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MAWLID AND THE SUNNAH

Celebrating the Mawlid


The Authenticity of celebrating the Prophet's (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) Birthday?

 Dr. `Isa al-Mani` al-Humayri, Department of Awqaaf, DubaiOffice of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Dubai Administration of Ifta' and Research

'Yes, we should celebrate it every year
and every month and every week
and every hour and every moment'!

Sayings of the Rightly-Guided Imams Regarding the Mawlid

A nation is only as great as its greatest man or woman. What then of a Nation, whose greatness is derived from the Incomparable Perfect Man, whose creation preceded all others?

His very nature was not simply heroic, not just great––no, it was magnificent––not as appreciated by limited minds of men, but by the Creator Himself, for Allah (swt) praised our Holy Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) in countless verses of Qur’an, and He swore an oath by his perfect character when He I said,

"And lo! Thou art of a tremendous nature!" [68: 4]

One might ask, "How is Mawlid part of the Sunna?" But recall the day of freedom and independence of Bani Israil, the 10th of Muharram, the day on which Sayiddina Musa (as) saved his people from the slavery of Pharoah, who drowned. The Jews of Madinah observed this as a special day on which they fasted, in gratitude for Sayiddina Musa’s salvation. When the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) migrated to Madinah, he found the Jews fasting that day. Upon inquiring as to the reason, the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) ordered his community to fast that day, saying "We have more right on Musa than they do." Thus, the day of independence for Bani Israil became a day of worship for the Muslims.

As the followers of Sayyidina Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) , is it not appropriate for us to say, "We have more right on commemorating Sayyidina Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) than any other nations in commemorating their Prophet?" Yes, and let us praise Allah (swt) on that day and rejoice in His mercy as He ordered,

"Of the favor and the mercy of Allah let them rejoice." [10: 58]

This order came because joy makes the heart grateful for Allah’s (swt) mercy. What greater mercy did Allah (swt) grant to mankind than the Holy Prophet (s) himself, about which He I says,
 
"We did not send you except as a mercy to human beings?" [21: 107 ]

Let us recall then, with love and fervor, joy and deep emotion, the birth of our Beloved Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), as Allah Himself I commemorates without cease, in His final revelation, the births of the Prophet Yahya (as),

"So peace on him the day he was born, the day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)!" [19: 15]


Similarly, Sayiddina `Isa (as),
"So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"! [19:33].

Similarly the conception of Sayiddina Ismail (as), Sayiddina Ishaq (as) and of Bibi Murium (as) - Virgin Mary were mentioned in the Qur’an.
We also find another birth commemorated in the verse, "In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth." [46: 15].

Hasrat Ibn Abbas (ra) in his Qur’anic commentary explains that this verse was revealed in reference to as-Siddiq al-Akbar (r). What then of the one who is higher in station, who is the Seal of the Prophets and Master of all Mankind?
The mention of his (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth in Qur’an is more subtle and more exalted, closer to the angelic realm where Allah (swt) said,

"Indeed, there has come to you Light and a clear Book from Allah." [5: 15]


Qur’anic commentators have concluded that the "Light" as mentioned here is the Holy Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), and his birth is the turning point of a new cycle in the history of humanity: bringing the Divine message of Islam and the Holy Qur’an.
The Qur’an relates the supplication of Sayyidina Isa (as) on behalf of his Disciples when he said,

"O Allah, send for us a heavenly table that we will eat from; and it will be a feast (`eid) for the first of us and for the last of us...." [5: 114]

That feast was held in honour of a heavenly table, sent down from paradise full of food: seven loaves of bread and seven fish, as mentioned in traditional commentary on that verse. For a table of food, an `eid was held. What then for the coming to mankind of one who would serve not their worldly needs, but one sent by Allah (swt) as the Intercessor for all nations? Does not this day deserve at least an annual commemoration? Allah (swt) also mentions in the Holy Qur’an how He brought together the souls of the Prophets before creating their physical forms:

"Behold! Allah (swt) took the covenant of the Prophets, saying: I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you a messenger, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render him help? Allah said: Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you? They said: We agree. He said: Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses." [3:81]

If Allah (swt) mentioned his birth (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) before this worldly life, in the presence of the souls of all Prophets on the Day of Promises, does that day not deserve commemoration, as it is commemorated in the Qur’an? What of Allah’s (swt) mention of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth in hadith, when He told Adam (as), "If he comes in your time you must follow him." If Allah (swt) is reminding us of this great event, who are we to say "forget about it?"
We know there are only two `eids in Islam and no others: `eid al-adha and `eid al-fitr. Therefore, people must not confuse `eid with commemoration (dhikra).

