Is it permissible to celebrate the Mawlid?
To express joy and happiness during the mawlid is an expression of love and honour towards our Beloved Prophet ﷺ. There is no doubt that showing love towards the Prophet ﷺ and happiness for his mawlid is permissible. Expressing joy and happiness at this time is a means of increasing one’s love for the Prophet ﷺ and loving the Prophet ﷺ is an essential part of our iman (faith).
Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali mentions, “Loving the Prophet ﷺ is from the foundations of Iman. Allah ﷻ has joined the love of the Prophet ﷺ with His ﷻ own. Placing the love of anything else, be it your parents, children, spouse etc above the love of Allah ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ is calling for the wrath of Allah ﷻ.
The purpose of celebrating the Mawlid:
Gatherings of Mawlid allow people to get together and learn about the Beloved Prophet ﷺ. People will learn about the sirah and shamail of the Prophet ﷺ, they will express their joy in the form of qasa’id and na’at, and in whole reaffirm their love and connection with the Messenger ﷺ.
Showing happiness and joy during the mawlid of the Prophet ﷺ is acting upon the Qur’an and Sunnah and the great ulema have all agreed on this. Allah ﷻ has mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, “… and remind them of the days of Allah. (Surah Ibrahim: 5)” The days of Allah ﷻ include those days in which Allah ﷻ sent his help towards the Prophets (Peace be upon them all) in their times of need. They also include the days in which the Prophets were born. The day of the birth of our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is without doubt the greatest of all these days. The days in which Prophets are born have been given great honour by Allah ﷻ and have been described as days of peace. It is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, “Peace be upon him the day he was born. (Surah Maryam: 15)”
The birth of a Prophet is the event which leads the way for the countless blessings a Prophet will show to his ummah throughout his life and beyond. The ummah of our Prophet ﷺ will continue till the day of judgement and we are continuously benefiting from the Prophet ﷺ and will continue to do so in the hereafter. Allah ﷻ has mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, “Say: It’s Allah’s grace and kindness. So celebrate… (Surah Yunus: 58)” The Prophet ﷺ is the greatest blessing for all mankind. Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas mentions, “the grace of Allah refers to knowledge, and the kindness of Allah refers to our Master Muhammad ﷺ.” Allah ﷻ has stated, “We sent you, Muhammad, as Kindness for all communities. (Surah Al-Anbiya: 107)”
Abu Qatada Ansari narrates that the Prophet ﷺ was asked about fasting on Mondays. The Prophet ﷺ said, “This was the day on which I was born. (Sahih Muslim)” The Prophet ﷺ fasting on the day of his birth is a clear evidence for marking and honouring the mawlid.
Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas narrates that when the Prophet ﷺ arrived in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, he saw that the Jews would keep a fast on the ‘ashura. The Prophet ﷺ asked them, “Why do you keep a fast on this day?” They replied that this is a great day for us, Allah ﷻ saved Prophet Musa and his nation by drowning the Pharaoh and his followers. The Prophet ﷺ replied, “We have a greater right over Prophet Musa than you.” The Prophet ﷺ fasted on that day and ordered others to do so. In a similar narration, Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra narrates that the Prophet ﷺ passed by some Jews who were fasting on the day of ‘ashura. The Prophet ﷺ asked, “Why are you fasting?” The Jews replied, “This is the day that Allah ﷻ saved Prophet Musa and his nation from destruction by drowning the Pharaoh and his followers. This is also the day in which the ark of Prophet Nuh stopped upon Mount Judiy. Both Prophets kept a fast on this day to thank Allah ﷻ. The Prophet ﷺ replied, I have a greater right over Prophet Musa.” The Prophet ﷺ commanded the companions to fast. (Musnad Ahmad).
When it is permissible to mark the day in which Prophet Nuh landed to safety and when Prophet Musa was saved from the tyranny of the Pharaoh, then marking the day on which the Prophet ﷺ has greater significance and honour.
Sayyiduna Burayda Aslami narrates that the Prophet ﷺ had returned from a battle and a woman came to visit the Messenger ﷺ. She said, “O Messenger of Allah, I took an oath that if you were to return safely, then I will play this duff in your presence. The Prophet ﷺ replied, “If you have taken an oath then play it, otherwise do not.” (Musannaf Abi Shaybah) The Prophet ﷺ allowed the beating of the duff to celebrate his safe return from battle, therefore to show happiness and celebrate the birth of the Prophet ﷺ is also permissible.
