Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds, and Peace and Blessings upon His Prophet and Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions. In Islam there are two `Eids, `Eid al-Adha and `Eid al-Fitr. Other celebrations, like Mawlid, are neither obligatory nor forbidden. However, we have come to a time in which we hear too much complaining about the remembrance of the Prophet’s birthday, although there are more important matters that concern Muslims nowadays. We are living in a time when the enemies of Islam are destroying the Umma of the Prophet from within and without, without mercy, and there are now very few believers who are able to oppose them. We have reached a time of jahiliyya (ignorance) among the Muslims, so much so that the Truth has become a commodity and Falsehood has become the norm. Allah Almighty is ordering believers, “Hold fast to the Rope of Allah and do not separate” (Ali `Imran 103). Yet in this time, more than any other time, we are finding that the attacks of our enemies are not the only cause of our suffering. Within our own home, the Umma is being attacked and harmed deeply by some people, whom we don’t like to name but who are well-known. They are not happy to fight the enemies of Islam but instead find it necessary to fight Muslims and the community of believers throughout the Muslim world. Therefore I felt it was my duty to prepare a defense of the believers from the attacks of these Muslims, who have nothing to do while our enemies are rending the Umma, except to find fault with the beliefs of other Muslims. They take great pains to find anything that their scholars might consider doubtful as an excuse to deride and denigrate the faith of Muslims, calling them names like: mushrik, kafir, mubtadi`. And they have nothing better to do than to change what Muslim scholars have accepted as correct for 1400 years, and to call it bid`a, shirk, and kufr!
To celebrate the Prophet’s birthday is to celebrate Islam, because the Prophet is the symbol of Islam. Imam Mutawalli Sha`rawi said in his book, Ma’idat al-Fikr al-Islamiyya (p. 295), “If living beings were happy for his coming (to this world) and every inanimate creation was happy at his birth and all plants were happy at his birth and all animals were happy at his birth and all angels were happy at his birth and all believing jinn were happy at his birth, why are you preventing us from being happy at his birth?”
Therefore, and in order to defend the common Muslims and believers from such wrong and unacceptable accusations, especially in America and Canada, where there aren’t enough knowledgeable scholars to answer these ignorant people, it is necessary to know the actual position of Islam on this, which is permissibility based on khilaf (divergence of opinions among the scholars), and no one changes it to prohibition except the ignorant and the innovators. Insha Allah, I will present the facts and proofs relating to the celebration of Mawlid according to Qur’an and Sunna and the Scholars of Islam, with the intention of countering the criticism and questioning of some ignorant “scholars” who pretend to understand all of religion, and with the intention of sharing with others that understanding with which Allah has blessed the true scholars of Islam. Before going in-depth into explanations, I would like to present three statements:
1. We say that celebrating the Mawlid of the Prophet is acceptable, that to make gatherings for the hearing of his Sira (Life) and listening to Madh (Praise) that has been written for him is acceptable, and that giving food to people and bringing happiness to the Umma on that occasion is acceptable.
2. We say that the celebration of the Prophet’s Mawlid must not only be on the 12th of Rabi` al-Awwal, but can and should be on every day of every month in every mosque, in order for people to feel the light of Islam and the light of Shari`a in their hearts.
3. We say that Mawlid gatherings are an effective and efficient means for the purpose of calling people to Islam and educate children; and that these meetings give a golden opportunity that must not be lost, for every scholar and da`i to teach and remind the Nation of the Prophet of his good character, his way of worshipping, and his way of treating people. This is a way to make children love and remember their Prophet, by giving them food and juice and gifts to make them happy.
a) Ten Proofs From the Qur’an and Sunna That Celebrating the Prophet’s Birthday is Accepted in Shari`a.
The Obligation to Increase the Love and Honor of the Prophet
FIRST: Allah asks the Prophet, peace be upon him, to remind his Nation that it is essential for those who claim to love Allah, to love His Prophet: “Say to them: If you love Allah, follow (and love and honor) me, and Allah will love you” (3:31).
The Celebration of the Holy Prophet’s birth is motivated by this obligation to love the Prophet, peace be upon him, to obey him, to remember him, to follow his example, and to be proud of him as Allah is proud of him, since Allah has boasted about him in His Holy Book by saying, “Truly you are of a magnificient character” (68:4).
Love of the Prophet is what differentiates the believers in the perfection of their iman. In an authentic hadith related in Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves his children, his parents, and all people.” In another hadith in Bukhari he said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves himself” and Sayyidina `Umar said: “O Prophet, I love you more than myself.”
Perfection of faith is dependent on love of the Prophet because Allah and His angels are constantly raising his honor, as is meant by the verse already quoted, “Allah and His angels are praying on the Prophet” (33:56). The divine order that immediately follows in the verse, “O believers, pray on him,” makes it clear that the quality of being a believer is dependent on and manifested by praying on the Prophet. O Allah! Send peace and blessings on the Prophet, his family, and his companions.
The Prophet Emphasized Monday As the Day He Was Born
SECOND: Abu Qatada al-Ansari narrates in Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-siyam, that the Prophet was asked about the fast of Monday, and he answered: “That is the day that I was born and that is the day I received the prophecy.”
We quote again from Shaykh Mutawalli Sha`rawi: “Many extraordinary events occurred on his birthday as evidenced in hadith and history, and the night of his birth is not like the night of any other human being’s birth.” These events and the hadiths pertaining thereto, such as the shaking of Chosroes’ court, the extinction of the 1,000-year old fire in Persia, etc. are related in Ibn Kathir’s workal-Bidaya, Vol. 2, pages 265-268.
We quote from the book Kitab al-Madkhal by Ibn al-Hajj (1:261): “It is an obligation that on every Monday of Rabi` ul-Awwal we increase our worship to thank Allah for what He gave us as a great favor — the favor of sending us His beloved Prophet to direct us to Islam and to peace… The Prophet, when answering someone questioning him about fasting on Mondays, mentioned: On that day I was born. Therefore that day gives honor to that month, because that is the day of the Prophet… and he said: I am the master of the children of Adam and I say that without pride… and he said: Adam and whoever is descended from him are under my flag on the day of Judgment. These hadiths were transmitted by the Shaikhayn [Bukhari and Muslim]. And Muslim quotes in his Sahih, the Prophet said, On that day, Monday, I was born and on that day the first message was sent to me.”
The Prophet emphasized the day of his birth and thanked Allah for the big favor of bringing him to life by fasting on that day as is mentioned in the hadith of Abu Qatada. This means that the Prophet was expressing his happiness for that day by fasting, which is a kind of worship. Since the Prophet emphasized that day by fasting, worship in any form to emphasize that day is also acceptable. Even if we change the form, the essence is kept. Therefore, fasting, giving food to the poor, coming together to praise the Prophet, or coming together to remember his good manners and good behavior, all of this is considered a way of emphasizing that day. (See also the hadith “Dying on Monday” below.)
Allah Said: Rejoice in the Prophet
THIRD: To express happiness for the Prophet coming to us is an obligation given by Allah through Qur’an, as Allah said in Qur’an: “Of the favor and mercy of Allah let them rejoice” (10:58).
This order came because joy makes the heart grateful for the mercy of Allah. And What greater mercy did Allah give than the Prophet himself, of whom Allah says, “We did not send you except as a mercy to human beings” (21:107).
Because the Prophet was sent as a mercy to all mankind, it is incumbent not only upon Muslims, but upon all human beings to rejoice in his person. Unfortunately, today it is some Muslims who are foremost in rejecting Allah’s order to rejoice in His Prophet.
The Prophet Celebrated Great Historical Events
FOURTH: The Prophet always made the connection between religious events and historical events, so that when the time returned for a significant event, he reminded his Sahaba to celebrate that day and to emphasize it, even if it had happened in the distant past. This principle can be found in the following hadith of Bukhari and others: “When the Prophet reached Madina, he saw the Jews fasting on the day of `Ashura’. He asked about that day and they told him that on that day, Allah saved their Prophet, Sayyidina Musa and drowned their enemy. Therefore they are fasting on that day to thank Allah for that favor.” At that time the Prophet responded with the famous hadith, “We have more right to Musa than you,” and he used to fast that day and the day preceding it.
Allah Said: Invoke Blessings on the Prophet
FIFTH: Remembrance of the birth of the Prophet encourages us to pray on the Prophet and to praise him, which is an obligation on us through Allah’s order in the verse,
“Allah and His angels are praying on (and praising) the Prophet; O believers! pray on (and praise) him and send him utmost greetings” (33:56). Coming together and remembering the Prophet causes us to pray on him and to praise him. Who has the right to deny the obligation which Allah has ordered us to fulfill through the Holy Qur’an? The benefit brought by obeying an order of Allah, and the light that it brings to our heart, cannot be measured. That obligation, furthermore, is mentioned in the plural: Allah and His angels are praying on and praising the Prophet — in a gathering. It is entirely incorrect, therefore, to say that praying on and praising the Prophet must be done alone.
The Effect of Observing Mawlid on Unbelievers
SIXTH: Expressing happiness and celebrating the Prophet on his birthday causes even unbelievers, by Allah’s favor and mercy, to gain some benefit. This is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari. Bukhari said in his hadith that every Monday, Abu Lahab in his grave is released from punishment because he freed his handmaid Thuwayba when she brought him the news of the Prophet’s birth.
This hadith is mentioned in Bukhari in the book of Nikah, and Ibn Kathir mentions it in his books Sirat al-Nabi Vol.1, p. 124, Mawlid al-Nabi p. 21, and al-Bidaya p. 272-273. The hafiz Shamsuddin Muhammad ibn Nasiruddin ad-Dimashqi wrote on this the following verses in his book Mawrid as-sadi fi Mawlid al-Hadi: “If this, a kafir who was condemned to hell eternally with “Perish his hands” [sura 111], is said to enjoy a respite every Monday because he rejoiced in Ahmad: what then do you think of the servant who, all his life, was happy with Ahmad, and died saying, “One”?”
The Obligation to Know Sira and Imitate Its Central Character
SEVENTH: We are asked to know about our Prophet, about his life, about his miracles, about his birth, about his manners, about his faith, about his signs (ayat wa dala’il), about his seclusions, about his worship, and is not this knowledge an obligation for every Muslim? What is better than celebrating and remembering his birth, which represents the essence of his life, in order to acquire knowledge of his life? To remember his birth begins to remind us of everything else about him. This will make Allah happy with us because then we will be able to know the Prophet’s Sira better, and we will be readier to take the Prophet as an example for ourselves, to correct ourselves, and to imitate him. That is why the celebration of his birthday is a great favor sent to us.
The Prophet Accepted Poetry in His Honor
EIGHTH: In the time of the Prophet, it is well-known that poets came to him with all kinds of works praising him, writing about his campaigns and battles and about the Sahaba. This is proved by the numerous poems quoted in the Siras of Ibn Hisham, al-Waqidi, and others. The Prophet was happy with good poetry since it is reported in Bukhari’s al-Adab al-mufrad and elsewhere that he said: “There is wisdom in poetry.” Thus the Prophet’s uncle al-`Abbas composed poetry praising the birth of the Prophet, in which are found the following lines:
When you were born, the earth was shining,
and the firmament barely contained your light,
and we can pierce through,
thanks to that radiance and light and path of guidance.
This text is found in Suyuti’s Husn al-maqsid p. 5 and in Ibn Kathir’s Mawlid p. 30 as well as Ibn Hajar’s Fath al-Bari.
Ibn Kathir mentions the fact that according to the Sahaba, the Prophet praised his own name and recited poetry about himself in the middle of the battle of Hunayn in order to encourage the companions and scare the enemies. That day he said: “I am the Prophet! This is no lie. I am the son of `Abd al-Muttalib!”
The Prophet was therefore happy with those who praised him because it is Allah’s order, and he gave them from what Allah was providing him. If we get together and do something in order to approach the Prophet, we are doing something to approach Allah, and approaching the Prophet will make Allah happy with us.
Singing and Recitation of Poetry
It is established that the Prophet instructed `A’isha to let two ladies sing on the day of `Eid. He said to Abu Bakr: “Let them sing, because for every nation there is a holiday, and this is our holiday” [Agreed upon]. Ibn Qayyim in Madarij al-salikin comments that the Prophet also gave permission to sing in wedding celebrations, and allowed poetry to be recited to him. He heard Anas and the Companions praising him and reciting poems while digging before the famous battle of the Trench (Khandaq), as they said: “We are the ones who gave bay`a to Muhammad for jihad as long as we are living.”
Ibn Qayyim also mentions `Abdullah ibn Rawaha’s long poem praising the Prophet as the latter entered Mecca, after which, the Prophet prayed for him. He prayed that Allah support Hassan ibn Thabit, with the holy spirit as long as he would support the Prophet with his poetry. Similarly the Prophet rewarded Ka`b ibn Zuhayr’s poem of praise with a robe. The Prophet asked Aswad bin Sarih to make poems praising Allah, and he asked someone else to recite the poem of praise of 100 verses which Umayya ibn Abi al-Salt had composed. Ibn Qayyim continues, “`A’isha always recited poems praising him and he was happy with her.”
This Umayya ibn Abi al-Salt is a poet of Jahiliyya who died in Damascus before Islam. He was a pious man who had relinquished the use of wine and the worship of idols, as related by Dhahabi in Siyar a`lam al-nubala’ (2:23).
Part of the funeral eulogy Hassan ibn Thabit recited for the Prophet states:
I say, and none can find fault with me
But one lost to all sense:
I shall never cease to praise him.
It may be for so doing I shall be for ever in Paradise
With the Chosen One for whose support in that I hope.
And to attain to that day I devote all my efforts.
Singing and Recitation of Qur’an
As Ibn al-Qayyim says in his book, “Allah gave permission to his Prophet to recite the Qur’an in a melodious way. Abu Musa al-Ash`ari one time was reciting the Qur’an in a melodious voice and the Prophet was listening to him. After he finished, the Prophet congratulated him on reciting in a melodious way and said, “You have a good voice.” And he said about Abu Musa al-Ash`ari that Allah gave him a “mizmar” (flute or horn) from Dawud’s mizmars. Then Abu Musa said, “O Messenger of Allah, if I had known that you were listening to me, I would have recited it in a much more melodious and beautiful voice such as you have never heard before.”
Ibn Qayyim continues, “The Prophet said, “Decorate the Qur’an with your voices,” and “Who does not sing the Qur’an is not from us.” Ibn Qayyim comments: “To take pleasure in a good voice is acceptable, as is taking pleasure in a nice scenery, such as mountains or nature, or from a nice smell, or from good food, as long as it is conforming to Shari`a. If listening to a good voice is haram, then taking pleasure in all these other things is also haram.”
The Prophet Allowed Drum-Playing For A Good Intention
Ibn `Abbad the Muhaddith gave the following fatwa in his “Letters.” He starts with the hadith, “One lady came to the Prophet when he was returning from one of his battles and she said, “Ya Rasulallah, I have made an oath that if Allah sends you back safe, I would play this drum near you.” The Prophet said, “Fulfill your oath.” The hadith is found in Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Ahmad.
Ibn `Abbad continues, “There is no doubt that the playing of a drum is a kind of entertainment, even though the Prophet ordered her to fulfill her oath. He did that because her intention was to honor him for returning safely, and her intention was a good intention, not with the intention of a sin or of wasting time. Therefore, if anyone celebrates the time of the birth of the Prophet in a good way, with a good intention, by reading Sira and praising him, it is accepted.”
The Prophet Emphasized the Birthday of Prophets
NINTH: The Prophet emphasized in his hadith both the day and the place of birth of previous prophets. Speaking of the greatness of the day of Jum`a (Friday), the Prophet said in his hadith: “On that day [i.e. Jum`a], Allah created Adam.” This means that the day of Friday is emphasized because Allah created Adam on that day. That day is emphasized because it saw the creation of the prophet and father of all human beings. What about the day when the greatest of prophets and best of human beings was created? The Prophet said: “Truly Allah made me the Seal of prophets while Adam was between water and clay.” This hadith is related by Ahmad in the Musnad, Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwa and others, and is sound and established as authentic.
Why Bukhari Emphasized Dying On Monday
Imam Qastallani said in his commentary on Bukhari: “In his book on Jana’iz (Funerals), Bukhari named an entire chapter “Dying on Monday.” In it there is the hadith of `A’isha relating her father’s (Abu Bakr al-Siddiq) question: “On which day did the Prophet die?” She replied: “Monday.” He asked: “What day are we today?” She said, “O my father, this is Monday.” Then he raised his hands and said: “I beg you, O Allah, to let me die on Monday in order to coincide with the Prophet’s day of passing.”
Imam Qastallani continues, “Why did Abu Bakr ask for his death to be on Monday? So that his death would coincide with the day of the Prophet’s passing, in order to receive the baraka of that day… Does anyone object to Abu Bakr’s asking to pass away on that day for the sake of baraka? Now, why are people objecting to celebrating or emphasizing the day of the Prophet ‘s birth in order to get baraka?”
