Celebration of the Prophet's Birth

Priority: b, Quality: c
Without infobox
Without references
From wikishia
Celebration of the Prophet's Birth in Iran.

Celebration of the Prophet’s birth (Arabic:الاحتفال بالمولد النبوي refers to ceremonies held on the birth anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad (s). Shias and Sunnis celebrate the birth of the Prophet (s), but Wahhabis believe that such ceremonies are heretic, since such celebrations were never held during the lifetime of the Prophet (s) and his companions. In response, Muslim scholars assert that although such ceremonies were not held in the time of the Prophet (s) and his companions, they were not forbidden by religion. Thus, celebration of the Prophet’s birth is not only heretic, but favorable as a tribute to the Prophet (s). Moreover, certain Quranic verses and notions were cited as evidence for the legitimacy of such celebrations in that they recommend the respect and love for the Prophet (s).

There are historical accounts of celebration of the Prophet’s birth by Muslims in the fourth/tenth century and afterwards. Furthermore, people of Mecca gathered in the place of the Prophet’s birth on his birth day to pray, recite dhikrs, and ask for divine blessings. The place was later demolished by the Saudi government, however.

Shias believe that the Prophet (s) was born on Rabi' al-Awwal 17/May 11, and Sunnis believe that he was born on Rabi' al-Awwal 12/May 6. Shiite scholars recommend charity payments, doing charitable works, and delighting the believers on that day. Sunni scholars recommend giving gifts and feeding the poor as a tribute to the Prophet (s) on that day. For this reason, Muslims around the work hold celebrations on the Prophet’s birth. The day is a holiday in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt.

Significance and History

Celebration of the Prophet’s birth refers to ceremonies held on the day of the Prophet’s birth. There is a disagreement between Wahhabis and other Muslims over whether such celebration is legitimate or not. For Muslims, it is legitimate to celebrate the Prophet’s birth, which is why Muslims around the world hold rituals and ceremonies to celebrate the birth.[1] Moreover, the day is an official holiday in some countries, including Indonesia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran,[2] India,[3] Pakistan,[4] Egypt,[5] etc.[6] However, Wahhabis believe that it is heretic and thus forbidden to celebrate the Prophet’s birth.[7]

The history of celebration of the Prophet’s birth dates back to fourth and fifth/eleventh centuries. Ahmad b. 'Ali al-Miqrizi, a ninth/fifteenth-century historiographer, reports that celebration of the Prophet’s birth became common in the Fatimid government (297/909-10 to 567/1171-2) in Egypt.[8] Furthermore, according to historical sources, Muzaffar al-Din al-Kawkubri (d. 630/1233), a commander under Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) and the ruler of Arbel held celebrations of the Prophet’s birth in Rabiʿ al-Awwal.[9]

Is Celebration of the Prophet’s Birth Heretic?

Wahhabis believe that celebration of the Prophet’s birth is heretic.[10] 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Baz, a Wahhabi scholar, declared such celebration heretic.[11] Salafi scholars forbid any participation in such celebrations, sitting in places where they are held, or eating confections related to these ceremonies. Moreover, some Wahhabi authors accuse those who celebrate the Prophet’s birth of wrongdoing or impiety. The reason why Wahhabis see such celebration as heretic is that it was never held during the lifetime of the Prophet (s) and his companions.

Replies by Shiite and Sunni Scholars

For proponents of celebration of the Prophet’s birth, although there is no explicit remark on such celebration in the religion, Quranic verses implicitly endorse such celebration. They draw on general Quranic notions such as the obligation to respect and express love for the Prophet (s) to argue for the legitimacy of celebrating the Prophet’s birth. According to Ja'far Subhani, the Shiite scholar, such celebration is an expression of love for the Prophet (s), which the Quran commands. Moreover, he cites the last verses of Qur'an 5 to the effect that Jesus (a) celebrated the day on which the heavenly table was sent down, which is still celebrated by Christians. He argues that the Prophet’s birth should be celebrated since he saved the world from idolatry and ignorance, which is a much greater blessing for humans than the heavenly table for Jesus’s Apostles.

Senior Sunni scholars, such as Sari al-Saqati (d. 253/867), al-Junaydi al-Baghdadi (d. 297/910), Imam al-Yafiʿi (d. 768/1367), and al-Hasan b. ʿUmar b. al-Habib (d. 779/1377), believe that expression of delight for and celebration of the Prophet’s birth is a good deed as well as a means for attaining faith and enjoying heavenly blessings.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi (d. 1444/2022), a contemporary Sunni scholar, cites Quranic verses to show the legitimacy of celebrating the Prophet’s birth. In his view, celebration of the Prophet’s birth and other Islamic events is indeed a reminder of the blessings bestowed by God upon Muslims. Such reminder is not heretic or forbidden, but indeed favorable. According to Tahir al-Qadiri, a Sunni scholar, it is legitimate to do any act on which religion is silent and has become part of the Islamic culture as an expression of delight for the Prophet’s birth.

According to a hadith cited in Iqbal al-a'mal, fasting on the day of the Prophet’s birth is rewarded equally to one year of fasting. Moreover, Shiite scholars recommend charity payments, visiting pilgrimage places, doing charitable actions, and delighting the believers on that day. In Shiite hadiths, a particular kind of prayer is cited for the day of the Prophet’s birth. Sunni scholars recommend speeches about the Prophet (s), recitation of the Quran, [[Silat al-Rahim|ties with relatives, giving gifts, and feeding the poor as a tribute for the Prophet (s) on that day.

Time and Place of the Prophet’s Birth

There is a disagreement over the date of the Prophet’s birth. Shiite scholars believe that he was born on Rabi' al-Awwal 17/May 11, but Sunni scholars believe that he was born on Rabi' al-Awwal 12/May 6. The interval has been named as the Week of Unity between Shias and Sunnis.

The Prophet (s) was born in a house in the Valley of Abu Talib. According to Muhammad b. 'Umar al-Bahraq, a Shafi'i scholar (d. 930/1524), people of Mecca gathered in the place of his birth on his birth anniversaries, where they prayed, recited dhikrs, and asked for divine blessings (tabarruk). Moreover, 'Allama al-Majlisi, a scholar of hadith in the eleventh/seventeenth century, says that, in his time, there was such a place in Mecca, which people visited. The building was there until the beginning of the Saudi government in Hijaz. However, Saudis demolished the building because of the Wahhabi belief that it was forbidden to make resort to the traces of the prophets and saints as a request for divine blessing.

Monographs

Books have been written to argue for the legitimacy of celebrating the Prophet’s birth, including:

  • Al-Bayan al-nabawi 'an fadl al-ihtifal bi-mawlid al-nabi (The prophetic clarification of the virtue of celebrating the Prophet’s birth) by Mahmud Ahmad al-Zayn in Arabic: it argues for the legitimacy of celebrating the birth and replies to objections against it. The author concludes that Sunni jurists and scholars of hadiths recommend such celebration. The book was published by Dar al-Buhuth li-l-Dirasat al-Islamiyya in Dubai in 1426/2005.
  • Jashn milad payambar salla Allah 'alayh wa-alih wa-sallam (Celebration of the birth of the Prophet, peace and greeting be upon him and his Household) by 'Abd al-Rahim Musawi: the book is written in Persian to argue for the legitimacy of celebrating the Prophet’s birth and criticize the views of its opponents. The author holds that such celebration is an instance of the obligation to respect the Prophet (s). The book is volume twenty-five of the series of Dar maktab ahl bayt (In the school of Ahl al-Bayt), published by Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly in 2011 Sh in 57 pages.