The agreement of the Scholars:
Imam Abu Shama Al-Maqdasi states, “the ‘ulema agree that a bid’ah hasana is permissible and mustahab. Whoever does such an action with a good intention, he will be rewarded. In our times, an example of a bid’ah hasana can be seen in the city of Erbil. During the mawlid, sadaqa is given and people spend time in voluntary worship. The city is beautified and there is atmosphere of great joy. These actions are of great benefit to the poor and destitute and the love of the Prophet ﷺ is increased in the hearts of all. People learn about the life and the great rank of the Messenger ﷺ and express their thanks and praise to Allah ﷻ for blessing them with the Prophet ﷺ as a mercy to all.”
Imam Sakhawi mentions, “In all the cities and states of the Muslims, there are gatherings of Mawlid throughout the month of Rabi’ ul Awwal. Families hold great feasts, there is a great show of joy and happiness and charity is distributed amongst the needy. Gatherings are held where the events around the blessed birth of the Prophet ﷺ are read. This is a means of great blessings and something which I have experienced.” Similar narrations have been mentioned by Imam Qastalani in Al-Mawahib Al-Laduniya and ‘Allama Diyar Bakri in Tarikh al-Khamis Fi Ahwal Anfus Al-Nafis.
Hafiz Nasir Al-Din Al-Dimashqi narrates, “Thuwayba was freed on the day the Prophet ﷺ was born. It has been mentioned that when Sayyida Aminah gave birth to the Prophet ﷺ, Thuwayba went to her Master, Abu Lahab, and told him of the birth of his nephew, Muhammad ibn Abdullah. In a show of great happiness, Abu Lahab straight away freed Thuwayba. In another narration its states that Thuwayba went to Abu Lahab and said, “Have you heard that Aminah has given birth to a boy?” Abu Lahab replied, “You are free!”
Every Monday, there is relief in the punishment Abu Lahab receives due to the happiness he expressed upon the birth of the Prophet ﷺ and freed a slave in honour of this. Sayyiduna ‘Urwa ibn Zabir mentions, when Abu Lahab died, a member of his family saw him in a dream in very bad state. They asked what had happened to him. Abu Lahab replied, “Nothing has helped me since dying except for freeing Thuwayba, due to which I am given something to drink from here, pointing in between his thumb and index finger. This dream was seen by his brother, Sayyiduna ‘Abbas a year after he had died. Quoting Imam Suyuti’s narration, Imam Dimashqi states, “This statement is correct that every Monday, there is a relief in the punishment given to Abu Lahab due to his freeing of Thuwayba upon the birth of the Prophet ﷺ. When a disbeliever, who has been cursed in the Qur’an, is given relief from his punishment every Monday due to expressing joy upon the birth of the Prophet ﷺ. Then imagine how much reward that person will receive who spent his entire life celebrating the birth of the Prophet ﷺ and passed away upon tawhid.
Accounts and narrations from different scholars from the early centuries clearly show that the mawlid was celebrated throughout the Muslim world and ha continued to this day. People spend the night of the mawlid busy in worship and remembrance of Allah ﷻ. People try their best to engage themselves in good deeds. To mention a few, they arrange food for family and friends, pray and keep a voluntary fast, recite the holy Qur’an and different adhkar and read qas’aid in praise of the Prophet ﷺ.
Many classical scholars have mentioned such accounts in their writings. These include ‘ulema such as Hafiz Ibn Jawzi, Ibn Dihya, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar and Imam Suyuti.
Many of the early and latter scholars have discussed the permissibility of celebrating the mawlid. Great scholars of tafsir, hadith and fiqh have written books on this subject. Examples include Hafiz Ibn Dihya’s ‘Al-Tanwir fi Mawlid Al-Bashir Al-Nazir’, Abu Abbas Al-‘Azafi’s ‘Al-Durr al-Munazzam fi al-Mawlid al-Nabi al-Mu’azzam, Imam ‘Alai’s ‘Al-Durrah Al-Saniyya fi Mawlid Khayr al-Bariyya, Hafiz ‘Iraqi’s ‘Al-Mawrid al-Hani fi al-Mawlid al-Nabi, Hafiz ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi’s ‘Mawrid al-Saadi fi Mawlid al-Haadi’, Hafiz Al-Naji’s ‘Kanz al-Raghibin al-‘Ufaat fi al-Ramz ila al-Mawlid al-Muhammadi wa al-Wafat, and Imam Suyuti’s ‘Husn al-Maqsid fi ‘Aml al-Mawlid.
Imam Salihi narrates from Imam Zarhazni that he saw the Prophet ﷺ in a dream. He mentioned that some people refuse to celebrate the mawlid. The Prophet ﷺ replied, “Whoever is happy with us, we are happy with them.”
Celebrating the mawlid is an expression of love towards the Prophet ﷺ. It is mustahab and has clear evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is from the practices of the pious predecessors and the scholars agree that performing virtuous acts during the mawlid is a means to goodness.
And Allah ﷻ knows the best
This Fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari