Loving the Messenger of Allah - An Obligation

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was born in Makkah during the month of Rabe'i al-Awwal. Scholars differ regarding his exact birth-date but they all agree that it was on Monday, as is mentioned in an authentic Hadeeth.

Rabe'i al-Awwal sparks off the debate whether the 12th Rabe'i al-Awwal (the Prophet's assumed day of birth) should be celebrated or not. And if it is celebrated, then how should the celebrations be?

Celebrations are part of the complete religion (Deen), and thus complete guidance on the days and manner of celebration is found in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

Those who insist on celebrating Mawlid, claim that those who do not follow them in celebrating Mawlid, do not love the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

In Islam, claims carry no weight in themselves, unless they are backed by Proofs. The stronger the Proof, the stronger the claim. Allah, the Exalted mentioned in the Qur'aan the claim of some of the misguided, who said:

“None will enter Paradise, unless he be a Jew or a Christian” 

Allah questioned them, saying - “Produce your Proof (Burhaan) if you are truthful”. [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 11] 

Thus, this verse gives the principle of judging a claim. Furthermore, Allah explicitly points out to the acceptable proof (Burhaan), that justifies a claim. He said: “O Mankind! There has come to you a convincing proof (Burhaan - Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) from your Lord and We sent down to you a manifest light (this Qur'aan).” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 174]

Consequently, Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is the Burhan (Proof) and the Criterion and thus every claim has to be supported with strong proofs from his Sunnah (Way). 

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Loving the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), is obligatory for every Muslim. It is the proof of one's Faith. A believer has to love him (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) more than everything else, as the Qur’aan says:

“Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwelling in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and striving hard and fighting in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are disobedient.” [Soorah At-Tawbah (9): 24]

Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his father, his child and all of mankind.” [Bukharee and Muslim] 

Once, Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu), made a statement to Allah's Messenger: “O Messenger of Allah! You are more beloved to me than anything except my own self.” Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) remarked saying: “No, by the One in Whose Hand is my soul, not until I am more beloved to you than your own soul.” Umar (radhi allahu anhu) then declared his love for the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) saying: “By Allah, now you are more beloved to me them my own soul.” Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) then informed him that he had the complete and correct faith.” [Saheeh Bukharee] 

What is LOVE? 

Love of Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) refers to complete submission to their orders and commandments. Allah says in the Qur'aan: “Say (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)): 'If you truly love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.” [Soorah al-Imraan (3): 31]

And Allah has described the hypocrites as disobedient to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): “They (hypocrites) say: “We have believed in Allah and in the Messenger and we obey’, then a party of them turn away thereafter, such are not believers.” [Soorah An-Nur (24): 47]

He also said: “But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 65]

“The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah (His Words: the Qur'aan) and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) to judge between them, is that they say: 'We hear and we obey'. It is such as these who will attain success.” [Soorah an-Noor (24): 51]

The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “All the people of my Ummah will enter Paradise except he who refuses.” The Companions (radhi allahu anhu) asked: 'Who refuses?' The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) explained: “He who obeys me will enter Paradise and he who disobeys me is as if he has denied me.”  [Saheeh Bukharee]

Once, a companion of the Messenger of Allah approached him and said: “I love you more than I love my family and get restless to see you, I run to you to have a glimpse of you but when I am reminded of my own death and yours, I am distressed to think that you will be in the company of Prophets (alaihi as-salaam) in high Heavens and I, if admitted to Heaven, would not be able to approach you and would be deprived of your sight.

On this occasion Allah revealed the following verse: “And those who obey Allah and the Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), they will be in the company of those on whom Allah has bestowed His Grace, of the Prophet, the Siddiqun (those followers of the Prophet who were first and foremost to believe in them, like Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (radhi allahu anhu)), the martyrs, and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are!” [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 69]

The revelation of the verse, on the declaration (expressions) of love towards Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), indicates the importance of love and clarifies it's meaning in the true sense i.e. Obedience.

Thus, love of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) should be accompanied by total submission.. In other words, faith (in Allah) and obedience to Allah's Messenger are inseparable. Allah says:

“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and make not vain your deeds.”  [(47): 33]

“He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah” [(4): 80]

“Whatsoever the Messenger gives you take it and whatsoever he forbids you refrain from it.” [(59): 7] 

Disobedience to Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is a sign of hypocrisy and disbelief. Allah said: “Verily, those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger and wish to make a distinction between Allah and the Messenger saying, 'We believe in some but reject others' and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for disbelievers a humiliating torment.” [Soorah an-Nisaa (4): 150]

“And let those who oppose the Messenger's commandments beware, lest some fitnah befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them.” [Soorah Nur: 63]

 Celebrating Mawlid – Is there any Proof?

The Celebration of Mawlid was introduced by the ruler of Irbil; Muzaffar ad-Din ibn Zain al-Din. He was assisted by Abdul Khattab Umar ibn Dihya, who composed a book al-Tanwir fi Maulid al-Siraj al-Munir, in an attempt to justify Mawlid celebrations. [Ibn Katheer, al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, Vol.I3 pp.144-146]

Ibn Katheer has reported on the authority of al-Sabt about Ibn Dihya: "He used to defame the Muslims and belittle them. He would make additions in his report and exaggerate. So, the people gave up narrating traditions from him and falsified him. …" [Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, Vol.I3 pp.144-146]

Celebrating Mawlid (the Prophet's assumed birthday) has no origin from the Book and Sunnah, rather it is an innovation from the one, who was known for making additions and exaggerations in the Religion. A practice that came into existence 600 years, way past the time of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), his Companions (radhi allahu anhu) and their followers, can never be a part of Islam because the religion of Islam is based upon the revelation from Allah. To introduce the celebration of Mawlid in the religion, one will have to break the seal of Allah, Who said: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed my Favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.”  [Soorah al-Maidah (5):3]

Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was sent as a guide and warner. Allah says: “We have not sent you, but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sins)”  [as-Saba (33): 28]

And he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “There is nothing that will take you closer to Paradise but that I have enjoined it upon you, and there is nothing that will take you closer to Hell but that I have warned you from it.” [Musnad ash-Shafa'ee and others]

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) never celebrated his birthday, nor did he instruct or order his Companions (radhi allahu anhu) to do so. If Mawlid was an expression of love or an act of drawing closer to Allah, then he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) would have certainly guided his Companions (radhi allahu anhu) to it. Thus, Mawlid is neither an act of righteousness, nor an expression of love for the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

Those who loved the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) the most

The Best Generations - the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), loved Allah’s Messenger to the highest degree. They were the most severe in obeying him, and reviving his Sunnah. They sacrificed their wealth and lives and fought bravely in Jihaad alongside with the Prophet, when Allah called upon them saying:

 “O you who believe! Answer Allah and His Messenger, when he ((sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) calls you to that which gives you life …”  [Soorah al-Anfal (8): 24]

They knew that they could loose their lives, or loose a limb or face pains and sufferings, yet this did not deter (discourage) them in the least, from responding to the call of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). Thy kept going and fought to their last.

These true believers who responded to every call of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), did not express their love for Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) by celebrating his birthday.

It was not difficult for them to parade in the streets, distribute sweets, wave red and green flags, read poetry in praises of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), shout slogans, etc... Jihaad was no party or picnic time - it was putting everything at stake. If celebrating Mawlid was genuinely good or preferable then they would have been the first ones to do so. 

Celebrating Mawlid - Imitation of the Kuffar

Celebrating birthdays is an imitation of the Christians, resembling their tradition of celebrating the birthday of Prophet Jesus (alaihi as-salaam). However, a Muslim is commanded to be distinctively different from the non-believers. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said:

“Be different from the Jews and the Christians.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]

He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Saheeh - Reported by Ahmad]

The Christian New Year starts from the Birthday of Jesus (alaihis-salaam) (exaggerating the status of Jesus (alaihi as-salaam)), whereas the Islamic New year starts from the Hijrah (migration) of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) from Makkah to Madinah. Narrated Sahl ibn Saad (radhi allahu anhu): “The Prophet's Companions (radhi allahu anhu) did not take as a starting date for the Muslim calendar, the day the Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) has been sent as a Messenger nor the day of his death, but the day of his arrival to Madinah.”  [Sahaaeh al-Bukharee]

If Birthdays had any significance in Islam, then the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhu) would have surely commenced the Islamic Year from the Birth of Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

The Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum) expressed their love to Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and obeyed him, when they initiated the Islamic Year from the Hijrah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) had warned them from exaggeration, he said: “Do not exaggerate me, as the Christians exaggerated about the son of Maryam. I am only a slave, so say 'the slave of Allah and Messenger of Allah” [Saheeh Bukharee]

Thus, birthdays have no significance or merits in Islam and celebrating the Prophet's Birthday is an evil innovation resembling the Kuffar. 

Celebrations in Islam are Legislated Religious Occasions.

Celebrations in Islam are legislated by Allah, and He has legislated only two days of celebration and joy; Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr that succeed the performance of two great pillars of Islam - Hajj and Fasting. Anas (radhi allahu anhu) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) came to Madinah and the people of Madinah had in Jahiliyah two days of play and amusement. So the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “I came to you and you had, in Jahiliyah two days of play and amusement. Indeed, Allah has replaced them for you by that which is better than them. The day of Nahr (Slaughtering) and the day of Fitr (Breaking Fast).” [Saheeh - Ahmad (3/103, 178, 235) Abo Dawood (1134)]

Apart from these two days no other day is to be taken as a celebration, because celebrations are truly religious occasions. Any addition to the religion is a Bid'ah (innovation). To formulate the Religion is exclusively the Right of Allah. Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “I warn you of the newly invented matters in the religion; and every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.” [An-Nisa'ee]

And all innovations are rejected as he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Whoever does an action, which we have not commanded then it must be rejected.” [Saheeh Muslim]

And: “Whosoever introduces in the religion of ours that which is not a part of it then it must be rejected.” [Ahmad]

Many great events took place during the life of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam); like the victory of Badr, Hunain, al-Khandaq etc. The day when he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was granted Prophet-hood, his ascending to the heavens and his direct talk with Allah (al-Miraaj), his migration to Madinah, and the conquest of Makkah. All these events are of great significance in the Islamic history, BUT the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) never celebrated nor commanded his Sahabah (radhi allahu anhu) to celebrate any of these days. Rather, his approach was praying and thanking Allah in recognition for His Favor and Grace.

The Etiquette of Celebration

The Etiquettes of Celebrations are very evident in the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). For example; the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), prescribed fasting on the day of Aashoorah - ‘the day when Allah saved Moosa (alaihi as-salaam) from drowning” [Saheeh Bukharee]

[NOTE - Here, too, Allah’s Messenger ordered the Muslims to fast two days (a day before or after Ashoorah), to differ from the practice of the Jews].

The Conquest of Makkah - the day of great victory for Muslims. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) offered prayers of thanks to Allah - All Mighty - for this splendid victory. He did not make it a day of celebrations or processions.

Likewise, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) never commemorated his birthday as a celebration or Eid. Instead, when he was asked about fasting on Mondays, he replied: “That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I was entrusted with the Mission or when I was first given Revelation.”  [Saheeh Muslim]

In contrast, Mawlid is celebrated more like Carnivals, with processions, music, free-mixing of sexes, chanting slogans, parading on camels with Arabian costumes, etc. It does not bear resemblance to the manner in which significant days are commemorated in Islam. 

False Beliefs and Practices related to Mawlid

Those who promote the celebration of Mawlid, agree themselves that it was not the practice of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), and neither of his Companions

Moreover, they too consider it to be an innovation in the religion. BUT they try to justify their actions by vague arguments. They say:

Not every innovation is evil

The saying that some Bid'ahs are good and not every Bid'ah is a sin is a clear misguidance. This saying is in complete opposition to the authentic Hadeeth ...  “Every Bid'ah is a sin”  [Abu Dawood]

He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also said: “The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), the worst of affairs are Bid'ahs (the innovated ones), every Bid'ah is heresy and every heresy is going astray.” [Saheeh Muslim]

And: “Whoever does an action, which we have not commanded then it must be rejected.” [Saheeh Muslim]

Thus, every innovation in the religion, whether it be small or big, is a sin. But some justify innovations by misinterpreting the actions of the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhu).like … “When Umar (radhi allahu anhu) was the caliph, he collected the Muslims to pray in congregation for taraweeh prayers and said: “What a good Bid'ah this is.”  [Saheeh Bukharee]

This statement has been misinterpreted. If it is read in the right context, it’s meaning is clear. The full narration reads: “When the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) first prayed taraweeh, the Muslims used to pray taraweeh individually in small groups, and then for three nights they prayed in a congregation behind the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and after this he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) stopped them from doing so by saying: “I feared that it would become an obligation upon you.” So after, this Muslim would pray individually or in small groups, and they remained like this throughout the rule of Abu Bakr (radhi allahu anhu) and the beginning of the rule of Umar (radhi allahu anhu). Then Umar (radhi allahu anhu) came to the Mosque and saw the Muslims praying in small in groups and so gathered them as one jama'ah to pray behind Ubayy ibn Ka'ab (radhi allahu anhu) and Tameem ad-Daree (radhi allahu anhu) and stated the above phrase.”

[Reported in Saheeh Bukharee, the Muwatta and others]

The actions of Umar (radhi allahu anhu) cannot be considered as a good innovation because people were already in the habit of praying in small groups and it was an established Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam).

Prophet of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) also gave the reason for discontinuing this practice. It was because the revelation was still descending and he feared that praying in congregation might become obligatory, and this might lead to hardships for the nation.

After the death of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) the revelation ceased and the fear was no longer present. Umar (radhi allahu anhu) re-established the congregation during his rule because he knew that his action could not be made obligatory.

Furthermore, there was a Ijma (consensus) on this, i.e. all the companions agreed to the action of Umar (radhi allahu anhu). And the scholars of 'usul' have stated that a consensus cannot occur except when there is a clear text from the Shari'ah.

Thus, this action of Umar Ibn Khattab (radhi allahu anhu) cannot be used to prove the idea that every Bid'ah is not a sin.

Does every Muslim have a right to innovate in the religion?

The following Hadeeth is used to derive evidence that people can invent new practices in Islam, either good or bad: “Whosoever starts in Islam a good practice (sunnah), he gets the reward of it, and the reward of all those who act on it. And whosoever starts in Islam an evil practice (sunnah), he gets the evil of it and the evil of all those who act on it.” [Saheeh Muslim]

But if they were to take this Hadeeth in it's full context, then it would not be possible to deduce such a thing. Imaam Muslim (rahimahullah) reported this story from Jareer ibn Abdullah (radhi allahu anhu), he said: “Some people came to Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) wearing woolen garments. He saw they were in bad shape and in desperate need, so he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) urged the people to give them charity. People were very slow to respond, and it could be seen on his face (that he was upset). Then a man from the Ansar brought a package of silver, then another came, then after him another and another, and his face was filled with joy. He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Whoever starts a practice (Sunnah) in Islam, and others do likewise after him, there will be written for him a reward like that of those who followed him, without detracting it in the least from their reward. Whoever starts a bad practice (Sunnah) in Islam, and others do likewise after him, there will be written for him a burden of sin like that of those who followed him, without detracting it in the least from their burden.” [Saheeh Muslim]

Here, the meaning of the word 'sunnah' should be taken in the linguistic sense (i.e. practice) and not in the Shari'ah sense (i.e. the life example of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)) because otherwise it would imply that there is something bad in the Sunnah. Thus, the meaning will be the one who renews an evil act will get its evil.

Secondly, the Companion (radhi allahu anhu), who gave the charity did not start anything new, for giving charity was legislated from the early days of Islam, as proved by the Makkan soorahs. Rather he just renewed a Sunnah that was being neglected.

Besides, the Hadeeth uses words 'good and bad'. And Islam is the complete religion, all the good and bad has been defined. There is no room for any addition or deletion. Allah says: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as you religion.” [Soorah al-Maidah (5): 4]

And His Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “There is nothing that will take you closer to Paradise but that I have enjoined it upon you, and there is nothing that will take you closer to Hell but that I have warned you from it.” [Musnad ash-Shafa'I and others]

And if one is to say that the people have the right to innovate in the religion, i.e. make additions in it, then he will be accusing the religion of incompleteness and deficiency.

Did Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) celebrate his Birthday?

In regards to celebrating the Prophet's Birthday, the legitimacy (authority, authenticity) is derived from a Hadeeth reported in Baihaqee from Anas (radhi allahu anhu): “The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) performed Aqeeqah for himself after his Prophethood.”

As-Suyutee said concerning this Hadeeth: “Another primary text has occurred to me by which the legitimacy of the Mawlid can be derived, namely what is reported by al-Bayhaqee from Anas (radhi allahu anhu) that 'the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) performed Aqeeqah for himself after his Prophet-hood.'

And it occurs that his grandfather Abdul Muttalib performed the Aqeeqah for him when he was a child of seven years, and the Aqeeqah is not repeated a second time. So, therefore this is to be taken to mean that what the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) did was to openly manifest gratitude for Allah making him the mercy for the universe and to legislate this for his Ummah, just as he used to do by his sending salaam upon himself.

Therefore, it is recommended for us that we openly manifest gratitude for his birth." ('Husnul Maqsad' of as-Suyutee contained in his 'Haawi lil Fataawi'). 

As-Suyutee quoted this hadeeth from 'Sunan al-Kubraa' (9/300) of al-Bayhaqee. Chapter: 'al-Aqeeqah Sunnah', yet it is strange that he did not quote the rest of al-Bayhaqee's words. He (Al-Bayhaqee) said: "Abdullaah bin Muharrar reported a munkar (rejected) hadeeth concerning the Prophet's performing Aqeeqah for himself …[quotes the hadeeth]…..”Abdur Razzaaq said, 'indeed they (scholars of hadeeth) abandoned Abdullaah bin Muharrar due to the state of this hadeeth and it is reported from another perspective from Qataadah and yet another perspective from Anas and it is nothing."

['Sunan al-Kubraa' (9/300) of al-Bayhaqee. Chapter: 'al-Aqeeqah Sunnah']

When Imaam Maalik was asked about this hadeeth he replied, "Do you see the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, for whom the Aqeeqah was not performed in the days of Jaahiliyyah, performing Aqeeqah for themselves in Islam? This is from the rejected (narrations)" [quoted from him by ibn Rushd al-Maaliki in the 'Book of Aqeeqah' of his work 'al-Muqaddamaat al-Mumahhadaat' 2/15]

Similar statements are reported from great scholars like; Abu Dawood in his 'Masaa'il Imaam Ahmad' Ibn Hibbaan said in his 'Kitaab al-Majrooheen' (2/29), An-Nawawee in 'Majmoo' Sharh Muhadhdhab' (8/330) of an-Nawawee chpt: 'Aqeeqah' | Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaanee in 'Talkhees al-Habeer' 4/147 of ibn Hajr chpt: 'al-Aqeeqah'. He also declares the hadeeth from all of it's various perspectives to be da'eef in Fath al-Baree.

Therefore, to use this inauthentic Hadeeth to derive the legitimacy of Mawlid is not correct.

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