Gallery

Note

  1. How do Arab countries celebrate the birth of the Prophet (s)? (Persian)
  2. Time.ir
  3. Holidays
  4. Public Holidays in Pakistan 2018
  5. The Prophet's birthday (Arabic)
  6. The Prophet's birthday is an official holiday in all Islamic countries except Saudi Arabia (Persian)
  7. Duwaysh, Fatāwā al-lajna al-dāʾima, vol. 3, p. 29.
  8. Maqrīzī, al-Mawāʿiẓ wa l-ʾiʿtibār, vol. 2, p. 436.
  9. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 13, p. 137; Maqrīzī, 'al-Sulūk, vol. 1, p. 368.
  10. Duwaysh, Fatāwā al-lajna al-dāʾima, vol. 3, p. 29.
  11. Imam Ibn Taymiyya did not approve of celebrating the Prophet's birthday (Arabic)

References

  • ʿĀmilī, al-Sayyid Jaʿfar al-Murtaḍā al-. Al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-nabīyy al-aʿẓam. Qom: Dār al-Ḥadīth, 1426 AH.
  • Āl al-Shaykh, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. ʿUyūn al-rasāʾil wa al-ajwabat ʿalā al-masāʾil. Edited by Ḥusayn Muḥammad Bawā. Riyadh: [n.n], [n.d].
  • Baḥraq, Muḥammad b. ʿUmar. Ḥadāʾiq al-anwār wa maṭāliʿ al-asrār fī sīrat al-Nabī al-mukhtār. Edited by Muḥammad Ghasāq Naṣūḥ Azqūl. Jeddah: Dār al-Minhāj, 1419 AH.
  • Dawīsh, Aḥmad b. ʿAbd al-Razzāq. Fatāwā al-lujnat al-dāʾima. Riyadh: Riʾāsat Idārat al-Buḥūth al-ʿIlmiyya wa al-Iftāʾ. [n.p], [n.d].
  • Dabīrī, Ishāq. Jashn-i mīlād-i Rasūl Allāh (a). [n.p]: Kitābkhāna-yi ʿAqīda, 1437 AH.
  • Ibn Kathīr al-Dimashqī, Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1407 AH.
  • Imām Khomeinī, Sayyid Rūḥ Allāh. Ṣaḥīfa-yi Imām. Muʾassisa-yi Tanẓīm wa Nashr-i Āthār-i Imām Khomeini, 1378 SH.
  • Ibn Ṭāwūs, ʿAlī b. Mūsā. Al-Iqbāl bi-l-aʿmāl al-ḥasana. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1409 AH.
  • Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir al-. Biḥār al-anwār. Second edition. Beirut: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1403 AH.
  • Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir al-. Mirʾāt al-ʿuqūl fī sharḥ akhbar Āl al-Rasūl. Edited by Sayyid Hashim Rasūlī Maḥallātī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyya, 1404 AH.
  • Masʿūdī, ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusayn al-. Murūj al-dhahab wa maʿadin al-jawhar. Edited by Asʿad Dāghir. Qom: Dār al-Hijra, 1409 AH.
  • Maqrizī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī. Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ bimā li-Nabī min al-aḥwāl wa al-amwāl wa al-ḥafda wa al-matāʾ. Edited by Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd al-Namīsī. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1420 AH.
  • Maqrizī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī. Al-Sulūk li maʾrifa dūn al-mulūk. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1420 AH.
  • Maqrīzī, Taqī al-Dīn. Al-Mawāʿiz wa al-iʿtibār bi dhikr al-khiṭaṭ wa al-āthār. Edited by Khalīl al-Manṣūr. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1418 AH.
  • Qādirī, Muḥammad Ṭāhir. Kiyā mīlād al-Nabī manānā bidʾat hi. Laura: Minhāj al-Qurān, 2008.
  • Subḥānī, Jaʿfar. Furūgh-i abadīyyat. Qom: Būstān-i Kitāb, 1380 Sh.
  • Shaḥāta, Muḥammad Ṣaqar. Al-Mawlid al-nabawī; hal naḥtafil?. Alexandria: Dār al-Khulafā al-Rāshidīn, [n.d].
  • Ṭūsī, Muḥamamd b. al-Ḥasan al-. Miṣbāḥ al-mutahajjid wa silāḥ al-mutaʿabbid. Tehran: Maktabat al-Islāmiyya, [n.d].
  • Celebration of the birth of the Prophet and Islamic events (Arabic). Official Website of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Accessed: 2023/01/02.