The Prophet Muhammad’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday is not an `eid, but it is an exceedingly important event that took place for humanity in the Light sent with him––the message of Islam––which brought the two `eids.

What then can we recall of the birth of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam)? What is known of it? According to Ibn Kathir’s, Al bidaya wal nihayat and Dhikra mawlid rasulillah, "Paradise and the skies were decorated and angels moved about in continuous processions, the palace of Chosroes was shaken and the fire of 1000 years ceased to burn." All these events happened on the night and within the moment of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth. So, it is not `eid on a particular day, but it is a universal blessing from Allah (swt) to humanity, for which reason its commemoration is needed.

The Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) was most pleased when he was mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in Surat al-Isra, attributed as "`abd",
saying, "Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far Distant Place." [17: 1]

He was the most honoured and perfect creation that Allah (swt) created as a servant, and raised him by putting his name with His Name, elevated him on the night of the Ascension and revealed to him the Holy Qur’an. If Allah’s (swt) creation rejoiced at the advent of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) on the day of his birth, what about us, for whom his birth is the greatest favor, and the means by which we were granted the religion of Islam? Is it not illogical to say, "We must not rejoice on that day," when all heavens and all creations were doing so, in the most auspicious manner? Salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam.
Imam al-Fakhr al-Razi said, "The Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) importance is a favour for all human beings and Allah (swt) has honoured the Arabs by him and improved their status for the sake of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam). From bedouins raising sheep as shepherds, they became leaders raising nations. For the sake of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), He took them from utter ignorance to the station of knowledge, enlightenment and leadership. He put them over all other nations, better than Jews and Christians, who were always proud of Moses (as) and Jesus (as) and the Torah and the Gospel. Allah (swt) made them better than everyone, so He made the Arabs and Muslims proud of their Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) above anyone."

Imam Al Suyuti

In Al hawi lil fatawi, Al Suyuti wrote a special chapter entitled, "The Good Intention in Commemorating the Mawlid," at the beginning of which he said, "There is a question being asked about commemorating the Mawlid of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) in the month of Rabi’ al Awwal: What is the religious legal ruling in this regard? Is it good or bad? Does the one who celebrates get rewarded or not?’ The answer according to me is as follows:

To commemorate the Mawlid, which is basically gathering people together, reciting parts of the Qur’an, narrating stories about the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth and the signs that accompanied it, then serving food, and afterwards departing is one of the good innovations; and the one who practices it gets rewarded, because it involves venerating the status of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and expressing joy for his honourable birth
."

Ibn Taymiyya

In his book Iqtida' al Siratul Mustaqeem [Al hadeeth print, p. 266]. Ibn Taymiyya states, "As to what some people have innovated either to compete with Christians on the birth of `Isa (as) or for the love of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and veneration for him, Allah might reward them for their love and ijtihad." As far as we are concerned, we commemorate the Mawlid for no other reason but what Ibn Taymiya said, "Out of love and veneration of the Prophet."

May Allah (swt) reward us according to this love and effort, and may Allah (swt) bless the one who said, "Let alone what the Christians claim about their Prophet, and you may praise Sayyidina Muhammad (sala lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) in any way you want and attribute to his essence all honours and to his status all greatness, for his merit has no limits that any expression by any speaker might reach." [Imam al Busiri]


Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haythami

In the same source previously mentioned, Suyuti said, "Someone asked Ibn Hajar about commemorating the Mawlid. Ibn Hajar answered, ‘Basically, commemorating the Mawlid is an innovation that has not been transmitted by the righteous Muslims of the first three centuries. However, it involves good things and their opposites, therefore, whoever looks for the good and avoids the opposites then it is a good innovation.’ It occurred to me (Suyuti) to trace it to its established origin, which has been confirmed in the two authentic books: al Sahihain. When the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) arrived in Medina he found that the Jews fast the day of `ashura; when he inquired about it they said, ‘This is the day when Allah (swt) drowned the Pharaoh and saved Moses, therefore we fast it to show our gratitude to Allah (swt).’ From this we can conclude that thanks are being given to Allah on a specific day for sending bounty or preventing indignity or harm. What bounty is greater than the bounty of the coming of this Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), the Prophet of Mercy, on that day?""This is regarding the basis of Mawlid.

