Truly blessed was this pregnancy; the Beloved Messenger’s mother, Sayyida Aminah, felt no pain or discomfort. Eventually the blessed child entered into the world from her enlightened womb. When she delivered him, his small precious body emerged prostrated in the Sajda position, already circumcised 1, with his tiny fists clenched tightly.
Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Abbas also reports that Sayyida Amina said, “When I gave birth to the Prophet, with him came out a light that lit the space between the east and west. He then fell on the ground, and leaning on his hands, took a handful of soil, grasped it, then raised his head towards the Heavens.” 2
Imam Tabarani narrates that when he fell to the ground, he had his fingers drawn together, with the index finger pointing, testifying to the oneness of Allah. 3
Sayyida Shifa reports, “I was there when the Messenger of Allah was born. I quickly rushed there to help. I heard a voice saying, ‘may Allah’s mercy be upon him.’ The distance between the south and the north was filled with divine light. I saw palaces of Byzantine in that light. I took the Messenger of Allah in my arms and started to suckle him, then I began to tremble to the extent I almost fainted. The baby disappeared in front of my eyes. A voice asked, ‘Where has he gone?’ Another one replied, ‘They took him to the east.’ I never forgot those words. Therefore, as soon as the Messenger of Allah declared his Prophethood, I went to him and accepted his faith together with the first Muslims.” 4
The newborn child glowed with incredible beauty, his soft little face radiant with a most resplendent light. He was born on a Monday, 12th Rabi’ul Awwal, in the Year of the Elephant, 570 CE. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him!
The Prophet’s uncle, Sayyidina Abbas said, “O Messenger of Allah, what made me enter into your religion was my witnessing a sign of your Prophethood. I saw you in your cradle talking tenderly to the moon and pointing at it with your finger. It moved across the sky to wherever you pointed.” The Beloved Messenger replied, “I was talking to it, and it talked to me, which distracted me from crying. I could hear the sound of its prostration under the Throne.” 5
It is also narrated that the Beloved Messenger spoke when he was first born. 6
That night of the blessed birth, stars fell down from the sky like the leaves in autumn, indicating that the devil and the jinns would no longer be able to steal information from the Heavens. 7
And, somewhere in the distant land of Madinah, a young boy of roughly eight years named Hassan bin Thabit told how that night, he was awoken by the shouts of a Jew from the rooftop of a fortress announcing that ‘Ahmad’, the awaited Messenger of God, had been born.8 Some fifty-three years later that same Hassan bin Thabit, may Allah be pleased with him, embraced Islam at the hands of this beloved Messenger and became his beloved poet and Companion.
1 Imam Abu Nu’aym narrates that the Beloved Messenger said, “One of the miracles bestowed upon me by Allah was that I was born circumcised, and no one saw my private parts.” [Dala’il al-Nubuwwah]
The same Hadith was reported by Imam Tabarani in his al-Awsat. Imam al-Hakim said, “Numerous Ahadith speak of the Prophet being born circumcised.” [al-Mustadrak 2/602] This fact is also mentioned by Imam ibn Hibban [as-Seeratun Nabawiyyah, pg. 58]
2 Imam al-Qastalani’s Mawahibul-Laduniyya
3 Imam al-Qastalani, Mawahibul-Laduniyya
4 Imam al-Qastalani, Mawahibul-Laduniyya, 1/122
5 Imam al-Qastalani, Mawahibul-Laduniyya
6 Imam al-Qastalani, Mawahibul-Laduniyya related from Imam ibn Hajr’s Fathul Bari
7 Tabari, 2/131; Qadi Iyad’s al-Shifa, 1/726-733
8 Sayyidina Hassan bin Thabit reports, “I was about eight years old. One morning a Jewish man was running, crying out, ‘O Jews!’ Jews gathered around the man saying ‘What is it? Why are you shouting?’ The man was crying out, ‘Let me give you this news; Ahmad’s star was born tonight. Ahmad was born tonight.”[Imam al-Qastalani, Mawahibul-Laduniyya, 1/122]
HE IS ‘THE MOST PRAISED’
Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib was sitting near the Ka’bah with some friends and when he heard of his grandson’s safe birth, he ecstatically remarked, “This child of mine will most certainly achieve greatness.”
Sayyida Aminah reported to him all she had seen or felt during the pregnancy. In one of her dreams, she was told, ‘You have conceived the best of mankind, and a leader of the people. When you give birth to him, name him Ahmad and Muhammad.” 9
She would also say she was told in a dream, “When he is born, name him Muhammad, for his name is Ahmad in the Torah and the Gospels. He will be praised by those in the Heavens and those on the earth. In the Qur’an, his name will be Muhammad.” So she named him thus. 10
On the seventh day, Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib took the baby Messenger to the Ka’bah to thank and praise Allah, named him Muhammad, and then held a celebratory feast. When asked by the people why he had not given the child a family name, he replied, “Because I want God to praise him in the Heavens, and His creatures to praise him on earth.” 11
As Sayyidina Hassan bin Thabit said:
“He derived for him a name from His own Name
In order to exalt him,
For the One of the Throne is Praised (Mahmud)
And this is the Praised One (Muhammad).”
9 Imam Abu Nu’aym [Dala’il al-Nubuwwah 1/36-37]
10 Imam Abu Nu’aym, from Imam Bayhaqi [Dala’il al-Nubuwwah 1/111-112]I
11 Imam ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, from a narration by Imam Bayhaqi [Fathul Bari 15/3; also see Dala’il al-Nubuwwah 1/161]
COMMEMORATING THE BLESSED BIRTH OR MAWLID
Imam al-Qastalani, commentator of Sahih Bukhari, says, “May Allah have mercy on the one who turns the nights of the month of the Prophet’s birth into festivities in order to decrease the suffering of those whose hearts are filled with disease and sickness.” 12
The commemoration and celebration of the blessed birth of the Beloved Messenger, also known as mawlid or milad, is indeed a beneficial and praiseworthy virtue. Mawlid events held in the auspicious month of Rabi ul Awwal are dedicated to remembering he whom Allah praises when He says, “And indeed, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.” [Qur’an 68:5]
These gatherings often comprise of naat or qasida recitals (poems in praise of the Beloved Messenger); dhikr of Allah; speeches about the deen to strengthen faith and belief; reminders about our beautiful history; feeding the masses; and the priceless opportunity of bringing the community together under the flag of love for the Messenger of Allah, which is undoubtedly the essence of one’s faith.
Indeed, the Beloved Messenger himself said, “None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.” 13 And in another Hadith, he says to Sayyidina Umar bin al-Khattab, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self.” 14
This time of year allows the Muslim Ummah to focus on the appreciation of our greatest blessing: the Beloved Messenger himself. Thus we are able to fulfil the Command of Allah, when He, glory be to Him, says, “In the bounty of Almighty Allah and His Mercy, let them rejoice; that is better than the wealth they accumulate.” [Qur’an 10:58]
Truly, never has there been – and never will there be – a bounty greater than our Beloved Master Muhammad, leader of guidance for all humanity, Mercy unto the worlds, may Allah’s utmost peace and blessings be upon him.
And indeed, to him was addressed the verse, “And we have exalted for you your remembrance.” [Qur’an 94:4]
12 [Mawahibul-Laduniyya, 1/148]
13 Bukhari, Book 2, Hadith no. 12
14 Sayyidina ‘Umar said to the Beloved Messenger, “O Allah’s Messenger! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self.” The Beloved Messenger said, “No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self.” Then Sayyidina Umar said to him, “However, now – by Allah – you are dearer to me than my own self.” The Messenger replied, “Now, O Umar (now you are a believer).” [Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 78, Hadith no. 628]
THE BELOVED’S COMMEMORATION OF HIS OWN BIRTH
Although the present form of commemorating the blessed mawlid is an innovation (i.e. to gather the community and host events/feasts), the origin of remembering the mawlid does indeed trace back to the Beloved Messenger himself.
In Sahih Muslim, a narration from Sayyidina Abu Qatada relates that the Beloved Messenger of Allah would fast on Mondays and explained, “That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I received the Message (i.e., the day on which his Prophethood began).”
This shows clearly the significance in which the Beloved Messenger held his mawlid, that he would commemorate it every week, along with the event of the first revelation. Surely, we as his Ummah and as ones who love him from the depths of our heart, should also respect that day and commemorate it? Surely it is an act of delight that we gather together to thank Allah Most High for His greatest bounty to mankind, the Beloved Master, the Mercy to all the worlds, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him?
MERCY FOR REJOICING AT THE BLESSED BIRTH
Imam al-Hakim narrated that the Beloved Messenger was born in Makkah in the house of Muhammad bin Yusuf. He was breastfed by Thuwaiba, the freed female slave of Abu Lahab, who freed her upon her bringing him the good news of the Beloved Messenger’s birth. After his death, Abu Lahab was seen in a dream, when he was asked, “How are you faring?” He answered, “I am in the fire. However, I get a break every Monday, when I am able to suck water from this spot between my fingers,” and he gestured with two of his finger tips. “This miracle is due to my freeing Thuwaiba when she brought me the good news of the birth of the Prophet.”15
In regards to this, Imam ibn al-Jazari said, “If Abu Lahab, the infidel, who was dispraised in a Qur’anic revelation, was nevertheless rewarded because of his rejoicing at the birth of the Prophet, how about Muslims from among his nation who rejoice in his birth and do the best they can out of love for him? By my life, their reward from Allah, the Generous, will be entry into the Paradises of bliss with Allah’s abundant Bounties.”
The people of Islam always celebrate the month of our Beloved Prophet’s birth by having feasts, giving all kinds of charity, expressing their joy, increasing their good deeds, and carefully reading the story of his birth. In return, Allah fills believers with the abundant blessings of this month.
It has been proven that one of the qualities of the Prophet’s birthday, which is called the Mawlid, is that it brings safety throughout the year and the good news that all wishes and desires will be fulfilled. May Allah shower His Mercy on everyone who turns the nights of this month of the Beloved Messenger’s blessed birth into festivities. 16
15 Sayyidina Urwa reports a similar account in Sahih Bukhari: “Thuwaiba was a slave of Abu Lahab. Abu Lahab set her free, and she suckled the Holy Prophet. When Abu Lahab died, someone from his family saw him in a dream, in the worst possible condition. The person asked him, ‘What did you get?’ Abu Lahab said, ‘After I was separated from you, I did not find any peace, except that because I freed Thuwaiba, I am given a drink through this (i.e. the finger).” [Bukhari, Vol 2, page 764]
16 This entire passage (from “Imam al-Hakim narrated…” to this point) is an extract from Imam al-Qastalani’s Mawahibul-Laduniyya
SOME RIGHTEOUS SCHOLARS’ VIEWS ON MAWLID
• Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti writes, “The Shar’iah commands Aqiqa on the birth of a child. This is a way to thank Allah and rejoice – but at the time of death, no such commandment has been given. In fact, mourning and grieving is prohibited. The same principle of Shar’iah demands that happiness and the joy should be expressed in Rabi’ul Awwal on the birth of the Beloved Messenger, and to not grieve for his Wisaal (departure from this world).” [Husnul Maqsad fi Amaalil Mawlid al-Haawi lil Fatawa]
• Hafiz ibn Kathir writes, “Sultan Muzaffar used to arrange the celebration of the Mawlid with honour, glory, dignity and grandeur. In this connection, he would organise a magnificent festival.” Then he said in praise of that man, “He was a pure-hearted, brave and wise Aalim (scholar) and a just ruler – may Allah shower His Mercy upon him and grant him an exalted status.” [al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya, Vol.13, page 136]
• Shaykh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith Dehlwi writes, “Muslims have always celebrated Milad functions in the month of Rabi’ul Awwal. They always gave charity on the nights of that month and expressed their happiness. This is a common practice of Muslims, that they particularly make mention of those incidents which are related to the birth of the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.” And he further states, “I swear by my life that, Allah Most Merciful’s reward for he who celebrates Mawlid will be nothing but that he will be entered into the Garden of Bliss.” [Ma Sabata minas Sunnah]
• Mulla Ali Qari writes, “Firstly, we see that it is permissible to arrange an assembly of milad. It is permissible to participate in that assembly for the purpose of listening to the praises and character of the Beloved Messenger. Inviting people and expressing happiness is permissible. Secondly, we do not say that it is Sunnah to celebrate milad on any fixed night; anyone who believes that it is Sunnah to celebrate milad on any fixed night (and not in any other night) is a bid’ati [wrongful innovator] because the dhikr of the Beloved Messenger is required all the time. Though indeed, the month in which the Beloved Messenger was born has more preference.” [al-Mouridil Raweefil Mawlideena Nabawi]
• Mullah Ali Qari also wrote a book which he entitled ‘The Quenching Spring on the Birthday of the Prophet.’
• Sayyidina Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani used to host gatherings and give gifts in joy of this blessed occasion of Mawlid on the 11th of every month, which is now known as Giyarwi Sharif. This practice is still observed to this day.
BID’AH – THE CONCEPT OF INNOVATION IN ISLAM
Truly, an accepted principle of Shari’ah (Islamic law) is that although an act performed by the Beloved Messenger or his Companions is proof of its jawaaz (permissibility), it does not mean an act is prohibited if they did not perform it. In regards to bid’ah, the Beloved Messenger of Allah has said, “Beware of innovations, for every innovation (kullu bid’ah) is misguidance.”[Mishkat] However, here the scholars have agreed that the term ‘kullu’ is not meant in a universal sense; therefore it does not apply to every innovation.
Proving this point, in the same book, the Beloved Messenger himself elaborates on the types of innovation. He says, “He who initiates a good practice in Islam, receives its reward, as well as the reward of those who act upon it subsequently, without any deduction from their reward. And he who initiates a bad practice in Islam accumulates its sin and the sin of those who act upon it subsequently, without any deduction from their burdens.”[Mishkat]
Imam Nawawi explains, “The Prophet’s saying ‘every innovation’ is a general-particular and it is a reference to most innovations [not all].” [Imam Nawawi’s Commentary on Sahih Bukhari, Vol.6, page 21]
There is indeed a difference between good innovation (bidah-e-hasanah) and evil innovation (bidah-e-sayyia).
Imam al-Shafi explains this clearly in his Manaqib al-Shafi: “Newly-invented matters (innovations) are of two types. The first of them is what opposes [something from] the Book, or [something from] the Sunnah, or a narration [from the Companions], or [a matter of] consensus, this is the misguided innovation. And the second is what has been introduced of goodness [that does not oppose any of these] and there is not a single scholar who opposes it. This is newly-introduced yet not blameworthy – and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) had said about the Qiyaam (al-Layl) in the month of Ramadan, ‘What an excellent innovation this is,’ meaning, that it is newly-introduced and was not previously done.”
Imam Bayhaqi has also been reported in Manaqib al-Shafi’i to have 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.”
Therefore, the celebration of Mawlid is clearly a good innovation (bidah-e-hasanah), which promotes and encourages dhikr and strengthens faith and love for Allah and His Beloved Messenger, upon him be Allah’s peace and blessings.
Although it was not practiced during the Beloved Messenger’s time, it is without a doubt a beneficial and praiseworthy virtue. As Imam Hajar al-Asqalani, the commentator on Sahih al-Bukhari, said, “Anything that did not exist during the Prophet’s time is called innovation, but some are good while others are not.”
To clarify the above observations, our master Sayyidina ‘Umar bin al-Khattab was himself one of the first to implement several bidah-e-hasanah during his lifetime – Sayyidina ‘Umar, the same Companion whom the Beloved Messenger named ‘al-Farooq’i.e. the Distinguisher between truth and falsehood. It was he who gathered and compiled the Qur’an in a book format which we ourselves read today17. It was he who moved the Maqaam-e-Ibrahim close to the Ka’bah, then built an enclosure around it, which all the Companions approved of unanimously 18. It was also he who implemented the rule of praying taraweeh prayers in congregation during the month of Ramadan, and even expressed, “What an excellent Bid’ah this is!” 19
Surely, that is proof enough of the validity of bidah-e-hasanah. Yet, furthermore there are several reports of other Companions implementing good innovations. Sahih Bukhari reports that Sayyidina ‘Usman, during his caliphate, added an extra call to prayer for Fridays 20, and that Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar would recite an addition to the original tashahhud 21, and Imam Tabarani reports the same about Sayyidina ‘Abdullah bin Masud 22.
Additionally, there is also a beautiful report that there was a Companion who the Beloved Messenger sent to lead the believers in battle. When he lead the prayers, he would, out of his own accord, finish it with Surah Ikhlas – something not taught nor practiced by the Beloved Messenger of Allah. When the believers returned, they reported this to the Beloved Messenger of Allah. What was his response, peace and blessings be upon him? Did he reprimand that Companion for implementing a newly-innovated matter, something which he himself had not taught? Not at all; rather, he said to believers, “Tell him that Allah loves him.” 23 This report teaches us two fundamental points: that firstly, a bidah-e-hasanah could be so beneficial that it brings forth Allah’s love for His servant, and secondly, the niyyah/intention of a person implementing such an innovation is of utmost importance.
Since Mawlid is a bid’ah which encourages virtue and goodness, not contradicting the Qur’an or Sunnah in any way, and its main intention is the remembrance of our beloved Master Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, we can see the clear validity and benefit in partaking and promoting such an auspicious commemoration.
17 Sayyidina Zayd b. Thabit related, “The Prophet passed away and the Qur’an had not been compiled anywhere. Then ‘Umar suggested to Abu Bakr to compile the Qur’an in one book, after a large number of Companions were killed in the battle of Yamama. Abu Bakr wondered, ‘How could we do something that the Prophet did not do?’ ‘Umar said, ‘By Allah, it is good.’ ‘Umar persisted in asking Abu Bakr until Allah expanded his chest for it (Allah made him agree and accept these suggestions) and he sent for Zaid b. Thabit and assigned him to compile the Qur’an…” [Bukhari]
18 Imam ibn Hajr’s al-Fathul Bari
19 Sayyidina ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abdul Qari reports, “I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the Masjid, and found the people praying in different groups; a man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, ‘Umar said, ‘In my opinion, I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (recitor) [i.e. let them pray in congregation].’ So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubayy bin Kaab. Then on another night, I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their Qari. On that, ‘Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent bid’ah (i.e. innovation in religion) this is…’” [Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 32, Hadith no. 227]
20 Sayyidina Sa’ib bin Yazid related, “During the time of the Prophet, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, the call to Friday prayer used to occur when the Imam sat on the pulpit. When it was ‘Usman’s time, he added the third call (considered third in relation to the first Adhaan and the Iqaama. But it is named first because it proceeds the call to the Friday prayer.)”
21 Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar added the bismillah at the beginning of the tashahhud. He also made an addition to the Talbiyah: “Labbaika wa sa’daika wal khayru bi yadayka wal raghba’u ilayika wal amalu.” [Bukhari, Muslim]
22 After “Wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,” (and the Mercy of Allah and His Blessings), Sayyidina ‘Abdullah bin Masud used to say, “Assalamu ‘alayna min Rabbina,” (peace upon us from our Lord). [Imam Tabarani’s al-Kabir]
23 Sayyida ‘Aisha reports that the Beloved Messenger sent an army unit under the command of a man who used to lead his companions in prayers and would finish his recitation with Surah Ikhlas. When they returned from the battle, they (the companions) mentioned that to the Beloved Messenger, and the Beloved Messenger asked them to question the man regarding why he does that. The companions asked the man, and he replied, “I do so because it mentions the qualities of the Most Gracious and I love to recite it in my prayer.” The Beloved Messenger said, “Tell him that Allah loves him.” [Bukhari]