On Celebrating The Prophet’s Birthday (sa)
On Celebrating The Prophet’s Birthday (sa) Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah. Remixed by TheTranslators
Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah is one of the foremost scholars of Islamic Law alive today. He is a professor at the University of Usul al-Fiqh in Saudi Arabia, has held several government positions in his native Mauritania, and is a prominent member of many Islamic legal bodies, including the European Council for Fatwa and Research and al-Majma’ al-Fiqhi. He is also Vice President of the World Council of Muslim Scholars with Dr. Yusuf Qaradawi. At the same time he shares hosting duties with Dr. Qaradawi on the popular show, Shari’ah and daily shown on al-jazeerah every Sunday.
The celebration of the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is an issue of controversy amongst the scholars. There were some who considered it a disliked innovation, a few even saying it reached the level of prohibition. And there were others who considered it a praiseworthy innovation. This difference is traced back to a divergence concerning the categorization of innovation (bid’ah). Some scholars held that there is such a thing as a praiseworthy innovation and these were, primarily, the Shafi’i scholars, foremost among them Al-’Izz ibn Abdul-Salam (May Allah have mercy upon him) and Imam Al-Qarafi (May Allah have mercy upon him), who was a Maliki. Al-Qarafi was of this opinion but he also delved into great detail in explaining it. In his discussion, Al-Qarafi (ra) stated that innovations may be shown by proof to be recommended, obligatory, disliked, and so on, depending on the ruling of Islamic Law (shari’ah) concerning each particular matter. Thus, he divided innovation into five parts (obligatory, recommended, permissible, disliked and forbidden). However, there were some scholars who did not accept this division contending that if the word innovation is used with its technical meaning (which is the norm), then it is a repulsive innovation. They relegated the statement of ‘Umar, regarding the tarawih prayers, “What a good innovation” to its linguistic meaning. This is what Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah said, as well as Al-Shatibi in his book Al-’Itisam. Many scholars from the Maliki and Hanbali schools (may Allah have mercy upon all of them) also took this approach. Among the scholars there were those who wrote in support of celebrating the Mawlid, such as Al-Suyuti (May Allah have mercy upon him) and there were those who wrote against it. Thus, in my opinion, there is no need to drag this discussion out, nor to argue about it very much.
Indeed, whoever wants to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday (peace and blessings be upon him) by reiterating his sira (biography) and the beautiful events of his life while avoiding any action contrary to Islamic Law and being sure to avoid the intention that this celebration is a sunna or an obligatory act may do so. If these conditions that I mentioned are observed, and one is careful not to contradict Islamic Law, and celebrates out of sincere love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), then, Allah willing, there is nothing wrong with this action and this person will be rewarded. The Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (May Allah have mercy upon him) said regarding this in his book Iqtida’ al-Sirat al-Mustaqim, “Indeed, such a person will be rewarded because of his intention.” As for the one who leaves this celebration, seeking to cling to the sunna and out of fear of falling into innovation, then this person will also be rewarded, Allah willing. It is important to note that this is not a big issue, nor is it necessary to give it more attention then it deserves. There are some Islamic lands in which the people celebrate the Mawlid and do acts of worship on other virtuous days of the year and the scholars differed regarding these things, some of them disapproving of them and some of them saying they are permissible, as was mentioned by al-Zaqqaq in his Manhaj and other Maliki scholars who wrote at great length on this issue, on innovation, and on whether all new matters are innovations or whether they can be categorized like the previously mentioned opinion of al-Qarafi.
Our view towards uniting the Muslims by curbing these differences is a view of facilitation and ease. This ease is not founded on an empty premise, but is referenced directly back to the Qur’an, traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the fundamental objectives of Islamic law (maqasid al-shari’ah), and the order of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to work towards unity between people. Therefore, if there is a valid difference of opinion pertaining to a certain matter, we exercise great consideration and respect for both sides. This consideration is not simply an act of being overly accommodative, as some contend, nor is it a type of laxity. Rather, this respect and consideration for differences is guided by the fact that both opinions are based on proofs from Islamic Law that are not sufficiently clear to prove conclusively that one side is right and the other side is wrong. These matters are new phenomenon – things that no one was doing and then people began to do them, and some scholars gave proof to support these actions and others disapproved of them. In conclusion, our stance is that both are on goodness, Allah willing, as long as this act is not mixed with evil and the intention is correct.
Allah knows best
Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (May Allah preserve him)