As for the activities, these should consist only of things that express thankfulness to Allah (swt), such as what has been previously mentioned: reciting Qur’an, eating food, giving charity, reciting poetry, praising the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) or on piety which moves hearts and drives them to do good and work for the Hereafter."
These are the derivations that those opposed to Mawlid call false conclusions and invalid analogies.


Imam Mohammed bin Abu Bakr Abdullah al Qaisi al Dimashqi

He wrote Jami` al athar fi mawlid, Al nabiy al mukhtar, Al lafz al ra’iq fi mawlid khayr al khala’iq, and Mawlid al sa`ada fi mawlid al hadi.


Imam Al `Iraqi

He wrote Al Mawlid al heni fi al mawlid al sani.


Mulla `Ali Al Qari

He wrote Al mawlid al rawi fil mawlid al nabawi.


Imam Ibn Dahiya

He wrote Al Tanweer fi mawlid al basheer al nadheer.


Imam Shamsu Din bin Nasir al Dimashqi

He wrote Mawlid al sa`ada fi mawlid al hadi. He is the one who said about the Prophet’s (s) estranged uncle, Abu Lahab, "This unbeliever who has been disparaged, ‘perish his hands’, will stay in Hell forever. Yet, every Monday his torment is being reduced because of his joy at the birth of the Prophet r. How much mercy can a servant expect who spends all his life joyous about the Prophet (s) and dies believing in the Oneness of Allah (swt)?"


Imam Shamsu Din Ibn Al Jazri

He wrote Al nashr fil qira’at al `ashr, `urf al ta’reef bil mawlid al shareef.


Imam Ibn al Jawzi

Imam Ibn al Jawzi said about the honourable Mawlid, "It is security throughout the year, and glad tidings that all wishes and desires will be fulfilled."


Imam Abu Shama

Imam Abu Shama (Imam Nawawi’s shaykh) in his book al ba’ith ala Inkar al bida` wal hawadith (pg.23) said, "One of the best innovations in our time is what is being done every year on the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday, such as giving charity, doing good deeds, displaying ornaments, and expressing joy, for that expresses the feelings of love and veneration for him in the hearts of those who are celebrating, and also, shows thankfulness to Allah (swt) for His bounty by sending His Messenger (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), the one who has been sent as a Mercy to the worlds."



Imam al Shihab al Qastalani


Al Qastalani (al Bukhari’s commentator) in his book Al mawahib al ladunniya (1-148) said,

"May Allah (swt) have mercy on the one who turns the nights of the month of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth into festivities in order to decrease the suffering of those whose hearts are filled with disease and sickness."

There are others who wrote and spoke about Mawlid, such as Imam al Sakhawi, Imam Wajihu Din bin `Ali bin al Dayba’ al Shaybani al Zubaidi, and many more, which we will not mention due to the limited space available. From these many evidences, it should be clear by now that celebrating the Mawlid is highly commendable and allowed. Surely we cannot simply shrug off as heretics the scholars and dignitaries of this nation who approved the commemoration of the Mawlid and wrote countless books on the subject. Are all these scholars, to whom the whole world is indebted for the beneficial books they have written on Prophetic sayings, jurisprudence, commentaries, and other sorts of knowledge, among the indecent who commit sins and evil? Are they, as those opposed to Mawlid claim, imitating the Christians in celebrating the birth of Jesus? Are they claiming that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) did not convey to the nation what they should do? We leave answers to these questions up to you.

We must continue to examine the errors which those opposed to Mawlid utter. They say, "If celebrating the Mawlid is from the religion, then the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) would have made it clear to the nation, or would have done it in his lifetime, or it would have been done by the Companions." No one can say that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) did not do it out of his humbleness, for this is speaking evil of him, so they cannot use this argument.
Furthermore, that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and his Companions (Ra) did not do a certain thing does not mean they made that thing prohibited. The proof is in the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) saying, 'whoever innovates something good in Islam will have its reward and the reward of all those who act according to it, and whoever innovates something evil will have its sin and the sin of those who act according to it." . This is the strongest evidence that gives encouragement to innovate whatever practices have foundations in religious law, even if the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and his Companions (Ra) did not do them.

Al Shafi`i said,
"Anything that has a foundation in religious law is not an innovation even if the Companions did not do it, because their refraining from doing it might have been for a certain excuse they had at the time, or they left it for something better, or perhaps not all of them knew about it."

Therefore, whoever prohibits anything based on the concept that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) did not do it, his claim has no proof and must be rejected.

Thus, we say to the rejecters of Mawlid: based on the rule you have attempted to found, that is, that whoever does anything that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) or the Companions (Ra) did not do is committing innovation, it would follow that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) did not complete the religion for his nation, and that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) did not convey to the nation what they should do. No one says this or believes this except a heretic defecting from the religion of Allah (swt). To the doubters of Mawlid we declare, "Based on what you say, we convict you," for you have innovated in the basics of worship a large number of things that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) did not do nor did the Companions (Ra), the Generation after the Companions, or the Generation after them. For instance:

Congregating people behind one Imam to pray salat al tahajjud after salat al tarawih, in the two Holy Mosques and other mosques.

Reciting the prayer of completion of the Qur’an in Salat al Tarawih and also in Salat al tahajjud.

Designating the 27th night of Ramadan to complete reading the entire Qur’an in the two Holy Mosques.

A caller saying, after salat al tarawih, in the Qiyam prayer, "May Allah reward you."

The saying: "Oneness of Allah (swt)s divided into three parts: Oneness of Godhood; Oneness of Lordship and Oneness of of the Names and Attributes." Is this found in a hadith, the statements of the companions or the statements of the four imams?

Founding organizations which did not exist in the time of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), such as Islamic universities, societies for committing the Qur’an to memory, and offices for missionary work, and committees for enjoining good and forbidding evil.


We are not objecting to these things, since they are forms of good innovation. We merely list these innovations to point out that those who oppose Mawlid clearly contradict their own rule stating that anything that neither the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) nor the Companions (Ra) did is innovation. Since they claim that all innovation is bad, they themselves are guilty.
Yet another claim they make is to say that those who commemorate the Mawlid are mostly indecent and immoral. This is a vulgar statement and it only reflects the character of the one saying it. Are all the distinguished scholars that we have mentioned, from the point of view of those opposed to Mawlid, indecent and immoral? We won’t be surprised if this is what they believe. This is a most serious slander. We say, as the poet said, "When Allah (swt) wants to spread a virtue that has been hidden, He would let a tongue of an envious person know about it." Those opposed to Mawlid, may Allah (swt) guide them, have confused some expressions, and claim that some religious scholars associate partners with Allah.
Take for example the plea of Imam al Busiri to Prophet Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), "Oh, most generous of creation, I have no one to resort to, save You, when the prevailing event takes place." They must examine carefully the saying of Imam Al Busiri
: "`inda hulul al-hadith il `amami, when the prevailing event takes place."  What is al `amam? It means that which prevails over the whole universe, and all of creation, in referring to the Day of Judgment. Imam Al Busiri is asking intercession from the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) on the Day of Judgment because on that day we will have no one to resort to or appeal to. Imam Al Busiri seeks his intercession to Allah (swt) through the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), for when all other Messengers and Prophets (As) will be saying, "Myself, myself," the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) will be saying, "I am the one for it, I am for it [the Intercession]."  It becomes even more clear now that the doubts of those opposed to Mawlid are unfounded, just as their charges of associating partners with Allah (swt) are unfounded. This is due to their blindness, both physical and spiritual. Another similar example can be found in the well-known saying transmitted by the distinguished Imam al Kamal bin al Hammam al Hanafi, author of Fath il qadeer fi manasik al farisi, and Sharh al mukhtar min al sa`ada al ahnafWhen Imam Abu Hanifa (Rh) visited Medina, he stood in front of the honorable resting place of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and said, "O, most honorable of the Two Weighty Ones (humankind and jinn)! O, treasure of mankind, shower your generosity upon me and please me with your pleasure. I am aspiring for your generosity, and there is no one for Abu Hanifa in the world but you." Again, we must not misinterpret this entreaty, but realize its true meaning.

Yet another misconception those opposed to Mawlid hold can be seen in their statements such as these: "What occurs during Mawlid is mixing between men and women, singing and playing musical instruments, and drinking alcohol." I myself know this to be a lie, for I have attended many Mawlids and have not seen any mixing and never heard any musical instruments. As for drunkenness, yes, I have seen it, but not that of worldly people. We found people intoxicated with the love of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), a state surpassing even the agony of death, which we know overcame our master Bilal (Ra) at the time of his death. In the midst of this sweet stupor he was saying, "Tomorrow I shall meet the loved ones, Sayyidina Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam)) and the Companions (Ra)."

To continue, those opposed to Mawlid say, "The day of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth is the same day of the week of his departure. Therefore, joy on this day is no more appropriate than sorrow, and if religion is according to one’s opinion, then this day should be a day of mourning and sorrow." This kind of lame eloquence is answered by the Imam Jalal al Din al Suyuti, in Al hawi lil fatawi (pg.193), "The Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth is the greatest bounty, and his departure is the greatest calamity. Religious law urges us to express thankfulness for bounties, and be patient and remain calm during calamities. Religious law has commanded us to sacrifice an animal on the birth of a child [and distribute the meat to the needy], which is an expression of gratitude and happiness with the newborn, while it did not command us to sacrifice at the time of death. Also, it prohibited wailing and showing grief. Therefore, the rules of Divine Law indicate that it is recommended to show joy during the month of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth and not to show sorrow for his departure."
Furthermore, Ibn Rajab, in his book Al lata’if, dispraising the rejecters of Mawlid based on the above argument said, "Some designated the day of `ashura as a funeral ceremony for the murder of al Hussein (Ra). But neither Allah (swt) nor His Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) commanded that the days of the Prophets’ great trials or deaths should be declared days of mourning, let alone those with lesser rank." We conclude this article with a saying of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) which has been narrated by Abu Ya`ala, from Hudhaifa and about which Ibn Kathir said, "Its chain of transmission is good." Abu Ya`ala said, "The Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) has said, ‘One of the things that concerns me about my nation is a man who studied the Qur’an, and when its grace started to show on him and he had the appearance of a Muslim, he detached himself from it, and threw it behind his back, and went after his neighbour with a sword and accused him of associating partners with Allah (swt)’. I then asked, ‘Oh, Prophet of Allah, which one is more guilty of associating partners with Allah, the accused or the accuser?’ The Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) said, ‘It is the accuser.’" Completed, with all Praises to Allah and salutations and peace be upon our master Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and the family of Sayyidina Muhammad (Salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and the Companions (Ra).

Evidence for Mawlid from the Sunna of the Prophet
(salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam)

Muslim narrated that, "Abi Qatada (ra) said that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) was asked about fasting on Monday and the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) said ‘That was the day I was born.’" This hadith is clear evidence of the importance of the commemoration of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasalam) birthday through worship.

Al-Hafiz ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, in his book Lataif al-maarif (p. 98), in explaining this hadith of Muslim said, "It is good to fast on the days that Allah (swt) honoured and favoured His servants."
It is incumbent not only on Muslims but on all human beings to rejoice in his advent, the day of the birth of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam). As al-Hafiz ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said, "The best favour that Allah (swt) has granted this nation is the birth of Prophet Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) when the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) was sent to humanity. So we review and recall Allah’s (swt) favour of sending the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) by fasting on that day." Thus, commemoration of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday by any form of worship, starting with fasting, was derived analogously by the great scholars of jurisprudence, who concluded that all forms of worship according to the Qur’an and Sunna are meritorious to perform on that day. This includes recitation of Qur’an, loudly or quietly, individually or in congregation, praising the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) amongst the most meritorious forms of worship, feeding people, charity and remembering Allah (swt). Allah’s (swt) injunction stands unceasingly,
 
"Verily, Allah and His angels are praying on the Prophet. O believers, pray on him." [33: 56]

This clear order to praise the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) includes remembering who the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) was and what he did. Thus, coming together and sitting in a session in which the sirah is told and the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) excellent character is recalled, and his person is praised, even through excessive salawat, is a form of worship. Similarly, fasting on the day of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth or on any Monday is an act of worship related to his birthday, which brings nearness to Allah (swt), as the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) explicitly stated. 
Similarly, the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) slaughtered an `aqiqa on his own behalf, 40 years after his birth, though one had been slaughtered by his grandfather when he was born. This is a firm evidence from the Sunna for increasing acts of worship and remembrance of his birth, for the `aqiqa is an act of worship associated with a birth.
 
By analogy (qiyas), any worship increased on Monday or on the day of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth, is acceptable and meritorious. Thus, sitting in commemoration of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) by remembering his sirah, praising him, offering food to people, giving donations to the poor––are all forms of worship in the commemoration of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth, whether it be every Monday, every month or every year, or even every day of the year.

Recitation of Poetry in Praise of the Prophet (s) is Sunna

Recitation of poetry in the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) honour is one of the meritorious acts recommended by the Sunna. Thus, we find it is one of the primary means of observing the Mawlid in almost all Muslim nations. Here we cite a few examples from sirah and hadith in which the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) listened to poetry in his praise.
The Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) Uncle al-`Abbas composed poetry praising the birth of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), 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." [Suyuti’s, Husn al-maqsid, Ibn Kathir’s Mawlid, Ibn Hajar’s Fath al-Bari.]

Ibn Kathir mentions the fact that according to the Sahaba, the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) 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!" [Ibn Kathir, Dhikra Mawlid an-Nabi]

The Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) was therefore happy with those who praised him because it is Allah’s (swt) order, and he rewarded them from what Allah (swt) was providing him by praying for them and giving them gifts. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya relates that the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) prayed that Allah (swt) support Hassan ibn Thabit (Ra) with ruh al-qudus (the Divine spirit) as long as he would support the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) with his poetry. Similarly, the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) rewarded Ka`b ibn Zuhayr’s (ra) poem of praise with a robe (burda).

Hasan ibn Thabit (r) recited this poetry about the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) on the day of his departure saying:

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
forever in Paradise,

With the Chosen One for whose
support in that I hope,

And to attain to that day I devote
all my efforts.

[Ibn Hisham, notes to his Seerah, p. 797, Karachi, Oxford Press.]

As mentioned in the Dubai Fatwa, Al-Hafiz Shamsuddin Muhammad ibn Nasruddin ad-Dimashqi in reference to the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) uncle, Abu Lahab, noted in his book, Mawlid as-sa`adi, that his punishment in Hell is lessened every Monday because upon hearing the good news of his nephew, the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth, he released his handmaiden Thuayyba out of joy. For his celebration of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birth his punishment is reduced on the day of his birth. "What then" he asks, "of the believer who all his life was joyful for the existence of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and died believing in the Oneness of God?"

With these hadith in mind, people constantly relate the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) sirah, speak to their children about the importance of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) in their lives, offer food, help people, recite poetry in his praise and recite salawat (darood) excessively. Alhamdulillah according to the principles of the Qur’an and Sunna, this is considered an acceptable and effective approach to revive the love of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and his message, in our ears and in our lives.

Regarding praise of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and other subjects, we would like to share here what Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab declared in muallafat ash-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, al-rasail ash-shakhsiyya, published by the Islamic University of Muhammad ibn Saud, on the occasion of "Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab Week", 1980.

"I was never against tawassul nor against praising the Prophet, nor against Dalail al-khairat [a book of prayers on the Prophet r], but all these I accept. I never said I reject the four schools and that I claim ijtihad and that I am exempt from taqlid [obligation to follow one of the schools of fiqh], and I do not say ‘differences among the ulama are a curse’ and I do not call kaafir those who seek tawassul through the pious, and I don’t call al-Busiri, who wrote Al-mudariyya and Al-burda, kaafir for saying, ‘O Most honoured of creation,’ and I never forbade the visit of the Prophet’s (s) tomb, and I never said, ‘burn Dalail al-khairat and Rawd al-rayyahin’ [books of praise of the Prophet r], and I never said that Ibn al-Farid and Muhyiddin ibn Arabi are kaafirs."

So, as Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab, student of Ibn Taymiyya, did not reject all of these things, why do some contemporary scholars reject them today? This is an unambiguous article published by a Saudi Arabian University on the occasion of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab Week, 1980. In fact, we must ask: if Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab has a special week to commemorate his life and work, why then is it "wrong" to have one day––the 12th of Rabi` al-Awwal—to commemorate the life and work of the Greatest Perfect Human Being, Sayiddina Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam)?

Islamic Fundraisers and Mawlid

Nowadays, we often see Muslims gather on specific days to serve food, give speeches on the life of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) and on Islam, to pray, recite Qur’an and Islamic poetry, chant qasidas or na’at, tell some jokes, and also collect money for the purchase of a mosque or an Islamic school. However, if one looks in the seerah, the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) never held a fundraising dinner. When he needed finances for a battle, to build a mosque or for whatever purpose, he asked his Sahaba to donate and they would give. Some gave all, some gave half, others gave what they could afford. Without the "bait" of delicious food or some show in a fancy hotel, they gave of their wealth––they simply obeyed.

No one has ever condemned fundraising dinners as a reprehensible innovation, although it is a newly-developed form of worship and an encouragement for worship (donation, sadaqa), without precedent in the life of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), the Companions (Ra), or the pious predecessors. Those who judge fairly and without bias must acknowledge there is no genuine difference between a fundraiser and a traditional Mawlid ceremony commemorating the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday.

One is a dinner and remembrance of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday by means of different kinds of worship. A fundraising dinner might even involve mixing of men and women, women uncovered, and hosting non-Muslims as guests of honour, in whose attendance all take pride and for whom attendees stand in admiration and respect.
If one wishes to be very strict, then we must apply the rules evenly and not discriminate. After all, what is more deserving of a dinner, a function or a ceremony–– building a new mosque, or building love of the one who taught us to worship in mosques, peace be upon him ? Salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi Wasallam.

Conclusion

Recently 50 years of the occupation of Al-Quds was marked across the U.S. by many Islamic organizations. If Al-Quds can be commemorated, cannot the one (s) who was blessed by Allah swt to visit al-Quds and ascend from there to the heavens be commemorated on a special day?
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?"

We quote again from Mutawalli Sha`rawi: "Many extraordinary events occurred on his (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) 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 work Al-Bidaya, Vol. 2, pages 265-268.

We hold the hope that every house, every masjid, every street, every school, college and university, every store and factory, every office and government department will shine with lights of happiness and rejoice in the person of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), just as the Ka`aba was illuminated in the time of our ancestors, and as paradises and skies were illuminated with stars on the day of the Prophet’s (s) birth.

The evidence we have quoted proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the celebration of the Mawlid and all that pertains thereto of praise and respect for the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) of Islam—such as salawat, prayers on the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), seerah (life story), qaseeda (poetry), and madih (praise)—is not only permissible but which according to most opinions is praiseworthy and recommended! O people of Islam! O nation of the Prophet Muhammad (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) ! Celebrate and commemorate your Prophet (s) with pride and joy and do not go into dispute in matters that create discord and confusion.

We conclude with the hadith of Muslim, "The Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) said whoever innovates something good in Islam will have its reward and the reward of all those who act according to it, and whoever innovates something evil will have its sin and the sin of those who act according to it." This is a clear statement, along with the numerous proofs presented in this article and the Fatwa of the Awqaaf of Dubai, supported by the opinions of the most highly regarded scholars of Islam, of the acceptability of Mawlid and of its deserving reward.
This article was not written to cause division and discord, but rather to end the arguments revolving around this topic. Let everyone follow their heart and let us unify ourselves and keep Allah’s (swt) order in the Holy Qur’an to "Hold fast to the rope of Allah and do not separate."

Let us pray for Heavenly Support for a better Islamic world in which everyone can find a place for himself or herself, based on the accepted schools of thought and the ijtihad of scholars?


Sayings of Scholars Concerning Types of Innovation in Islam

As for the claim that there is no such thing in religion as good innovation, here are some sayings of the brilliant scholars of Islam belying this claim.

Imam Nawawi said in Sahih Muslim (6-21), "The Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) saying ‘every innovation’ is a general-particular and it is a reference to most innovations. The linguists say, ‘Innovation is any act done without a previous pattern, and it is of five different kinds.’"  Imam Nawawi also said in Tahzeeb al Asma’ wal Sifaat,  "Innovation in religious law is to originate anything which did not exist during the time of the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam), and it is divided into good and bad." He also said, "Al-muhdathat (pl. for muhdatha) is to originate something that has no roots in religious law. In the tradition of religious law it is called innovation, and if it has an origin within the religious law, then it is not innovation. Innovation in religious law is disagreeable, unlike in the language where everything that has been originated without a previous pattern is called innovation regardless of whether it is good or bad."

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani, the commentator on al-Bukhari, said, "Anything that did not exist during the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) time is called innovation, but some are good while others are not."

Abu Na’eem, narrated from Ibrahim al-Junaid, said, "I heard Ash-Shafi`i saying, ‘Innovation is of two types: praiseworthy innovation and blameworthy innovation, and anything that disagrees with the Sunnah is blameworthy.’"

Imam al Bayhaqi narrated in Manaqib Ash-Shafi`i that he said, "Innovations are of two types: that which contradicts the Qur’an, the Sunnah, or unanimous agreement of the Muslims is an innovation of deception, while a good innovation does not contradict any of these things."

Sultan al-`ulama, Al `Izz bin Abdus Salam said, at the end of his book, Al Qawa’id, "Innovation is divided into obligatory, forbidden, recommended, disagreeable and permissible, and the way to know which is which is to match it against the religious law."

Clearly we see from the opinions of these righteous scholars, that to define innovations in worship as wholly negative without exception is ignorant. For these pious knowers, among them Imam Nawawi and Ash-Shafi`i, declared that innovations could be divided into good and bad, based on their compliance with or deviance from religious law.

Moreover, the following Prophetic saying as stated in Sahih Muslim is known even to common Muslims, let alone scholars: "He who inaugurates a good practice (sanna fil-Islam sunnatun hasana) in Islam earns the reward of it, and of all who perform it after him, without diminishing their own rewards in the least." Therefore, it is permissible for a Muslim to originate a good practice, even if the Prophet (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) didn’t do it, for the sake of doing good and cultivating the reward. The meaning of inaugurate a good practice is to establish a practice through personal reasoning (ijtihad) and derivation (istinbat) from the rules of religious law or its general texts. The actions of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) Companions (Ra) and the generation following them which we have stated above is the strongest evidence.

Those prejudiced against celebrating the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday have paved the way for their falsehood by deceiving the less-learned among the Muslims. The prejudiced ones claim that Ibn Kathir writes in his Al Bidaya wal Nihaya (11-172) that the Fatimide-Obaidite state, which descends from the Jew, Obaidillah Bin Maimoon al Kaddah, ruler of Egypt from 357-567 A.H innovated the celebration of a number of days, among them, the celebration of the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday. This treacherous lie is a grave insult to the scholarship of Ibn Kathir and the scholarship of all Islam. For in truth, Ibn Kathir writes about the Prophet’s (salla lahu alayhi wa’ale hi wasallam) birthday in al bidaya wal nihaya [13-136],

"The victorious king Abu Said Kawkaburi was one of the generous, distinguished masters, and the glorious kings; he left good impressions and used to observe the honourable Mawlid by having a great celebration. Moreover, he was chivalrous,
brave, wise, a scholar, and just." Ibn Kathir continues, "And he used to spend three hundred thousand Dinars on the Mawlid." In support, Imam al Dhahabi writes of Abu Said Kawkaburi, in Siyar A’laam al nubala’ [22-336], "He was humble, righteous, and loved religious learned men and scholars of Prophetic saying."