08-03-2006, 03:01 PM
Al-Mawlid… Celebrating the Prophet's Birth…
An Islamic innovation that complies with Qur’an and Sunnah
The annual Celebrations of the Prophet's birth (Mawlid un-Nabiyy) is among the great innovations of guidance. This event is commemorated by Muslims all over the world who join together for such rewardable deeds as reciting from the Qur'an, chanting Islamic praises, telling the story of the Prophet's birth, teaching Religious Knowledge, slaughtering animals to feed to the poor, and gathering to thank and praise Allah and ask Him to exalt the honor of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu^alayhi wa sallam. The honorable, knowledgeable, and righteous ruler: al-Mudhaffar, the King of Irbil, initiated this practice about 900 years ago, and he was praised by Muslim scholars of Islam--among them the Egyptian hafidhs: Ibn Hajar al-^Asqalaniyy and Jalal ud-Din as-Suyutiyy.
The famous scholar of hadith, Abul-Khattab Ibn Dihyah, wrote a book for the king especially to be read during the mawlid celebration, and there are no great Muslim scholars who dispraised this innovated celebration.
The basis for commemorating honorable events repeatedly every year is evidenced in the Sunnah of the Prophet. As related by al-Bukhariyy, when the Prophet emigrated to al-Madinah he found the Jews fasting, so he asked them why they fasted on the 10th of Muharram (Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar). They told the Prophet they do so to commemorate the day Allah saved Prophet Moses (Musa) and the Tribes of Israel (Isra'il) from the tyranny of the Pharaoh.
It was revealed to the Prophet what the Jews said was true, so Prophet Muhammad told them: "We are more deserving of Moses (Musa) than you." He said this because Prophet Moses (Musa) was Muslim. Prophet Muhammad ordered the Muslims to fast the 9th and 10th of Muharram, and this Sunnah is still practiced today.
To celebrate the birth of the Prophet by doing rewardable deeds-- that can be done on any day of the year--is considered an innovated practice because this was not done at the time of the Prophet. Although this innovation was praised by the Muslim scholars of Islam, some people consider any innovation an innovation of misguidance. Those who consider any innovation an innovation of misguidance have been misled, because there are two sahih hadiths which support celebrating such an event. Imam Muslim related, through the route of Jarir Ibn ^Abdullah, the Prophet said:
"من سنَّ في الإسلام سنة حسنة فله أجرها وأجر من عمل بها إلى يوم القيامة، لا ينقص من أجورهم شىء ومن سنَّ فِى الإسلام سنة سيئة فعليه وزرها ووزر من عمل بها إلى يوم القيامة لا ينقص من أوزارهم شىء"
which means: <<The one who innovates a good innovation in Islam has its reward and a reward similar to those who follow him in it--until the Day of Judgment--without lessening their reward. The one who innovates an innovation of misguidance would be sinful for it and has sins similar to those who follow him in it--until the Day of Judgment--without lessening their sins.>> There are two types of innovations mentioned in this hadith: the innovations of guidance and the innovations of misguidance.
What complies with the Qur'an, the Sunnah, the Ijma^ (scholarly consensus), and the sayings and practices of the Companions is an innovation of guidance, and what contradicts the Qur'an, the Sunnah, the Ijma^, and the sayings and actions of the Companions is an innovation of misguidance. This definition of the two types of innovations was given by many knowledgeable and trustworthy scholars of Islam; among them Imam ash-Shafi^iyy, Imam an-Nawawiyy, al-Bayhaqiyy, and the Hafidh, Ibn Hajar al-^Asqalaniyy.
It is apparent Muslims have not gone astray in celebrating the birth of the Prophet, based upon the aforementioned hadith, because the deeds practiced during this event are considered rewardable by the standards of the Religion, and in line with the definition of innovations of guidance. Unfortunately, there are some people who misinterpret a sahih hadith related by Abu Dawud:
"كل بدعة ضلالة"
which means: <<Most innovations are innovations of misguidance.>> Those who are misguided interpret the word (kul) as `every' and thus claim this hadith means: "Every innovation is an innovation of misguidance. Their claim is unfounded for two reasons. Linguistically, this hadith is similar to the hadith related by al-Bayhaqiyy: "كل عين زانية"
which clearly does not mean: "Every eye gazes the look of the adulterer;" rather, "Most people are guilty of the forbidden look." The person blind since birth would surely not have the forbidden look, and it is known the Prophets would never commit such an abject sin. The word” كل” (kul) as used in both hadiths refers to `most,' although it can mean "every" it does not mean this in all cases.
As a matter of fact, in the explanation of Sahih Muslim, an-Nawawiyy said: "The saying of the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, «كل بدعة ضلالة» is among the terms which are "عام مخصوص" (^am makhsus) i.e., a general statement giving a specific meaning; which is a known field in Islam, and the meaning of the hadith is "most innovations are innovations of misguidance." This field the"عام مخصوص" is seen in the Qur'an in Ayah 3 of Surat al-Ahqaf: [تدمر كل شىء] which means the wind Allah sent as punishment to the people of ^Ad demolished most of the things.
To accept the meaning: "Every innovation is an innovation of misguidance," as the meaning of the sahih hadith related by Abu Dawud would negate the sahih hadith related by Imam Muslim which specifies two types of innovations: the innovations of guidance and the innovations of misguidance. In the rules of the Religion it is not permissible to interpret two sahih hadiths in contradiction to one another, therefore we know the true meaning.
Although most innovations are innovations of misguidance, there are numerous examples of Religiously acceptable innovations. During the Caliphate of ^Umar Ibnul Khattab, ^Umar initiated the gathering of people in Ramadan to pray the Tarawih Prayer in congregation. When he saw the people performing this prayer in congregation he said:
نِعْمَت البِدعَةُ هَذِهِ"
which means: "What a good innovation that is!" The high status of ^Umar Ibnul Khattab is known, thus it is important to point out ^Umar used the explicit term البِدعَةُ "innovation" in his praise. If all innovations were misguided--as some claim--^Umar would not have innovated this practice, nor expressed this praise, yet both al-Bukhariyy and Muslim related this incident. During the era of the followers of the Companions of the Prophet, another praise-worthy innovation took place. Initially, letters like the ba, ta, tha, and ya, did not have dots above or below them. This practice of distinguishing between the letters by using this notation began after the time of the Prophet.
Since the time of the Prophet, many innovations have been adopted. Remembering the birth of the Prophet by doing rewardable deeds is a praise-worthy innovation. It is an honorable event and special to Muslims throughout the world. We rejoice in being members of the greatest nation of Islam--the nation of Muhammad--who was the best Prophet and the best creation of Allah. In Surat Al ^Imran, Ayah 110, Allah said:
(كُنْتُم خَير أُمةٍ أُخرِجت للناسِ تأمُرون بالمَعْروفِ
وتنهَونَ عنِ المُنكَرِ وتُؤمِنونَ باللهِ)
which means: [You are the best of nations brought forth to the people; bidding the lawful (ma^ruf) forbidding the unlawful (munkar), and believing in Allah.]
This verse means this nation is the best of nations by virtue of its Prophet," as explained by the scholars of Islam. Muslims are thankful to Allah for the blessings of Islam and for being among the followers of Muhammad. In Surat Al ^Imran, Ayah 31, Allah said:
(قُلْ إنْ كُنتُم تُحِبّون اللهَ فاتبعونىِ يُحببكُمُ الله)
which means [If you love Allah, then follow the Prophet, and Allah will love you.] It is fitting to honor the Prophet. The Mawlid (the celebration of his birth) has a great benefit: it inspires the heart to have a more profound love for the Prophet.
Hence, Celebrating The Birth of The Prophet Is a Good and Rewardable Innovation.
Allah knows best.
* Take 5 seconds to read and spread it to ALL that you can through emails, forums or webpages. May Allah reward you.
خذوا من وقتكم خمس ثوان، وانشروا هذا الرد على الانترنت بكل وسيلة، عبر الإيمايل وعبر المنتديات، وعبر صفحات الانترنت، أثابكم الله.
Article Reference authenticated from:
10-03-2006, 02:47 PM
Below is an answer regarding the permissability of mawlid by the Deoband Ulema within the laws of Shari'ah >>>>
Question : Why do some Sunni Ulema, like the Deobandis prohibit the mawlid ?
Question no: 11251622
Date posted : 30/06/2004
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.
In an age and time when Muslims are being attacked by the enemies of Islam from every angle possible, to debate and talk about something which is a non-issue (yes, a non-issue), such as “celebrating the Mawlid” is doing injustice to ourselves.
