by: Javeed Ali
Rabi al-Awwal is an exceptional month in the Islamic Calendar and it held great significance in the life of beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). As we all know Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was born in this month. He began his journey of Hijrah during this month and built the first Mosque of Islam, Masjid Quba in this month. The first Jummah was established in this month.
Hence Rabi al-Awwal is the month of birth celebration of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The birth of the best of Allah’s creation and the last to be sent with the divine message for the guidance of humanity on a whole is, without doubt, a day to take as one of thanks and reverence to Allah Almighty. Unlike the ways, the followers of other faiths commemorate the births of their guiding prophet, Muslim celebration of Eid-E-Milad un Nabi (SAW) is one in which we gather to discuss the bounty and favour which Allah Almighty has blessed us with by guiding us to the path of Islam and the teachings of the final Messenger of Allah (PBUH). We indulge in Fikr (thought) and Dhikr (remembrance) and what it means to be a follower of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The precise date of birth of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) is disputed among the historians, but Imam Khomeini (R.A) had declared the week between 9th and 17th Rabi al-Awwal as “Haft-i-Wahdat” meaning “the week of unity amongst Muslims.” Muslims all over the world are urged to get together and celebrate (Eid-E-Milad un Nabi) the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for the whole week. Sunnis and Shias are two arms (Bazoo) of the Islam, Imam Khomeini (R.A.) has said.
Its quite disheartening to see our Muslim brothers making an issue on a thing which is being celebrated since centuries. All this confusion was started from Saudi Arabia after the Wahabi ideology laid their foundation there. Before Wahabi system in Saudi Arabia Muslims used to celebrate their beloved Prophet’s Birthday without any confusion or restrictions. Muslims are now traveling more for Umrah and Hajj and many Muslims from various parts of the world work in Saudi Arabia. They think whatever is practiced in Makkah and Madinah must be correct. Imagine, if you were born before the Wahabi rule in Saudi Arabia, you would have seen the celebration of Eid-Milad with your own eyes in Makkah and Madinah. Abbasees, Fatemides, Ottomans and others ruled Makkah and Madinah and the most of the Muslim world for thirteen centuries. During these thirteen centuries Eid Milad un Nabi (SAW) had never been disputed by any scholar of Islam including Imam Ibn Taymiyah who is the most authentic jurist of Islam for Saudis.
Some people say its Bida’h (innovation) to celebrate Eid Milad un Nabi (SAW) as it was not celebrated by Prophet Mohammad (SAW) or companions. We can call it innovation only if any act goes against the principles of Islam or Holy Quran. There is not even a single Quranic verse or Hadeeth which says that we can’t celebrate the birth anniversary of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). Imam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani (R.A.), in his book al-Durar al-kamina fi `ayn al-Mi’at al-thamina, mentions that Allama Ibn Kathir (R.A.), a muhaddith from among the followers of Ibn Taymiyya, “in the last days of his life wrote a book entitled Mawlid Rasool Allah (SAW), which was spread far and wide. That book mentioned the permissibility and significance of celebrating the Mawlid.”
The word Milad has been derived from “viladut” which means birth. Therefore, according to Arabic language, Milad is word which signifies the place and time of birth. In the light of Shariah, Milad is to remember the events which took place at the birth time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and we get the opportunity of narrating the Seerat of the Prophet (PBUH) on this occasion. We also present Holy Prophet (PBUH) gifts of Durood -o- Salam. Naat Shareef (hymns and eulogy) is recited. We do not believe that Milad is specified with particular time, we believe that the remembrance of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is incumbent in each minute and second of time and every Muslim should act on his teachings by letter and spirit. Milad un Nabi (SAW) is a great source of preaching. It is incumbent for scholars to teach Muslim nations on this Holy occasion, moral behavior of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) his etiquettes, His affairs, His Seerat, His dealings and His worships and above all lay emphasis on Muslim unity which is of paramount importance.
Eid Milad un Nabi (SAW) provides us a platform to forge unity and equip us with sources to sort out issues which are confronted by Muslim Ummah. The enemies of Islam know the power and significance of this day and that’s the main reason they are using all resources against this day. The Crusaders and Zionist who have purchased the faith of many Muslim nations transpire to sabotage this day so that Muslims remain divided.
Holy Quran, the final revelation to mankind, has quite emphatically and unambiguously stressed the importance of unity and peaceful co-existence. “And hold fast by the covenant of Allah all together and be not divided” (Surah Aali’Imran, Surah No. 03, Verse No. 103). When the Holy Quran lays such strong emphasis on unity, how can those creating discord and spreading venom claim to be the true followers of Islam?
For some time, the Islamophobes have been trying to create a negative image of Islam. They badmouth about our Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and the Holy Qur’an. They have been trying their best to misguide people. They fabricate lies and attack on our beloved Mohammad (PBUH). Therefore, it is critical for Muslims to unite and give a united response to the hate-mongers. However, unfortunately, the reality is that the current Muslims are deeply divided even on those practices and beliefs that no one in the entire Muslim world has ever disputed for more than 13 centuries. Instead of focusing on the real issues of the Muslim Ummah we are wasting time and resources in countering each other on the issues which had never been issues. Every year in the month of Rabi Al Awwal, one of the most useless and misguiding campaign is carried out against the celebration of Eid Milad un Nabi (SAW). As Rabi-Al-Awwal approaches, the annual campaign of Fatawa and speeches against celebrating the Birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) starts. Even people who never follow religious obligations behave like religious scholars and start campaigning against it.
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, animals, angels, believing jinn were happy at his birth, why are you preventing us from being happy at his birth?”
Holy Qurans says: “And We have exalted for you your remembrance.” (Surah Ash-Sharah, Surah No. 94, Verse No. 04). This is what we do on the day of Milad to raise the Dhikr (remembrance) of Prophet Mohammad (SAWW).
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 honour) me, and Allah will love you” (Suran Aale-e-‘Imran, Surah No. 03, Verse No. 31).
Love of the Prophet is what differentiates the believers in the perfection of their Iman (faith). 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”.
Expressing happiness and celebrating the Prophet on his birthday causes even unbelievers, by Allah’s favour 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-NabiVol.1, p. 124, Mawlid al-Nabi p. 21, and al-Bidaya p. 272-273.
Remembering the birthday of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) has importance as has the importance of birth days of other Prophets. The following two verses of Quran suggest the significance of days of Prophet’s birth.
“The peace is on Him the day when he was born and the day when he will die and the day when he will be raised alive.” (Surah Al-Maryam, Surah No.19, Verse 15)
“And the same peace on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I would be raised alive.” (Surah Al Maryam, Surah No.19, Verse 33)
Allah Almighty says in Holy Quran:
“And remind them of the days of the Allah.” (Surah Ibrahim, Surah No. 14, Verse No. 05)
“And remember when your lord proclaimed, if you will be grateful then I shall give you more and if you are thankless then my treatment is severe.” (Surah Ibrahim, Surah No. 14 and Verse 07)
“Then remember the bounties of Allah and wander not in the earth spreading mischief.” (Surah Al- A’raf, Surah No. 07, Verse 74)
It is quite evident from the above verses of Quran that we should remember and express our gratitude for the bounties which Allah Almighty has bestowed upon us. The greatest of all blessings for whole humankind is the arrival of Rahmatal-lil’Aalameen (PBUH) on this earth as revealed in following Quranic verses.
” O Muhammad, We have not sent you but as a blessing for all the worlds.” (Sura Al Ambiyaa, Surah No. 21, Verse No. 107)
Certainly did Allah confer [great] favour upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. (Sura Ale Imran, Surah No. 03, Verse No. 164)
“Truly you are of a magnificent character” (Surah Al-Qalam, Surah No. 68, Verse No. 04)
Undoubtedly, the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is the greatest mercy and blessing of Allah Almighty and Allah says in Quran: “And publicize well the favour of your lord” (Sura Al Duha, Surah No. 93, Verse No. 11). Milad al-Nabi (SAW) is a way to aware world about the greatest personality of all times and serves the purpose of imbibing the moral values from his pious life. Moreover, salutations are sent to Prophet Mohammad (SAW) as is commanded in Holy Quran.
“Indeed Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O believers, call for Allah’s blessings on him and salute him with all respect.” (Surah Al Ahzab, Surah No. 33, Verse No. 56)
Allah Almighty says in Holy Quran:-
Say: In the grace of Allah and in His mercy-in that they should rejoice; it is better than (the wealth) that they gather. (Surah Yunus, Surah No. 10, Verse No. 58)
In this verse, Allah Almighty say that we should be happy when we receive blessings and mercy from Him. Eid-Milad-un-Nabi (SAW) is celebrated to express our happiness and blessedness on the arrival of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) on this earth.
Some people argue that there are only two Eids: Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. We should try to understand that the name Eid Day is not specific to these days.
Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:
Prophet Isa (A.S.) prayed to Allah Almighty “Oh Allah, our Lord, send down to us a tray of food from the Heavens so that it may be an occasion of Eid for us for the first and the last of us.” ( Surah Al-Maa’idah, Surah No. 05, Verse No. 114)
Imam Hakim writes that the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said “Friday is also an Eid day”. Once, in the Prophet’s time Eid came on Friday and the Prophet (PBUH) said “Allah has given you two Eids today”.
(Mustadrak, “Jum’ah” by Imam Haakim and summary by Imam Dhahabi).
Imam Tirmidhee writes
“Abdullah-bin-Abbas (R.A.) was reciting verse 3 of surah Maa’idah from the Qur’an. A Jew, sitting close-by heard it and said to Abdullah “If that verse which you recited, was revealed to us, we would make that day an Eid day”. Abdullah-bin-Abbas replied “When this verse was revealed, there were two Eids on that day. One of them was the Hajj day and the other Friday”. (Tirmidhee , “Tafsir”, and also Tafsir Ibn Kathir, surah 5, verse 3)
From the references above, it is proved that the term “Eid day” does not specifically apply to the two Eid days (Al-Fitr and Al-Azha), but instead, it could be used for any Islamic holy day. This means that we can refer to “Milad-un-Nabi (SAW)” as “Eid-Milad-un-Nabi (SAW)”
It is mentioned in Ibn Kathir, p. 19, published in 1961,: “The Night of the Prophet’s birth is a magnificent, noble, blessed and holy night, a night of bliss for the believers, pure, radiant with lights, and of immeasurable price.”
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) celebrated his own Milad by having fast. Imam Wali ud din write this narration with reference to the Saheeh Muslim. When the Prophet of Allah (Allah’s Grace and Peace be upon him) was asked about the fast of Monday. He (Allah’s Grace and Peace be upon him) said:
“I took birth and the Quran was revealed upon me in this day.” (Mishkat Sharif, Page 179)
Some people even argue that Prophet Mohammad (SAW) had left this world on 12th Rabi al-Awwal so it’s a day of mourning not celebration. As I stated above there are different views regarding the day of birth of Prophet Mohammad (SAWW). Even some historians say the day of demise of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) is 28th Safar. So it’s a debatable topic.
Moreover, if any individual is indulging in any abominable act in the procession or rally of Milad-un-Nabi (SAW), held that particular person guilty not all devotees.
May we live as the true lovers of Rasool-ullah (SAW) and may we die in the love of Rasool-ullah (SAW). Ameen.
The author is a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected]