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MAWLID AL-NABI - The Right Perspective

Indeed the day on which the honor of humanity, leader of the


Prophets, epitome of nobility, embodiment of mercy (may peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him!) was born is a day most blessed, and
carries great significance, not just for us as Muslims, but broadly for the
whole human-kind. As Allaah has said in His Glorious Revelation: We
sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures. The birth of Allaah’s
Messenger was in effect fulfillment of centuries old covenant God
established with Abraham,1 so when Allaah wished to fulfill His promise
and manifest His favor upon mankind, He personified mercy in shape of
Muhammad as an amiable gift, a savior for-longed, delight and sight for
sour eyes, from even his blessed birth. His mother Aaminah said: “on the day
he was born a light sprout forth from my body illuminating palaces in Syria.” The year
itself was made memorable for the Arabs in which Allaah’s Messenger
was born, a year of immense happiness and celebration as the Master of
the Ka’bah safeguarded His Sacred House, answering their prayers by
destroying the legions of Abrahah. The year was also famous since it
marked an un-precedented victory of Arabs over the mighty Persians as the
Shayban tribe lead by Eyas bin Qubaysa defeated Kisra Anu Shairwan’s
army. Other reports exist informing that on the day our beloved was
born premonitions to his prophet-hood were made apparent, such as
tumbling of fourteen turrets of Ctesiphon’s ancient palace, extinguishing of
Magians’ ‘sacred altar of fire’, desiccation of Lake Sawah, and crumbling of
nearby churches.2 Mawlid al-Nabi or the Prophet’s birthday can thus
safely be seen as an annual reminder of the monumental grace Allaah
1[Holy Bible, Genesis 13, 17]
2[See:Safi’ al-Rahmaan Mubarakpuri’s Al-Raheeq al-Makhtoom, p.83. Muhammad al-Ghazali rejects
these premonitions as “ invented fables”, see: Fiqh al-Seerah, pp.71-72]
vouchsafed us in delegation of a Messenger of the highest repute and
honesty, character and nobleness, wisdom and methodology; qualities
mankind will always remain indebted to. It occurs that if there be anything
worth commemorating, then it’s the holy birth of our beloved Prophet
Muhammad.

Here I’d like to address those who assert that commemoration of


Mawlid al-Nabiis impermissible, for this assertion per se is in-admissible
and portrays an image of negativity. Many don’t understand what they
mean by this assertion: do they mean the Prophet’s birth is not worth
celebrating? In which case they’d be gravely errant, since Allaah states ...
remember with gratitude Allaah’s favor on you... that ye may be
guided.3 What greater favor is there to be remembered other than Rasool-
Allaah’s blessed birth and delegation for humanity? What they should
rather say is the manner in which al-Mawlid is conducted carries
abominations. That would certainly be a more suitable statement, for no
Muslim can suggest the im-permissibility of showing gratitude to Allaah
for delegation of Rasool-Allaah. So dissention (ikhtilaf) in the ummah
basically exists over the method (tareeqah) of observing al-Mawlid. But
before we begin describing it’s modus operandi, let us bring to mind the
historic un-certainty over the Prophet Muhammad’s actual date of birth.
Though famously regarded the 12th of Rabi’ I (as in Ibn Hisham’s
Biography), critical historians like Qadhi al-Mansoorpuri preferred 9th of
Rabi’ I, he claims: “because the day of Du-shamba (Monday) does not fall on any
date except the 9th of Rabi’u’l-Awwal...”4 Other dates propounded include the
2nd, 10th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, with the 8th preferred5. Nevertheless,
irrespective which date is correct, clearly Allaahu’l-`Azeez did not see fit
preserving it, the probable reason being that Prophet’s birthday
celebration (Mawlid) is not an event suited to single day celebration. Even
tyrants of the past, the likes of Pharaoh of Egypt and King Herod Philip
3[Al-Qur’an, 3:103]
4[See: Qadhi Sulayman Salman Mansoorpuri’s, Rahmata’li’l-`Aalameen, Vol.1, pp.69-70]
5[See: Ahmed Ridhaa Khan’s Fataawaa Ridhawiyyah, Vol.26, pp.411-414]
conducted birthday arrangements.6 Other worldly kings, founders, socio-
political leaders, even people of no worth have their birthdays routinely
commemorated. In the manner Mawlid al-Nabi is nowadays conducted
are we in-advertently placing the Prophet on the same plane as those?
Would such conduct be dignification or derogatory of him is the question
to ask instead of outright denial of all of Mawlid’s virtues and blessings.

Saddening as it is, in spite of being claimants to his inheritance (Qur’an


and Sunnah) and priding ourselves of membership in his community
(ummah), we’ve restricted Milad an-Nabi to numbered days of Rabi’ I,
just as Christians limited celebrating Milad al-Maseeh to Christmas in
December. Whereas, birth of Allaah’s Messengers is worth remembering
throughout the whole year, day in and day out. Our perception of honoring
Mawlid al-Nabi is rather narrow, confined to cultural circles, limited to
some eye-catching decorations, cakes and bakes, or eulogistic gatherings at
best, all part of any typical birthday celebration. Even Christians do
likewise, so what makes our actions any different, leave aside desirable?
From the best of generations (the Compaions) to our present time,
people of insight (ma’rifah) have received Milad al-Nabi as it ought be; in
showing gratitude towards Allaahu’l-`Azeez for the great favor of
delegating a Messenger of the highest repute, who relieves our burden,
purifies souls, taught us scripture (Qur’an) and it’s implementation
(Sunnah), guiding to knowledge most relevant and most crucial to both
worldly and heavenly welfare, thru whom we receive bliss here and
salvation After-life. However, realization of God thankfulness cannot be
achieved with mere lip-service unless one willfully chooses obedience
towards the Prophet, Allaah states: Tell them (O Prophet): “If ye
do love Allaah, then follow me: Allaah will love you and forgive
you your sins: for Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”7 If one
really desires to thank Allaahu’l-`Azeez for Mawlid al-Nabi then mere
acknowledgment in heart and utterance of the tongue will not suffice until
6[Holy Bible, Book of Genesis 40, Gospel of Matthew 14]
7[Al-Qur’an, 3:31]
the final ingredient of obedience (ittiba’) be added. Fulfillment of LORD’s
obligations out of His love and gratitude in concordance with example set
by His Messenger is, in true meaning, honoring the birth of the
Prophet for all those of sincere faith, and is exactly how Mawlid al-
Nabi ought be rehearsed. The Companions and people of true-guidance
celebrated al-Mawlid each day of the year, giving their whole lives for
service of Allaah’s Religion. These lead lives of purity, in that their faces
conveyed what their hearts concealed, and stood firm for truthfulness and
truth even if it caused self-deprivation. They were mirrors reflecting
Prophetic compassion and love towards fellow humans, and abided in
patience and endeavor at face of tribulation. They were personification of
obedience: “we believe and testify to the truth (aamannaa wa saddaqnaa)”
was their motto, and were imbued with good character (akhlaq) and
mannerism (adab); pleasant speech, soft heartedness, humility, austerity,
exhorting kindness and abhorring evil, upholding kinship, respect of elders,
love for children, and concern over the orphan and destitute. To them
minor sins and tiniest deeds weighed as mountain, for them After-life came
first and Allaahu’l-`Azeez and His Messenger prioritized over wealth,
fame, family, and personal self: rejoicing thus, each moment under the
shadow of the Prophet’s flag. Sahl bin ‘Abdu’Allaah Tustari said:
“Showing thankfulness to Allaah is not to disobey Him with His favors. The whole
body is from the favors of Allaah and His gift, so do not disobey Him with any of it.”
That is how my brothers and sisters the nobles celebrated Milad al-
Nabi and never did they limit it to mere days or month specified as done
nowadays.

Christians adopted Christmas (Milad al-Maseeh) as they grew farther


from Prophetic tradition under Greek heathen influence, whence they
began molding forms of worship that gradually took shape in forming
rituals like Sunday, Lent, Advent, Easter, Good Friday, and specially
Christmas, now representing ‘official’ rituals of mainstream Christianity or
as they say ‘Orthodoxy’. In doing so they limited a thing un-worthy to be
tamed. They restricted Milad al-Maseeh to numbered days of a month
inventing along the way newer, easier, appeasing, self-suited rituals that had
little or no basis in Christ’s modus operandi. Un-questionably, Muslims
have suffered from similar inclinations whereof the Holy Prophet had
pre-warned: “By Him who has my soul in His hand, you will perpetrate the practices
of the people gone before you.”8 The Prophet spoke of a time when people
would “... adopt ways (in Religion) other than my own and seek means of guidance
other than mine...”9 Milad al-Nabi as conducted in our time amply reflects
Christian tendencies; street processions, eulogical (nasheed) and loquacious
(qawwali) concerts, town decorations that include tree lighting, cakes and
desserts, among other things that go around at Mawlid are all prevalent
among Christians which they in turn adapted from ancient Greek (pagan)
cultures. In fact, birthday parties came about as a form of protection sought
against evil-spirits, who, among Greek pagans, were considered attracted
and dangerous towards people on life changing occasions such as growing
a year older i.e. birth-day. So in order to seek protection from them, friends
and family would gather around the birthday boy with cheers and well-
wishes along with presents to ward off evil-spirits, bigger the cheer and gift,
more the chances of driving-off evil-spirits. They would make the cake
round in shape representing the full moon and their moon goddess
Artemis, ‘the goddess of protection’, and would light candles atop making
it glow like a luminous full moon. Ancient Greeks held that with
extinguishing of candles it’s vapor (smoke) carries wishes up to heavenly
gods who respond with blessing and preservation against evil. In like
manner (not in meaning), Christians to this day commemorate the 25th of
December, a date designated by pagans to celebrate births of their semi-
gods, as birthday for Jesus Christ.

Muslims, it’s safe to say (rather un-safe) do not lurk that far behind,
pictures (linked) below10speak louder than words, and if it isn’t Christian
8[Jaami’ Tirmidzi, Book on Trials & Afflictions]
9[Sahih Muslim, Book on Government]
10 [http://img444.imageshack.us/img444/4338/milad3.jpg], [http://img827.imageshack.

us/img827/553/milad1.jpg], [http://img203.imageshack.us/img203/9134/miladcakesaifi.jpg], [http:


//img101.imageshack.us/img101/6816/mawlid.jpg]
imitation then I don’t know what is! Certainly sights to be ashamed of as
Muslims claiming staunch alliance with Allaah’s Messenger can be seen
commemorating his birth with pagan rituals. So don’t be surprised if you
were to hear any time soon chants like ‘happy birthday Ya Rasool-
Allaah!’ or such (a’oodzu bi’Allaah!) But even that would comparatively
be trivial against the lows we’ve already reached. We (some) beseech the
blessed soul of Allaah’s Messenger and of pious elders for un-raveling
of ordeals, fulfillment of vows, and gaining prosperity, as pagans besought
‘spirits’ of their holy-men for accomplishment of variant tasks. In how
many homes (mosques) of Allaahu’l-`Azeezu’l-Hakeem on Mawlid do we
hear echoing slogans tainted with associationism (shirk) which is invoking
and praying the Prophet besides Allaah. How ironic that (some)
Muslims would disobey their Prophet at the very core of his teaching
(Tawhid), that too on the day upon which he was born! Meanwhile,
despite his warning against such conduct11, few fanatics elevate the
Prophet beyond limits to some cosmic or alien being of essentially non-
human (Godly) attributes, and thus to a larger extent end up replicating
ways (sunan) of misguided pagan predecessors. Surely it could not get any
worse, but out of all bad tendencies Muslims have overtaken, perhaps most
severe which I’d call ‘heinous’ is using al-Mawlid to fulfill self-motives.
Some people use Mawlid to gain fame, fortune, self-prestige, mass-favor,
making special ceremonial and/or TV appearances thereupon. Some use
the occasion to arrange eulogy concerts, which nevertheless by itself is quite
commendable, but nowadays most in effect come to sing nasheeds
(anasheed) and odes (qaseedahs) mainly for monetary purposes, while some
extremists take al-Mawlid as ideal opportunity for ridicule and belittlement
of fellow Muslims, insofar as pronouncing ‘disbelief’ (kufr) upon
whosoever abandons Milad or takes up a different ism, despite the fact that
declaring ‘disbelief’ (or associationism/shirk) upon fellow Muslims is totally
forbidden (haram) in Islam. The Glorious Qur’an has it: ... and say not to
11[Sahih Bukhari, Book on Prophets. ‘Umar b. Khattaab reported the Prophet as saying: “Do not
exaggerate in praising me as Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a slave, so call me the Slave of
Allaah and His Apostle.”]
any one who offers you a salutation: “Thou art none of a believer!...”12
This order comes concerning those who offer greetings, disregarding their
faith. Twice Allaah states fatabayyanu or investigate, be ultra-cautious
before doing takfir on anyone even if he/she actually be non-Muslim, for
negligence therein casts murkiness over Islam’s universal image, and goes
contrary to high morals it demands. Yet we have amongst our ‘religious’
communities (groups) this ailment widespread. Instead of seeking
rectification (islaah) upon such noble occasions; behaving like paid attor-
neys we look for slightest frailties amongst others so to entrap people and
spend (wast) much time just fiddling for evidence in order to prove the
other’s ‘in-eligibility’ to Islam, inasmuch as it seems the primary duty
religion demands of us is make disbelievers out of believers, make deniers
(kuffaar) out of compliers (muslims). Either the underlying objective of
people who do such things is to build loyalties and gain prestige among
supremos and dignitaries in religio-political circles, or they are just severely
misguided. Anyhow, they effectively end up using Milad al-Nabi against
the Prophet and his Religion, for Islaam’s basic message is that of unity,
love, and brotherhood, whereas extremism, hate, and separation (faraaq)
bear symbols of Satan.

Some Muslims, when told by fellow brothers in faith to abandon Milad


al-Nabi clearly get offended and provoked, and this is something that
fuels bitterness, even aggression amongst Muslim communities holding two
variant view-points. The action and re-action thereto are quickly seized
upon by Shaytaan in planting seeds of rancor between the two groups
luring both to extremes in their Religion. So in one group a feel of
negativity regarding Mawlid is formed, whilst the other begins to over-
emphasize and exaggerate in it’s organization. No single one of these
groups can be held at blame, both intensify matters rather than construe
common understanding and try build mutual consensus; the former by mis-
translating their stand-point regarding al-Mawlid, and their in-ability to
explain it’s proper method of commemoration often enough leads them to
12 [Al-Qur’an, 4:94]
nullify any benefit of Milad inasmuch as they end up at the extreme of
depicting the whole thing as a ‘reprehensible innovation’ (bid’ah),
denouncing along the way it’s advocates. Consequently, causing fierce rage
amid the other group which now must over-state Milad’s significance to
‘prove’ their view’s validity. These people are now somewhat compelled to
adopt other extreme measures such as those above-mentioned. Hence, no
one group as a whole can be held at fault, excessiveness of one results in
sternness of the other, and un-compromisingness of one causes other’s
extravagance, both need take a step back, pay attentive ear to each other’s
opinions, and re-consider their respective positions with the aim of arriving
at mutual consensus.

With regards to whether Milad al-Nabi be considered an ‘eid (festival)


then with respect to Divine Law (Sharee’ah) it cannot be taken so, for in
Islaam there are only two official festivals (‘Eidayn). However, in a general
meaning the word ‘eid can be applied to any type of recurrent event and
noteworthy gathering, like; independence day for example, or marital
ceremony, or any kind anniversary including birthday. So Mawlid al-Nabi
is certainly an ‘eid, nevertheless, since it’s not legislated by the Law (Sharee’
ah), Mawlid comes under general festivals and observance thereof as a one
off day carries no particular religious significance. Hence, an act (of worship)
thereupon carries no special or greater reward (thawaab) than that of other
days, in contrast; to offer special prayers or to observe fast specifically for
Mawlid al-Nabi is deemed illegal, due to the principle that all ritualistic
forms of worship (al-‘ibadah al-zhahiriyah) along with all their virtues
(fadha’il) and characteristics (khasaa’is) must be based and directly deduced
from the Sharee’ah (Qur’an and Sunnah).

