The Religious and Legal status of the Birthday of the Holy Prophet (saw) In light of the Quran and Sunnah. - Part One
This article will discus the legal and religious status of celebrating the birth of the Holy Prophet (saw) in light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This is not a comprehensive guide since it is impossible to include all evidences in one article. For a complete and comprehensive discourse on the validity of celebrating mawlid-un-nabi it is recommended to refer Dr. Tahir-ul Qadri’s book, “Milad-un Nabi kee Sharee Haiseeyath”. This article however is an attempt to provide you with an insight to the topic and has been compiled from a series of lectures given by Dr. Qadri on this topic which are available to listen to and are highly recommended both in English and Urdu. However since this is a personal effort any mistakes that may occur in this compilation are mine alone thus I seek forgiveness from Almighty Allah for any errors that may occur. Part one of this article will discuss the evidences from the Holy Qur’an, part two of the article will give a commentary of leading aima on the subject and part three of this article will provide clear hadith’s that substantiate the legality of celebrating of the mawlid of the Holy Prophet (saw).
In the Holy Qur’an Allah Almighty gives a clear order to celebrate and rejoice the raising and coming of the Holy Prophet (saw). In Surah Yunus, (10:58) Allah Ta’ala states
“Say: Because of the( fadl) Blessings of Allah and His (rahma) Mercy you should celebrate (with happiness and pleasure). That is better than what (wealth) they amass.”
In this particular ayah Allah Ta’ala is commanding that we should rejoice and celebrate His fadl and rahma as much as is possible. The question naturally to be asked is what exactly should we be rejoicing. What does Allah’s fadl and rahma refer to? According to other verses in the Qur’an
(tafseer bil Qur’an) and the explanations given by scholars through their tafseer works of this ayah, the fadl and rahma in this ayah is a direct reference to the Holy Prophet (saw). He was sent to this world and being raised for mankind is the greatest fadl and rahma of Almighty Allah, so we should all celebrate and rejoice this event.
There are many verses in the Holy Qur’an where Allah Almighty states that the Holy Prophet (saw) is Allah’s rahma and fadl.
In Surah Al Imran, (3:164) Allah Almighty states:
“ Indeed Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when he sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad (saw)) from among themselves, reciting unto them His verses, and purifying them, and instructing them (in) the book and Al-Hikmah of the Prophet (saw) while before that they had been in manifest error”.
In the Holy Qur’an Allah mentions the raising of the Holy Prophet (saw) as a favour, coming to mankind and providing humanity with the right path. His coming took people out of darkness and misguidance bringing them to the light of guidance and Haq. Allah Almighty describes this as a great blessing by Him onto His people. Allah Ta’ala states that if it had not been for His beloved Prophet (saw) we would all have been in a state of loss. In this verse Allah Ta’ala uses the words fadl and rahma in the same sequence as in the verse of Surah Yunus thus denoting Allah’s fadl and rahma are the Holy Prophet. (saw).
In Surah Al-Anbiya, (21:107) Allah Almighty describes the Holy Prophet (Saw) as rahma
“ And We have sent you (oh Muhammad (saw)) but as a Mercy for Mankind”.
Here the Holy Prophet (saw) has been given the name of rahma, it being one of his attributes. Allama Alusi in his tafseer, ‘Ruhul Ma’ an’i states that one of the glorious names of the Holy Prophet is rahma even though his spriritual name is raheem.
It is stated in Surah Al-Jumu’ ah, (62:2)
“It is He who has sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger ( Muhammad (saw)) from among themselves, reciting to them His verse, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and Al-Hikama. And verily they had been in manifest error”.
Here Allah Almighty firstly gives a list of all the qualities of the Holy Prophet (saw) and how he has taken mankind out of darkness. It is through his raising that we received guidance since divine revelation was given through the Holy Prophet (saw) in the form of the Qur’an. He inculcated us with knowledge and belief, and through his Sunnah we learnt how to implant it in our hearts and how to purify our inner selves according the will and pleasure of Allah. If the Holy Prophet (saw) had not been sent to us by Allah Almighty then humanity would have remained misguided, in error and loss, and thus not be in position to receive anything from their Lord.
The first ayah addresses the people who lived in the time of the Holy Prophet (saw), being sent “from among themselves”. They were able to receive these great blessings direct from him sitting with him, conversing with him, observing and receiving much from him. However Allah almighty does not confine this blessing and mercy to those at the time of the Holy Prophet (saw) but states in the next ayah (62:3)
“And (He has sent him, Muhammad (saw) also to) others among them who have not yet joined them (but they will come). And He Allah is the Al-Mighty, the Wise.”
Allah Ta’ala confers his blessing not on only the Companions but on those who are yet to come. This is a reference to all future generations and is explicitly saying that the Holy Prophet (saw) was not just a fadl for those in his time but for all generations to come. Thus there is no limit on the time period of when to rejoice. One may ask how it is possible that those who never saw or heard the Prophet (saw) can still benefit from him? Yet that is up to Allah Ta’ala and His wish and desire since He completes the ayah by saying, “Allah is the Almighty and Wise”. He alone can do as He wishes and bestow what He wishes on whom He wants. There are no limits and boundaries on His power and if He wished for future generations to benefit from the fadl of the Holy Prophet (saw) then so be it. So Allah’s raising of the Holy Prophet is fadalalah.
After explaining the extent and nature of His beloved Prophet’s (saw) mercy, then Allah Almighty says in ayah 4 of surah Jumu’ah:
“That is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He wills. And Allah is the owner of Mighty Grace”.
“That is the Grace of Allah” is referring to the Holy Prophet (saw), for he is the ‘dhalika fadalulahi’ which has been described in ayah 2 and 3. His being sent to the unlettered peoples providing wisdom is the Grace of Allah. An important point to note here is that the words later on in the ayah, “Allah is the owner of Mighty Grace” are ‘walla dhul fadl’. This is a significant point since Allah is the lord of fadl but He Himself is not the fadl which some commentators incorrectly translate as. He is the Lord of the highest blessing, its owner, its bestowal, and its possessor. For instance if you are an author of a book you are not the book itself. Similarly Allah is sahibul fadl, its possessor. Allah is not the favor itself as that is separate from the bestower. Then who is fadl? The Holy Prophet (saw) is the fadl given in ayah 3 and 4. This is Allah’s bounty. The one who was raised by Him is the fadl. In Arabic grammar the compound nouns, muzaf and muzafilai are always different and can never be the same. For instance in the word rasoolalah, rasool is muzaf and Allah is the Muzafilai. So in the words Dhul fadl – fadl is muzaf and Allah is the muzafilai, thus there can be no doubt that the fadl referred to here is the Holy Prophet (saw).
In surah Al-A’raf, (7:156) it is stated:
“ ..My Mercy embraces all things. That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who are Muttaqun, and give Zakat, and those who believe in Our evidences and signs”.
So Allah’s Rahma extends to all things, and he ordains this rahma on those who do right things, practice charity and follow the signs of Allah. So who are these people entitled to this rahama? Who will do these practices? Allah Ta’ala states in the next ayah it is those who follow My messenger, who have been sent to the unlettered people. He is the rahma sent to them.
Thus from the above discussion it can be seen that Allah Almighty has placed an ehsan, favour on us and in Surah Yunus we are expressly commanded to celebrate and rejoice this favour which is described as rahma and fadl. Other verses in the Holy Qur’an explicitly define this rahma and fadl as referring to the Holy Prophet (saw) thus celebrating his coming is a Divne command. The Holy Qur’an also singles out the birthday as an important event and worthy of mention. In Surah Maryam Allah tala commands us to send salaam on the day Sayyidina Yahya was born ie his birthday.
“And send salaam on him the day he was born, and the day he dies and the day he wil be raised up to life (again)” (19:15)
If the celebration of birthdays is an innovation and prohibited then why would Allah Ta’ala single out the birthday of Hadhrat Yahyah (a.s)? It is to be remembered that these are the words of Allah (swt) and He is the one who is sending salaam on to His messenger and clearly signifying his birthday as a peculiar and significant day.. If Allah Almighty is ordering mankind to convey these salaams on to Sayyidina Yahya (as) how can one say it is prohibited to do the same for the Holy Prophet (saw) on his birthday who is the last and greatest of all Prophets? A birthday is significant in that a day is singled out for collective worship. One type of salaam is salaam ul-aam, a general one and the other type salaam ul qass which is sent together collectively. Although we are encouraged to send salaat and salaam on the Holy Prophet (saw) every day, having one day in particular means a collective act of worship takes place which is always superior. Indeed salaam can also be viewed as a gift from Allah to His Prophets just as we give gifts to each other on our birthdays. The same commandment has also been given in respect of Sayyinia Isa (a.s) in Surah Maryam
“And send salaam on me the day I was born and the day I died and the day I shall be rasied alive” (19:33)
Part two of this article will discuss tafsir works of reliable and authentic leading aima with particular reference to Surah Yunus, (10:58).
By. G.H. Qadri