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Celebrating and giving sweets on the mawlid

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding the purchase of sweets as gifts to celebrate Milad Sharif? Some people have said it is a bid’ah (innovation), haram and has nothing to do with Islam. Therefore, the buying and eating of such sweets is also haram.

Answer:

All perfect praise is for Allah ﷻ, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah ﷻ, and that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is His Messenger.

To express joy and happiness at the occasion of the birth of the Beloved Messenger ﷺ is a highly commendable act which allows one to gain further proximity to Allah ﷻ, as is the case with all pious acts.

A common practice is that people cook and buy sweets to gift to others on this special occasion as a way of expressing their happiness and sharing their joy with others. The significance of gifting something sweet is found in the narration of Sayyidah Aisha, who says: “The Prophet ﷺ loved sweets and honey.” (Bukhari) The Prophet ﷺ also encouraged the giving of gifts. He ﷺ mentioned: “Exchange gifts, and you will love each other.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad)

Giving gifts to another person is an accepted practice, especially when coupled with an honourable intention. When a gift is then given, with the intention that this is to celebrate the arrival of the Messenger ﷺ, then it is even more praiseworthy. Gifts are given on the Milad Sharif to friends, relatives, children, neighbours, and to the ‘Ulama etc. Naturally a person will display happiness for the one he loves. The Prophet ﷺ is the most beloved of Allah’s ﷻ creation, so we show the utmost joy in his remembrance.

There is an abundance of scholarly works throughout the ages which discuss the permissibility of celebrating the Mawlid.

Imam Suyuti states in his work Husn al-Maqsad fi Amal al-Mawlid’: ‘It is a commendable act to organise gatherings at the time of the Mawlid, to feed people and to perform all types of pious acts which display happiness for the celebration of the Prophets ﷺ birth.’

The leader of the Qurra’, Hafiz Shams al-Din ibn Jazari writes in his book ‘Urf al-Ta’rif bi Mawlid al- Sharif’: “It is narrated that Abu Lahab was seen in a dream after his death. He was asked how he was? He said: “I am in the fires but on every Monday night the punishment is alleviated, I am given water through both my fingers. He pointed towards his fingers. The reason for this is because when Suwaybah gave me the news of the birth of the Prophet ﷺ I freed her.” If this is how an arch enemy of Islam is treated for displaying happiness at the birth of the Prophet ﷺ,  then what about a Muslim who celebrates the blessed mawlid with conviction. God-willing, his reward will be paradise.’

Hafiz Shams al-Din bin Nasir al-Din al-Dimishqi says in his work ‘Mawrid al-Sa’id fi Mawlid al-Hadi’: ‘It is true that Abu Lahab’s punishment is lessened on Monday nights, due to his freeing of Suwaybah out of happiness on the news of the birth of the Prophet ﷺ. So, what about the believer who spent a lifetime in the love of the Prophet ﷺ.’

Sadly, those people who claim that celebrating and expressing joy during the mawlid as impermissible and an innovation, are showing their own ignorance of the shari’ah. Rather, it shows that this view and understanding they have is itself a bid’ah, and not in line with our pious predecessors and centuries of scholarship.

It is of great importance that one does not entertain nor follow such baseless opinions which denounce true Muslims to be polytheist and heretics, may Allah ﷻ protect us from such evil. This is an age-old tactic and methodology which was adopted by the Khawarij. They would take verses from the Holy Qur’an which were addressing disbelievers and apply them to the ummah of the Prophet ﷺ.

Allah ﷻ says in the Holy Qur’an:

“So, are We to treat those who have submitted themselves like the sinners? What is the matter with you; what makes you judge in this way?” (Al-Qalam: 35-36)

Is it the goal of these individuals to stop people expressing happiness at the time of the Mawlid? Is the coming together of people, listening to the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, learning about the blessed life and sunnah of our Prophet ﷺ, a source of anguish and distress? It is a sincere request that such individuals take a balanced and clear-headed approach, read and study the works of the great scholars of the past and present, from across the Muslims lands, and join the rich and beautiful heritage and traditions of our religion.

In conclusion, the celebration of the Milad Sharif is permissible. Gifts of sweets can be given to family and friends alike. Gatherings can be arranged where acts deemed praiseworthy in the shari’ah are carried out. Acts such as the recitation of the Holy Qur’an, sending salutations upon the Prophet ﷺ, reciting na’ats and qasaid in his ﷺ honour, reading of the Sirah and so on. These celebrations are held to honour the Prophetﷺ which is an extremely rewarded act.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

This fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari