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Wa`alykum as-salaamu wa rahmatul Allahi wa
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most
All praise and thanks are due to Allah , and peace
and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr
According to historians, the Fatimides were the
first to celebrate the Prophet's birthday. Qalqashandi, in his book
Subh Al-A`sha, says that the Fatimides used to make a huge
celebration in Egypt and distribute large amounts of sweets for the
occasion. Actually, the Fatimides used to celebrate the birthdays of
other members of the Prophet's family and they also celebrated
However, all of these celebrations were
stopped in 488 upon an order from Caliph Al-Musta`li billah
appointed as prime minister Al-Afdal Shahindah, son of
Commander-in-chief Badr Al-Jamaali, a powerful man who conformed to
the Sunnah as stated by Ibn Al-Atheer in his book Al-Kamel, volume
8, page 302.
People stopped celebrating such occasions till
Al-Ma'moon Al-Bataa'ihi came to power and issued an official decree
in 517 enjoining the distribution of alms in 12th Rabee` Al-Awwal.
Sanaa' Al-Malik was in charge of distributing them.
Ayoubides came to power, they stopped all Fatimide practices, but
families used to celebrate the Prophet's birthday in their houses.
Then it returned to be officially celebrated at the beginning of the
seventh century in the city of Irbil upon a decree from its prince,
Muzafar Al-Deen Abi Sa`d Kawakbri Ibn Zein Ed-Deen `Ali- Ibn
Tabakatikin, who was a Sunni.
Muzafar gave great care and
attention to such celebrations and ordered marquis to be erected
starting from the beginning of Safar. Such tents, which were
wonderfully decorated and extended from Al-Qal`a gate till the
Khandaq gate. Muzafar used to go everyday after `Asr prayer to watch
the festivities in these tents.
The celebration was
sometimes held on the 8th of Rabee` Al-Awwal (and sometimes on the
12th) which used to be an official holiday so that the people could
enjoy the festival. Two days before the actual celebration, Muzafar
used to order the sheep, cows and camels to be slaughtered in the
main avenue amidst cheerful festivities, then the meat would be
cooked and distributed among the people.
Ibn Al-Haajj Abu
`Abdullah Al-`Abdari says that such festivals were widespread in
Egypt during his rein and condemned the innovations that used to
take place during such festivals. (Al-Madkhal, volume 2, p 11, 12)
Many books were written on the Prophet's birthday in the
seventh century such as the stories of Ibn Dahya, who died in Egypt
in 633 AH, Muhy Ed-Deen Ibn Al-`Arabi, who died in Damascus in 683
AH, Ibn Taghrabik, who died in Egypt in 670 AH; and Ahmad Al-`Azli
and his son Muhammad, who died in Sabata in 670 AH.
the spread of innovation during such celebrations, scholars have
denounced them and stated that they were groundless. Among those
scholars is the Maliki jurist Taaj Ad-Deen `Umar Ibn Al-Lakhmi
Al-Sakandari known as Al-Fakahaani, who died in 731 AH, wrote his
thesis Al-Mawrid fil Kalaam `Ala-Mawlid on this issue and As-Syooti
quotes it in his book Husn Al-Maqsid.
Sheikh Muhammad Fadl
`Ashoor says that in the ninth century, scholars were divided over
the issue. Some said it was permissible, others said it was not and
it was recommended by As-Siyooti, Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalaani and Ibn
Hajar Al-Haythmi, yet they condemned the innovations that took place
during such festivities. Their opinion was derived from the verse:
"And remind them of the days of Allah" (Ibraheem: 5).
Explaining the previous verse, An-Nasaa`i and `Abdullaah Ibn
Ahmad report in Zawayd Al-Musnad and Al-Bayhaqi in Shu'ab Al-Iman
reports on the authority of Ibn Ka`b that he said that the Prophet,
peace and blessings be upon him, said: "The days of Allah" are
Allah's Blessings and Signs, and the Prophet's birth is a great
bliss. (Al-Aloosi's Rooh Al-Ma`aani)
Muslim reports on the
authority of Qatadah Al-Ansaari that the Prophet, peace and
blessings be upon him, was asked about fasting on Monday and he
replied: "It is the day on which I was born and on which I received
the Divine Revelation". It is also reported on the authority of Ibn
`Abbas and Ibn Jabir that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon
him, was born in the "year of the elephant" on the 12th of Rabee`
Al-Awwal. He also received the Divine Revelation, ascended to the
Heavens, migrated to Madinah and died on the 12th of Rabee`
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says
that the day he was born was a special day. Since it is well known
from Shari`ah that Muslims should seize the opportunity in blessed
days and do good deeds, Muslims should celebrate the Prophet's
birthday so as to thank Allah for guiding them to Islam through
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.
Therefore, celebrating the Prophet's birthday is permissible
provided that it does not include committing any of the prohibited
things. As for throwing banquets, this comes under the verse saying:
"O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided
you, and render thanks to Allah if it is (indeed) He whom ye
worship.þ" (Al-Baqarah: 172)
My opinion is that celebrating
such a religious occasion is recommended especially nowadays for
youth have become forgetful of these religious occasions and their
significance because they have indulged in other celebrations.
Celebrating such a great event should be done through
reading more about the Prophet's Sunnah and life, building mosques,
religious institutes and doing other forms of charity work that
remind people of the Prophet's life and his struggle.
Therefore, it is permissible to celebrate the Prophet's
birthday as an expression of our love to him and our endeavor to
follow him as an example provided that these celebrations do not
involve any of the prohibited things. Some prohibited things are
improper intermingling between men and women, behaving improperly at
mosques and partaking in innovations such as worshiping at tombs and
other things that violate the teachings of Islam. If such previously
mentioned violations surpass the religious benefit realized from
these celebrations, then they should be stopped in order to prevent
harm and wrongdoing as indicated in the Shari`ah.
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi adds:
We all know that the Companions of
the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did not celebrate the
Prophet's birthday, Hijrah or the Battle of Badr, because they
witnessed such events during the lifetime of the Prophet who always
remained in their hearts and minds.
Sa`d Ibn Abi Waqqaas
said that they were keen on telling their children the stories of
the Prophet's battles just as they were keen on teaching them the
Qur'an. Therefore, they used to remind their children of what
happened during the Prophet's lifetime so they did not need to hold
such celebrations. However, the following generations began to
forget such a glorious history and its significance. So such
celebrations were held as a means of reviving great events and the
values that we can learn from them.
celebrations include some innovations when they should actually be
made to remind people of the Prophet's life and his call. Actually,
celebrating the Prophet's birthday means celebrating the birth of
Islam. Such an occasion is meant to remind people of how the Prophet
Allah Almighty says: "Verily in the Messenger of
Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the
last Day, and remembereth Allah much." (Al-Ahzab: 21)þ
celebrating the Prophet's Hijrah, we should teach them values such
as sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Companions, the sacrifice of `Ali
who slept in the Prophet's place on the night of the Hijrah, the
sacrifice of Asmaa' as she ascended the Mountain of Thawr. We should
teach them to plan the way the Prophet planned for his Hijrah, and
how to trust in Allah as the Prophet did when Abu Bakr told him: "We
could be seen so easily, the Prophet replied saying: "O Abu Bakr!
What do you think of two when Allah is their third?" "Have no fear,
for Allah is with us." (At-Tawbah: 40)
We need all these
lessons and such celebrations are a revival of these lessons and
values. I think that these celebrations, if done in the proper way,
will serve a great purpose, getting Muslims closer to the teachings
of Islam and to the Prophet's Sunnah and life.
celebrating `Ashooraa', the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon
him, celebrated this day by fasting only. He asked the Jews why they
fasted on that day and they told him that it was the day that Allah
saved Moses and the people of Israel. The Prophet replied saying:
"We have more of a right to Moses than you." So he fasted on that
day and ordered the people to fast on that day. He also said near
the end of his life: "By Allah, if I lived longer I would fast on
the 9th of Muharram." That is, that he would fast on the 9th and the
10th in order to be different from the Jews who fast on the 10th
only. However, some of the Sunnis celebrate `Ashura as if it were a
feast. The Shi`ah consider it a day of sadness and mourning, but all
such things are innovations and are completely un-Islamic.
As for the second part of the question, the exact date of
the Prophet's birth is disputed , but it is most likely to be on
Monday, 9th Rabee` Al-Awwal (20th or 22nd of April, 571 AC), the
same year in which the invasion of the Elephants took place against
the Ka`bah. And he, peace and blessings be upon him, passed away on
Monday 12, Rabee` Al-Awwal in the eleventh year of Hijrah (8 June
Allah Almighty knows best.