The Prophet Emphasized the Birthplace of Prophets
A hadith authentified by the hafiz al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id states that on the night of Isra’ and Mi`raj, the Prophet was ordered by Jibril to pray two rak`ats in Bayt Lahm (Bethlehem), and Jibril asked him: “Do you know where you prayed? When the Prophet asked him where, he told him: “You prayed where `Isa was born.”
The Ijma` of `ulama on the Permissibility of Mawlid
TENTH: Remembering the Prophet’s birthday is an act that all `ulama of the Muslim world accept and still accept. This means that Allah accepts it, according to the saying of Ibn Mas`ud related in Imam Ahmad’s Musnad with a sound chain: “Whatever the majority of Muslims see as right, then this is good to Allah, and whatever is seen by the majority of Muslims as wrong, it is wrong to Allah.”
History of The Celebration of Mawlid: The Mawlid in Mecca According to Muslim Historians
Celebration of the Birthplace of the Prophet
Mecca, the Mother of Cities, may Allah bless and honor her, is the leader of other Islamic cities in the celebration of Mawlid as in other things. In his book Akhbar Makka, Vol. 2, p. 160, the 3rd-century historian of Mecca, al-Azraqi, mentions as one of the many places in Mecca in which the performance of salat is desirable (mustahabb), the house where the Prophet was born (Mawlid al-Nabi). According to him, the house had previously been turned into a mosque by the mother of the caliphs Musa al-Hadi and Harun ar-Rashid.
The Qur’anic scholar al-Naqqash (266-351) mentions the birthplace of the Prophet as a place where du`a by noon on Mondays is answered. He is quoted in al-Fasi’s Shifa’ al-gharam Vol. 1, p. 199, and others.
Earliest Mentions of the Public Mawlid
The oldest source that mentions a public commemoration of the Mawlid is in Ibn Jubayr’s (540-614) Rihal (“Travels”), p. 114-115:
“This blessed place [the house of the Prophet] is opened, and all men enter it to derive blessing from it (mutabarrikin bihi), on every Monday of the month of Rabi` al-Awwal; for on that day and in that month was born the Prophet.”
The 7th-century historians Abul `Abbas al-`Azafi and his son Abul Qasim al-`Azafi wrote in their unpublished Kitab ad-durr al-munazzam:
“Pious pilgrims and prominent travellers testified that, on the day of the mawlid in Mecca, no activities are undertaken, and nothing is sold or bought, except by the people who are busy visiting his noble birthplace, and rush to it. On this day the Ka`ba is opened and visited.”
Ibn Battuta’s Account of the Mawlid
The famous 8th-century historian Ibn Battuta relates in his Rihla, Vol. 1, p. 309 and 347, that on every Friday, after the salat, and on the birthday of the Prophet, the door of Ka`ba is opened by the head of the Banu Shayba, the doorkeepers of the Ka`ba, and that on the Mawlid, the Shafi`i qadi (head judge) of Mecca, Najmuddin Muhammad Ibn al-Imam Muhyiddin al-Tabari, distributes food to theshurafa’ (descendants of the Prophet and to all the other people of Mecca.
Three Tenth-Century Accounts of the Mawlid
The following description consolidates eyewitness accounts by three 10th-century authorities: the historian Ibn Zahira al-Hanafi from his al-Jami` al-latif fi fasl Makka wa ahliha, p. 326; Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami from his Kitab al-mawlid al-sharif al-mu`azzam, and the historian al-Nahrawali from al-I`lam bi-a`lam bayt Allah al-haram, p. 205.
Each year on the 12th of Rabi` al-Awwal, after the salat al-Maghrib, the four qadis of Mecca (representing the Four Schools) and large groups of people including the fuqaha’ (scholars) andfudala’ (notables) of Mecca, shaykhs, zawiya teachers and their students, ru’asa’ (magistrates), and muta`ammamin (scholars) leave the mosque and set out collectively for a visit to the birthplace of the Prophet, shouting out dhikr and tahlil (LA ILAHA ILLALLAH). The houses on the route are illuminated with numerous lanterns and large candles, and a great many people are out and about. They all wear special clothes and they take their children with them. Having reached the birthplace, inside a special sermon for the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet is delivered, mentioning the miracles(karamat) that took place on that occasion. Hereafter the du`a‘ for the Sultan (i.e. the Caliph), the Emir of Mecca, and the Shafi`i qadi is performed and all pray humbly. Shortly before the salat al-`Isha’, the whole party returns from the birthplace of the Prophet to the Great Mosque, which is almost overcrowded, and all sit down in rows at the foot of the Maqam Ibrahim. In the mosque, a preacher first mentions the tahmid (AL HAMDULILLAH) and the tahlil, and once again the du`a’ for the Sultan, the Emir, and the Shafi`i qadi is performed. After this the call for the Salat al-`Isha’ is made. After thesalat, the crowd breaks up. A similar description is given by al-Diyarbakri (d. 960) in his Ta’rikh al-Khamis.
The Celebration of Mawlid in Islamic Countries Today
In every Muslim country today, we find people celebrating the Prophet’s birthday. This is true of the following: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia (not officially, but in the majority of homes), Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Somalia, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaidjan, Uzbekistan, Turkestan, Bosnia (former Yugoslavia), Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and most other Islamic countries. In most Arab countries it is a national holiday. All these countries, O Nation of Islam, are celebrating that event. How is it that today a minority is coming and making up a ruling that it is haram? And who are these scholars who spoke against Mawlid, in comparison to the huffaz (hadith masters) and scholars of the Community such as Abu Shama, `Asqalani, Suyuti, Sakhawi, Haytami, Shawkani, and al-Qari, all of whom declared Mawlid praiseworthy? How can any of the “Salafis” declare haram something that even the strictest of their scholars, Ibn Taymiyya, allowed under certain conditions, and which Ibn al-Jawzi and Ibn Kathir encouraged, each of them by writing a booklet entitled Mawlid and consisting of poems and passages from the sira?
THE CELEBRATION OF MAWLID AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE SCHOLARS OF THE “SALAFI” MOVEMENT AND THOSE OF THE FOUR SCHOOLS OF AHL AL-SUNNA
Ibn Taymiyya’s Opinion on the Celebration of Mawlid and the Deviation of “Salafis” from his Opinion
This is Ibn Taymiyya’s opinion about Mawlid from the Collected Fatwas, Majma` Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 23, p. 163 and his Iqtida’ al-sirat al-mustaqim, p. 294-295, Section entitled: “The innovated festivities of time and place” (ma uhditha min al-a`yad al-zamaniyya wa al-makaniyya):
And similarly what some people innovate by analogy with the Christians who celebrate the birth of Jesus, or out of love for the Prophet and to exalt him, and Allah may reward them for this love and effort, not on the fact that it is an innovation… To celebrate and to honor the birth of the Prophet and to take it as an honored season, as some of the people are doing, is good and in it there is a great reward, because of their good intentions in honoring the Prophet.
This is what “Salafis” cannot stomach, for all their love of Ibn Taymiyya, and they cannot seem to forgive him for saying this. One “Salafi” editor of the Iqtida’, Muhammad Hamid al-Fiqqi, has a two-page footnote here in which he exclaims: “Kayfa yakunu lahum thawabun `ala hadha??… Ayyu ijtihadun fi hadha??” — “How can they possibly obtain a reward for this??… What effort is in this??” and the contemporary “Salafi” scholars are all without exception cut from the same cloth of intemperance and deviation regarding Mawlid, substituting their ruling to that of Ibn Taymiyya although the latter should be sufficient for them. Thus we see another “Salafi” author, Mashhur Salman, exploding in similar terms in his recent edition of Abu Shama’s al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` (Assault on all innovations), because when it comes to Mawlid, Abu Shama instead of censoring it declares: “Truly it is a praiseworthy innovation and a blessed one”!
Further on in the same text Ibn Taymiyya mentions a fatwa given by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Imam of Ibn Taymiyya’s madhhab, whereby when the people told Imam Ahmad about a prince who spent 1000 dinars on the decoration of Qur’an he said: “That is the best place for him to use gold.”
We ask: Was Ibn Taymiyya promoting bid`a when he permitted the celebration of Mawlid “as some of the people are doing”? Not only did he allow it, but he mentioned that their celebration ofMawlid “is good and in it there is a great reward.” We ask again: Was Imam Ahmad making bid`a when he allowed the decoration of Qur’an? The answer to both questions is no.
Ibn Taymiyya’s Opinion on the Meetings of Dhikr
The following is the opinion of Ibn Taymiyya on meetings of dhikr. It can be found in the King Khalid ibn `Abd al-`Aziz edition of the Majmu`at fatawa Ibn Taymiyya:
Ibn Taymiyya was asked about people that gather in a masjid making dhikr and reading Qur’an, praying to Allah and taking their turbans off their heads (leaving their heads bare) and crying, while their intention is not pride nor showing off but seeking to draw closer to Allah: is it acceptable or not? He answered: “Praise to Allah, it is good and recommended according to Shari`a(mustahabb) to come together for reading Qur’an, making dhikr, and making du`a‘.”
Ibn Kathir Praises the Night of Mawlid
Imam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, in his book al-Durar al-kamina fi `ayn al-Mi’at al-thamina, mentions that Ibn Kathir, a muhaddith from among the followers of Ibn Taymiyya, “in the last days of his life wrote a book entitled Mawlid Rasul Allah which was spread far and wide. That book mentioned the permissibility and recommendability of celebrating the Mawlid.”
Ibn Kathir’s book was edited and published in 1961. In it he says, p. 19: “The Night of the Prophet’s birth is a magnificient, noble, blessed and holy night, a night of bliss for the believers, pure, radiant with lights, and of immeasurable price.”
`Asqalani and Suyuti’s Fatwas on the Permissibility of Mawlid
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti said in his Hawi li al-fatawa: “The Sheikh of Islam and hadith master of his age, Ahmad ibn Hajar (`Asqalani) was asked about the practice of commemorating the birth of the Prophet, and gave the following written reply:
As for the origin of the practice of commemorating the Prophet’s birth, it is an innovation that has not been conveyed to us from any of the pious early Muslims of the first three centuries, despite which it has included both features that are praiseworthy and features that are not. If one takes care to include in such a commemoration only things that are praiseworthy and avoids those that are otherwise, it is a praiseworthy innovation, while if one does not, it is not.
An authentic primary textual basis from which its legal validity is inferable has occured to me, namely the rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet came to Medina and found the Jews fasting on the tenth of Muharram (`Ashura ‘), so he asked them about it and they replied: “It is the day on which Allah drowned Pharaoh and rescued Moses, so we fast in it to give thanks to Allah Most High,” which indicates the validity of giving thanks to Allah for the blessings He has bestowed on a particular day in providing a benefit, or averting an affliction. We repeat our thanks on the anniversary of that day every year, giving thanks to Allah with various forms of worship such as prostration, fasting, giving charity or reciting the Qur’an… Then what blessing is greater than the birth of the Prophet, the Prophet of mercy, on this day? In light of which, one should take care to commemorate it on the day itself in order to conform to the above story of Musa and the tenth of Muharram, [but] those who do not view the matter thus do not mind commemorating it on any day of the month, while some have expanded its time to any of day the year, whatever exception may be taken at such a view.”
Other Scholars’ Opinions on the Mawlid
According to the Mufti of Mecca Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan, in his book al-Sira al-nabawiyya wa al-athar al-muhammadiyya, page 51: “To celebrate the Mawlid and to remember the Prophet is accepted by all the Ulama of the Muslims.” Most of the following quotations are taken from that work.
Imam Subki said, “When we were celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, a great uns (familiarity) comes to our hearts, and we feel something special.”
mam Shawkani in his book al-Badr at-tali`, said, “It is permissible to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday.” He mentioned that Mullah `Ali Qari held the same opinion in a book entitled al-Mawrid ar-Rawi fi al-Mawlid al-Nabawi, written specifically to support the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday.
Imam Abu Shama, the sheikh of Imam Nawawi, said in his book on innovations entitled: al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith:
The best innovation in our day is the remembrance of the Prophet’s birthday. On that day, people give much donations, make much worship, show much love to the Prophet, and give much thanks to Allah Almighty for sending them His messenger to keep them on the Sunna and Shari`a of Islam.
Imam Sakhawi said, “The Mawlid was begun three centuries after the Prophet, and all Muslim nations celebrated it, and all `ulama accepted it, by worshipping Allah alone, by giving donations and by reading the Prophet’s Sira.”
Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said , “As Jews celebrated the day of `Ashura by fasting to thank Allah, we also have to celebrate the day of Mawlid,” and he quoted the aforementioned hadith, “When the Prophet came to Madina…” Ibn Hajar continues, “One gives thanks to Allah for the favor that He gave on a particular day either through a great good, or through the averting of a disaster. That day is celebrated every year thereafter. Thanksgiving entails various forms of worship like prostration, fasting, charity, and the recitation of Qur’an, and what greater good is there than the advent of that Prophet, the Prophet of Mercy, on the day of Mawlid?”
Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597) wrote a booklet of poems and sira to be read at mawlid celebrations. It is entitled Mawlid al-`arus and begins with the words: al-hamdu lillah al-ladhi abraza min ghurrati `arusi al-hadrati subhan mustanira: “Praise be to Allah Who has manifested from the radiance of the bridegroom of His Presence a light-giving daybreak…”
To Celebrate Mawlid Is Mandub (Recommended)
Imam Suyuti in his book Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid, p. 54 and 62, says: “The reason for gathering for tarawih prayers is Sunna and qurba (to seek nearness to Allah)… and similarly we say that the reason for gathering to celebrate mawlid is mandub (recommended) and qurba (an act of drawing near).. and the intention to celebrate mawlid is mustahsana (excellent) without a doubt.”
Imam Suyuti continues, p. 64-65, “I have derived the permissibility of Mawlid from another source of the Sunna [besides Ibn Hajar’s deduction from the hadith of `Ashura’], namely, the hadith found in Bayhaqi, narrated by Anas, that “The Prophet slaughtered an `aqiqa [sacrifice for newborns] for himself after he received the prophecy,” although it has been mentioned that his grandfather `Abd al-Muttalib did that on the seventh day after he was born, and the `aqiqa cannot be repeated. Thus the reason for the Prophet’s action is to give thanks to Allah for sending him as a mercy to the worlds, and to give honor to his Umma, in the same way that he used to pray on himself. It is recommended for us, therefore, that we also show thanks for his birth by meeting with our brothers, by feeding people, and other such good works and rejoicing.” This hadith confirms the aforementioned hadith of the Prophet’s emphasis of Monday as the day of his birth and that of his prophethood.
CONCERNING THE CLAIM OF THE CONTEMPORARY “SALAFI” WRITERS WHO FORBADE MAWLID ON THE GROUNDS THAT IT IS AN INNOVATION, SUCH AS ALBANI, BIN BAZ, ABU BAKR JAZA’IRI,
MASHHUR SALMAN, `UTHAYMIN AND OTHERS.
This claim is not only an innovative departure from what the majority of the past scholars have said on the question; it is, first and foremost, defective in its logic and reasoning, since the scholars have defined innovations as being sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes indifferent, and therefore it is not allowed to prohibit something solely on the ground that it is an innovation without first defining what kind of innovation it is.
There is a bid`a hasana or excellent innovation according to the majority of the scholars who have written about bid`a, though some, like Ibn al-Jawzi and Ibn Taymiyya, consider all bid`a to bebid`a dalala (innovation of miguidance). Their position in this is shadhdh (anomalous and deviating from the norm) as the following evidence shows:
1. Harmala ibn Yahya said: “I heard al-Shafi`i saying:
al-bid`atu bid`atan: bid`a mahmuda wa bid`a madhmuma, fa ma wafaqa al-sunna fa huwa mahmud, wa ma khalafa al-sunna fa huwa madhmum.
Innovation is of two kinds: the praiseworthy innovation and the blameworthy innovation. Whatever conforms to the Sunna is praiseworthy, and whatever contravenes the Sunna is blameworthy.
- al-hafiz Abu Nu`aym al-Asbahani cites it in Hilyat al-awliya (9:113);
- al-hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani also in Fath al-Bari (13:253);
- al-hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali also in Jami` al-`uloom wa al-hikam (p. 291);
- al-hafiz Abu Shama in al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith, ed. Mashhur Hasan Salman (Riyadh: Dar al-Raya, 1990/1410) p. 93; Cairo edition, p. 12.
- al-hafiz al-Turtushi al-Maliki, Kitab al-hawadith wa al-bida` (p. 158-159); He himself divided the bid`a into muharrama (forbidden), makruha (disliked), and wajiba (obligatory): p. 15.
- al-hafiz al-Suyuti alludes to it in the introduction to his fatwa on Mawlid entitled Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid in al-Hawi li al-fatawi;
- al-hafiz Ibn Taymiyya, Dar’ ta`arud al-`aql wa al-naql, ed. Muhammad al-Sayyid Julaynid (Cairo: Mu’assasat al-ahram, 1409/1988) p. 171: “Bayhaqi narrated it in al-Madkhal with a sound chain”;
- al-hafiz al-Bayhaqi, Manaqib al-Shafi’i (1:469) in these words:
al-muhdathatu min al-umuri darbani ahaduhuma ma uhditha yukhalifu kitaban aw sunnatan aw atharan aw ijma`an fa hadhihi al-bid`atu al-dalalat wa al-thaniyatu ma uhditha min al-khayri la khilafa fihi li wahidin min hadhihi wa hadhihi muhdathatun ghayru madhmuma.
Innovated matters are one of two kinds: one is an innovation which contravenes something in the Qur’an or the Sunna or a report from a Companion or the consensus of he scholars: this is the innovation of misguidance (bid`a dalala); the other kind is whatever good has been innovated which contravenes none of the above, and this is an innovation that is not blameworthy(muhdathatun ghayru madhmuma).
2. al-Hafiz al-`Izz Ibn `Abd al-Salam said:
There are five types of bid`a:
– Haram (forbidden)
– Makhruh (disliked)
– Mubah (permitted)
– Mandub (praiseworthy)
– Wajib (obligatory).”
- al-hafiz al-Shatibi, Kitab al-i`tisam (Beirut ed.) 1:188;
- al-hafiz al-Imam al-Nawawi, Kitab al-Adhkar (Beirut: al-Thaqafiyya) p. 237; and Tahdhib al-asma’ wa al-lughat ([Cairo] : Idarat al-Tibaah al-Muniriyah, ?) 3: 22;
- al-hafiz Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-muhtar (Kuitah, Pakistan ed.?) 1:376;
- al-hafiz al-Suyuti mentions it in the introduction to his fatwa on Mawlid entitled Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid in al-Hawi li al-fatawi.
3. Others who admitted the possibility of praiseworthy bid`a are:
- Abu Shama; he divided it into bid`a mustahsana / hasana on the one hand, and bid`a mustaqbaha on the other, itself subdivided into muharram and makruh. In al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith Cairo ed. (p. 13);
- al-Turkumani al-Hanafi; he divided it into either bid`a mustahsana (approved), such as mubaha yuthab `alayha (permitted innovation which merits reward), or bid`a mustaqbaha (disapproved), such as makruha or muharrama. In Kitab al-luma` fi al-hawadith wa al-bida` (Stuttgart, 1986) 1:37;
- Ibn al-Hajj al-`Abdari al-Maliki, who followed al-Izz Ibn `Abd al-Salam’s classification. Madkhal al-shar` al-sharif (Cairo, 1336 H) 2:115;
- al-Tahanawi al-Hanafi, who also followed Ibn `Abd al-Salam. Kashshaf istilahat al-funun (Beirut, 1966) 1:133-135;
- al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani in his commentary of `Umar’s saying related by Bukhari about Salat al-Tarawih: “What a fine innovation this is” (ni`mat al-bid`a hadhih):
The root meaning of innovation is what is produced without precedent. It is applied in the law in opposition to the Sunna and is therefore blameworthy. Strictly speaking, if it is part of what is classified as commendable by the law then it is a good innovation (hasana), while if it is part of what is classified as blameworthy by the law then it is blameworthy (mustaqbaha), otherwise it falls in the category of what is permitted indifferently (mubah). It can be divided into the known five categories.”
4. Certain people still object: “What about the hadith: kullu bida’tin dalala: “Every innovation is a misguidance”? Doesn’t the term “every” include all innovations?”
Such an objection stems from the misinterpretation of the term kullu (“every”) in the hadith to be all-encompassing without exception, whereas in Arabic it may mean “nearly all” or “the vast majority.” This is how al-Shafi`i understood it or else he would have never allowed for any innovation whatsoever to be considered good, and he is considered a hujja or “proof,” that is, a reference without peer for questions regarding the Arabic language. Imam Bayhaqi narrated in his Manaqib al-Shafi`i (2:42-46):
al-Hasan ibn Habib related from Mahmud al-Misri — and he was one of those gifted with eloquence — that Mahmud said: I saw al-Shafi`i when I was little, and I heard Ibn Hisham — and I never set eyes on one from whom I took wisdom such as Ibn Hisham — say: “I was al-Shafi`i’s sitting-companion for a long time, and I never heard him use a word except that if that word were carefully considered, one would not find (in its context) a better word than it in the entire Arabic language.” Mahmud also said: I also heard Ibn Hisham say: “al-Shafi`i’s discourse, in relation to language, is a proof in itself.”
It is also related from al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Za`farani: A group of the people of pure Arabic (qawmun min ahl al-`arabiyya) used to frequent al-Shafi`i’s gathering with us and sit in a corner. One day I asked their leader: “You are not interested in scholarship; why do you keep coming here with us?” They said: “We come to hear al-Shafi`i’s language.”
The stylistic figure of meaning the part by the whole, or synecdoche in English, is in Arabic: `abbara `an al-kathrati bi al-kulliyya. This is illustrated by the use of kull in verse 46:25 of the Qur’an in a selective or partial sense not a universal sense:
Destroying all things by commandment of its Lord. And morning found them so that naught could be seen save their dwellings.
Thus the dwellings were not destroyed although “all” things had been destroyed. “All” here means specifically the lives of the unbelievers of `Ad and their properties, except their houses. The same applies with the hoopoe-bird’s expression when he says that Balkis has been given in abundance from “everything” in Sura al-Naml (27:23), whereas she was not given any power over Sulayman nor any share of his kingdom. Similarly when Allah says: “Every soul (kullu nafsin) shall taste death” (3:185), it is understood though not mentioned that Allah Himself is excluded from the meaning.
In conclusion, the position of the majority of the scholars is clear: “To invent” (ahdatha) a “new practice” (bid’at) may refer either to the matter that is new linguistically speaking (lafzan), e.g. stone masjids, all the Islamic sciences, writing books about religion, etc. or the matter that is new legally speaking (shar`an), e.g. a sixth daily prayer. Since bid`a usually applies to innovations in religion in the legal sense, the former kind of “new matter” does not qualify as a bid`a and therefore is not prohibited.
The above is the ruling of all the major scholars on the definition of bid`a. Whoever denies this definition is either ignorant, or actually giving a new definition which is not from the majority of scholars but from one’s own whim. Their claim that they are “sticking to the Sunna” is an empty claim which does not fool anybody but themselves and those they sadly misguide. When asked to substantiate it with the criteria of scholarship in the light of the evidence against them, they just instead keep repeating the claim, like parrots, ignoring or affecting to ignore the difference between the claim and the reality of the claim. Their purported “avoidance of bid`a” is similarly based on their own whimsical conviction that they alone are right although they stray from the larger group. May Allah guide them to the truth.
BRIEF ANSWERS TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS
PERTAINING TO MAWLID
Q. Since the purpose of Mawlid is to promote love and obedience of the Prophet, then why did the first generations of Muslims not celebrate it? Undoubtedly, love and obedience of the Prophet were not lacking at that time.
A. The answer is given in the question itself. If the people of today could practice love and obedience of the Prophet the way the Salaf did, then they would have no need of the voluntary celebration ofMawlid to remind them.
The same applies to knowledge and belief. In the first generations, knowledge and belief were pure and safe from the dangers of forgetfulness and innovation; when these evils appeared, the Imams of fiqh stepped forth and did their great work to protect the Umma from error. The Companions themselves had no need of formal schools of Law.
The same applies to morals. Zuhd (“Doing-without”) was a characteristic of all the Companions and the natural state of the Prophet. When it became a rare thing, the imams of tasawwuf came and codified zuhd, encouraging people to return to the excellent manners and simplicity of earlier times. All of these: `ulum al-fiqh, `ulum al-tasawwuf, and Mawlid, did not exist formally in the first centuries because there was no need for them. The love for the Prophet and his imitation were certainly greater then.
Beware of those who say that Mawlid is wrong simply because it did not exist in the first three centuries. To claim that something goes against the Sunna because it was not present in the first three centuries, indicates that one is fostering the wrong understanding of “following the Sunna” and this is rejected. In fact, it is impermissible to claim that the Prophet did not celebrate his birthday, since it is established in sound hadith that he commemorated his birthday by fasting on Mondays.
Q. There was no such thing as Mawlid before the Fatimi regime in Egypt started it. Aren’t they denounced by Ahl al-Sunna as deviants?
A. The Fatimis ruled in Egypt from about 360 to 560. But the historian of Mecca al-Azraqi (3rd century) mentioned the mawlid in the sense of the house where the Prophet was born, and he said thatsalat in that house was declared by the scholars as desirable (mustahabb) for the reason of seeking special blessing (tabarruk). See Akhbar Mekka (2:160). Also, the mufassir al-Naqqash (266-351) said in his Shifa’ al-gharam (1:199) that the birthplace of the Prophet (mawlid al-nabi) is a place where du`a on mondays is answered. Ibn Jubayr (540-640) in his Kitab al-rihal (p. 114-115) mentions theMawlid as a public commemoration taking place in Mecca in the House of the Prophet “every Monday of the month of Rabi` al-awwal.” And the father-and-son 7th-century historians Abul `Abbas and Abul Qasim al-`Azafi said in Kitab al-durr al-munazzam that “On the day of the Mawlid in Mecca, no activities are undertaken, the Ka`ba is opened and visited, etc.”
Furthermore, the fact that the Fatimis did a particular action does not automatically mean that such action is not good. Regarding Mawlid in particular, we refer you to the Maliki faqih of Alexandria, Egypt under the Fatimis: Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Walid al-Turtushi (d. 520). He wrote a comprehensive book on the innovations of his time under the Fatimi regime, entitled Kitab al-hawadith wa al-bida`. This book has received two editions, one in Tunis (M. Talbim 1959), and one in Beirut (A.M. Turki, 1990). al-Turtushi’s book constitutes one of the early comprehensive treatises on innovations in Religion. It had immeasurable influence on the style and structure of later books on the same subject, both in and outside his school, such as Ibn Rushd, Abu Shama, Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Hajj, al-Shatibi, Ahmad Zarruq, and al-Suyuti.
Turtushi is extremely thorough and severe in his listing of innovations in religion under the Fatimis, whether great or small. He lists, among other innovations:
– Tatrib or qira’a bi al-alhan of Qur’an: reciting with melody.
– Numbering the Suras and punctuating the Qur’an.
– Building mihrabs in mosques; embellishing mosques.
– Placing a collection-box in the mosques; eating and drinking there.
– Selling goods in the mosques.
– He defends Tarawih as not being an innovation (because the Shi`is attacked it as such).
– The alfiyya prayer of mid-Sha`ban and the Ragha’ib of Rajab.
– Stopping work on the day of Jum`a.
– Tathwib (pronouncing as-salatu khayrun min al-nawm in the adhan of Fajr). [al-Wansharisi, a later Maliki who died in 914, finally accepts it as a bid`a mustahsana: see his al-Mustahsan min al-bida`(The innovations that are considered good).]
– Raising the hands and voice during du`a.
– Wearing the turban without passing the longest extremity under the chin.
– Dragging one’s clothes behind oneself on the ground.
– Mixing of the sexes in the mosques on the nights of Tarawih.
– Renting the services of a person to perform the pilgrimage by proxy. Etc.
Yet al-Turtushi never mentions nor condemns the Mawlid, although he undoubtedly must have witnessed it since it was a regular public celebration during his life in Egypt, and although it involved more people than many of the innovations he does mention! This is a glaring omission in view of the fact that he was especially intent on censoring the innovations that he deemed were connected to the Fatimi regime. al-Turtushi’s omission is an indication that although he opposed the Fatimis, he considered Mawlid under the Fatimis to be neither an innovation, nor blameworthy, and it constitutes tacit approval of Mawlid on his part. And Allah knows best.
Q. What are the opinions on Mawlid of those whom the “Salafis” consider their authorities?
A. We have already touched upon the subject above. Following are some additional remarks with reference to Hafiz al-Dhahabi and Imam Ibn Kathir.
Dhahabi’s and Ibn Kathir’s favorable views on Mawlid can be ascertained by their remarks on Muzaffar the King of Irbil, who was famous for his sumptuous celebration of the Prophet’s birthday. Dhahabi writes in his Siyar a`lam al-nubala’:
He [Muzaffar] loved charity (sadaqa)… and built four hospices for the poor and sick… and one house for women, one for orphans, one for the homeless, and he himself used to visit the sick… He built a madrasa for the Shafi`is and the Hanafis… He would forbid any reprehensible matter entry into his country… As for his celebration of the Noble Mawlid al-Nabawi, words are too poor to describe it. The people used to come all the way from Iraq and Algeria to attend it. Two wooden dais would be erected and decorated for him and his wife… the celebration would last several days, and a huge quantity of cows and camels would be brought out to be sacrificed and cooked in different ways… Preachers would roam the field exhorting the people. Great sums were spent (as charity). Ibn Dihya compiled a “Book of Mawlid” for him for which he received 1,000 dinars. He [Muzaffar] was modest, a lover of good, and a true Sunni who loved scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of hadith, and was generous even to poets. He was killed in battle according to what is reported.
Source: al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-nubala’, ed. Shu`ayb Arna’ut (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 1981) 22:335-336.
Ibn Kathir said in al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya:
He [Muzaffar] used to celebrate the noble Mawlid in Rabi` al-Awwal and organize huge festivities for it. He was a wise king, brave, a fierce fighter, intelligent, learned, and just. May Allah have mercy on him and ennoble his grave. Shaykh Abu al-Khattab ibn Dihya compiled for him a book on the Mawlid of the Prophet and named it al-Tanwir fi mawlid al-bashir al-nadhir (The illumination concerning the birthday of the Bringer of glad tidings and Warner) and the king rewarded him with 1,000 dinars for it. His rule lasted until he died in the year 630 [Hijri] as he was besieging the French in the city of Acca [Acre, Palestine] after a glorious and blameless life.
Source: Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya (Beirut and Riyad: Maktabat al-ma`arif & Maktabat al-Nasr, 1966) 13:136-137.
More importantly, Ibn Kathir himself composed a text on Mawlid, made of hadiths, invocations of blessings on the Prophet, and poetry in praise of him. It is entitled Mawlid Rasulillah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, and was edited and published by Salah al-Din al-Munajjad (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Jadid, 1961).
Note: Among other similar works of Mawlid by the authorities is that by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami entitled Mawlid al-Nabi (Damascus: `Ala dhimmat Muhammad Hashim al-Kutubi, [1900?]), and that by the Hanbali hafiz Abu al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi entitled Mawlid al-`Arus (Cairo: al-Matba`a al-Bahiyya al-Misriyya, [1850?]). The latter received a commentary entitled Fath al-samad al-`alim `ala Mawlid al-Shaykh ibn al-Qasim also known as al-Bulugh al-fawzi li-bayan alfaz Mawlid Ibn al-Jawzi by Muhammad Nawawi ibn `Umar ibn `Arabi (Cairo: Tubi`a bi nafaqat Fada Muhammad al-Kashmiri al-Kutubi, 1328/1910).
Q. Who are the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna that accept the celebration of Mawlid al-Nabi as permissible or recommended?
A. They are the overwhelming majority of Ahl al-Sunna. Among them are found the following, together with the title of the works where their position is stated:
Imam Qutb al-Din al-Hanafi, al-I`lam bi a`lam bayt Allah al-haram
Imam Muhammad ibn Jar Allah ibn Zahira, al-Jami` al-latif
`Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith Dihlawi, Ma thabata min al-sunna
Shah `Abd al-Rahim Dihlawi, al-Durr al-thamin
Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi, Fuyud al-haramayn
Mufti `Inayat Allah Kakurawi, Tarikh Habib Allah
Mufti Muhammad Mazhar Allah Dihlawi, Fatawa mazhari
Mulla `Ali al-Qari, al-Mawrid al-rawi fi Mawlid al-nabi.
Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki, Shama’im imdadiyya
Muhaddith `Abd al-Hayy al-Lucknawi, Fatawa `Abd al-Hayy
Hafiz Ibn Dihya al-Kalbi, al-Tanwir fi mawlid al-bashir al-nadhir
Imam al-Turtushi, Kitab al-hawadith wa al-bida` (indirectly)
Imam al-Faqih Abu al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Sabti (d. 695), as quoted by al-Adfawi in Suyuti’s Husn al-maqsid
Abu `Abd Allah Sayyidi Muhammad ibn `Abbad al-Nafzi, al-Rasa’il al-kubra
Shaykh Jalal al-Din al-Kattani, Rawdat al-Jannat fi Mawlid khatim al-risalat, also quoted in Sakhawi’s Subul al-huda
Shaykh Nasir al-Din ibn al-Tabbakh, quoted in Sakhawi’s Subul al-huda
Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Makki, al-Ihtifal bi dhikra al-mawlid
Hafiz Abu Shama, al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith
Hafiz Shams al-Din al-Jazari, `Urf al-ta`rif bi al-mawlid al-sharif.
