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RABI-UL-AWWAL / RABI - U - THANI
MAY 2004
Volume 17-05 No : 209
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RABI UL AWWAL


Say No to Innovations!

Say No to Innovations!

Celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him), whatever form it takes, is a reprehensible innovation. Muslims should put a stop to this and other kinds of
bid'ah, and occupy themselves with reviving and adhering to the Sunnah

By Shaykh Slih ibn Fawzn al-Fawzn

The commands mentioned in the Qur'n and Sunnah to follow the laws of Allh and His Messenger, and the prohibitions on introducing innovations into the religion are quite clear. Allh says "Say (O Muhammad to mankind): 'If you (really) love Allh, then follow me (i.e. accept Islmic Monotheism, follow the Qur'n and the Sunnah), Allh will love you and forgive you your sins'." [l 'Imrn 3:31]

"Follow what has been sent down unto you from your Lord (the Qur'n and Prophet Muhammad's Sunnah), and follow not any Awliy' (protectors and helpers who order you to associate partners in worship with Allh), besides Him (Allh). Little do you remember!" [al-A'rf 7:3]

"And verily, this is My straight path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path." [al-A'nm 6:153]

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) said: "The most truthful of speech is the Book of Allh and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the most evil of things are those which are newly-invented." And he (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) said: "Whoever innovates anything in this matter of ours (i.e., Islm), that is not part of it will have it rejected." (Narrated by al-Bukhr, no. 2697; Muslim, no. 1718)."

Among the reprehensible innovations that people have invented is the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) in the month of Rab' al-Awwal. They celebrate this occasion in various ways:

Some of them simply make it an occasion to gather and read the story of the Mawlid, then they present speeches and qasdahs (odes) for this occasion.

Some of them make food and sweets and offer them to the people present.

Some of them hold these celebrations in the mosques, and some of them hold them in their houses.

Some people do not limit themselves to the actions mentioned above; they include in these gatherings harm and reprehensible things, such as free mixing of men and women, dancing and singing, or committing actions of shirk such as seeking the help of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him), calling upon him, seeking his support against their enemies and so on.

Whatever form it takes and whatever the intentions of those who do this are, there is no doubt whatsoever that it is an invented, harm innovation which was introduced after the three best centuries in order to corrupt the religion of the Muslims. The first person to do this after them was the King al-Muzaffar Ab Sa'd Kawkabri, the King of Irbil, at the end of the sixth century or the beginning of the seventh century AH, as was mentioned by the historians such as Ibn Khalikn and others. Ab Shmah said: the first person to do that in Mosul was Shaykh 'Umar ibn Muhammad al-Mal, one of the well-known righteous people. Then the ruler of Irbil and others followed his example.Al-Hfidh Ibn Kathr said in al-Bidyah wa'l-Nihyah (13/137), in his biography of Ab Sa'd Kawkabri: "He used to observe the Mawlid in Rab' al-Awwal and hold a huge celebration on that occasion some of those who were present at the feast of al-Muzaffar on some occasions of the Mawlid said that he used to offer in the feast five thousand grilled heads of sheep, ten thousand chickens and one hundred thousand large dishes, and thirty trays of sweets he would let the Sfs sing from Dhuhr until Fajr, and he himself would dance with them."

Ibn Khalikn said in Wafiyt al-A'yn (3/274): "When it is the first of Safar they decorate those domes with various kinds of fancy adornments, and in every dome there sits a group of singers and a group of puppeteers and players of musical instruments, and they do not leave any one of those domes without setting up a group (of performers) there.

The people give up work during this period, and they do no work except going around and watching the entertainment. When there are two days to go until the Mawlid, they bring out a large number of camels, cows and sheep, more than can be described, and they accompany them with all the drums, songs and musical instruments that they have, until they bring them to the square On the night of the Mawlid there are performances of nashds after Maghrib in the citadel."

This is the origin of this celebration on the occasion of the Prophet's birthday. More recently idle entertainment, extravagance, and wasting of money and time have become associated with an innovation for which Allh has not sent down any authority.

Celebrating the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is forbidden and is to be rejected for a number of reasons:

1 It is not part of the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) or of the khalfahs who succeeded him. Since this is the case, then it is a forbidden innovation, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) said: "I urge you to follow my Sunnah and the way of the rightly-guided khalfahs after me; adhere to it and cling to it firmly. Beware of newly-invented things, for every newly-invented thing is an innovation (bid'ah) and every innovation is going-astray." (Narrated by Ahmad, 4/126; at-Tirmidh no. 2676).

Celebrating the Mawlid is an innovation introduced after the three best centuries in order to corrupt the religion of the Muslims. If a person does anything in order to draw closer to Allh which was not done by the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) or enjoined by him, and was not done by the khalfahs who succeeded him, this action implies that he is accusing the Messenger of not explaining the religion to the people, and that he disbelieves in the words of Allh:

"This day, I have perfected your religion for you." [al-M'idah 5:3]

Because he is adding something extra and claiming that it is a part of the religion, but the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) did not bring this.

