An evidence-filled answer from the Muftī of the Ummah, Shaykh al-Islām ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz (d. AH 1420), concerning the yearly innovation of the Mawlid. The Shaykh wrote this lengthy answer in response to a question from a Muslim in India.
It is not permissible to celebrate the birthday of the Apostle (May the blessings and peace of Allāh be upon him), or somebody else. In fact, it must be stopped, as it is an innovation in the religion. The Apostle of Allāh neither celebrated it, nor commanded others to do this for him nor for any one who died before him amongst the prophets, nor for his daughters, his wives, or his other relatives.
Indispensable implication of Sunnah and caution against innovation
All praise be to Allāh who completed the religion for us, perfected the blessing on us and chose Islām as our religion. May the blessings and peace be upon His servant and Apostle, who called upon people to obey his Lord and cautioned against extravagance, innovation and disobedience; And may Allāh bless his posterity, his companions and those who follow his footsteps till the Day of Judgement.
I have been acquainted with the article published in the first page of the weekly magazine “Edarat” of the Kanpur, Industrial city of Utter Pradesh in India. The writer alleges that the creed of the Salaf (Early adherents to Islām) does not agree with the Sunna. By this, the writer aims at creating division amongst the Ahl-as-Sunna and encouraging the innovations and superstitions. This attitude, no doubt, is most abominable and dangerous and aims at offending the Religion of Islām and spreading innovations and deviations from the truth. Furthermore, the article concentrates clearly on the subject of celebrating the Prophet’s birthday as an excuse to discuss the creed of others. Therefore, I consider it necessary to enlighten the People on this subject. So seeking help of Allāh, I say:
It is not permissible to celebrate the birthday of the Apostle (May the blessings and peace of Allāh be upon him), or somebody else. In fact, it must be stopped, as it is an innovation in the religion. The Apostle of Allāh neither celebrated it nor commanded others to do this for himself. or for any one who died before him amongst the Prophets, for his daughters his wives, or his other relatives. The rightly guided Caliphs the Companions of the Prophet or the successors who rightly followed them did not celebrate this event, nor did any one of the Muslim scholars in the centuries before.
They knew the Sunnah of the Prophet best, they loved him more, and followed the Shariʿah better than those who came after them. If celebrating his birthday was a good deed, they would have done it.
We are commanded to follow and forbidden to innovate. This is because of the perfection of the Islamic religion and the Sufficiency of what Allāh and His Messenger have given us and are accepted by Ahl-al-Sunnah wa-al-jamāʿah – The Muslim community of the companions and those who followed them in the best way.
It is related to the prophet that he said: He who innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it, will have it rejected. (Transmitted by Al-Bukharī and Muslim). According to Muslim who reported: whoever does an act which is not in agreement with our matter, will have it rejected. In another tradition the Prophet said: You must keep to my Sunna and of the Sunna of the rightly-guided Caliphs, cling to it firmly… Beware of newly invented matters, for every new matter is an innovation and every innovation is misleading. He used to say in every Friday sermon: The best discourse is the Book of Allāh and the best guidance is the guidance of Muḥammad the Apostle of Allāh, and the worst matter is that of innovation and every innovation is misleading. Thus, these traditions contain a strong caution against innovations and a warning that such an act is a deviation from the right course. The Prophet warned the people of the gravity of these innovations and of their bad consequences. There are many traditions adduced in this connection.
And the Almighty has said:
“So take what the Messenger gives you, and refrain from what he prohibits you”
Allāh, Most High said:
“Then let those beware who withstand the Messenger’s order, lest some trial befall them. or a grievous Chastisement be inflicted on them”
Allāh, the Almighty said:
“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allāh an excellent example for him who hopes in Allāh and the final day, and who remember Allāh much.”
And Allāh the Almighty said:
“The vanguard of Islām the first of those who forsook their homes and of those who gave them aid, and also those who followed them in all good deeds, well – Pleased is Allāh with them as are they with Him. For them hath He prepared gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever, that is the supreme Triumph”
And Allāh, the Almighty said:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islām as your religion”
This verse decisively indicates that the Almighty Allāh has completed the religion for this Ummah, and has showered His blessings on them.
His Prophet passed away only after he had imparted the complete message of Allāh to the Ummah as well as his legislations concerning sayings and deeds. He also stressed that all things invented by people and then attributed to the religion of Islām are innovations and to be rejected, even if their inventors did so in good faith.
It is established that the Companions of the Prophet and the righteous successors after them warned the people against innovations as they add to Islām and legislate what is not permitted by Allāh, in line with the enemies of Allāh such as the Jews and the Christians who added to their religion and innovated what was not allowed by Allāh. Moreover, to admit innovation in Islām is incomplete and imperfect. Such a belief is not only an evil but contraḍīcts the following verse: <>. And the sayings of the Prophet which warn us against innovations.
To celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Prophet and the others, means that the Religion is not perfected by Allāh (the Glorious, the Almighty) for this Ummah, and the Apostle did not impart to the people what was necessary regarding their religious duties, till these late ones appeared and invented in the religion what is not permitted by Allāh, thinking that this would bring them nearer to Allāh.
Undoubtedly, this is a great danger and is tantamount to criticizing Allāh the Almighty and the Prophet (Peace be upon him): whereas Allāh the Almighty has already completed the religion and perfected His grace, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) has conveyed the message openly and informed the Ummah of all such ways that will lead them to the Paradise and save them from Hell-fire.
According to an authentic Hadith, on the authority of ʿAbdullāh ibn Amr ibn Al-As the Messenger of Allāh said: Allāh Ta’ala (the Almighty) did not send a Prophet but obliged him to lead his people to the best way which is known to him, and warn them against the worst which is known to him. (Transmitted by Muslim).
It is well-known that our Prophet is the best of all the prophets, the last and the most perfect of them regarding the way he conveyed the message and advised his people.
Had the celebration of Milād been an act of Religion chosen by Allāh for His servants, the Prophet would have either explained that to his people, would have celebrated it during his life, or his Companions would have done it. As these did not happen, it becomes clear that Islām has no concern with Milād. On the contrary, it is one of the innovations against which the Prophet has warned his people as mentioned earlier.
A host of scholars have not only rejected the celebration of Milād but have warned against it in view of the evidences given above.
According to the rule of the Islamic Shariʿah all matters regarding legalization or prohibition and all disputes among the people, should be referred to the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Messenger (Peace be upon him) in line with the saying of Allāh:
A. ” O ye who believe obey Allāh and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allāh and his Messenger, if ye do believe in Allāh and the Last Day: That is best and most suitable for final determination”
And Allāh The Almighty said:
B. “Whatever it be wherein ye differ, the decision thereof is with Allāh”
Referring this issue back to the Book of Allāh, we find it ordaining upon us to follow the Messenger of Allāh in his Commandments and warns us against whatever he prohibits. Furthermore, it tells us that Allāh has perfected the religion for the people. So, as long as Milād is not among the teachings of the Prophet , it cannot be a part of the religion which Allāh has perfected for us and asked us to adhere to by following the Prophet.
Again when we refer this issue back to the Sunnah, of the Messenger of Allāh , we do not find either the Prophet or the Companions doing it by themselves or asking others to do it, So it becomes evident that Milād, is not a part of religion, rather one of innovations and blind imitation of the people of the book, i. e. the Jews and the Christians in their festivals. With this argument in mind, it becomes crystal clear for everyone having the least insight and inclination towards truth and justice, that celebrating any birthday has nothing to do with Islām. It is rather among the innovations which Allāh and His Messenger warned against emphatically.
A wise man must not be deceived by seeing a large number of people doing it throughout the world because the truth is known and recognized by the evidence of Shariʿah and not by the acts of a great number of people.
Allāh Ta’ala (the Almighty) says regarding the Jews and the Christians:
“And they say: None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian, those are their vain desires. Say: Produce your proof if ye are truthful”
And the Almighty also said:
“Wert thou to follow the common run of those on earth, they will lead thee away from the way of Allāh. They follow nothing but conjecture: They do nothing but lie”
Most of these innovations, in addition to their innovatory nature, also do not usually escape from a number of other evils, such as mixed gatherings of men and women, songs accompanied by musical instruments. drinking intoxicants, narcotics and the like. They may also involve the worst thing i. e. the greatest Shirk, through showing exaggeration in the Messenger of Allāh and other saints and through praying to him, invoking his help or believing that he knows what is hidden and all similar claims which render a believer as an infidel. It is authentically reported that the Messenger of Allāh has said: Beware of extravagance in the Religion: It has caused the people before you to perish. He also said: Do not lavish praise on me as the Christians did with the son of Maryam. I am just a bondman. So Simply say: The bondman of Allāh and His Messenger (Transmitted by Bukharī).
It is curious to note that a great many people participate most actively in these celebrations and defend them vehemently, while they sit back from attending the obligatory forms of worship such as daily and friday prayers. They are not even ashamed of this, nor do they realize that they are committing a great evil.
Undoubtedly, this shows the weakness of their faith, their short-sightedness, and the deeply ingrained rust on their hearts because of sins and disobedience. We ask Allāh’s protection for us and for all the Muslims.
It is even more astonishing to note that some people believe that the Messenger of Allāh is present at Milād. Consequently they stand to greet and welcome him. That is not only a sheer lie but a worse form of ignorance, as the Prophet shall niether come out of his grave before the Day of Resurrection, nor shall he meet the people or attend their meetings. Instead, he shall remain in his grave till the Day of Resurrection while his soul rests at the highest of the high with his Lord in the most exalted and highest place.
Allāh Ta’ala (The Almighty) Says:
“After that at length ye will die, again on the Day of Judgment, will ye be raised up”
[23: 15, 16]
And the prophet said: I am the first one to rise from the grave on the Resurrection Day and I will be the first intercessor and the first one whose intercession is to be accepted.
The aforesaid evidences from the Qurʾān and Hadith prove beyond doubt that the dead people will come out of their graves only on the Day of Resurrection. All the scholars of Islām agree upon this. A Muslim should be aware of these things and must not be easily misled by the innovations and the superstitions created by the ignorant people with no authority from Allāh at all.
