Eid Milad UN NABI
We celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). On this day, we read a lot of salutations on him and engage
in a lot of prayers to Allah. We try to show our love for our Prophet (peace be upon him). How come you say we cannot do it?
Answered by Sheikh `Abd al-`Azîz b. `Abd Allah b. Muhammad
Âl al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia
Among the innovations that have become widespread
in Muslim societies is the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This celebration is observed in
the month of Rabî` al-Awwal. Since it has become such a widespread problem in these days, I see it as necessary to address
this issue here.
A basic principle of this religion is to worship Allah strictly in accordance with the manner that
He stipulates to us in the Qur’ân and Sunnah. This is why the scholars say that acts of worship are restricted to what
is defined by the sacred texts. A person should not try to attain nearness to Allah by means that he concocts in his mind
or takes from other human beings, no matter who they are. Such acts are unlawful innovations and they are rejected no matter
how noble the intentions might be of the person doing them.
For this reason Ibn Mas`ûd observed: “How many people
intend good but never actually attain it.” He made this statement to a group of people who were glorifying Allah in
various ways and keeping track of their efforts using pebbles. He forbade them from doing so and they said to him: “We
only intend good.” So Ibn Mas`ûd said to them what he said.
There is another established principle that scholars
of Islam are well aware of. It is the principle of referring all disputes back to the Qur’ân and Sunnah. What we find
therein we must act upon. What we do not find in these two sources we should not adopt as a means to worship Allah.
says: “If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you do believe in Allah and
the Last Day. That is best, and most suitable for final determination.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 59]
also says: “Whatever the Messenger gives you, then take it, and whatever he prohibits you, abstain from it.” [Sûrah
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever works a deed that is not part of our affair
will have that deed rejected.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (8/156) and Sahîh Muslim (3/1343-1344)]
also said: “Whoever introduces something new into this affair of ours that is not of it will have it rejected.”
[Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3/167) and Sahîh Muslim (3/1343)]
This principle is well established and understood
by the scholars of Islam. From here, we can return to the topic of celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace be upon
We find that some later scholars viewed the practice favorably while others condemned it and declared it an unlawful
innovation in matters of religion. Here we have a dispute. Therefore, we must follow our principle of referring our disputes
back to Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).
When we do so, we find no indication of this practice in the
Qur’ân nor in the Sunnah. There is no indication that the Prophet (peace be upon him) ever celebrated his birthday or
encouraged anyone else to do so.
There is no evidence that anyone celebrated his birthday during the sixty-three years
of his life. His Companions had the most ardent love possible for him. They revered him more than anyone else. They also had
a better appreciation of what Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) wanted from them and went to the greatest lengths
to defend their Prophet and their faith. They were keen on emulating the Prophet (peace be upon him) in every matter, great
or small. They faithfully preserved every detail of his life for posterity. They even mentioned how his beard moved when he
commenced his prayers. There is no way they would have failed to mention the observance of his birthday if it had even once
When we look at the preferred centuries that followed his death, we see that no one celebrated his birthday,
not even his most beloved Companions. It was not observed by any of his family members, or by the Rightly Guided Caliphs,
namely Abû Bakr, `Umar, Uthmân, and Alî. It was an unknown practice for the first three centuries of Islam.
this day is prohibited in Islamic Law, since it has not been legislated by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Therefore,
it cannot be something beloved to Allah and cannot be used as a means of attaining nearness to Him. It is clearly an innovated
practice, completely unknown to the best generations of Muslims who ever lived.
It is an historical fact that the earliest
generations of Muslims did not celebrate the Prophet’s birthday. This is not called into question by anyone, even those
who advocate celebrating it.
The Prophet’s birthday was first celebrated by the Fatimid rulers of Egypt in the
fourth century of Islam. The Fatimids were a deviant sect of Ismâ`îlî Shiites. They were adherents to the idea of hidden doctrines
and were known for their heresies and open unbelief, not to mention a host of other religious innovations. They were definitely
not a group of people to take as role models.
Moreover, we should keep in mind that Allah has perfected His religion
for us and completed His favor. Allah says: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon
you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Sûrah al-Mâ’idah: 3]
Introducing a new
practice like this birthday observation is tantamount to second-guessing Allah. It implies that the religion has not been
perfected and completed by Allah and people had to come later on with supplementary practices. This is a denial of the direct
word of the Qur’ân.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “There has never been a Messenger
before me except that it was his duty to teach his people what was best for them.” [Sahîh Muslim (3/1372-1373)]
There can be no doubt that our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), being the final and most noble of all the Prophets,
carried out this duty to the greatest degree. It follows that if celebrating his birthday was a good practice for us, then
he would have initiated it and encouraged it. How is it then that not a single statement has been conveyed to us from the
Prophet (peace be upon him) on this matter? There clearly can be no good in this practice and it most definitely cannot be
a means of worshipping Allah.
A good question to ask those who wish to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet (peace
be upon him) is this: On which day do you propose to celebrate it? There is no agreement as to when his birthday actually
was. Some biographers have place it in Ramadân. Others said it was on the 8th of Rabî’ al-Awwal. Still others have suggested
the 12th. These are but a few of the suggestions that have been advanced. So how can you possibly hope to observe it? Or are
you suggesting that his birth took place more than once?
The uncertainty surrounding the date of his birth is a sure
sign that its observance is not part of our religion, for if it was, the Muslims would have taken care to know precisely when
it took place.
Assuming it took place some time in the month of Rabî` al-Awwal, well so did his death. It does not
appear that anyone is seriously suggesting that we should mourn in this month on account of his death, though it is no less
appropriate that we do so than celebrating his birth.
This is clear to anyone who cares to look at the matter closely
and objectively. However, blind following of tradition has confused the issue for many people. The celebration of the Prophet’s
birthday has brought with it a number of ill consequences that help to show just how far removed from the truth it is.
these consequences is that some people believe that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a means
of worshipping Allah. We have already clarified the principle that all acts of worship must be established by the Qur’ân
A number of things go on at these celebrations that violate Islamic beliefs. Among the most serious of
these are the exaggerated words of praise that are offered by some people to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Many of these
praises elevate the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the level of Godhood.
Take, for instance, the following words of
praise penned by al-Bûsîrî:
"O Most Noble of Creation! I seek refuge with none other than you when general calamity befalls
This is serious. Where is mention of the Lord of the heavens and the Earth? Where is mention of the Beneficent,
the Merciful? How can we seek refuge with no one besides the Prophet (peace be upon him) in our distress when we should be
seeking it with no one other than Allah?
In another place, he writes about the Prophet (peace be upon him):
your magnanimity is the milk of the Earth and from your knowledge is the tablet and the pen of decree."
We must have
no doubt that these attributes are the exclusive domain of Allah. Applying them to the Prophet (peace be upon him) is blatant
polytheism, a sin that Allah tells us He will not forgive.
Moral decency also has a tendency to break down during these
celebrations. Men mix with women and dance with them all night long. Licentious people take full advantage of the permissive
atmosphere that these festivities offer.
Another negative consequence of these celebrations is the fact that some people
condemn those who do not participate, sometimes to the extent of declaring those people unbelievers. This is clearly from
Satan who has made the hearts of those people so enamored of deviance and innovations that they would take matters to this
extent. First, they initiate an innovative practice in their religion. Then they make it their practice. Ultimately, they
declare as unbelievers anyone who refuses to participate in it with them.
Some of the people who advocate these celebrations
claim to have evidence to support them. Some of their evidence comes from authentic texts which they take out of context or
misinterpret. Other evidence is simply weak and unauthentic.
Some of them quote the verse: “Say: In the bounty
of Allah and His mercy let them rejoice”. [Sûrah Yûnus: 58]
They advance the argument with this verse
that rejoicing in the Prophet (peace be upon him) is commanded by Allah, since Allah commanded us to rejoice in His mercy
and the Prophet (peace be upon him) is the greatest manifestation of this mercy. For this latter claim they cite: “We
sent you not but as a mercy to all humanity.” [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ’: 107]
In response, we argue that
none of the early scholars ever had such an understanding of this verse. If this interpretation was sound, they would have
mentioned it. Such an unfounded interpretation, therefore, must be rejected. Actually, the bounty and mercy mentioned to in
the verse refer to Islam and the Sunnah. This was the gist of the interpretations provided by the earliest scholars as is
elucidated by Ibn al-Qayyim in his work Ijtimâ` al-Juyûsh al-Islâmiyyah `alâ Ghazw al-Mu`attilah wal-Jahmiyyah.
for the second verse mentioned in their argument, it pertains to the sending of the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the Message
and not to his birth. The events were forty years apart. Every text that describes the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the
attribute of mercy refers to him after he received the Message. There is no text that describes his birth as a mercy. Therefore,
the above argument collapses.
Some of them argue that the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed an `aqîqah
ceremony for himself. Al-Suyûtî is one of the people who advances this argument in support of observing his birthday.
difficulty with this argument is that the hadîth in question, which is to be found in Sunan al-Bayhaqî, is unauthentic
and rejected by the scholars of hadîth. When Mâlik was asked about it, he said: “Did you see the Companions who did
not have an `aqîqah ceremony performed for them in the time of ignorance perform such ceremonies for themselves after
accepting Islam? This is abjectly false!”
The hadîth contains `Abd Allah b. Muharrir, who is a weak narrator,
in its chain of transmission. `Abd al-Razzâq mentions this hadîth in his Musannaf, then comments: “The only
reason they abandoned Ibn al-Muharrir is on account of this hadîth.” When someone mentioned this hadîth to Ahmad, he
renounced it and called `Abd Allah b. Muharrir a weak narrator. [Masâ’il Abî Dâwûd]
Al-Bayhaqî - the
one who collected this hadîth - had this to say: “`Abd Allah b. Muharrir relates a false hadîth about the Prophet (peace
be upon him) performing an `aqîqah for himself.” Then al-Bayhaqî narrates the hadîth and says: “`Abd
al-Razzâq says that the only reason they abandoned `Abd Allah b. al-Muharrir is on account of this hadîth. It has been related
with other chains of transmission from Qatâdah and Anas, but those transmissions also do not amount to anything.” [Sunan
Al-Nawawî also declared this hadîth to be false. This is sufficient to show its unsuitability
as evidence for celebrating the Prophet’s birthday.
All the other arguments offered by those who advocate such
celebrations are equally baseless. They are as Allah describes: “They follow nothing but conjecture and what their own
souls desire, even though there has already come to them guidance from their Lord!” [Sûrah al-Najm: 23]
advocates of these celebrations are merely chasing after ambiguities, a practice Allah attributes to people of deviation.
should now be clear to us that such celebrations are innovations that are not sanctioned by Allah. In fact, they resemble
the behavior of the Christians who concoct numerous celebrations and festivals for themselves. This is an indication of a
paucity of knowledge and a lack of true religious conviction.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that we would
eventually imitate them when he said: “You will follow the ways of who came before you more and more until, if one of
them were to enter into a lizard hole, you would go in after him.” [Musnad Ahmad (2/511) and Sahîh al-Bukhârî
We pray to Allah to bless us and all the Muslims with guidance and success.