and would make dua to Allah to let the angel Gibreel (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) assist them in their recitation of Na'at. ( Allahumma ayyidhu bi ruhil Quds ) (Mishkaat- Chapter on poetry)

Great ulama, jurists, authorities of Hadith, commentators on the Holy Quran have also discussed the merit of Mawlid an-Nabi, and have sanctioned this act.

Great ulama-e-haqq such as Ibn Hajar Haitami Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani, Ibn Jawzi, Imam Sakhaawi Imam Sayyuti have regarded Meelad un Nabi as Mustahab. Imam Asqalani (who is the famous commentator on Bukhari called Fath ul Bari and Imam Sayyuti (author of the famous tafsir Jalaalain) have written books on the permissibility of Mawlid an-Nabi. Contemporary ulema such as Sha Waliullah, Haji Imdaadullah Muhajir Makki (rahamtullahi alaihim) have also observed and sanctioned Meelad un Nabi. Haji Imdaadullah- who is the Pir-o- murshid of the great leaders and founders of the school of Deoband - in his book Faisalah haft Masa'la in chapter 8 himself states:

The standpoint of this insignificant is that I participate in the gathering of Mawlid an-Nabi, and I regard it as a great barakah (blessing), and I hold it annually and enjoy and receive spiritual benefit from it.

That which the believers regard as good is regarded as good by Allah.

My ummah will never agree on that which leads astray. (Hadith-Mirqaat-Baab-ul- I'tisaam)

QUESTIONS

IS MAWLID AN-NABI BID'AH?

The objection that Mawlid an-Nabi is a bida'h (innovation), is a non-starter because it has been proven above that the commemoration of Mawlid has been a practice of Allah, angels, Prophets, the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) himself, as well as sahaaba and the pious leaders of the ummah. Clear Quranic verses proving beyond a shadow of doubt have also been quoted. The concept of bida'h itself is a very great subject as there are many types of bida'h- amongst them bida'h-e-Hasana as well as bida'h-e- Sayyiah (Good and evil innovations). The Holy prophet has stated Every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is from the fire. The Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) has also stated: Whosoever establishes a good practice he receives the reward thereof and the reward for those who act upon it; and whosoever establishes an evil act he receives the punishment thereof and the punishment of those who act upon it. (Mishkaat- Chapter on Knowledge)

If the objection is to the current form that the observance of Mawlid an-Nabi takes, and is thus regarded as an evil bida'h, then there are many other bida'h which came about after the era of the tabi' taabiun as well, which given the requirements of the era were necessary. For example,

The collection, compilation, classification of hadith, is a bida'h which originated after the era of Sahaaba, taabioon and tabe' taabioon (Quroon-e-thalaatah). The current form of hadith is also an innovation (bida'h). Books of Hadith, Principles of Hadith, Principles of Jurisprudence, the four schools of Fiqh are all bida'h and are innovations which originated two centuries or more later.

One would have to then call these entire bida evil as well. This would also then be contravening the Quranic verse: This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion. (5:3). This, however, is not the case. The efforts made by the ulema were born out of a great need for clarification and classification. Hence, subjects and practices which were to be found in the era of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), but were realities without a name and form, were formalized and classified so that essential aspects of deen may not be lost or omitted, these practices may remain, and their value and significance not overlooked in history. Like the examples quoted above, there are many other bida'h which are good innovations from which the ummah has benefitted greatly.

IT IS STATED THAT TO INVITE PEOPLE FOR MAWLID IS HARAAM. IS IT TRUE?

The objection that to invite people for Mawlid an-Nabi is haraam (forbidden, evil) is a rather ludicrous one. If invitations to Walima, Nikah, Graduation jalsas, Aqeeqah etc. are all permissible, then to invite people to observe and pay respects to the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), respect and honour of whom is an important fard (religious obligation), is also permissible.

IS IT SHIRK TO CELEBRATE AN IMPORTANT EVENT AND TO FIX A DATE FOR THIS PURPOSE?

The objection that to celebrate and to fix a date for Mawlid an-Nabi is shirk  (forbidden as polytheism) displays great ignorance. To celebrate an important day is sunnah and to fix a date is masnoon. Just to quote one example from Mishkaat-Chapter on Fasting:

The Holy Prophet was asked concerning the fast of Monday, so he replied that it was the day of his birth and the day the first revelation descended.

We can conclude from this that the fast of Monday is sunnah due to the birth of the Holy Prophet. We understand three things from this: To celebrate an important event is sunnah, to fix a day is sunnah, to celebrate the birth of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) and to indulge in ibaadah (worship) on that day is sunnah. This ibaadah can take the form of physical ibaadah such as nawaafil, or material ibaadah such as charity, feeding of the poor etc.

MANY HARAAM ACTIONS ARE PERFORMED SUCH AS SEEKING THE HELP OF OTHER THAN ALLAH, AS WELL AS THE INTER MINGLING OF SEXES ETC? HOW CAN THIS BE PERMISSIBLE?

The objection that help is sought from gairulla (other than Allah) is a topic that has been argued and debated in great detail. Suffice it to say that to seek the help of the beloveds of Allah and to ask them to make du'a (supplication) for one is permissible when a person's belief is that the real provider is Allah. This action of asking the beloveds of Allah to make dua on one's behalf is proven from numerous Quranic verses, statements of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) and opinions of great ulema. Of course, if there is open intermingling of sexes, etc., these actions should be prohibited.

IF THE HOLY PROPHET IS CONFINED TO HIS GRAVE TILL QAYAAMAH, HOW CAN HE PRESENT HIMSELF AS SOME BELIEVE AT SUCH FUNCTIONS?

O Prophet! Truly have we sent thee as a witness a bearer of glad tidings and a warner and as one who invites to Allah's grace by His leave and as a lamp spreading light (33:45, 46). This verse shows clearly illustrates the duties of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), who will remain in the office of prophethood till the day of Qiyaamah. Likewise these duties are (after his earthly demise), were (in his earthly life) and will be performed by him till the day of Qiyaamah. The presence of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) in whatever form that Allah wishes and the observance of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) in the manner in which Allah wishes, are obviously a requirement for the fulfilment of this duty of his. By this we understand that there is not a single moment that the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is not with us in one "form" or the other, be it to witness our love and dedication to him or conversely our underestimation and poor opinion of him and his position and role. He is constantly a bearer of glad tidings and a warner and is always a sun of guidance for all his ummah: spiritually, metaphysically, intellectually and in the eyes of all who look at him with the eyes of love.

Beware the insight of the believer for he sees with the light of Allah (Mishkaat). The assertion that the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is restricted to his Rawdah till the day of Qayaamah is to restrict the person of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) merely to a physical level .To claim that Allah has not given the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) the ability to go from place to place clothed in a garb other than a physical body is a rather wild claim. This then brings into question -among other things-the questions, which are posed in the grave, and the question concerning the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) where the person sees the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), and if he is a disbeliever is unable to answer. (Mishkaat-Chapter on Questions of the Grave).

So many people die simultaneously throughout the world and each one sees the Holy Prophet. How is he seen? Is a picture of the prophet presented? How could the Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) be in so many places at one time? If a kafir sees the Holy Prophet in his grave, and he did not even believe, is it so far fetched for a lover of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) to hope and believe that the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) could present himself to a person who is lovingly remembering him? The appearance then of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) in the dreams of people has to be also brought under question. This, however, is not the case as Allah has accorded certain duties which come with special abilities- as observed above- to the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam)- the performance of which are beyond the scope of normal understanding. There are numerous Quranic verses and Ahaadith and opinions of ulema on this issue, which clarifies this position.

IS IT HARAAM TO FEED PEOPLE ON THE OCCASION OF MAWLID AN-NABI?

At occasions of happiness and rejoicing such as our marriages and Walima, Aqeeqa, it is a sunnah to feed people. Why should it be impermissible to feed people when one rejoices at the birth and advent of the Holy Prophet?

O ye who believe, make not unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you, but commit no excess; for Allah loves not those given to excess. Eat to the things, which Allah has provided for you, lawful and good; but fear Allah in whom you believe. (5:87-88)

The observance of Mawlid an-Nabi its commemoration holds great significance in this era. At a time when the ummah is disunited and the greatest uniting factor is the personality of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), functions and gathering, which can be of varying magnitudes, are required. At a time when ignorance of the message of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam), his life his character his mission is at an all time high these gatherings are an important tool in creating this awareness. Love for the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is inculcated the spirit of brotherhood is fostered and knowledge of Islam and one's duties as a Muslim are highlighted.

Other concerned Muslim groups such as the Tablighi Jamaat have undertaken similar initiatives. They hold gatherings (Ijtimaa') of great magnitude throughout the world. Days and dates are fixed, people are invited, arrangements for the accommodation of people are made, people are fed, and the message of the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam) is given. Millions are spent annually to propagate deen to muslim brothers in this manner, but as Sayyiduna Umar has stated: There is no "excess" in good!

The Muslim ummah needs to be educated about the great scandals that are being perpetrated by unscrupulous Muslims under the guise of deen, which has contributed to the pathetic state of Muslims today. Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia under the current Wahhabi regime, has sought the help of kuffar such as America instead of seeking the help of Allah and the believers. They are committing great shirk. Their abhorrent and evil actions are a direct contravention of Quranic law. It is sad to note that the ulema of the country who are ardent followers of the Wahabbi school of thought - famous (notorious?) for its standpoint on shirk- have not been vociferous in objecting to this great shirk!

In this day and age we need to educate the ummah about the Quranic message as expounded by the Holy Prophet (sallalahu alayhi wa salaam). A gathering wherein love for Allah His Prophet and Islam is infused should be encouraged and supported. We need to broaden our vision and attack the problems of the day rather than adding to the problem by creating disunity and baseless scandal and fitna. May Allah protect us all.

Courtesy of the Habibi Chishti Sufi Order



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