Celebrating The Prophet’s Birthday

Miladunnabi, the celebrations of the prophet’s birthday, is annually commemorated these days with such strong religious fervour that someone newly introduced to the Muslim world could be excused for assuming that such celebrations were very much a part of Islam, the message of God brought by the prophet. And if an impression of that kind is possibly created in the minds of even a few people, when the reality was that the prophet himself never celebrated that occasion nor desired it to be done by his followers, then such celebrations do qualify to be criticized for being a religious innovation, bid‘ah.

The prophet, God’s mercy be on him, is reported to have criticized bid‘ah as a misguidance that would lead to the hell. The reason why a bid‘ah was a misguidance was that it created a false impression about the message of Islam by including in its package what was not designed by God to be a part of it. The reason why the so-called Eid Miladunnabi was a bid‘ah was that it most certainly created that false impression in the minds of many people, both Muslims and non-Muslims. Such is the impact of this occasion in the minds of people that some Muslims exchange Eid greetings on that day. In actual fact, some of the text books taught to Muslim children mention that there were three Eids which Muslims celebrate, one of them being this later entry into the list.

The irony of the matter is that even though historians are unanimous in their understanding that 12 Rabiul Awwal, the day when the prophet’s birthday is celebrated, was the day when he died, they do not likewise agree that the same day was his day of birth as well. Shibli Naumani, for example, in his famous book on Sirah, quotes the opinion of an Egyptian mathematician, Mahmud Pasha Falki, who showed through his calculations that the prophet was born on 9 Rabiul Awwal. Had it been a part of the divine plan to include these celebrations as a part of the package of Islam, the day when such celebrations were to be held should have been authentically preserved, like has been done in the case of the other two Eids.

The fact of the matter is that Muslims have resorted to celebrate Miladunnabi either in response to the Christian celebrations of Christmas or within the Muslim world, the Sunni Muslims have responded by these celebrations to the commemoration of the tragedy of Karbala by the Shia Muslims. Whatever be the reasons of these celebrations, they have not been initiated by the prophet of God and therefore have no place in Islam.

The prophet of Islam most certainly used to celebrate his birthday, although in a very private way. He made it a routine to fast on Mondays to thank God because he was born on a Monday. His birthday celebrations were therefore done not on an annual but weekly basis. And they were marked by a sense of deep gratitude to the Creator which was expressed through act of fasting.

6 thoughts on “Celebrating The Prophet’s Birthday

  1. Muhammad

    “Had it been a part of the divine plan to include these celebrations as a part of the package of Islam, the day when such celebrations were to be held should have been authentically preserved, like has been done in the case of the other two Eids.”

    The date of the Shab-e-Qasr wasn’t preserved. Whatever the reasons were, your argument does not hold sway.

    “The prophet of Islam most certainly used to celebrate his birthday, although in a very private way.”

    He celebrated. Others may have other ways of celebrating. So long as they don’t declare it a part of Islam, nobody has the right to object.

  2. Muhammad Ousama Ghazali

    Assalaamu Alaikum,

    It is a very rightly put message and in my personal opinion we Muslims should do our best to propagate this message too in addition to other Dawah duties. May Allah Almighty guide and keep us on the Right/Middle Path. Ameen!

    A few such-minded persons who believe in this so called Eid also have other believes which are also disturbing such as not attending the mosques (especially in Saudi Arabia and Middle East) for prayers specifically Juma’ prayers because they think offering prayer behind an Imam that is of not their belief is prohibited even if it is Masjid-ul-Haraam in Makkah or Masjid-e-Nabwi in Madinah. What should be the best way to guide them on this matter?

    Guide us on how we should further curb this matter in addition to spreading this message. Please guide us as what should be our behaviour on:

    - On occasions like this so called Eid, many dishes especially sweet ones are prepared and are distributed (mostly in Pakistan and on a minor/hidden scale in Saudi Arabia too).

    - Sermon gatherings are held in mosques and/or homes and people are invited to attend such a mass.

    - Don’t know if it is same or different than this Eid, but a concept of “Urs” is also celebrated as depicted by many notifications written on walls/banners or leaflets distributed. A few times I have seen “Urs-e-Muhammad” or “Urs-e-Rasool” in addition to names of many known and unknown religious scholars and elders of the past.

    Lastly, without intention to criticize, I request to change the word “creator” to “Creator” in the last sentence. Please see if it should be so.

  3. Khalid Zaheer

    Assalamo Alaikum

    These are my comments on the two comments.

    First, on Brother Muhammad’s: You are most welcome to criticize my views for not being convincing. But allow me to say two things. While the significance of Lailatul Qadr has been made unmistakably clear by the Almighty in the Qur’an, the significance of the prophet’s birthday hasn’t been done by Him. Isn’t it a little ironic that if the purpose was to celebrate our beloved prophet’s birthday, we should have been doing it on a day when we were certain that he actually died but weren’t too sure if he was born on the same day as well.

    The second thing is that the prophet, alaihissalaam, and Islam can just not be separated. If we are doing something for the sake of the prophet, we are doing it as a part of religion. So it is not possible for us to tell people that although you are most welcome to celbrate the prophet’s birthday but don’t make it a part of the religion. And Allah knows the best.

    And now to brother Ghazali:Thanks for the correction. Yes, the word should be ‘Creator’. I think, if we are convinced that celebrating an Eid other than the two Eids was a bid’ah, we should not celebrate it; we should convince others politely about what we believe to be true.

    As for some people who don’t pray behind fellow Muslims, we need to tell them politely that they might be held guilty in the Almighty’s court for causing Muslim ummah to be broken into groups. Indeed it is a serious crime to cause sectarianism to be spread amongst Muslims.

    Celebrating Urs (commemorating the death of saints) is another bid’ah. had it been a part of our religion, the prophet would have prescribed it for us, which we know he didn’t do.

  4. Naeema Halim

    Ok..Sir you have specified that since his birth date is not confirmed on 12th rather death on same date is confirmed so theres no point in celebrating..but the prophet (PBUH) was born in Rabi-ul-Awwal.right .be it 9th 12th or some other date ..

    I personally believe that there is no harm in being happy and remembering the prophet during this month since hes our true guide in all walks of life.So if a person celebrates his arrival in this world by holding a Milad ,distributing sweets among poor n relatives…does it come under bidah..you urself said that the prophet used to remember/celebrate his birthday..and by celebrating i mean within limits with simplicity..I myself do not like that ostentatious display of wealth in these Milad functions turning them into a wedding party..but if the same mehfil is done in a simple manner inviting close friends ,relatives..with participants throwing light on our prophet’s life..his teachings..his dealings with people..
    Please clarify if it still comes under Bidah or not?

  5. Asif

    Khalid Sb Assalam o Alaikum,

    I want to congratulate you on writing this article. This issue needs to be clarified for many of our brothers and sisters who consider this celebration as a part of Islam. However, calling it bidha straight away without explaining the conditions of bidha, which brings all the people in favour of this celebration (or taking part) under the umbrella of bidah, is not the best way to convey the message. Because it is bidah, only if some one considers it as a part of worship or not doing it as bad.

    Therefore, I would suggest you to explain the issue in a different manner rather than just tagging them as biddhati. Because, most of the people who are addressed here will not take this as a nice suggestion, but an allegation. Secondly, the reason given by you for Prophet’s (SAW) fasting on each Monday as celebration of his birthday is not well justified (can you please provide a proof for this, as you have also written this in another article), because there are other greater known reasons for the fasting on this day.

    Thanks for your efforts and good articles. May Allah swt reward you for your efforts.

  6. Muslim

    Book 006, Number 2606 (Sahih Muslim)

    Abu Qatada Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Massenger (may peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on Monday, whereupon he said: IT IS (THE DAY) WHEN I WAS BORN and revelation was sent down to me.

    To Mr. Asif

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