By Malam Adamu Adamu (Now Minister of Education)
On the occasion of the 1491th birthday of the Holy Prophet [SAW], I send my sincere, heartfelt congratulations to the entirety of mankind and to all the order of being for whom his coming [SAW] is a mercy. And we must rejoice at the coming of Allah’s favour and mercy—as we have been commanded.
When Jesus [AS] prayed for manna from heaven and it came, its descent was a cause for an eid of celebrations, not just for them who were there, but for their first and their last—a celebration of God’s favour for eternity.
[Then] Jesus, son of Mary [AS] said: ‘O Allah, our Lord, send us from heaven a table set [with viands] that there may be for us, for the first and the last of us a solemn festival, and a Sign from You. And provide for our sustenance; for, you are the best of sustainers.” Qur’an 5:114
And the Holy Qur’an reminded Muslims that indeed only in the descent of God’s favour will people have real cause to celebrate and rejoice. “Say: ‘It is only in the favour and grace of Allah that people should rejoice; that is better than the wealth that they amass.’” Qur’an 10:58
And the moment of greatest favour came—a favour to the worlds—what are Muslims to do? For those who take Shaykh Abd al-Halim ibn Taymiyya as proof—and the majority of those who do take him so oppose Maulud, even though surprisingly he himself didn’t—are perhaps unaware and may wish to know that he has stated in one of his books: “As to what some people have innovated either to compete with Christians on the birth of Jesus or for the love of the Holy Prophet [SAW] and veneration for him, Allah might reward them for their love and ijtihad,” and he added, “Although Maulud was not practised by most [Salaf], they should have done so since there was no objection against it from the Shari’ah point of view.”
Shaykh Yusuf Qardawi, perhaps currently the most media-visible of the Salafi shaykhs of the day, had this to say on the celebration of the Maulud: “We need all these lessons and such celebrations are a revival of these lessons and values. I think that these celebrations, if done in the proper way, will serve a great purpose, getting Muslims closer to the teachings of Islam and to the Prophet’s Sunnah and life.”
But Imam Shihab al-Din Abu Bakr al-Qastallani might seem to have summed matters up: “May Allah bless a person who celebrates ‘Eid’ on the nights of the blessed month of the holy birth of the Prophet [SAW], so that it hurts them the most who have a serious disease in their hearts and who suffer from an incurable ailment on account of the blessed birth.”
Perhaps this is not enough, but the truth is that the fact and
reality of Maulud stood in no need for the approval of ibn Taymiyya or any other scholar for that matter; it is something that is so obvious. The fact that today an event like the Maulud requires proofs for its legitimacy is symptomatic of a people who have lost their bearing and are at their scripturally nitpicking worst, fed on a diet of antipathy towards the most sacred personality of their faith.
They have raised several objections against the celebration of Maulud. There are those who believe it is a bid’ah. Indeed, in the past, they used to base all their argument on the kulliya of the famous bid’ah hadith; it is unclear why it has now fallen into disuse nowadays. But the reality is that bid’ah is not any newness as erroneously assumed; in the correct theological parlance, the only right and proper meaning of bid’ah is not innovation: it is aberration.
Right now, if you ask them why they fly to Mecca for Hajj instead of going, say, on horseback, they bring the new argument that bid’ah involves only religious practices; but, in another breath, they will say that Islam is a way of life, encompassing everything that happens from the cradle to the grave; and, for eschatological recompense, whatever one does from maturity to death.
Others say Maulud is merely a Muslim Christmas. Doubtless, those who say it is in imitation of Christians that Maulud is celebrated and that this is a bad thing, as they are quick to point out that those who imitate a people are of them, may find themselves in self- contradiction. Only yesterday, in the attempt to find grounds for the Ashura fast, they were asserted that when he came to Medina the Holy Prophet [SAW] found Jews fasting and when he [SAW] learnt their reasons for it, he [SAW] ordered the Muslims to imitate them. Even if this sounds unlikely to some, it is a proof opponents of Maulud like to present, and so they should be bound by it .
Some oppose because they say we shouldn’t exaggerate in praising him [SAW] while they are in fact incapable of appreciating the limit of his excellence let alone surpassing it. Even if Muslims today engage themselves in extolling his praise till the end of their lives, that will still be deficient in capturing the essence of his excellence. So, what is this exaggeration they are talking about? Obviously, no Muslim will ever say the Holy Prophet [SAW] is God Incarnate, so which limit is it that they think the Holy Prophet [SAW] has not reached?
There are those who are looking for hujjah to celebrate it. But it is a basic principle in Islamic jurisprudence that you don’t look permission to do things: you look for prohibition not to do them. In other words, whatever is not prohibited is permitted—whatever is not haram is halal.
While others concede that celebrating Maulud may be blameless, they still oppose it because they say it shouldn’t just be a one-day, 12 Rabi al-Awwal, affair, and that is ought to be an everyday affair. And they are right, because if people truly realise the full measure of the prestige and sanctity of the Holy Prophet [SAW], they will accept that his holy birth merits the celebration of Maulud every single day of the year—forever.
Some hide behind the fact that the Holy Prophet [SAW] was not born on 12 Rabi al-Awwal but that, according to the most exacting modern calculations, he was most probably born three days earlier, or, as others have long maintained, that he was born five days later. And so, they reason, since the exact day is not known with certainty, people celebrating Maulud are wasting their time. But this is not the attitude of believers who care; because, if they do care, we should have seen them doing their best to find and calculate the exact date instead of trying to stop those who remember him.
And they sometimes argue that since there seems to be consensus that he [SAW] died on 12 Rabi al-Awwal, Maulud is a celebration of his death; but this is a claim belied by what people do on the occasion. And in any case there is nothing wrong with celebrating the day of his death [SAW] with his remembrance and praise; but there is everything wrong with wanting to stamp out his memory.
For those who wish to do this, Tauhid in essence becomes not just the theoretical affirmation of the oneness and uniqueness of the One and only Supreme Being and the practical implication of the meaning of the denial of servitude but to Him: it is rendered a mere cover for launching an attack on the prestige and sanctity of the Holy Prophet [SAW] and belittling his legacy on the altar on which this can conceivably and seemingly plausibly, even though utterly mistakenly, be attempted—the incomparable grandeur of the Uncaused Cause. This way, they downplay the stature of the Holy Prophet [SAW] and little by little, all in the name of tauhid, they chip away at the prestige and status of the Most Perfect of all creation until they succeed in leaving him no greater than the person next door, which is their goal.
And in doing this, they try to hide behind Allah’s saying that the Holy Prophet [SAW] is a man like us, but they never finish the quotation which says: except that revelation descends on him. But this is a statement only Allah or the Prophet [SAW] can make; and its intent is not to draw equivalence between the apostle and other people, but to make the case against them.
In other words, it simply meant that all acts of worship and devotion that the Prophet [SAW] performed and taught, and which Islam called upon Muslims to do were within their own ability and competence; because the one who did and taught them had a body like ours and used to eat and drink and sleep—and was therefore not an angel in creation. Thus, the demand of Islam as a religion and a way of life is not something beyond human capacity to meet or at least imitate in accordance with level of faith.
Otherwise whoever believes that the Holy Prophet [SAW] is like other men has not yet embarked on the path of understanding Islam or his own purpose in this world; and is not likely to ever come to know or appreciate the station of Prophethood, nor that of Messengership, let alone that of their Seal—and the Seal of human perfection.”
- This article was once published by DAILYTRUST