Thousands of Muslims are being massacred and persecuted day in day out, many are involved in all sorts of un-Islamic activities, youngsters are on the brink of disbelief (kufr), our young brothers and sisters are involved in drinking, drug abuse and fornication, yet here we are debating whether it is permissible to celebrate the birthday of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).
I personally was reluctant to write on this subject, but my dear friend Sidi Faraz Rabbani ordered me to compile a piece explaining the Deobandi position with regards to the Mawlid. Thus, adhering to his command, I will endeavour to explain the ruling on celebrating the Mawlid, as understood by the Deobandi scholars.
Before explaining the Deobandi position on the Mawlid, I would like to emphasize that unfortunately many of our disputes, disagreements and arguments are due to not understanding (or not wanting to understand, should I say) the opposite parties stance on a particular issue. I have experienced this many times. This is a problem on both, the Deobandi and Barelwi, sides.
Rather than find excuses for the statements of fellow Muslims and interpret them so they are justified, we force people to believe something which they themselves no dot believe. In my personal experience, this is the main reason why so many Muslims are divided.
I hear some Deobandis claim that the Barelwis believe this and that, yet when I speak to some of our Barelwi brothers about the issue, they categorically state that this is not what we believe; rather…….and then they explain their stance. The case is same with the Barelwis, in that they themselves decide for the Deobandis that agree or disagree; this is what you believe, despite the Deobandis rejecting it.
This is quite unfortunate indeed. If we look at all the other religions, faiths, nations, groups, and organisations, they try and increase the numbers of their associates. The Christians claim that most of the world’s population are followers of their faith, and many other religions also try their best to include every individual in their religion who has a minor attachment to them, in order to increase the size of their following. However, Muslims are the only ones who try their best to decrease the Ummah of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) by forcing people to believe what they don’t, and reduce the Muslim Ummah as much as possible. We don’t hesitate for one moment in branding one another as disbelievers.
The great Hanafi Imam, Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states in his renowned Sharh Uqud Rasm al-Mufti:
“Branding someone a non-believer (kafir) is a great thing indeed; hence I do not label a believer as a non-believer as long as one sign of him believing is found….One should not issue a Fatwa of a believer’s disbelief (kufr) as long as it is possible to interpret his statement in a justified manner, or there is a difference of opinion regarding him disbelieving, even if there is a weak narration.” (Sharh Uqud Rasm al-Mufti, 1/36)
Thus, one should not haste in branding and terming other Muslims as disbelievers or sinners and innovators, for branding a Muslim a disbeliever is a grave thing indeed. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him eternal peace) said: “Any person who calls his brother: O Unbeliever! (then the truth of this label) would return to one of them. If it is true, (then it is) as he asserted, (but if it is not true), then it returns to him (and thus the person who made the accusation is an Unbeliever).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 6130 and Sahih Muslim, no. 60, reported by Ibn Umar, Allah be pleased with him)
Thus, it is very important that we have tolerance, patience and forbearance. We must be precautious in what we say. We should try and look for excuses for our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. If a statement or viewpoint of a fellow Muslim seems incorrect, then rather than condemning the person, go and investigate as to whether it is true or otherwise. Don’t force others to believe what they themselves do not believe.
Many of the issues on which the Deobandis and Barelwis are divided are for this very reason. In reality, there is no “significant” difference, rather it is only a case of interpretation or how it was said, yet there is so much fuss made about it.
For example: The matter of whether the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) had knowledge of the unseen is made such an issue, but if we were to ponder deeply with cool headedness, it would become clear that there is no real difference.
The Deobandis state that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) had knowledge of many unseen things, but the knowledge was given to him by Allah Most High. Thus, one cannot call the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) the “knower of the unseen” (a’lim al-Ghayb), for that is used when one has knowledge of the unseen without someone else informing him. When I asked some of my Barelwi friends that do you believe that the messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) had knowledge of the unseen in a manner that Allah has? They said: “of course not” How can the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) be equal in knowledge to Allah. However, he had the knowledge of the unseen, but it was given to him by Allah Most High.
Now, when we look at these two positions, it becomes clear that both the Deobandis and Barelwis agree that the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him & give him peace) Knowledge of the unseen was given to him by Allah Most High. The only minute difference is whether one can call him A’lim al-Ghayb or otherwise. The Deobandis state that because the knowledge was given to him by Allah most High, it is not correct to call him A’lim al-Ghayb, for that title is for someone who knows of the unseen without being informed by another. The Barelwis, on the other hand, say there is nothing wrong in giving this title to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) even if the knowledge to him was given by Allah Most High.
Thus, the difference is very minute indeed, but rather than explain to people that it is a very minute difference, we make it a fundamental part of one’s Aqidah. The Deobandis insist that the Barelwis regard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) to be equal to Allah, and that they regard his knowledge to be similar to that of Allah, whereas the Barelwis refuse to accept that the Deobandis also believe that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) also had knowledge of the unseen, and that they disrespect the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace)
The second point to remember is that we must abstain from using the various names and titles like Deobandis, Barewlis, etc. I myself have used these terms here, because I had no choice. I am explaining the differences of the two schools, thus it was indispensable for me to use them. But in our day-to-day conversations, we should not call ourselves and others but with the title of Muslims and Sunnis.
Allah Most High says:
“He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Ibrahim. It is he who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you and you be witnesses for mankind.”
(Surah al-Hajj, V. 78)
Thus, we must avoid using names other than that of being a Muslim. To use different names and titles in order to incite others and cause friction and disunity among Muslims is a grave sin, and must be avoided.
Once a student approached a Syrian Arab Scholar and said: “I need to ask you some questions, but before I do that, I need to know whether you are a Barelwi or Deobandi” He said: “I am a Muslim, follower of the Shafi’i School, I don’t know what this Barelwi/Deobandi thing is” The student insisted that he must be one of them. He suggested that the Shaykh look into the classical Aqidah books and see the Aqidahs of these two groups. The Shaykh said: “I have read almost all of the major works in Aqidah but have never found these names. The student insisted that it must have been overlooked by the Shaykh!
Once a brother said to me that Allama Ibn Abidin was a Deobandi and Imam Suyuti a Barelwi! I became infuriated and said: “This is completely incorrect. How can you call someone a Deobandi when Deoband did not even exist? The reality is that the Deobandis, Barelwis and also others follow the likes of Allama Ibn Abidin and Imam Suyuti.
Therefore, these titles and names should be completely avoided. I sincerely advice our brothers and sisters to abstain themselves and prevent others from using these names, for it causes nothing but friction.
Thirdly, when we look at the issues of difference between the Barelwis and Deobandis, it is quite evident that some of them are minor and petty issues. You won’t find any of the classical books of Aqidah discussing these issues.
Thus, we need to overlook these petty issues and concentrate on the more important issues of Islam. People are in need of real guidance, someone to help them strengthen their faith, teach them about the basics of Islam, not someone who debates whether one can say Ya Rasul Allah or otherwise.
Unfortunately, we have given extra significance to these issues than they deserve. These were issues that were associated to a person’s individual connection with Allah Most High and His beloved Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace), but we have made them into the basic tenets of Creed (aqidah) and issues that distinguish belief from disbelief and piety from impiety (fisq).
One a brother phoned me and said: “I need to ask you a question concerning business and trade but first tell me are you from the Aqidah of Assalatu wassalamu alayka ya Rasul Allah? I said that this is not a matter of Aqidah. It is similar to saying: “Do you have the Aqidah of Subhan Allah or Assalamu Alayka ayyuhan Nabi”! I explained to him that these are minute and petty issues and debating about them should be avoided.
Keeping the above three points in mind, we come to the issue of celebrating the birthday of our beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).
The Deobandi stance on the Mawlid is that, not only is it permissible to celebrate it, rather it is an great act of virtue, as long as the celebrations are free from the unlawful or reprehensible activities, such as free intermingling of the sexes, excessive wasteful spending, fixing of a particular date, etc, and it is not held to be something necessary to do such that those who choose not to participate are considered to be in the wrong.
This is the Deobandi viewpoint and it would not be appropriate to force it down them that they totally reject the celebration of the Mawlid. As mentioned earlier that it is wrong to force upon others their beliefs and opinions, rather we should take what they say at face value.
The fundamental book that explains the viewpoints of the Deobandi scholars is al-Muhannad ala al-Mufannad compiled by Shaykh Mawlana Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanfuri and endorsed by many scholars, such as: Imam Ashraf Ali al-Tahanawi, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hasan Deobandi and many others (Allah have mercy on them all). The abovementioned viewpoint can be seen quite clearly in this book.
Shaykh Khalil Ahmad (a student of Shaykh Rashid Ahmad Gangohi) states:
“Far be it from any Muslim that he says (let alone us): mentioning the birth of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), or even mentioning the soil under his footwear and the urine of his donkey, is an act of reprehensible and unlawful innovation.
Thus, aspects that have even a minute connection with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), mentioning them is from the much-loved of practices and from the greatest of recommendations, be it the mention of his blessed birth, or the mention of him reliving himself, or the mention of him standing, sitting, sleeping and being awake. This has been explained in detail in my book al-Barahin al-Qati’a in many places.”
(Al-Muhannad, P. 78)
The above text quite categorically states the permissibility of celebrating the Mawlid. However, what the Deobandi Ulama reject is the unlawful and evil practices that have found its way in some Mawlid celebrations, especially in the Subcontinent.
Thus, Shaykh Khalil Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him) further states:
“It is clear from the above that we do not reject the mentioning of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him him & give him peace) birth; rather, we reject and refute those evils that are attached to such gatherings as you may have seen them in the Indian subcontinent, such as mentioning fabricated and false narrations, intermingling of the sexes, excessive wasteful spending in lights and decoration, holding it to be something necessary to do such that those who choose not to participate are slandered and called non-believers, and other evils from which very few gatherings (in the subcontinent) are free.
However, if the gathering is free from such evils, far be it from us that we say: Celebrating the birth of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is evil and an innovation…” (Ibid, p. 80)
Let us now look at the Fatwa of Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him), with which some people have a problem. The respected Shaykh states:
“As I explained in my article on celebration of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi (Mawlid), holding a meeting to discuss different aspects of the life of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is a very meritorious act for which the Muslims should strive to the best of their ability. But confining this discussion to the events of the birth of the Holy Prophet and restricting it to a particular date and holding attendance at such meetings as necessary or obligatory for every Muslim renders this practice as bid’ah or innovation.
Mostly the meetings of Mawlid today are of this type. Therefore, contemporary Ulema of Deoband have declared it a bid’ah.
If the life of the Holy Prophet is made subject of a meeting, and the meeting is free of the above mentioned defects, nobody can call it a bid’ah. It is in this context that some scholars of the past have allowed the practice.” (Taken from the www.albalagh.net website)
The upshot of the above Fatwa is that there are three things which are disapproved of:
1) Mentioning only the events of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him & give him peace) birth in the gatherings,
2) Restricting the gathering to a particular date,
3) Thinking it to be obligatory and binding upon everybody.
Thus, if the above three main evils are avoided, not only will celebrating the Mawlid be permissible; rather, it will be a great act of virtue.
I myself once asked Shaykh Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve him) that if the evils were avoided in such gatherings, would they be permitted? He replied in the affirmative and said the most important of these evils that must be avoided is that of restricting the celebration to a particular date.
This is quite significant, because during my stay in Syria, I observed Mawlid gatherings being celebrated on many different dates of Rabi’ al-Awwal. So much so that many gatherings would even take place outside of this month. The celebrations and gatherings would be spread out right through the year, although they would become more widespread in the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal.
Thus, in light of Shaykh Taqi Usmani’s words, these Mawlid gatherings are not only permitted, rather highly recommended practices. It would be wrong (and an innovation) to specifically restrict the Mawlid gathering to the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal in a way that it would not take place on any other date.
Below is another Fatwa authorized by Mufti Taqi Usmani (may Allah preserve him):
“The gatherings arranged to remember the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu alayhi wasallam, the mercy to the mankind, are called Milad gatherings. Remembering the life of the Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam, and teaching others about it, is an act of great blessing and virtue. However all good deeds have to be performed according to the rules and guidelines established by the Shariah. To exceed them is a grave sin. For example reciting the Qur’an is a great act of virtue, but it is prohibited to do so while one is in ruku or sujud in prayers. Likewise, Salat is one of the most important acts of worship. Yet, it is haram to perform it at sunrise or sunset.
Similarly, there are rules governing the blessed remembrance of the Sirah. For example, this remembrance must not be associated with a particular day or month; it should be considered equally virtuous during every month of the year, every week of the month, and every day of the week. Also it can take any permissible form. For example you can arrange a reading of an authentic book on Sirah or have a lecture delivered by a scholar. Doing that is not only permissible but it will bring great reward. But it is important to stay away from the evils found in the prevalent Milad gatherings. Here are some of those evils:
1) A particular date (12 Rabi al-Awwal) has been designated for this remembrance.
2) The element of show-off (riya) is commonly present in these gatherings.
3) If someone does not attend these gatherings, he is looked down upon.
4) Distribution of sweets is considered an indispensable part of the proceedings.
5) To meet the expenses, donations are collected from sometimes unwilling people who give money under social pressure. According to the hadith it is not permissible to take any Muslim’s money without his willingness.
6) Intermixing of men and women commonly takes place in these gatherings. People stay late at night in these meetings thereby missing the next morning’s prayers.
7) The focus of the talks delivered there is very limited. The Prophet, Sallallahu alayhi wasallam, has given guidance for every aspect of our life. These cover acts of worship, dealing with other people, morals and manners, social relationships, business dealings, etc. However, it has been observed that the prevalent Milad talks concentrate mainly or solely on the account of the birth of the Prophet, Sallallahu alayhi wasallam, and his miracles. They do not attempt to cover the vast teachings of the Prophet, Sallallahu alayhi wasallam.
For these reasons, one should refrain from the prevalent Milad gatherings. However, if care is taken to avoid all of these evils and to follow the Shariah carefully, then a meeting organized to remember the Prophet, Sallallahu alayhi wasallam , with the sole purpose of seeking Allah’s pleasure, will Insha-Allah be a blessed event. And Allah knows best.
(End of Fatwa)
Written: Muhammad Abdul Muntaqim Sylheti (Darul-Ifta, Darul-uloom Karachi) Concurrence from:
Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani
Mufti Abdul Rauf Sakkharvi
And many others. (See: www.albalagh.net)
The above Fatwa of Dar al-Uloom Karachi and approved by Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani (Allah have mercy on him) also gives the same message, in that the Mawlid, if free of impermissible matters, cannot be considered blameworthy or an innovation.
In my personal view, it is only a difference of interpretation and the way one puts forth his viewpoint. It is a case of what we discussed earlier that one says something and much more is added to it.
If we were to look at the same above Fatwa endorsed by Mufti Taqi Usmani and turn it around, the message would seem quite the opposite. There are two ways of putting your argument forward.
For example: One can say that celebrating the Mawlid is a great act of virtue, a highly praiseworthy practice, etc….Then conclude the Fatwa or article by saying: However, if there are evils attached to the gathering, it would not be permitted. On the other hand, one may say: “celebrating the Mawlid is wrong, an innovation, has too many evils, etc….Then conclude the answer by saying: However, if these evils were avoided it would be permissible.
Now, even though these two arguments give the same message, the assumption made is quite the opposite. It’s just a case of “how you say it”.
It is related that the great Deobandi scholar of Hadith, Fiqh and Tasawwuf, Shaykh Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (Allah have mercy on him) once on his journey to Makkah al-Mukarramah for Umra visited his Shaykh and spiritual master, Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir al-Makki (Allah have mercy on him). Incidentally, on one of the days a Mawlid gathering was organized. His Shaykh Haji Imdad Allah (Allah have mercy on him) said to Shaykh Gangohi that "There is a Mawlid gathering organized, would you like to attend with me? He refused and said: “How can I attend a gathering of Mawlid when I prevent others from attending it in India due the evils that have been attached to them. If they (people in India) came to know of me attending a Mawlid what would they say? Upon hearing this, his Shaykh Haji Imdad Allah said: “May Allah reward you. I would have not been happier if you attended the Mawlid than I am in you refusing to come with us, because you are steadfast on what you believe to be the truth."
Thereafter, Haji Imdad Allah al-Makki attended the Mawlid and one of the servants and students of Shaykh Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi also, without informing his Shaykh, went to the Mawlid. This student of Shaykh Rashid Ahmad said after attending the Mawlid: “If my Shaykh, Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi would have attended the Mawlid gathering, he would have not condemned it, for it was free from evil and impermissible matters.
(See: Malfuzat of Mufti Mahmud al-Hasan Gangohi, 1/99)
The Deobandis also have gatherings in which they mention the Sirah, characteristics and ways of the messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). Songs and Anashid in praise of the best of creation are sung. These gatherings are organized throughout the year and become more common in the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal. However, they do not attach it to a particular date, and also, rather than calling them “Mawlid gatherings” they call them Sirah gatherings, denoting that not only the birth of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) will be discussed rather his life in general.
Therefore, we can conclude the Deobandi viewpoint on celebrating Mawlid saying that it is a highly praiseworthy act for which one will be rewarded. However, it will be wrong and an innovation to attach the impermissible matters to it, and this is how they understand the statement of scholars such as Hafidh Ibn Hajar, Imam Suyuti and others when they permitted the celebration of the Mawlid.
