Celebrating Prophet’s birthday an innovation
October 22 2020 09:54 PM

By Shaykh Muhammad Saalih bin al-‘Uthaimeen

O people! Fear Allah the Almighty and know that the greatest favour He has ever conferred upon His servants is sending them Prophets as warners and bearers of glad tidings. Allah sent these prophets with scriptures so that He would judge between people in their disputes. The most effective and esteemed message of all of these was that of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, whom Allah sent to guide all of mankind – and to seal prophethood.
Allah sent Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, after a break in the series of His messengers, when people were in dire need of His guidance. It was through him that Allah guided people after they were astray; united them after their disunity; and sufficed them after they were needy. They thus became brothers and supported the religion of Allah, due to his grace and bounty. It was due to this that nations submitted to this religion and its adherents became a luminous series in the annals of history.
Due to the wholeheartedness of the early Muslims with regard to the comprehensive implementation of Allah’s laws in personal issues, financial transactions, and social and community affairs in accordance with the precepts laid down by this religions guide and leader, Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, it naturally followed that they would be victorious in all their undertakings.
However, when the Muslims deviated from the correct path, the order and stability which they enjoyed collapsed, turning the Muslim nation into groups of disputing factions, whose enemies held as insignificant.
This nation will never regain its past power and dignity, nor will it re-live its glorious history, until and unless its people return to their religion and practice it in word as well as in deed, in compliance with the methodology of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them.
As a consequence of the comprehensive implementation of the religion of Islam, no devotional act or religious ceremonies can be initiated into it unless it has a basis in the conduct of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Mankind have been commanded by Allah to do no more than the following: to worship Allah alone; to offer him sincere devotion; and to be true in faith. Thus, whoever attempts to worship Allah with any act that He has not prescribed will have that act rejected by Him. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “He who performs any deed which is not according to what we are upon (i.e., the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and his companions) then it is rejected.” Such acts are held as innovations in the sight of the lawgiver and every innovation is misguidance.
Among the innovations introduced into this religion is the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, which is celebrated in the month of Rabee’ Al-Awwal. People gather in the mosques or stay within their homes on the twelfth night of that month and send salutations upon the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, with innovated phrases as well as reciting laudatory poems and prose which concern him. These poems and prose are excessively commendatory and exceed the limits that were defined by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Some people even spend their nights cooking certain types of food, to be served on this occasion. Thus, they uselessly spend their time and money in matters that are not prescribed either by Allah or His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, nor were practiced by the four rightly-guided caliphs after him, nor any other of the Muslims who were from the first three distinct generations, whose merit was attested to by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
If these innovations were of any benefit, then surely the pious early Muslims would have preceded us in them? If they were meritorious then surely Allah would never have deprived the early Muslims, including the rightly-guided caliphs of them? The fact of the matter is that this practice was first introduced by people who lived during the fourth Hijri century.
Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy upon him, said in his book Iqtidaa’ As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem Mukhaalafatu Ashaabu Al-Jaheem [The Implication of the Straightforward Way Is to Contradict the Companions of the Fire]: “Some people, due to their imitation of what the Christians do on the claimed birth-date of ‘Eesaa (Jesus), peace be upon him, or because of their love of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, or out of their wish to glorify him, celebrate the Prophet’s birthday. This is despite the fact that there is controversy among the scholars regarding the exact date of his birth. The early Muslims did not practice this, although there was good reason to honour and express their love of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and no preventing factors existed. Thus, if the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday was something meritorious, they would have had a better right to precede us in this, as their love and esteem of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was far greater than ours. Also, they were far keener to perform good deeds in general than we were.
Loving and esteeming the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was thus represented by the early Muslims in following his methodology, obeying him, applying his Sunnah inwardly and outwardly, propagating his mission and striving in this cause with their hearts, bodies and tongues.
Most of those who instigate religious innovations are heedless when it comes to the application of the well-known principles that were brought by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. They are like those who ornament the Qur’an but do not recite it, or recite it but do not follow its teachings.”
O Muslims! The innovation of celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, which is done on the twelfth night of the month of Rabee’ Al-Awwal, has no historical basis. In fact, historians have differed greatly on the actual birth date of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Some have said that it was on the second of  Rabee’ Al-Awwal, others said the eighth, ninth, tenth, twelfth, seventeenth or twenty-second; thus making up seven different opinions. None of these opinions have any evidence which would make them take priority over others.
Moreover, the innovation of celebrating the birthday of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, has no religious basis. Neither the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, nor any of his Companions or the followers did so. In fact, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “You must hold fast to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs – cling to it stubbornly. Beware of innovations, for every innovation is misguidance.” (Abu Daawood, Tirmidhi).
Religious celebrations, festivals and other such occasions which glorify Allah and His Messenger are acts of worship. Only that which Allah has prescribed among these is considered to be from the pure Shari’ah, or Islamic law. None of these events can be taken as a means of devotion to Allah except those that have been sanctioned by Allah and His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
The Shari’ah already contains the sufficient means with which a believer can glorify the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and show his love to him. So fear Allah, O servants of Allah, and limit yourselves to Allah’s obligations and the Prophet’s Sunnah, to the exclusion of innovations.
Allah the Exalted and Almighty said that which translates as: “And verily this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This; He has ordained for you that you may become the pious.” (Al An’aam: 153).

Muhammad the Messenger of Allah
The testimony of faith is “Ash-hadu al-Laa ilaaha illallah Muhammadar Rasoolullah” [I bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah]. The statement or declaration that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah has many implications, some of which are as follows:

Muhammad was sent to all of mankind
The first implication of the testimony that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah is the belief that Allah sent the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) to all mankind and the jinn until the Day of Judgment. Allah states in the Qur’an in Surah 7 Al-’Araaf 151 Say (to them O Muhammad): O Mankind! I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, (the Messenger) of Him to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and of the earth. There is no god but He. He gives life, and makes to die. Believe then in Allah, and in His Messenger (Muhammad), the Prophet who could neither read nor write, who believes in Allah and in His Words (the Qur’an), and follows him so that perhaps you will be guided.
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said: And the prophets were formerly sent to their people only, whereas I have been sent to all mankind. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The finality of Prophethood
The second implication of the testimony is to believe that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is the final prophet to be sent to mankind. Allah states in the Qur’an in Surah 33 Al-Ahzaab 40: Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets.
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said: And the line of the prophets is closed with me [Muslim] And: Before the Last Hour there will be great liars, so beware of them [Muslim]
The above proofs are sufficient to refute any of the heretical groups who claim any prophet or messenger after the Prophet Muhammad such as some contemporary groups do namely: the Nation of Islam who believe that Elijah Muhammad (deceased) was the Messenger of Allah the Qadianis and Ahmadiyyahs who state that Ghulam Ahmed (deceased) was the prophet the so called Submitters or followers of Rashad Khalifah (murdered) who claim that he was a prophet

Two Revelations
The third implication of the testimony “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” is to believe that Allah sent two revelations with the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam): the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
Allah said: Allah was verily gracious to the believers by sending them a messenger from themselves, to recite them His signs, and to purify them, and to teach them the scripture (the Qur’an) and the wisdom (the Sunnah) though before that they were in manifest error. [Surah 3 Al-An’aam, 164]
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said: I have been indeed been given the Qur’an and something like it along with it. [Abu Dawood]

The Messenger has rights
The fourth implication of the testimony is that there are rights due to the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) that must be observed. Among these are:
To believe in all that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said. To obey the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in what he has commanded and forsake what he has forbidden or discouraged. To worship according to the Shariah (law) of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and not by whims and innovations. To judge by the Shariah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and not by any other law. To love the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) more than our parents, children, mankind, indeed our very selves.
Allah Most High states: Say (to them O Muhammad): If you love Allah, follow me, and Allah will love you, and forgive your sins. Allah is All-Forgiving, Alla-Merciful. Say : Obey Allah and the Messenger. But if they turn away Allah loves not the disbelievers (kaafireen). [Surah Aali ‘Imraan 31-32]
And let those who oppose his (Muhammad’s) command beware, lest a trial befall them (that would lead them to disbelief) or a painful punishment be inflicted on them. [Surah An-Noor 63]
You have indeed a good example in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) for whosoever hopes for Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much. [Surah Al-Ahzaab, 21]
It is not fitting for any believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have a choice in their affair. And whosoever disobeys Allah and his Messenger, he has gone astray into manifest error. [Surah Al-Ahzaab, 36]
But no, by your Lord (Rabb), they can have no faith until they make you the judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept (them) fully with submission. [Surah An-Nisaa 65]
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) has said: All my people will enter Al-Jannah (The Garden) except those who refused. (On being asked about those who refused, he replied:) He who obeys me will enter Al-Jannah, he who disobeys me has refused. [Al-Bukhari]
If anyone introduces into this affair of ours anything which does not belong to it, it is rejected. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
None of you believes until I am dearer to him than his father, his child, and all of mankind [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
There are three qualities for which anyone who is characterised by them will experience the sweetness of faith: He whom Allah and His Messenger are dearer than all else; He who loves a human being for Allah’s sake alone; and who has as great an abhorrence of returning to unbelief after Allah has rescued him from it as he has of being cast in Hell. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

‘I am as My slave expects Me to be’
It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Allah, The Exalted, Says, ‘I am as My slave expects Me to be, and I am with him whenever he remembers Me. If he remembers Me to himself, I remember him to Myself, and if he remembers Me in an assembly, I remember him in a better assembly (i.e., the assembly of angels). If he draws closer to Me by a hand span, I draw closer to him by an arm’s length. If he draws closer to Me by an arm’s length, I draw closer to him by a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Status of the Hadith
This is one of the great Ahaadith of hope that urge Muslims to have good expectations of Allah, The Exalted, and to remember Him abundantly. It also underlines how Allah, The Exalted, draws closer to His Slaves  whenever they draw closer to Him by means of performing various acts of obedience.

Having Good Expectations of Allah
The Hadith begins with calling the slave of Allah to have good expectations of his Lord at all times and in all states. In the Hadith, Allah, The Exalted, explained that He is as His Slave  expects Him to be, meaning that He treats him in accordance with his own expectation of His Lord and does for him what he expects of Him, be it good or bad. If a person has good expectations of Allah and hopes for His Reward, Allah will not fail him nor cause his deeds to be lost. Whenever he supplicates Allah, he expects Allah to answer his supplications. If he commits a sin and repents and seeks forgiveness, he expects Allah to accept his repentance, pardon his fault, and forgive his sin. If he performs a good deed, he expects Allah to accept his deed and reward him handsomely. These are all examples of having good expectations of Allah, The Exalted. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Supplicate Allah while certain that your supplication will be answered.” [At-Tirmithi]
Thus, a slave of Allah continues to have good expectations of his Lord and aspire to His Reward in all situations, as the Arab poet Ibn Waheeb said (translation of meaning):
“I supplicate Allah and, verily, by virtue of having good expectations of Him, it is as if I can see His Answer to my supplications with my own eyes!”
Having good expectations of Allah is thus among the implications and requirements of Tawheed (Islamic monotheism) because it is based on the knowledge of the mercy of Allah, His Might, kindness, omnipotence, and true reliance on Him. When a person attains perfect knowledge of these verities, the fruit that this knowledge yields is having good expectations of his Lord.
In the Qur’an, Allah, The Exalted, dispraises a group of people who had bad expectations of Him, and He underlines that their ill expectations were actually one of the key signs of their hypocrisy and covert wickedness. He Says about the hypocrites when they fled (the battlefield) and abandoned the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and his Companions during the Battle of Uhud (what means): {…while another faction worried about themselves, thinking of Allah other than the truth – the thought of ignorance...} [Qur’an 3:154] He also Says about the hypocrites and polytheists (what means): {…those who assume about Allah an assumption of evil nature. Upon them is a misfortune of evil nature...} [Qur’an 48:6]
The Hadith urges us to give precedence to having hope in Allah (over having fear of Him), because any sane person who receives this invitation from Allah, The Exalted, would not willingly choose for himself the expectations that will inflict upon him the promised punishment. Rather, he will choose to have good expectations, which is that Allah will bless him with His Reward, pardon, and forgiveness, and that he will receive the promised recompense (i.e. Allah will treat him in accordance with his good expectations of Him). This is the enjoined hope in Allah, The Exalted, (that is required of a Muslim) especially at times of weakness and need for Him like the situation of a dying person. He should have good expectations of Allah more than anyone else with greater reason, and this is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Let none of you die without having good expectations of Allah.” [Muslim; as reported from Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him]
Therefore, one should strive to perform his duties while believing with certainty that Allah, The Exalted, will accept his deeds and forgive him because He promised to do that and He never fails in His Promise . If he expects Allah to turn him down or that his repentance will be of no avail, then this is despair of the mercy of Allah, and it is a major sin. Whoever dies while despairing of His Mercy, Allah will make his bad expectations come true. This is why some versions of the Hadith discussed in this article have the following addition at the end: “…so let him expect of Me whatever he wishes.” [Ahmad and others with an authentic chain of narration]

Between Despair and Self-deception
It is noteworthy that having good expectations of Allah, The Exalted, entails good-doing and does not mean at all to give in to idleness, (false) hope for the forgiveness and pardon of Allah or self-deception. Therefore, a slave of Allah should avoid two blameworthy attitudes in this regard: despair of the mercy of Allah, and feeling secure from His Makr (schemes and plans). He should not rely solely on having hope in Allah and having good expectations of Him without duly performing acts of obedience, because this would be foolish, and it also implies feeling safe from His Makr. On the other hand, he should not give predominance to fear of Allah over hope in Him lest it leads him to have bad expectations of his Lord and accordingly fall into despair of His Mercy, and both attitudes are blameworthy. Rather, it is obligatory on him to have good expectations of Allah along with diligently performing acts of obedience. Some of the righteous predecessors used to say: “Your hope for the mercy of the One Whom you disobey indicates disillusion and foolishness!”

Rewards for those Who Remember Allah
In the Hadith, Allah, The Exalted, underlined the virtues of remembering Him and the rewards for those who remember Him. He stated that He is with His Slave  whenever he remembers Him. Being “with” Allah ais a special kind of “with-ness” that involves having His Protection  and receiving the blessings of steadfastness and success, as indicated in His Saying to Moosa (Moses) and Haaroon (Aaron) (which means): {[Allah] said, Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see.} [Qur’an 20:46]
The best manner to remember Allah, The Exalted, is to remember Him with an attentive heart and mind, pondering over the meanings of the Thikr (expressions of remembrance of Allah) being recited, and the best form of remembrance is adhering to His Obligations  and avoiding His Prohibitions .

The Reward of Drawing Close to Allah
Allah, The Exalted, then underlined the vastness of His Grace and generosity as well as His closeness to His Slave . He stated that the closer His Slave draws to Him, the closer He draws to him in return. In the Qur’an, Allah, The Exalted, stated that He is near His Slave, Saying (what means): {And when My servants ask you [O Muhammad] concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.} [Qur’an 2:186] The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “A slave of Allah is nearest to his Lord when he is prostrating to Him, so make abundant supplication (while prostrating).” [Muslim]
The last three sentences in the Hadith, wherein Allah, The Exalted, Says: “If he draws closer to Me by a hand span, I draw closer to him by an arm’s length. If he draws closer to Me by an arm’s length, I draw closer to him by a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed,” indicate this great meaning; that the grace of Allah and His Reward  are much greater than the good deeds and efforts that His Slave  exerts, and therefore He grants His Slave  more than what His Slave  did for Him. Glorified be Allah! How abundant is His Generosity and how excellent is His Grace !
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/

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