2 Celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is an imitation of the Christians, because they celebrate the birth of the Messiah (peace be upon him). Imitating them is extremely harm. The hadth tells us that it is forbidden to imitate the kuffr, and we are commanded to differ from them.

3 Besides being bid'ah and an imitation of the Christians, both of which are harm, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is also a means that leads to exaggeration and excess in venerating him, which even goes as far as calling upon him (making du to him) and seeking his help, instead of calling upon Allh, as happens now among many of those who observe the bid'ah of the Mawlid, when they call upon the Messenger instead of Allh, and ask him for support, and sing qasdahs (odes) of shirk praising him, like Qasdat al-Burdah etc. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) forbade going to extremes in praising him, as he said: "Do not extol as the Christians extolled the son of Maryam. For I am just His slave, so say, the slave of Allh and His Messenger." (narrated by al-Bukhr, 4/142, no. 3445; al-Fath, 6/551), i.e., do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians exaggerated in praising the Messiah and venerated him until they worshipped him instead of Allh.

4 Observing the innovation of the Prophet's birthday opens the door to other kinds of bid'ah and being distracted by them from the Sunnah. Hence you find that the innovators are very active when it comes to bid'ah and very lazy when it comes to the Sunnah; they hate it and regard those who follow it as enemies, until their entire religion is innovated anniversaries and Mawlids. They have split into various groups, each of which commemorates the anniversary of its Imm's birth, such as the births of al-Badaw, Ibn 'Arab, al-Dasq and al-Shdhil. No sooner do they end the celebration of one birthday but they start the celebration of another.

Those who think that this bid'ah should be continued produce specious arguments which are flimsier than a spider's web. These specious arguments may be dealt with as follows:

1 Their claim that this is veneration of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him):

The response to that is that the way to venerate him is to obey him, do as he commanded and avoid that which he forbade, and to love him; he is not to be venerated through innovations, myths and sins.

2 Using as evidence the fact that many people in many countries do this.

The response to that is that evidence consists of that which is proven from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him), and what is proven from the Prophet is that innovations are forbidden in general, and this is an innovation. What people do, if it goes against the evidence (dall), does not prove anything, even if many of them do it.

3 They say that by celebrating the Mawlid they are keeping the memory of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) alive.

The answer to that is that the memory of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is constantly kept alive by the Muslim, such as when his name (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is mentioned in the adhn and iqmah and in khutbahs, and every time the Muslim recites the Shahdatayn after doing wud' and in the prayers, and every time he sends blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) in his prayers and when he is mentioned, and every time the Muslim does a wjib (obligatory) or mustahabb (recommended) action that was prescribed by the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him). In all of these ways (the Muslim) remembers him and the reward equivalent to the reward of the one who does that action goes back to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him). Thus the Muslim constantly keeps the memory of the Messenger alive and has a connection with him night and day throughout his life through that which Allh has prescribed, not only on the day of the Mawlid and things which are bid'ah and go against the Sunnah, for that puts one at a distance from the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) and the Messenger will disown him because of that.

4 They may say that the celebration of the Prophet's birthday was introduced by a knowledgeable and just king who intended thereby to draw closer to Allh.

Our response to that is that bid'ah is not acceptable, no matter who does it. A good intention does not justify a bad deed and even if a person died as a knowledgeable and righteous person, this does not mean that he was infallible.

5 They say that celebrating the mawlid comes under the heading of bid'ah hasanah ("good innovation") because it is based on giving thanks to Allh for the Prophet!

Our response to that is that there is nothing good in innovation. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) said: "Whoever innovates anything in this matter of ours (i.e., Islm), that is not part of it will have it rejected." (Narrated by al-Bukhr, no. 2697; al-Fath, 5/355).

6 They may say that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is indicative of their love for him; this is one way of showing that, and showing love of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is prescribed in Islm!

The answer to that is that undoubtedly loving the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) is obligatory for every Muslim; he should love him more than he loves himself, his child, his father and all the people may my father and mother be sacrificed for him. Loving him dictates that we should obey him and follow him, for that is one of the greatest manifestations of love, as it is said:

7 Another of their specious arguments is when they say that by celebrating the Mawlid and reading the biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) on this occasion, they are encouraging people to follow his example!

We say to them that reading the biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him) and following his example are required of the Muslim all the time, all year long and throughout his life. Singling out a specific day for that with no evidence for doing so is an innovation, and every innovation is going astray.

In conclusion, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allh be upon him), whatever form it takes, is a reprehensible innovation. The Muslims should put a stop to this and other kinds of bid'ah, and occupy themselves with reviving and adhering to the Sunnah. They should not be deceived by those who promote and defend this bid'ah, for these types of people are more interested in keeping innovations alive than in reviving the Sunnah; they may not even care about the Sunnah at all. Whoever is like this, it is not permissible to imitate him or follow his example, even if the majority of people are like this. Rather we should follow the example of those who follow the path of the Sunnah, among the righteous salaf (early Muslim scholars) and their followers, even if they are few.

(Shaykh Slih ibn Fawzn al-Fawzn is Member of the Committee of Senior Scholars, Saudi Arabia)

(Courtesy-Islamic Network)

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