By looking into the books of the Deobandi Ulama, we can sum up these evils and impermissible practices in the following:
1) A particular date (i.e. 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal) is fixed,
2) Only the birth events of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) are discussed,
3) It is called a day of Eid, whilst Islam has only prescribed two Eids,
4) Celebrating the Mawlid is considered to be necessary,
5) Unlawful practices (such as intermingling of the sexes) take place.
If we were to look at the statements of those who support the celebration of Mawlid, it becomes clear that they also strongly condemn the various evils mentioned by the Deobandi scholars.
The great Sufi and Maliki scholar residing in Makkah al-Mukarramah, Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi al-Maliki (may Allah preserve him) states in his short treatise regarding celebrating the Mawlid, Hawl al-ihtifal bi zikra mawlid al-nabawi al-sharif:
“How many times have we stressed that the Messenger of Allah’s day of birth is not considered a Eid, neither do we regard it as a day of Eid, for it is a day greater and more virtuous than the day of Eid. Eid only comes once a year, whilst celebrating the birth of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and mentioning his Sirah should be a constant thing, without restricting it to a particular time or place.” (P.8-9)
He further sates:
“We celebrate the birth of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) constantly and all the time, at every occasion and at every event of happiness and joy. This is increased in the month of his birth “Rabi’ al-Awwal” and the day of his birth “Monday”.
He also states:
“One of the innovations (bid’a) of the Mawlid is that, it is practiced by some of those who celebrate it by carrying out unlawful activities, being negligent with prayers, involvement if Riba and not implementing the outward and inward Sunnahs of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).” (P. 49)
“One of the innovations that is practised in some countries is restricting the mention of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him & give him peace) sirah, characteristics, and praise, feeding others and carrying out other commendable actions to only the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal because of the birth of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace). However, it is necessary that these acts are not restricted to the month of Rabi’ only; rather, it is necessary (wajib) upon a Muslim that he carries out these good deeds constantly in every day of the month, for the mention of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is not attached to a particular time….” (P. 50)
“ If we met and mentioned the praises of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace), his struggles, his characteristics and did not even mention the story of his birth, to which people have become accustomed- to such an extent that they consider a Mawlid gathering incomplete without it….,we would have celebrated the Mawlid.” (P. 40)
We can see from the above quotes of Sayyid Muhammad ibn Alawi al-Maliki (may Allah preserve him) taken from his book which he compiled in support of the Mawlid (and should be read by those who reject the Mawlid totally), it becomes clear that there is agreement between what the scholars of Deoband say and those who celebrate Malwid. As such, there is no disagreement in reality.
In conclusion, we need to develop patience and sincerity in our efforts to bring about more tolerance in this world. Try to make differences seem non-existent. There is no real difference between the Deobandi scholars and the Barelwis, in that they both agree with the Mawlid and disagree with the evils and unlawful practices that are practiced by some.
Indeed, there are some ignorant Muslims who do practice the evils mentioned by the Deobandi scholars, but rather than refute their celebration of the Mawlid, Deobandis should strive and correct these practices. If they begin to refute the Mawlid altogether, then those who practice it will say that these are Wahhabis, etc, and won’t even reflect upon their unlawful actions. Conversely, if they support the Mawlid, there is a great chance of them correcting the evils. Thus, they should be given an alternative of pure and uncontaminated gathering of Mawlid in which the Sirah of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) is mentioned. A Gathering in which people are encouraged to implement the Sunnahs and characteristics of the beloved of Allah, whether you call it a Mawlid gathering or a Sirah gathering, for names are irrelevant. This is my sincere advice to the Deobandis.
As far as our Barelwi brothers are concerned, rather than arguing the rationality of Mawlid gatherings and trying to prove it, they should try and stamp out the evils practiced by some individuals. Explain to the masses that celebrating the Mawlid is not sufficient. One has to be a complete believer. One needs to implement the ways of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in all aspects of one’s life. Use these Mawlid gatherings to spread the message.
If we do this, then, not only will we have a more harmonious relationship, but we will see Muslims becoming stronger in their faith and better Muslims as a whole. May Allah guide us all to the straight path. I seek forgiveness if I may have offended anybody. May Allah unite us and gather us all in Paradise, Ameen.
And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK
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