As for offering the blessings and greetings (Salat and Salam) to the prophet (peace be upon himl, they are among the most prefered and virtuous deeds in accordance with the saying of Allāh:
“Allāh and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet, O ye that believe, send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect”[33:56]
The Prophet has said: Whosoever sends blessings on me one time, Allāh sends blessings on him ten times.
It is prescribed on all times, particularly at the end of each prayer. It is held obligatory at last Tashahud of each prayer by most of the
scholars. It is strongly required at a number of occasions such as immediately after Adhaan, at the mention of the name of the Prophet during the day of Friday and the night preceding it according to a host of AḤadīth.
This is what I wanted to emphasize regarding this issue. I hope it will satisfy everyone whom Allāh has shown the light.
How sad it is to see some devoted Muslims, known for their strength of faith and love for the Prophet organizing such innovatory celebrations.
Let us ask such people: “Tell us, if you belong to Ahl-as-Sunna and follow the Prophet , whether he himself or one of his Companions or their Successors did this or is it no more than a blind following of the enemies of Islām from among the jews and the Christians and the like?”
The love of the Prophet is not reflected by the celebration on his birthday, but by obeying him, believing in his teachings, keeping away from what he prohibited and by worshipping Allāh in the way he prescribed for us.
It is also reflected through offering Salat and Salam to him from time to time, particularly at the mention of his name and during prayers.
The Wahhabiyya, as the writer tends to put it, are not new in rejecting all such innovations. Their creed is to hold fast to the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Messenger : to follow his footsteps and those of his rightly guided successors: to believe and practice what was propounded by the virtuous predecessors and the Imāms of learning and guidance who were capable to issue religious injunction concerning the knowledge of Allāh, and His attributes of perfection and dignity as shown in the Glorious Book and the authentic traditions of the Prophet and as wholeheartedly accepted by his companions. The Wahhabiyya believe in them, the way they are reported without any alteration, personification, exemplifying or negation of such attributes. They stick to the way of successors and their followers from among the people of learning, faith and piety. They believe that the foundation of the faith is to bear witness that there is none to be worshipped except Allāh and that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh. To them, this is the root of faith and one of its most exalted branches as well.
They know in accordance with the consensus of the muslims, that this root requires knowledge, acknowledgement and practice.
It implies that none is to be worshipped except Allāh the Almighty. Who has no associates at all. It further implies the negation of worshipping any other except Him. It shows why jinn and mankind were created; why the Messengers were sent and why the Books were revealed.
In addition, Ibada (worship) is not only complete submission and love but also complete obedience and veneration as well. Islām is the only religion prescribed by Allāh and disseminated by the prophets and nothing, save it, is acceptable to Allāh whether in the past or the present. The one who submits his will to Allāh as well as to someone else beside Him is a Mushrik (polytheist). The same is true for the one who prays to Allāh and someone else beside Him. As for the one who does not submit to Him, he is arrogant concerning his duties towards his Creator.
Allāh the Almighty Says:
“For we assuredly sent amongst every people a Messenger, (with the Command) “Serve Allāh and eschew Evil”
Thus the creed of the wahhabiyya is based upon fulfillment of witnessing that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh and completely abandoning all innovations, superstitions and whatever goes against the Shariʿah.
This is what Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al Wahhab – may Allāh have mercy upon him – believed and invited others to believe. Whoever accredits to him anything contrary to it, does not only lie but commits a great sin and claims what is totally unfounded. He will, no doubt, receive what Allāh has promised to all the fabricators of lies.
The Shaykh has shown – through a series of his well-known treatises and scholarly books on the topic of the Declaration of Unity: La ilāha illā-Allāh. – that no one deserves worship except Allāh the Almighty and that this type of worship should be devoid of all sorts of SHIRK whether big or small. Anyone who is aware of these writings, his way of preaching and calling people to Allāh, and of the way of his pupils and disciples, can easily find out that his approach was not different from that of our virtuous predecessors, the great Imāms of learning and guidance. Indeed, he has propounded what they did throughout their lives concerning the worship of Allāh Alone and leaving all innovations and superstitions aside.
It is in no need of any addition after what Allāh and His Prophet have ordained and what the Ahl-al-Sunnah Wal’ Jama’at, from among the Companions, the Successors, and their followers have already received. To forbid celebrating the birthday of the Prophet due to its innovative nature in addition to the signs of extravagance and Shirk normally associated with it is not un-lslamic orderogatory to the Prophet. Instead, it is an act of obedience as the Prophet himself said: Beware of the extravagance in matters of religion. Those before you have perished because of extravagance in the matters of religion.
Again he said: Do not lavish praise on me as the Christians did with the son of Maryam. I am but a bondman. So simply say: “Slave of Allāh and His Messenger”.
This is what I wanted to point out regarding the aforesaid article.
May Allāh help us and all the Muslims to understand His religion, to continually confirm us on it, stick to Sunnah and keep away from innovation. Indeed He is Generous and Kind.
And May Allāh Shower His blessings and mercy upon our prophet Muḥammad, his posterity and his Companions.
Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz
General President, The Presidency of Islamic Research, IFTA, Daʿwah