There’s a fine line between the two types (general and legal) that our
‘Ulema haven’t managed to elucidate to the extent required, and by not
communicating Milad’s proper method of commemoration have caused
ample mistrust and subsequent disunity among Muslims. It is ‘Ulema’s
foremost obligation to not let their personal motives and disputes get in
way of providing the general masses with correct and suitable knowledge
whereby the community should try extract maximum benefit. The
community by it self should not indulge in discussions without knowledge,
and never get involved in those in-decent debates (munaaqshaat) and
arbitrary arguments (munaazharaat) that have become part of our religious
culture and means to resolve differences. How many debates, I ask, have
produced ‘desired’ results? When something which more than often carries
nothing benedictory and contrarily fuels enmity amongst the Muslim
community, then should it not be done without? Moreover, people who
indulge in argumentation aim to ‘defeat’ their ‘opponent’, and basically
‘humiliate’ a fellow Muslim, so the intention (niyyah) to begin with is all
wrong. Concerning such Allaah Bari’s Messenger said: “Most hated person
in the sight of Allaah is the most disputatious one.”13

In conclusion, we state that indeed Milad al-Nabi is something


permissible, rather, commendable, but it’s manner of performance need be
defined (something we’ve tried at level best). Verily, part of rehearsing
Milad al-Nabi is to abstain from things Allaah Almighty and His
Messenger dislike, and I have listed above some major flaws existing
among ourselves that need seriously be looked at both on individual and
collective levels. Our behavior in how we conduct religious affaires and
approach religious dialogue must be revisited, we must beg the question of
ourselves; ‘who really are we aiming to satisfy?’ Is the goal Allaah and His
Rasool, do we actually intently seek religious welfare, betterment of
society and service towards mankind, or is our rhetorical religious talk mere
affectation, self-fancy and self-promotion, sectarian propaganda and party
missionarianism? Most certainly Mawlid present us an ideal opportunity for
renewal of faith and rectification of deeds, and recognition of the dire need
for Muslim unity and brotherhood that can only be achieved through re-
visitation of Prophetic mannerism and ethics, taking the Prophet whole-
heartedly as our primary role-model in all affaires. Ameen!

13 [Sahih Bukhari, Book of Oppression]


‫ﺤ ‪‬ﻤ ‪‬ﺪ‬ ‫ﺻ ﱢﻞ ‪‬ﻋﻠﹶﯽ ‪‬ﻣ ‪‬‬ ‫ﺍﻟﱠﻠ ‪‬ﻬ ‪‬ﻢ ‪‬‬
‫‪‬ﻭ ‪‬ﻋﻠﹶﯽ ﺁ ﹺﻝ ‪‬ﻣ ‪‬‬
‫ﺤ ‪‬ﻤ ‪‬ﺪ‬
‫ﺖ ‪‬ﻋﻠﹶﯽ ﺁ ﹺﻝ ﹺﺇ‪‬ﺑﺮ‪‬ﺍﻫ‪‬ﻴ ‪‬ﻢ‬ ‫ﺻﱠﻠ‪‬ﻴ ‪‬‬
‫ﹶﮐﻤ‪‬ﺎ ‪‬‬
‫ﮏ ‪‬ﺣﻤ‪‬ﻴ ‪‬ﺪ ‪‬ﻣﺠﹺﻴ ‪‬ﺪ‬ ‫ﹺﺇ‪‬ﻧ ‪‬‬

‫ﺤ ‪‬ﻤ ‪‬ﺪ‬
‫ﮎ ‪‬ﻋﻠﹶﯽ ‪‬ﻣ ‪‬‬ ‫ﺍﻟﱠﻠ ‪‬ﻬ ‪‬ﻢ ﺑ‪‬ﺎ ﹺﺭ ‪‬‬
‫‪‬ﻭ ‪‬ﻋﻠﹶﯽ ﺁ ﹺﻝ ‪‬ﻣ ‪‬‬
‫ﺤ ‪‬ﻤ ‪‬ﺪ‬
‫ﺖ ‪‬ﻋﻠﹶﯽ ﺁ ﹺﻝ ﹺﺇ‪‬ﺑﺮ‪‬ﺍﻫ‪‬ﻴ ‪‬ﻢ‬ ‫ﹶﮐﻤ‪‬ﺎ ﺑ‪‬ﺎ ‪‬ﺭ ﹾﮐ ‪‬‬
‫ﮏ ‪‬ﺣﻤ‪‬ﻴ ‪‬ﺪ ‪‬ﻣﺠﹺﻴ ‪‬ﺪ‬‫ﹺﺇ‪‬ﻧ ‪‬‬