Hafiz Shams al-Din ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi, al-Mawrid al-sadi fi mawlid al-hadi; Jami` al-athar fi mawlid al-nabi al-mukhtar; al-lafz al-ra’iq fi mawlid khayr al-khala’iq
Hafiz Zayn al-Din al-`Iraqi, al-Mawrid al-hani fi al-mawlid al-sani
Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-nubala’ (indirectly)
Hafiz Ibn Kathir, Kitab Mawlid an-Nabi, and al-Bidaya p. 272-273.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, as quoted by Suyuti in al-Hawi.
Qastallani, al-Mawahib al-laduniyya
Hafiz al-Sakhawi, Subul al-huda, also quoted in Qari, al-Mawrid al-rawi
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Fatawa hadithiyya; al-Ni`mat al-kubra `ala al-`alam fi mawlid sayyid waladi Adam; Tahrir al-kalam fi al-qiyam `inda dhikr mawlid sayyid al-anam; Tuhfat al-akhyar fi mawlid al-mukhtar
Hafiz Wajih al-Din `Abd al-Rahman al-Zabidi al-Dayba` (d. 944), Kitab al-mawlid.
Zahir al-Din Ja`far al-Misri, quoted in Sakhawi’s Subul al-huda
Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Salihi al-Shami, quoted in Sakhawi’s Subul al-huda
Kamal al-Din al-Adfawi, al-Tali` al-sa`id
Hafiz al-Suyuti, Husn al-Maqsid fi `amal al-Mawlid in his al-Hawi li al-fatawi
al-Zarqani, Sharh al-mawahib
Abu Zur`a al-`Iraqi, as quoted in Muhammad ibn Siddiq al-Ghumari’s Tashnif al-adhan
Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya, Iqtida’ al-sirat al-mustaqim (in some cases)
Q. During Mawlid the reading of the life of the Prophet and the recitation of poems in his honor take place. Is there a precedent in the Sunna for them?
A. We have shown conclusively that the recitation of poetry in honor of the Prophet is a Sunna which he himself and the Companions practiced. See further below, in the section on Na`t, the list of over a hundred Companions who composed and recited such poetry. As for reading about his life, it falls within the obligation upon every Muslim to know their Prophet and to love him.
Narrated Ibn `Umar:
The Prophet used to deliver his sermons while standing
beside the trunk of a datepalm. When he had the pulpit made,
he used it instead. The trunk started crying and the Prophet
went to it, rubbing his hand over it (to stop its crying).
[Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 56, Number 783]
If a dead tree could cry with sorrow when distanced from the Prophet, what about a human being? And how distant from the Prophet are we in comparison to those who lived in his blessed time? If some people accuse Ahl al-Sunna of innovation when they want to remember the Prophet on his birthday and on any other day by reciting his Sira, making salawat in groups, singing qasidas of praise, and longing for him: then let them accuse the tree trunk
of bid’ah and stop it from its sorrow. As for us, we are rejoicing for his advent to this worldly life and yet lamenting his passing, on the same day as his birth, for our hearts are missing him and seek the day of meeting with him. May Allah perfume his blessed grave and endow it with ever more lights and peace.
It is from the Sunna to long for the Prophet after his passing from this life. This is documented in an authentic hadith in which Abu Hurayra narrated that the Prophet said: “A time will come when any of you will long to see me more than to have his family and property doubled.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 56, Number 787)
Ibn Hisham’s notes to his Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. A. Guillaume, 9th printing (Karachi: Oxford U. Press, 1990)p. 797.
Narrated from Shaddad ibn Aws by al-Bazzar, Abu Ya`la, and Tabarani. Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa’id (1:47): “Its narrators are the men of the sound collections.” Ibn Hajar mentioned this hadith in his Fath al-Bari(7:199) without saying anything against it.
Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`at fatawa Ibn Taymiyya 22:523.
Ibn Kathir, Mawlid Rasul Allah, ed. Salah al-Din Munajjad (Beirut: dar al-kitab al-jadid, 1961).
Suyuti, al-Hawi li al-fatawi as cited in al-Misri’s The Reliance of the Traveller, trans. Noah Ha Mim Keller, section w58.0.
Ibn al-Jawzi, Mawlid al-`arus, Damascus: maktabat al-hadara 1955.
The hadith is in Bayhaqi’s Sunan, Vol. 9 p. 300, and in Haythami’s Majma` al-Zawa’id, Vol. 4, p. 59, who says that al-Bazzar and Tabarani relate it, the latter with a sound chain of transmission.
Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari (Cairo: al-Halabi, 1378 /1959) 5:156-157; (Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya, 1410/1989) 4:318.
Abu al-Shaykh cites it in Kitab al-Salat `ala al-nabi (Jala’ al-afham p. 22), and Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari (6:379): “Abu al-Shaykh cites it with a good chain (sanad jayyid).” Bayhaqi mentions it in Hayat al-anbiya andShu`ab al-iman (2:218 #1583) with ublightuhu instead of bullightuhu in the end.
Abu Hurayra in Abu Dawud (Manasik #2039) with a sound chain; Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:407; Ahmad, Musnad 2:527; Abu Nu`aym, Akhbar Asbahan 2:353; Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 145; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman #4161; Haythami, Majma` al-zawa’id 10:162; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir 6:464; al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-tarhib 2:499; Talkhis al-habir 2:267.
Abu al-`Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Khatib, known as Ibn Qunfudh al-Qusantini al-Maliki, Wasilat al-islam bi al-nabi `alayhi al-salat wa al-salam (The means to Islam with the Prophet, peace be upon him) (Beirut: Dar al-gharb al-islami, 1404/1984) p. 145-146.
 See the following sources:
– Nawawi’s al-Tarkhis fi al-ikram bi al-qiyam li dhawi al-fadl wa al- maziyya min ahl al-islam `ala jihat al-birr wa al-tawqir wa al-ihtiram la `ala jihat al-riya’ wa al-i`zam (The permissibility of honoring, by standing up, those who possess excellence and distinction among the people of islam: in the spirit of piousness, reverence, and respect, not in the spirit of display and aggrandizement) ed. Kilani Muhammad Khalifa (Beirut: Dar al-Basha’ir al-islamiyya, 1409/1988);
– Nawawi’s Sharh Sahih Muslim;
– Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani’s Fath al-Bari sharh sahih al-Bukhari (The victory of the Creator: commentary on Bukhari’s collection of sound hadiths);
– Shams al-Din al-Sakhawi’s al-Jawahir wa al-durar fi tarjamat shaykh al-islam Ibn Hajar (The diamonds and the pearls: biography of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar).
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Fatawa hadithiyya (Cairo: Halabi, 1390/1970) p. 297.
See Qadi `Iyad, al-Shifa’; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman; Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Wafa’; Qastallani, al-Mawahib al-laduniyya; Suyuti, al-Khasa’is al-kubra; and others, chapters concerning Allah’s bestowal of precedence and preference to His Prophet.
Related by Ahmad (4:138 #17246), Tirmidhi (Da`awat Ch. 119), Ibn Majah (Iqamat al-salat wa al-sunnat, Ch. on Salat al-hajat), Nasa’i (`Amal al-yawm wa al-laylat p. 417-418), al-Hakim (1:313), and rigorously authenticated as sound (sahih) by nearly fifteen hadith masters including Ibn Hajar, Dhahabi, Shawkani, and Ibn Taymiyya.
Cf. Tuhfat al-ahwadhi (13:81) with al-hafiz Abu Bakr ibn al-`Arabi’s commentary.
1970 Riyadh edition: p. 271
1988 Ta’if edition: p. 383
1992 Mecca edition: p. 370
Bukhari’s Adab al-mufrad:
1990 `Abd al-Baqi Beirut edition: p. 286
1994 Albani edition entitled Da`if al-adab al-mufrad: p. 87
The latter gives as a reference: Takhrij al-kalim al-tayyib (235)”
date? Beirut: `Alam al-kitab: p. 324
date? Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya: p.142.
Shawkani’s Tuhfat al-dhakirin:
1970 Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya: p. 206-207.
From the translation of Qadi `Iyad al-Maliki’s al-Shifa’ by `A’isha Bewley, Madinah Press, p. 265-271.
The grading of this hadith has been cited above.
Daraqutni, Abu al-Shaykh, Tabarani, Ibn al-Jawzi in Muthir al-`azm al-sakin ila ashraf al-amakin, Ibn al-Najjar in al-durra al-thamina fi akhbar al-madina, Ibn `Adi, Ibn `Asakir, al-Subki in Shifa’ al-siqam (p. 17-23), Sa`id ibn Mansur in his Sunan, and Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-kubra (5:246), Book of Hajj, Chapter on visiting the Prophet’s grave, through Ibn `Umar. Ibn `Adi, Ibn `Asakir, and Bayhaqi declared it weak because of Hafs ibn Sulayman. However:
– Tabarani relates it through other than Hafs in al-Kabir and al-Awsat; Mulla Qari says in Sharh al-shifa’ (Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya ed. 2:149): “The ahadith on this chapter are numerous and their narrations are well-known, among them `Ali’s narration traced back to the Prophet: “Whoever visits my grave after my death it is as if he visited me in my life” and “Whoever does not visit my grave has slighted me.” It has been inferred from this that the Prophet’s visitation is obligatory upon those who are able to visit him.”
– Sakhawi relates in al-Maqasid al-hasana (p. 410 #1125) that Dhahabi says: “Its chains strengthen each other and none of them contains a liar. Among its best is the hadith: “Whoever visits me after my death it is as if he visited me in my life”;
– Ahmad ibn Hanbal declared Hafs a good (salih) and acceptable (ma bihi ba’s) narrator as cited in Subki p. 22;
– Subki shows (p. 20-21) that there are two possible Hafs ibn Sulayman one of which Ibn Hibban declared reliable and the other weak.
This is its meaning according to the school of Imam Malik. Imam Nawawi said in his commentary on this hadith:
“According to Shafi`i and the majority of the scholars the meaning of “except the Holy Mosque” is that prayer in the Holy Mosque is better than prayer in the Prophet’s Mosque. According to Malik and those who agree with him, its meaning is that prayer in the Prophet’s mosque is better, but not by one thousand times. Qadi `Iyad said: The scholars are unanimous that the site of his grave is the best spot on earth and that Mecca and Madina are the best spot on earth, but they differ as to which of these two is better apart from the site of his grave. `Umar, some others of the Companions, Malik, and most of the people of Madina say that Madina is better. The people of Mecca and Kufa, al-Shafi`i, Ibn Wahb al-Maliki and Ibn Habib al-Maliki hold that Mecca is preferable.
I say: What our companions adduced as evidence for their position about the preference of Mecca is the hadith of `Abd Allah ibn `Adi ibn al-Hamra whereby he heard the Prophet say as he stood on top of his mount in Mecca: “By Allah, verily you are the best of Allah’s earth and the most beloved of Allah’s earth to Him, and had I not been brought out from you I would have never come out.” Tirmidhi and Nisa’i narrated it and the former said it is hasan sahih[Ibn Hibban and Bayhaqi also narrated it]. `Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr related that the Prophet said: “One prayer in this mosque of mine is better than a thousand in any other except the Holy mosque, and one prayer in the Holy mosque is better than a hundred in mine.” A fair (hasan) hadith narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, Bayhaqi, and others with a fair chain. And Allah knows best.” Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Qalam ed.) vol. 9/10 p. 172-173.
The first part of the hadith is narrated by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, and Tirmidhi who said it is hasan sahih gharib. The hadith with both its first and second part is related by Tabarani with a fair (hasan) chain.
 al-Jilani, al-Ghunya, ed. Farj Tawfiq al-Walid (Baghdad: maktabat al-sharq al-jadida, n.d.) 1:89-93.
Ibn al-Jawzi: Muthir al-gharam al-sakin ila ashraf al-amakin (Cairo: Dar al-hadith, 1415/1995) p. 486-498.
Bayhaqi, Sunan 5:246 and Shu`ab (#4154); al-Asbahani, al-Targhib (#1080), Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:406; Daylami, al-Firdaws (#5709), Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 144; al-Daraqutni, Sunan2:278; Tabarani, al-Kabir, al-Awsat. Bayhaqi in the Shu`ab (#4155) said: “Only Hafs ibn Sulayman narrates it and he is weak.” However, al-Haythami mentions in his Majma` al-zawa’id (4:2) that Ahmad declared him reliable although others said he was weak. See Dhahabi’s Mizan #2121.
See section of Nawawi’s Idah fi Manasik al-hajj.
Al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-tarhib 2:224; al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman (#4157), Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:406; Tanzih al-Shari`a 2:176; Suyuti, al-La’ali’ al-masnu`a 2:72; Tadhkirat al-mawdu`at (#75). Weak because of Sulayman ibn Yazid al-Ka`bi, however, he was declared trustworthy (thiqa) by Ibn Hibban.
Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman #4169.
Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar tarikh Dimashq 2:407; Suyuti from Ibn Mubarak in al-Khasa’is al-kubra; Ibn Abi al-Dunya 2:376; Ibn al-Najjar p. 145; al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman (#4170) from Wahb ibn Munabbih.
Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-iman (#4166), al-Samhudi, Wafa’ al-wafa’ p. 1357, Ibn Jama`a in Hidayat al-salik.
Ahmad, Musnad 1:378, 441, 452; Ibn Hibban, Sahih (#2393); al-Darimi, Sunan 2:58; al-Nisa’i, Sunan 3:43; al-Hakim, Mustadrak 2:421, (sahih), and Dhahabi confirmed it, cf. Siyar a`lam al-nubala’ 17:106; Ibn al-Najjar,Akhbar al-Madina p. 144.
Abu Hurayra in Abu Dawud (Manasik #2039) with a sound chain; Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:407; Ahmad, Musnad 2:527; Abu Nu`aym, Akhbar Asbahan 2:353; Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 145; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman #4161; Haythami, Majma` al-zawa’id 10:162; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir 6:464; al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-tarhib 2:499; Talkhis al-habir 2:267.
Ibn Qudama, al-Riqqa p. 62; Ibn Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 125; Samhudi, Wafa’ al-wafa’ p. 1045 cites Ibn `Asakir’s Tarikh Dimashq; Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Wafa’ 2:804.
Abu Nu`aym, al-Targhib (#102), Ibn Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 146.
Suyuti, al-Khasa’is al-kubra (2:490) from Abu Nu`aym.
See above p. 6-7.
Ibn al-Jawzi, Sifat al-safwa 4:236; Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 148; al-Qushayri, al-Risala p. 195; Samhudi, Wafa’ al-wafa’ p. 1380.
Imam Nawawi, al-Idah fi Manasik al-hajj (Damascus: dar ibn Khaldun, n.d.) p. 140-150. See also identical passages in Nawawi’s Adhkar (many editions) and his Majmu` (8:212f.).
Hadith hasan: see above, section on Intercession.
See above p.9-10.
We have already mentioned Imam Ahmad’s permission to touch the grave and kiss it, and Dhahabi’s words of endorsement to this effect in his Mu`jam al-shuyukh Vol. 1 p. 73 #58 (see above p. 27-28): “[The Companions] saw the Prophet with their very eyes when he was alive, enjoyed his presence directly, kissed his very hand, nearly fought with each other over the remnants of his ablution water, shared his purified hair on the day of the greater Pilgrimage, and even if he spat it would virtually not fall except in someone’s hand so that he could pass it over his face. Since we have not had the tremendous fortune of sharing in this, we throw ourselves on his grave as a mark of commitment, reverence, and acceptance, even to kiss it. Don’t you see what Thabit al-Bunani did when he kissed the hand of Anas ibn Malik and placed it on his face saying: “This is the hand that touched the hand of Allah’s Messenger”? Muslims are not moved to these matters except by their excessive love for the Prophet, as they are ordered to love Allah and the Prophet more than they love their own lives, their children, all human beings, their property, and Paradise and its maidens.”
The Salafis/Wahhabis have destroyed all these graves, so that they are no longer known when someone wishes to make the visitation according to the prescriptions of the Sunna in Imam Nawawi’s definition, so that the Baqi` now appears like a desert, where none of the graves can be recognized. In the time of the Prophet, those buried people were few and it was easy to recognize where they were. In later times, however, because the cemetary became filled with Muslims, the importance of signs to determine where the Sahabas are buried became even greater than in the past, just as it is important to maintain the mark of the site of the Prophet’s grave. That is why Muslims have kept these signs protected from the vicissitudes of time and change, until the advent of Wahhabis and Salafis on the scene. Nevertheless it is important to keep up these signs, more now than in the past, for the reasons Nawawi mentioned.
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami added in his commentary on Nawawi: “Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and others related that the Prophet said: “Whoever can die in Madina, let him die in it, for I shall intercede for him who dies in it.” The hadiths on the merit of living and dying in Madina are numerous.”
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami says: “There is divergence among the scholars concerning this. However, there is no sound hadith from the Prophet differing from what Nawawi said.”
In his few notes on Fath al-Bari (3:85 1989 ed.).
Haytami said in Majma` al-zawa’id: “Tabarani narrates it in al-Kabir and al-Awsat from Ibn `Umar with a chain containing Maslama ibn Salim and he is weak.” al-`Iraqi said in al-Mughni `an haml al-asfar: “Ibn al-Sakan declared the hadith sound (sahih).”