(courtesy of www.Sunnah.org)
Is there evidence for the celebration of Mawlid — the Prophet’s Birthday — in the Qur’an and the Sunna? What do the Imams and scholars of the Four Schools say, and what about the contemporary “Salafi” scholars who forbade it on the grounds that it is an innovation, such as Albani, Bin Baz, al-Jaza’iri, Mashhur Salman, `Uthaymin? What about those who celebrate Mawlid, but forbid people from standing at the conclusion of Mawlid for sending darudor salawat — blessings and salutations — on the Prophet, Peace be upon him? And what about the objections of some to using the phrase: “As-salamu `alayka ya Rasulallah” (Peace upon you, O Messenger of Allah), and their claim that one cannot call the Prophet, peace be upon him, with the term ya, or O?
- PRELIMINARY REMARKS
- Proofs From the Qur’an and Sunna That Celebrating the Prophet’s Birthday is Accepted in Shari`a.
- The Obligation to Increase the Love and Honor of the Prophet
- The Prophet Emphasized Monday As the Day He Was Born
- Allah Said: Rejoice in the Prophet
- The Prophet Celebrated Great Historical Events
- Allah Said: Invoke Blessings on the Prophet
- The Effect of Observing Mawlid on Unbelievers
- The Obligation to Know Sira and Imitate Its Central Character
- The Prophet Accepted Poetry in His Honor
- Singing and Recitation of Poetry
- Singing and Recitation of Qur’an
- The Prophet Allowed Drum-Playing For A Good Intention
- The Prophet Emphasized the Birthday of Prophets
- Why Bukhari Emphasized Dying On Monday
- The Prophet Emphasized the Birthplace of Prophets
- The Ijma` of `Ulama on the Permissibility of Mawlid
- History of The Celebration of Mawlid
- Earliest Mentions of the Public Mawlid
- Ibn Battuta’s Account of the Mawlid
- Three Tenth-Century Accounts of the Mawlid
- The Celebration of Mawlid in Islamic Countries Today
- Ibn Taymiyya’s Opinion on the Celebration of Mawlid and the Deviation of “Salafis” from his Opinion
- Ibn Taymiyya’s Opinion on the Meetings of Dhikr
- Ibn Kathir Praises the Night of Mawlid
- `Asqalani and Suyuti’s Fatwas on the Permissibility of Mawlid
- Other Scholars’ Opinions on the Mawlid
- To Celebrate Mawlid Is Mandub (Recommended)
- THE CLAIM OF THE CONTEMPORARY “SALAFI” WRITERS WHO FORBADE MAWLID
- SENDING DARUD OR SALAWAT
- USING THE PHRASE: AS-SALAMU `ALAYKA YA RASULALLAH
- The Wahhabi’s tampering of the MUWAJAHA AL-SHARIFA (GATE TO THE PROPHET’S NOBLE GRAVE)
- CONCLUSION: ONE MAY NOT OBJECT TO MAWLID
Praise be to Allah, Lord of all the worlds, and Peace and Blessings upon His Prophet and Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions. In Islam there are two `Ids, `Id al-Adha and `Id al-Fitr. Other celebrations, like Mawlid, are neither obligatory nor forbidden. However, we have come to a time in which we hear too much complaining about the remembrance of the Prophet’s birthday, although there are more important matters that concern Muslims nowadays. We are living in a time when the enemies of Islam are destroying the Umma of the Prophet from within and without, without mercy, and there are now very few believers who are able to oppose them. We have reached a time of jahiliyya (ignorance) among the Muslims, so much so that the Truth has become a commodity and Falsehood has become the norm. Allah Almighty is ordering believers, “Hold fast to the Rope of Allah and do not separate” (Ali `Imran 103). Yet in this time, more than any other time, we are finding that the attacks of our enemies are not the only cause of our suffering. Within our own home, the Umma is being attacked and harmed deeply by some people, whom we don’t like to name but who are well-known. They are not happy to fight the enemies of Islam but instead find it necessary to fight Muslims and the community of believers throughout the Muslim world. Therefore I felt it was my duty to prepare a defense of the believers from the attacks of these Muslims, who have nothing to do while our enemies are rending the Umma, except to find fault with the beliefs of other Muslims. They take great pains to find anything that their scholars might consider doubtful as an excuse to deride and denigrate the faith of Muslims, calling them names like: mushrik, kafir, mubtadi`. And they have nothing better to do than to change what Muslim scholars have accepted as correct for 1400 years, and to call it bid`a, shirk, and kufr!
To celebrate the Prophet’s birthday is to celebrate Islam, because the Prophet is the symbol of Islam. Imam Mutawalli Sha`rawi said in his book, Ma’idat al-Fikr al-Islamiyya (p. 295), “If living beings were happy for his coming (to this world) and every inanimate creation was happy at his birth and all plants were happy at his birth and all animals were happy at his birth and all angels were happy at his birth and all believing jinn were happy at his birth, why are you preventing us from being happy at his birth?”
Therefore, and in order to defend the common Muslims and believers from such wrong and unacceptable accusations, especially in America and Canada, where there aren’t enough knowledgeable scholars to answer these ignorant people, it is necessary to know the actual position of Islam on this, which is permissibility based on khilaf (divergence of opinions among the scholars), and no-one changes it to prohibition except the ignorant and the innovators. Insha Allah, I will present the facts and proofs relating to the celebration of Mawlid according to Qur’an and Sunna and the Scholars of Islam, with the intention of countering the criticism and questioning of some ignorant “scholars” who pretend to understand all of religion, and with the intention of sharing with others that understanding with which Allah has blessed the true scholars of Islam. Before going in-depth into explanations, I would like to present three statements:
1. We say that celebrating the Mawlid of the Prophet is acceptable, that to make gatherings for the hearing of his Sira (Life) and listening to Madh (Praise) that has been written for him is acceptable, and that giving food to people and bringing happiness to the Umma on that occasion is acceptable.
2. We say that the celebration of the Prophet’s Mawlid must not only be on the 12th of Rabi` al-Awwal, but can and should be on every day of every month in every mosque, in order for people to feel the light of Islam and the light of Shari`a in their hearts.
3. We say that Mawlid gatherings are an effective and efficient means for the purpose of calling people to Islam and educate children, that these meetings give a golden opportunity that must not be lost, for every scholar and da`i to teach and remind the Nation of the Prophet of his good character, his way of worshipping, and his way of treating people. This is a way to make children love and remember their Prophet, by giving them food and juice and gifts to make them happy.
Proofs From the Qur’an and Sunna That Celebrating the Prophet’s Birthday is Accepted in Shari`a.
Allah asks the Prophet, Peace be upon him, to remind his Nation that it is essential for those who claim to love Allah, to love His Prophet: “Say to them: If you love Allah, follow (and love and honor) me, and Allah will love you” (3:31).
The Celebration of the Holy Prophet’s birth is motivated by this obligation to love the Prophet, Peace be upon him, to obey him, to remember him, to follow his example, and to be proud of him as Allah is proud of him, since Allah has boasted about him in His Holy Book by saying, “Truly you are of a magnificient character” (al-Qalam 4).
Love of the Prophet is what differentiates the believers in the perfection of their iman. In an authentic hadith related in Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves his children, his parents, and all people.” In another hadith in Bukhari he said: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves himself” and Sayyidina `Umar said: “O Prophet, I love you more than myself.”
Perfection of faith is dependent on love of the Prophet because Allah and His angels are constantly raising his honor, as is meant by the verse already quoted, “Allah and His angels are praying on the Prophet” (33:56). The divine order that immediately follows in the verse, “O believers, pray on him,” makes it clear that the quality of being a believer is dependent on and manifested by praying on the Prophet. O Allah! Send peace and blessings on the Prophet, his family, and his companions.
Abu Qatada al-Ansari narrates in Sahih Muslim, Kitab as-siyam, that the Prophet was asked about the fast of Monday, and he answered: “That is the day that I was born and that is the day I received the prophecy.”
We quote again from Mutawalli Sha`rawi: “Many extraordinary events occurred on his birthday as evidenced in hadith and history, and the night of his birth is not like the night of any other human being’s birth.” These events and the hadiths pertaining thereto, such as the shaking of Chosroes’ court, the extinction of the 1,000-year old fire in Persia, etc. are related in Ibn Kathir’s work al-Bidaya, Vol. 2, pages 265-268.
We quote from the book Kitab al-Madkhal by Ibn al-hajj (Vol. 1, p. 261): “It is an obligation that on every Monday of Rabi` ul-Awwal we increase our worship to thank Allah for what He gave us as a great favor–the favor of sending us His beloved Prophet to direct us to Islam and to peace… The Prophet, when answering someone questioning him about fasting on Mondays, mentioned: On that day I was born. Therefore that day gives honor to that month, because that is the day of the Prop… and he said: I am the master of the children of Adam and I say that without pride… and he said: Adam and whoever is descended from him are under my flag on the day of Judgment. These hadiths were transmitted by the Shaikhayn [Bukhari and Muslim]. And Muslim quotes in his Sahih, the Prophet said, On that day Monday I was born and on that day the first message was sent to me.”
The Prophet emphasized the day of his birth and thanked Allah for the big favor of bringing him to life by fasting on that day as is mentioned in the hadith of Abu Qatada. This means that the Prophet was expressing his happiness for that day by fasting, which is a kind of worship. Since the Prophet emphasized that day by fasting, worship in any form to emphasize that day is also acceptable. Even if we change the form, the essence is kept. Therefore, fasting, giving food to the poor, coming together to praise the Prophet, or coming together to remember his good manners and good behavior, all of this is considered a way of emphasizing that day. (See also the hadith “Dying on Monday” below.)
THIRD: To express happiness for the Prophet coming to us is an obligation given by Allah through Qur’an, as Allah said in Qur’an: “Of the favor and mercy of Allah let them rejoice” (Yunus 58).
This order came because joy makes the heart grateful for the mercy of Allah. And What greater mercy did Allah give than the Prophet himself, of whom Allah says, “We did not send you except as a mercy to human beings” (Al-Anbiya’ 107).
Because the Prophet was sent as a mercy to all mankind, it is incumbent not only upon Muslims, but upon all human beings to rejoice in his person. Unfortunately, today it is some Muslims who are foremost in rejecting Allah’s order to rejoice in His Prophet.
FOURTH: The Prophet always made the connection between religious events and historical events, so that when the time returned for a significant event, he reminded his sahaba to celebrate that day and to emphasize it, even if it had happened in the distant past. This principle can be found in the following hadith of Bukhari and others: “When the Prophet reached Madina, he saw the Jews fasting on the day of `Ashura’. He asked about that day and they told him that on that day, Allah saved their Prophet, Sayyidina Musa and drowned their enemy. Therefore they are fasting on that day to thank Allah for that favor.” At that time the Prophet responded with the famous hadith, “We have more right to Musa than you,” and he used to fast that day and the day preceding it.
FIFTH: Remembrance of the birth of the Prophet encourages us to pray on the Prophet and to praise him, which is an obligation on us through Allah’s order in the verse,
“Allah and His angels are praying on (and praising) the Prophet; O believers! pray on (and praise) him and send him utmost greetings” (al-Ahzab 56). Coming together and remembering the Prophet causes us to pray on him and to praise him. Who has the right to deny the obligation which Allah has ordered us to fulfill through the Holy Qur’an? The benefit brought by obeying an order of Allah, and the light that it brings to our heart, cannot be measured. That obligation, furthermore, is mentioned in the plural: Allah and His angels are praying on and praising the Prophet — in a gathering. It is entirely incorrect, therefore, to say that praying on and praising the Prophet must be done alone.
SIXTH: Expressing happiness and celebrating the Prophet on his birthday causes even unbelievers, by Allah’s favor and mercy, to gain some benefit. This is mentioned in sahih Bukhari. Bukhari said in his hadith that every Monday, Abu Lahab in his grave is released from punishment because he freed his handmaid Thuwayba when she brought him the news of the Prophet’s birth.
This hadith is mentioned in Bukhari in the book of Nikah, and Ibn Kathir mentions it in his books Sirat al-Nabi Vol.1, p. 124, Mawlid al-Nabi p. 21, and al-Bidaya p. 272-273. The hafiz Shamsuddin Muhammad ibn Nasiruddin ad-Dimashqi wrote on this the following verses in his book Mawrid as-sadi fi Mawlid al-Hadi: “If this, a kafir who was condemned to hell eternally with “Perish his hands” [surat 111], is said to enjoy a respite every Monday because he rejoiced in Ahmad: what then do you think of the servant who, all his life, was happy with Ahmad, and died saying, “One”?”
SEVENTH: We are asked to know about our Prophet, about his life, about his miracles, about his birth, about his manners, about his faith, about his signs (ayat wa dala’il), about his seclusions, about his worship, and is not this knowledge an obligation for every Muslim? What is better than celebrating and remembering his birth, which represents the essence of his life, in order to acquire knowledge of his life? To remember his birth begins to remind us of everything else about him. This will make Allah happy with us because then we will be able to know the Prophet’s sira better, and be readier to take him as an example for ourselves, to correct ourselves, and to imitate him. That is why the celebration of his birthday is a great favor sent to us.
EIGHTH: In the time of the Prophet, it is well-known that poets came to him with all kinds of works praising him, writing about his campaigns and battles and about the sahaba. This is proved by the numerous poems quoted in the Siras of Ibn Hisham, al-Waqidi, and others. The Prophet was happy with good poetry since it is reported in Bukhari’s al-Adab al-mufrad and elsewhere that he said: “There is wisdom in poetry.” Thus the Prophet’s uncle al-`Abbas composed poetry praising the birth of the Prophet, in which are found the following lines:
When you were born, the earth was shining,
and the firmament barely contained your light,
and we can pierce through,
thanks to that radiance and light and path of guidance.
This text is found in Suyuti’s Husn al-maqsid p. 5 and in Ibn Kathir’s Mawlid p. 30 as well as Ibn Hajar’s Fath al-Bari.
Ibn Kathir mentions the fact that according to the Sahaba, the Prophet praised his own name and recited poetry about himself in the middle of the battle of Hunayn in order to encourage the companions and scare the enemies. That day he said: “I am the Prophet! This is no lie. I am the son of `Abd al-Muttalib!”
The Prophet was therefore happy with those who praised him because it is Allah’s order, and he gave them from what Allah was providing him. If we get together and do something in order to approach the Prophet, we are doing something to approach Allah, and approaching the Prophet will make Allah happy with us.
It is established that the Prophet instructed `A’isha to let two ladies sing on the day of `Eid. He said to Abu Bakr: “Let them sing, because for every nation there is a holiday, and this is our holiday” [Agreed upon]. Ibn Qayyim in Madarij al-salikin comments that the Prophet also gave permission to sing in wedding celebrations, and allowed poetry to be recited to him. He heard Anas and the Companions praising him and reciting poems while digging before the famous battle of the Trench (Khandaq), as they said: “We are the ones who gave bay`a to Muhammad for jihad as long as we are living.”
Ibn Qayyim also mentions `Abdullah ibn Rawaha’s long poem praising the Prophet as the latter entered Mecca, after which, the Prophet prayed for him. He prayed that Allah support Hassan ibn Thabit, with the holy spirit as long as he would support the Prophet with his poetry. Similarly the Prophet rewarded Ka`b ibn Zuhayr’s poem of praise with a robe. The Prophet asked Aswad bin Sarih to make poems praising Allah, and he asked someone else to recite the poem of praise of 100 verses which Umayya ibn Abi halh had composed. Ibn Qayyim continues, “`A’isha always recited poems praising him and he was happy with her.”
Part of the funeral eulogy Hassan ibn Thabit refer the Prophet states:
I say, and none can find fault with me
But one lost to all sense:
I shall never cease to praise him.
It may be for so doing I shall be for ever in Paradise
With the Chosen One for whose support in that I hope.
And to attain to that day I devote all my efforts.
As Ibn al-Qayyim says in his book, “Allah gave permission to his Prophet to recite the Qur’an in a melodious way. Abu Musa al-Ash`ari one time was reciting the Qur’an in a melodious voice and the Prophet was listening to him. After he finished, the Prophet congratulated him on reciting in a melodious way and said, “You have a good voice.” And he said about Abu Musa al-Ash`ari that Allah gave him a “mizmar” (flute or horn) from Dawud’s mizmars. Then Abu Musa said, “O Messenger of Allah, if I had known that you were listening to me, I would have recited it in a much more melodious and beautiful voice such as you have never heard before.”
Ibn Qayyim continues, “The Prophet said, “Decorate the Qur’an with your voices,” and “Who does not sing the Qur’an is not from us.” Ibn Qayyim comments: “To take pleasure in a good voice is acceptable, as is taking pleasure from a nice scenery, such as mountains or nature, or from a nice smell, or from good food, as long as it is conforming to shari`a. If listening to a good voice is haram, then taking pleasure in all these other things is also haram.”
Ibn `Abbad the Muhaddith gave the following fatwa in his “Letters.” He starts with the hadith, “One lady came to the Prophet when he was returning from one of his battles and she said, “Ya Rasulallah, I have made an oath that if Allah sends you back safe, I would play this drum near you.” The Prophet said, “Fulfill your oath.” The hadith is found in Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and the Imam Ahmad.
Ibn `Abbad continues, “There is no doubt that the playing of a drum is a kind of entertainment, even though the Prophet ordered her to fulfill her oath. He did that because her intention was to honor him for returning safely, and her intention was a good intention, not with the intention of a sin or of wasting time. Therefore, if anyone celebrates the time of the birth of the Prophet in a good way, with a good intention, by reading Sira and praising him, it is accepted.”
NINTH: The Prophet emphasized in his hadith both the day and the place of birth of previous prophets. Speaking of the greatness of the day of Jum`ah (Friday), the Prophet said in his hadith: “On that day [i.e. Jum`ah], Allah created Adam.” This means that the day of Friday is emphasized because Allah created Adam on that day. That day is emphasized because it saw the creation of the prophet and father of all human beings. What about the day when the greatest of prophets and best of human beings was created? The Prophet said: “Truly Allah made me the Seal of prophets while Adam was between water and clay.” This hadith is related by Ahmad in the Musnad, Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwa and others, and is sound and established as authentic.
Imam Qastallani said in his commentary on Bukhari: “In his book on Jana’iz (Funerals), Bukhari named an entire chapter “Dying on Monday.” In it there is the hadith of `A’isha relating her father’s (Abu Bakr as-siddiq) question: “On which day did the Prophet die?” She replied: “Monday.” He asked: “What day are we today?” She said, “O my father, this is Monday.” Then he raised his hands and said: “I beg you, O Allah, to let me die on Monday in order to coincide with the Prophet’s day of passing.”
Imam Qastallani continues, “Why did Abu Bakr ask for his death to be on Monday? So that his death would coincide with the day of the Prophet’s passing, in order to receive the baraka of that day… Does anyone object to Abu Bakr’s asking to pass away on that day for the sake of baraka? Now, why are people objecting to celebrating or emphasizing the day of the Prophet ‘s birth in order to get baraka?”
A hadith authentified by the hafiz al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id states that on the night of Isra’ and Mi`raj, the Prophet was ordered by Jibril to pray two rak`ats in Bayt Lahm (Bethlehem), and Jibril asked him: “Do you know where you prayed? When the Prophet asked him where, he told him: “You prayed where `Isa was born.”
TENTH: Remembering the Prophet’s birthday is an act that all `ulama of the Muslim world accept and still accept. This means that Allah accepts it, according to the saying of Ibn Mas`ud related in Imam Ahmad’s Musnad with a sound chain: “Whatever the majority of Muslims see as right, then this is good to Allah, and whatever is seen by the majority of Muslims as wrong, it is wrong to Allah.”
The Mawlid in Mecca According to Muslim Historians-Celebration of the Birthplace of the Prophet
Mecca, the Mother of cities, may Allah bless and honor her, is the leader of other Islamic cities in the celebration of Mawlid as in other things. In his book Akhbar Makka, Vol. 2, p. 160, the 3rd-century historian of Mecca, al-Azraqi, mentions as one of the many places in Mecca in which the performance of sala is desirable (mustahabb), the house where the Prophet was born (Mawlid al-Nabi). According to him, the house had previously been turned into a mosque by the mother of the caliphs Musa al-Hadi and Harun ar-Rashid.
The Qur’anic scholar al-Naqqash (266-351) mentions the birthplace of the Prophet as a place where du`a by noon on Mondays is answered. He is quoted in al-Fasi’s Shifa’ al-gharam Vol. 1, p. 199, and others.
The oldest source that mentions a public commemoration of the Mawlid is in Ibn Jubayr’s (540-614) Rihal (“Travels”), p. 114-115:
“This blessed place [the house of the Prophet]is opened, and all men enter it to derive blessing from it (mutabarrikin bihi), on every Monday of the month of Rabi` al-Awwal; for on that day and in that month was born the Prophet.”
The 7th-century historians Abul `Abbas al-`Azafi and his son Abul Qasim al-`Azafi wrote in their unpublished Kitab ad-durr al-munazzam:
“Pious pilgrims and prominent travellers testified that, on the day of the mawlid in Mecca, no activities are undertaken, and nothing is sold or bought, except by the people who are busy visiting his noble birthplace, and rush to it. On this day the Ka`ba is opened and visited.”
The famous 8th-century historian Ibn Battuta relates in his Rihla, Vol. 1, p. 309 and 347, that on every Friday, after the salah, and on the birthday of the Prophet, the door of Ka`ba is opened by the head of the Banu Shayba, the doorkeepers of the Ka`ba, and that on the Mawlid, the Shafi`i qadi (head judge) of Mecca, Najmuddin Muhammad Ibn al-Imam Muhyiddin al-Tabari, distributes food to the shurafa’ (descendants of the Prophet and to all the other people of Mecca.
The following description consolidates eyewitness accounts by three 10th-century authorities: the historian Ibn huhayra from his al-Jami` al-latif fi fasl Makka wa ahliha, p. 326; the hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haytami from his Kitab al-Mawlid ash-Sharif al-Mu`azzam, and the historian al-Nahrawali from al-I`lam bi-a`lam Bayt Allah al-haram, p. 205.
Each year on the 12th of Rabi` al-Awwal, after the salat al-Maghrib, the four qadis of Mecca (representing the Four Schools) and large groups of people including the fuqaha’ (scholars) and fudala’ (notables) of Mecca, shaykhs, zawiya teachers and their students, ru’asa’ (magistrates), and muta`ammamin (scholars) leave the mosque and set out collectively for a visit to the birthplace of the Prophet, shouting out dhikr and tahlil (LA ILAHA ILLALLAH). The houses on the route are illuminated with numerous lanterns and large candles, and a great many people are out and about. They all wear special clothes and they take their children with them. Having reachethe birthplace, inside a special sermon for the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet is delivered, mentioning the miracles (karamat) that took place on that occasion. Hereafter the du`a’ for the Sultan (i.e. the Caliph), the Emir of Mecca, and the Shafi`i qadi is performed and all pray humbly. Shortly before the salat al-`Isha’, the whole party returns from the birthplace of the Prophet to the Great Mosque, which is almost overcrowded, and all sit down in rows at the foot of the Maqam Ibrahim. In the mosque, a preacher first mentions the tahmid (AL HAMDULILLAH) and the tahlil, and once again the du`a’ for the Sultan, the Emir, and the Shafi`i qadi is performed. After this the call for the Salat al-`Isha’ is made. After the salat, the crowd breaks up. A similar description is given by al-Diyarbakri (d. 960) in his Ta’rikh al-Khamis.
In every Muslim country today, we find people celebrating the Prophet’s birthday. This is true of the following: Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia (not officially, but in the majority of homes), Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Djibouti, Somalia, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaidjan, Uzbekistan, Turkestan, Bosnia (former Yougoslavia), Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and most other Islamic countries. In most Arab countries it is a national holiday. All these countries, O Nation of Islam, are celebrating that event. How is it that today a minority is coming and making up a ruling that it is haram? And who are these scholars who spoke against Mawlid, in comparison to the huffaz (hadith masters) and scholars of the Community such as Abu Shama, `Asqalani, Suyuti, Sakhawi, Haytami, Shawkani, and al-Qari, all of whom declared Mawlid praiseworthy? How can any of the “Salafis” declare haram something that even the strictest of their scholars, Ibn Taymiyya, allowed under certain conditions, and which Ibn al-Jawzi and Ibn Kathir encouraged, each of them by writing a booklet entitled Mawlid and consisting of poems and passages from the sira?
THE CELEBRATION OF MAWLID AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE SCHOLARS OF THE “SALAFI” MOVEMENT AND THOSE OF THE FOUR SCHOOLS OF AHL AL-SUNNA
- Ibn Taymiyya’s Opinion on the Celebration of Mawlid and the Deviation of “Salafis” from his Opinion
This is Ibn Taymiyya’s opinion about Mawlid from the Collected Fatwas, Majma` Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 23, p. 163 and his Iqtida’ al-sirat al-mustaqim, p. 294-295, Section entitled: “The innovated festivities of time and place” (ma uhditha min al-a`yad al-zamaniyya wa al-makaniyya):
And similarly what some people innovate by analogy with the Christians who celebrate the birth of Jesus, or out of love for the Prophet and to exalt him, and Allah may reward them for this love and effort, not on the fact that it is an innovation… To celebrate and to honor the birth of the Prophet and to take it as an honored season, as some of the people are doing, is good and in it there is a great reward, because of their good intentions in honoring the Prophet.
This is what “Salafis” cannot stomach, for all their love of Ibn Taymiyya, and they cannot seem to forgive him for saying this. One “Salafi” editor of the Iqtida’, Muhammad Hamid al-Fiqqi, has a two-page footnote here in which he exclaims: “Kayfa yakunu lahum thawabun `ala hadha??… Ayyu ijtihadun fi hadha??” — “How can they possibly obtain a reward for this??… What effort is in this??” and the contemporary “Salafi” scholars are all without exception cut from the same cloth of intemperance and deviation regarding Mawlid, substituting their ruling to that of Ibn Taymiyya although the latter should be sufficient for them. Thus we see another “Salafi” author, Mashhur Al Salman, exploding in similar terms in his recent edition of Abu Shama’s al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` (Assault on all innovations), because when it comes to Mawlid, Abu Shama instead of censoring it declares: “Truly it is a praiseworthy innovation and a blessed one”!
Further on in the same text Ibn Taymiyya mentions a fatwa given by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Imam of Ibn Taymiyya’s madhhab, whereby when the people told Imam Ahmad about a prince who spent 1000 dinars on the decoration of Qur’an he said: “That is the best place for him to use gold.”
We ask: Was Ibn Taymiyya promoting bid`a when he permitted the celebration of Mawlid “as some of the people are doing”? Not only did he allow it, but he mentioned that their celebration of Mawlid “is good and in it there is a great reward.” We ask again: Was Imam Ahmad making bid`a when he allowed the decoration of Qur’an? The answer to both questions is no.
The following is the opinion of Ibn Taymiyya on meetings of dhikr. It can be found in the King Khalid ibn `Abd al-`Aziz edition of the Majmu`at fatawa Ibn Taymiyya:
Ibn Taymiyya was asked about people that gather in a masjid making dhikr and reading Qur’an, praying to Allah and taking their turbans off their heads (leaving their heads bare) and crying, while their intention is not pride nor showing off but seeking to draw closer to Allah: is it acceptable or not? He answered: “Praise to Allah, it is good and recommended according to Shari`a (mustahabb) to come together for reading Qur’an, making dhikr, and making du`a’.”
Imam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, in his book al-Durar al-kamina fi `ayn al-Mi’at al-thamina, mentions that Ibn Kathir, a muhaddith from among the followers of Ibn Taymiyya, “in the last days of his life wrote a book entitled Mawlid Rasul Allah which was spread far and wide. That book mentioned the permissibility and recommendability of celebrating the Mawlid.”
Ibn Kathir’s book was edited and published in 1961. In it he says, p. 19: “The Night of the Prophet’s birth is a magnificient, noble, blessed and holy night, a night of bliss for the believers, pure, radiant with lights, and of immeasurable price.”
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti said in his Hawi li al-fatawa: “The Sheikh of Islam and hadith master of his age, Ahmad ibn Hajar (`Asqalani) was asked about the practice of commemorating the birth of the Prophet, and gave the following written reply:
As for the origin of the practice of commemorating the Prophet’s birth, it is an innovation that has not been conveyed to us from any of the pious early muslims of the first three centuries, despite which it has included both features that are praisweorthy and features that are not. If one takes care to include in such a commemoration only things that are praiseworthy and avoids those that are otherwise, it is a praise worthy innovation, while if ones does not, it is not.
An authentic primary textual basis from which its legal validity is inferable has occured to me, namely the rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet came to Medina and found the Jews fasting on the tenth of Muharram (`Ashura ‘), so he asked them about it and they replied: “It is the day on which Allah drowned Pharaoh and rescued Moses, so we fast in it to thanks to Allah Most high,” which indicates the validity of giving thanks to Allah for the blessings He has bestowed on a particular day in providing a benefit, or averting an affliction, repeating one’s thanks on the anniversary of that day every year, giving thanks to Allah taking * any various forms of worship such as prostration, fasting, giving charity or reciting the Koran… THEN WHAT BLESSING IS GREATER THAN THE BIRTH OF THE PROPHET, THE PROPHET OF MERCY, ON THIS DAY ? IN LIGHT OF WHICH, ONE SHOULD TAKE CARE TO COMMEMORATE IT ON THE DAY ITSELF IN ORDER TO CONFORM TO THE ABOVE STORY OF MOSES AND THE TENTH OF MUHARRAM, [but]THOSE WHO DO NOT VIEW THE MATTER THUS DO NOT MIND COMMEMORATING IT ON ANY DAY OF THE MONTH, WHILE SOME HAVE EXPANDED ITS TIME TO ANY OF DAY THE YEAR, WHATEVER EXCEPTION MAY BE TAKEN AT SUCH A VIEW.”
According tothe Mufti of Mecca Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan, in his book al-Sira al-nabawiyya wa al-athar al-muhammadiyya, page 51: “To celebrate the Mawlid and to remember the Prophet is accepted by all the Ulama of the Muslims.” Most of the following quotations are taken from that work.
Imam Subki said, “When we were celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, a great uns (familiarity) comes to our heart, and we feel something special.”
Imam Shawkani in his book al-Badr at-tali`, said, “It is permissible to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday.” He mentioned that Mullah `Ali Qari held the same opinion in a book entitled al-Mawrid ar-Rawi fi al-Mawlid al-Nabawi, written specifically to support the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday.
Imam Abu Shama, the sheikh of Imam Nawawi, said in his book on innovations entitled: al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith:
The best innovation in our day is the remembrance of the Prophet’s birthday. On that day, people give much donations, make much worship, show much love to the Prophet, and give much thanks to Allah Almighty for sending them His messenger to keep them on the Sunna and Shari`a of Islam.
Imam Sakhawi said, “The Mawlid was begun three centuries after the Prophet, and all Muslim nations celebrated it, and all `ulama accepted it, by worshipping Allah alone, by giving donations and by reading the Prophet’s Sira.”
Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said , “As Jews celebrated the day of `Ashura by fasting to thank Allah, we also have to celebrate the day of Mawlid,” and he quoted the aforementioned hadith, “When the Prophet came to Madina…” Ibn Hajar continues, “One gives thanks to Allah for the favor that He gave on a particular day either through a great good, or through the averting of a disaster. That day is celebrated every year thereafter. Thanksgiving entails various forms of worship like prostration, fast, charity, and recitation of Qur’an, and what greater good is there than the advent of that Prophet, the Prophet of Mercy, on the day of Mawlid?”
Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597) wrote a booklet of poems and sira to be read at mawlid celebrations. It is entitled Mawlid al-`arus and begins with the words: al-hamdu lillah al-ladhi abraza min ghurrati `arusi al-hadrati subhan mustanira: “Praise be to Allah Who has manifested from the radiance of the bridegroom of His presence a light-giving daybreak…”
This claim is not only an innovative departure from what the majority of the past scholars have said on the question; it is, first and foremost, defective in its logic and reasoning, since the scholars have defined innovations as being sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes indifferent, and therefore it is not allowed to prohibit something solely on the ground that it is an innovation without first defining what kind of innovation it is.
There is a bid`a hasana or excellent innovation according to the majority of the scholars who have written about bid`a, though some, like Ibn al-Jawzi and Ibn Taymiyya, consider all bid`a to be bid`a dalala (innovation of miguidance). Their position in this is isolated as the following evidence shows.
Harmala ibn Yahya said: “I heard al-Shafi`i saying:
al-bid`atu bid`atan: bid`a mahmuda wa bid`a madhmuma, fa ma wafaqa al-sunna fa huwa mahmud, wa ma khalafa al-sunna fa huwa madhmum.
Innovation is of two kinds: the praiseworthy innovation and the blameworthy innovation. Whatever conforms to the Sunna is praiseworthy, and whatever contravenes the Sunna is blameworthy.
al-hafiz Abu Nu`aym al-Asbahani cites it in Hilyat al-awliya (9:113);
al-hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani also in Fath al-Bari (13:253);
al-hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali also in Jami` al-`uloom wa al-hikam (p. 291);
al-hafiz Abu Shama in al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith ed. Mashhur Hasan Salman (Ryadh: Dar al-Raya, 1990/1410) p. 93; Cairo edition, p. 12.
al-hafiz al-Turtushi al-Maliki, Kitab al-hawadith wa al-bida` (p. 158-159); He himself divided the bid`a into muharrama (forbidden), makruha (disliked), and wajiba (obligatory): p. 15.
al-hafiz al-Suyuti alludes to it in the introduction to his fatwa on Mawlid entitled Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid in al-Hawi li al-fatawi;
al-hafiz Ibn Taymiyya, Dar’ ta`arud al-`aql wa al-naql, ed. Muhammad al-Sayyid Julaynid (Cairo: Mu’assasat al-ahram, 1409/1988) p. 171: “Bayhaqi narrated it in al-Madkhal with a sound chain”;
al-hafiz al-Bayhaqi, Manaqib al-Shafi’i (1:469) in these words:
al-muhdathatu min al-umuri darbani ahaduhuma ma uhditha yukhalifu kitaban aw sunnatan aw atharan aw ijma`an fa hadhihi al-bid`atu al-dalalat wa al-thaniyatu ma uhditha min al-khayri la khilafa fihi li wahidin min hadhihi wa hadhihi muhdathatun ghayru madhmuma.
Innovated matters are one of two kinds: one is an nnovation which contravenes something in the Qur’an or he Sunna or a report from a Companion or the consensus of he scholars: this is the innovation of misguidance (bid`a dlala); the other kind is whatever good has been nnovated which contravenes none of the above, and this is an innovation that is not blameworthy (muhdathatun ghayru madhmuma).
al-Hafiz al-`Izz Ibn `Abd al-Salam said:
There are five types of bid`a:
- Haram (forbidden)
- Makhruh (disliked)
- Mubah (permitted)
- Mandub (praiseworthy)
- Wajib (obligatory)
al-hafiz al-Shatibi, Kitab al-i`tisam (Beirut ed.) 1:188;
al-hafiz al-Imam al-Nawawi, Kitab al-Adhkar (Beirut: al-Thaqafiyya) p. 237; and Tahdhib al-asma’ wa al-lughat ([Cairo] : Idarat al-Tibaah al-Muniriyah, ?) 3: 22;
al-hafiz Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-muhtar (Kuitah, Pakistan ed.?) 1:376;
al-hafiz al-Suyuti mentions it in the introduction to his fatwa on Mawlid entitled Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid in al-Hawi li al-fatawi.
3. Others who admitted the possibility of praiseworthy bid`a are:
Abu Shama; he divided it into bid`a mustahsana / hasana on the one hand, and bid`a mustaqbaha on the other, itself subdivided into muharram and makruh. In al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith Cairo ed. (p. 13);
al-Tal-Hanafi; he divided it into either bid`a mustahsana (approved), such as mubaha yuthab `alayha (permitted innovation which merits reward), or bid`a mustaqbaha (disapproved), such as makruha or muharrama. In Kitab al-luma` fi al-hawadith wa al-bida` (Stuttgart, 1986) 1:37;
Ibn al-Hajj al-`Abdari al-Maliki, who followed al-Izz Ibn `Abd al-Salam’s classification. Madkhal al-shar` al-sharif (Cairo, 1336 H) 2:115;
al-Tahanawi al-Hanafi, who also followed Ibn `Abd al-Salam. Kashshaf istilahat al-funun (Beirut, 1966) 1:133-135;
al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani in his commentary of `Umar’s saying related by Bukhari about Salat al-Tarawih: “What a fine innovation this is” (ni`mat al-bid`a hadhih):
The root meaning of innovation is what is produced without precedent. It is applied in the law in opposition to the Sunna and is therefore blameworthy. Strictly speaking, if it is part of what is classified as commendable by the law then it is a good innovation (hasana), while if it is part of what is classified as blameworthy by the law then it is blameworthy (mustaqbaha), otherwise it falls in the category of what is permitted indifferently (mubah). It can be divided into the known five categories.”
4. Certain people still object:
“What about the hadith: kullu bida’tin dalala: “Every innovation is a misguidance”? Doesn’t the term “every” include all innovations?”
Such an objection stems from the misinterpretation of the term kull (“every”) in the hadith to be all-encompassing without exception, whereas in Arabic it may mean “Nearly all” or “the vast majority.” This is how al-Shafi`i understood it or else he would have never allowed for any innovation whatsoever to be considered good, and he is considered a hujja or “Proof,” that is, a reference without peer for questions regarding the Arabic language. The stylistic figure of meaning the part by the whole, or synechdoche in English, is in Arabic: `abbara `an al-kathrati bi al-kulliyya. This is illustrated by the use of kull in verse 46:25 of the Qur’an in a selective or partial sense not a universal sense:
Destroying all things by commandment of its Lord. And morning found them so that naught could be seen save their dwellings.
Thus the dwellings were not destroyed although “all” things had been destroyed. “All” here means specifically the lives of the unbelievers of `Ad and their properties, except their houses. The same applies with Balkis’s expression when she says that she has been given power over “everything” in Surat al-Naml, whereas she has not power over Sulayman and his kingdom.
In conclusion, the position of the majority of the scholars is clear: “To invent” (ahdatha – ) a “new practice” (bid’at – ) may refer either to the matter that is new linguistically speaking (lafzan), e.g. stone masjids, all the Islamic sciences, writing books about religion, etc. or the matter that is new legally speaking (shar`an – ), e.g. a sixth daily prayer. Since bid`a usually applies to innovations in religion in the legal sense, the former kind of “new matter” does not qualify as a bid`a and therefore is not prohibited. The celebration of mawlid falls under its heading. This is the ruling of all the major scholars on the definition of bid`a. Whoever denies this definition is either ignorant, or actually giving a new definition which is not from the majority of scholars but from one’s own whim. Their claim that they are “sticking to the sunna” is an empty claim which does not fool anybody but themselves and those they misguide. When asked to substantiate it with the criteria of scholarship in the light of the evidence against them, they keep repeating the claim, like parrots, ignoring or affecting to ignore the difference between the claim and the reality of the claim. Their purported “avoidance of the bid`a” is similarly based on their own whimsical conviction that they are right although they stray from the larger group. May Allah guide them.
CONCERNING THE STANDING OF THE PEOPLE AT THE CONCLUSION OF MAWLID, WHILE SENDING DARUD OR SALAWAT — BLESSINGS AND SALUTATIONS — ON THE HOLY PROPHET
Another objection of those who harbor ignorance or enmity in their heart towards the lovers of Allah and his Prophet consists in criticizing the standing of the people at the conclusion of Mawlid, in which the people address salutations and blessings to the Prophet. It is beyond us how anyone can object to an act of obedience and worship which has been specifically enjoined by Allah in His Book when He said: “O Believers, send blessings and utmost salutations on him!” (33:56) and He also spoke in praise of “Those who remember Allah standing, and sitting, and on their sides” (3:191). Since remembering Allah and sending blessings on His Prophet are acts of worship, no attention is given to those who object to standing for the sake of fulfilling one of Allah’s orders and greeting the Prophet according to Allah’s order.
Furthermore, it is known that anyone who visits the Prophet in Madina is obliged to stand in front of him with utmost respect at the time he gives him greetings and salutations, and there is no difference in the greeting of Salam being given to the Prophet in front of him in Madina and the one given to him from thousands of miles away, according to many sound hadiths of which several are mentioned above in the section on Ziyarat or Visitation of the Prophet, among them the following:
“Whoever invokes blessings on me at my grave, I hear him, and whoever invokes blessings on me from afar, I am informed about it.”
“No one greets me except Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his salam”.
Suyuti in Anba’ al-adhkiya’ bi hayat al-anbiya’ said that radda means `ala al-dawam , i.e. permanently, and not temporarily: in other words, Allah does not return the soul and take it back, then return it again and then take it back again, but He has returned it to the Prophet permanently, and the Prophet is alive permanently, not intermittently as some ignorant people have suggested. To those who would differ with Imam Suyuti we say: This is very much confirmed even if the hadith is taken literally, since there are always people at prayer in the world during the entire twenty-four hour cycle, and sending salawat on the Prophet is part of salat, therefore people are constantly and permanently invoking blessings and greetings on the Prophet without stop in the world. This shows that the hadith of the Prophet on the return of his soul takes into consideration the continuity of prayer concomitant with the revolving five times of prayer around the world, and that indeed he is alive in permanence, since Allah has entitled him to return every single salam that is made to him.
Nor is the appropriate time for standing when making salawat only at the time of Mawlid, but at any time, such as after salat, after Jum`a prayer, individually or in congregation, because it is a voluntary act of worship that no-one can forbid others from performing for the sake of obeying Allah.
Ibn Qunfudh al-Qusantini al-Maliki (d. 810) wrote in his book Wasilat al-islam bi al-nabi:
The Community is unanimous concerning the obligation to magnify and exalt the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions. It was the practice of the Pious Predecessors and the Imams of the past that whenever the Prophet was mentioned in their presence they were seized by reverence, humbleness, stillness, and dignity. Ja`far ibn Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn `Ali ibn Abi Talib (Ja`far al-Sadiq) would turn pale whenever he heard the Prophet mentioned. Imam Malik would not mention a hadith except in a state of ritual purity. `Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr al-Siddiq would turn red and stammer whenever he heard the Prophet mentioned. As for `Amir ibn `Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awamm al-Asadi (one of the early sufis), he would weep until his eyes had no tears left in them. When hadith was mentioned in their presence they would lowetheir voices. Malik said: “His sacredness (hurmat) in death is as his sacredness in life.”
Another reason why it is desirable and recommended to be seen standing at the time of greeting the Prophet is that he himself himself ordered the Companions to stand up when Sa`d ibn Mu`adh came to him, as related by Bukhari in his Sahih:Qumu li sayyidikum or “Stand up for your master.” What better master to stand for than the Prophet? Imam Nawawi demonstrated at length that standing out of respect for scholars was not only permissible but desirable in his book al-Tarkhis fi al-ikram bi al-qiyam, the full title of which reads: “The Permissibility of Honoring, By Standing Up, Those Who Possess Excellence and Distinction Among the People of Islam: In the Spirit of Piousness, Reverence, and Respect, Not in the Spirit of Display and Aggrandizement.” The following discussion on the subject of standing out of respect is taken from Nawawi’s Tarkhis, as well as his Sharh Sahih Muslim, Ibn Hajar’s sections of Fath al-Bari following up on Nawawi’sTarkhis, and Sakhawi’s own biography of Ibn Hajar entitled al-Jawahir wa al-durar:
1. From `Amr ibn Shu`ayb from his father from his grandfather: The Prophet said: “He is not of us who did not show mercy to our young ones and ignored the honor of our elders.” Tirmidhi (Birr wa silat 4:322 #28) said: hasan sahih (fair and sound). Ahmad (2:185) narrates it but the second part is: “and ignored the right of our elders.” Nawawi said: we related (by a chain) from Bukhari that he said: “I saw Ahmad ibn Hanbal and `Ali ibn al-Madani and Ishaq ibn Rahawayh cite the hadith of `Amr ibn Shu`ayb from his father from his grandfather as a proof — and who are those who came after them!” Another version from Ibn `Abbas has: “…and does not treat our elders with reverence…” Tirmidhi (4:322 #28), but with a weaker chain.
2. From Maymun ibn Abi Shabib: A beggar passed by `A’isha and she gave him a chunk of bread. Another time a handsomely dressed man passed by her and she invited him to sit and eat. She was asked about it and she said: The Prophet said: “Treat people according to their station.” Abu Dawud related it with an interrupted (munqati`) chain; Muslim mentions it without chain in the introduction to his Sahih. Sakhawi says in his introduction (p. 5) to al-Jawahir wa al-durar (The diamonds and the pearls), his biography of his teacher Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani: “This is a fair (hasan) hadith… Nawawi reports Ibn al-Salah’s opinion that it is not definitely established as sound [although it satisfies Muslim’s criterion], however, al-Hakim definitely establishes it as sound in the part that deals with the 16th kind of sound narration of his book Ma`rifat `ulum al-hadith (Knowledge of the Sciences of Hadith) where he also says: “Ibn Khuzayma declared it sound… al-Bazzar extracted it in his Musnad… so did Abu Dawud in his Sunan… al-`Askari in his Kitab al-amthal… Abu Ya`la in his Musnad… Bayhaqi in al-Adab… Abu Nu`aym in the Hilya…”
3. Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said: The people of Qurayza submitted to Sa`d ibn Mu`adh’s arbitration, so the Prophet sent for Sa`d who came riding on his donkey. When he approached the mosque, Allah’s Messenger said to the Ansar: “Stand up for your chieftain — or: for the best among you –” then he said: “These people have submitted to your decision…” Muslim narrated it in his Sahih (Bk. 32 Jihad – Ch. 22 #1728).
NAWAWI’S COMMENTARY: There is in this hadith the proof for honoring persons of merit by standing up for them upon receiving them while they are coming towards us. Thus have the overwhelming majority of the scholars used this as a proof for the desirability of standing up. Qadi `Iyad said: “This is not the kind of standing that is forbidden. The latter is only when one sits and the others remain standing all through his sitting.” I say: Standing up for the person of merit who is coming is desirable; many ahadith have been related supporting it, while there is not one sound explicit prohibition against it.
4. Anas said that none was dearer to them than Allah’s Messenger, and they would not stand up when they saw him due to their knowledge that he disliked it. Tirmidhi (Adab – 5:90 # 44) said it is hasan sahih (fair and sound).
NAWAWI’S COMMENTARY: This is the hadith most readily cited as a proof against standing up. There are two answers:
- The Prophet feared confusion for them and for their successors in their exaggeration in magnifying him, as he said in another hadith: “Do not praise me in the fashion that the Christians praised `Isa ibn Maryam” (Bukhari 6:478 Bk. 60 Anbiya’ #48 and Ahmad 1:23,24). He disliked their standing for him for that reason. However, he did not dislike their standing for each other, and he even stood for some of them, and also they stood for others in his presence without his prohibiting it. Rather he approved it, and he ordered it in the hadith of standing up for Sa`d ibn Mu`adh… This is a clear answer in which none will see doubt except an ignorant person or a stubborn one.
- There was between the Prophet and his Companions a perfect state of love and purity which does not suffer addition through honoring by standing up, since there was no purpose being achieved by standing up, as opposed to standing up for someone else. One’s companion who is near this state has no need of standing up.
IBN AL-HAJJ’S OBJECTIONS:
- This answer is not complete except if it is first conceded that the Companions rose up for no-one. If they got up for him then, it would be exaggeration. However, Nawawi affirms that they did this for other than him; how then does he deem it permissible for them to do with other than the Prophet what leaves no protection against exaggeration, while they do not do it with him? For if they do this to honor someone, then the Prophet is worthier of such honor, as we know from the source-texts which order us to honor him above everyone else. It seems that their rising for other than him was therefore only for a necessity caused by their arrival, or to congratulate them, and so forth, not for the reason that is controverted [= respect].
- Nawawi’s explanation can be reverted and it can be said that the Companion whose devotion to the Prophet has not been ascertained and who has not yet realized the stature of the Prophet is excused for not standing up, as opposed to him whose devotion is ascertained and whose station is greater in relation to the Prophet and his worth is known: he would apply himself (to respect him), because he would be certain that he deserves more piety and honor and reverence than any other. But Nawawi’s saying makes it necessary that whoever is likelier to show respect to the Prophet and is closer in station to him, should show him less reverence than he who is far from him, due to intimacy and complete affection. The reality is other than that according to the authentic reports, as occurred in the story of the Prophet’s oversight, while Abu Bakr and `Umar were present among the people and they were too afraid to speak to him, while Dhu al-Yadayn (“He of the Long Hands”– perhaps al-Khirbaq al-Sulami) spoke to him despite his remoteness from the Prophet in station in comparison to Abu Bakr and `Umar. [A reference to the hadith in Bukhari (English 1:278-279) and Muslim whereby the Prophet prayed `Asr and gave salam after two rak`ats; this Companion said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, has the prayer been shortened or did you forget?” The Prophet replied that neither applied, then he prayed the remaining two rak`ats.
`ASQALANI’S REFUTATION OF IBN AL-HAJJ:
- This objection of Ibn al-Hajj does not stand, because Imam Nawawi never said that the Companions’ rising for the Prophet is considered exaggeration in order for Ibn al-Hajj to say: “This answer is not complete except if it is first conceded that the Companions rose up for no-one. If they got up for him then, it would be exaggeration.” What Imam Nawawi said is that the Prophet feared lest their rising should lead to exaggeration. That is why he forbade it to them, fearing exaggeration and lest they should fall in the confusion of exaggeration. Y, he is worthier of being honored than any other, except that he feared that their showing him this particular mark of honor might lead to exaggeration and that is why he forbade it to them.
- With the second objection Ibn al-Hajj has contravened the universal custom of people in their companionship and their love. It is definitely known that the stronger the companionship and love between two people, the more superfluous certain formalities become between them. This is clear and needs no exposition. On the contrary, if companionship is weak and mutual acquaintance limited, a human being in that case needs to win his companion’s love and affection with all kinds of honorific acts. This is because obtaining a person’s love and affection is upheld by the transmitted reports dealing with giving honor. Now when love reaches the level where it is no longer increased by honorific acts, the latter are no longer necessary.
As for Ibn al-Hajj’s objection that “Nawawi’s saying makes it necessary that whoever is likelier to show respect to the Prophet and is closer in station to him, should show him less reverence than he who is far from him, due to intimacy and complete affection”: it is an invalid necessity. That some formalities become superfluous between friends and loved ones does not mean that mutual reverence and respect become superfluous. This is clear and needs no exposition. Rather, the contrary is true: because the lover is of all people the most aware of the attributes of his beloved, and when the latter is graced with praiseworthy, high attributes, and people flock to give him proper respect and reverence, the lover is the most intense of all in respect and reverence due to his added knowledge of the attributes of the beloved.
As for Ibn al-Hajj’s inference from the hadith of the Prophet’s oversight, it does not impose itself due to the possibility that Abu Bakr and `Umar’s silence may be for a reason other than fear, such as their knowledge that he disliked questioning, or their knowledge that he does not setlle on a mistake except Allah certainly informs him of it, or for another reason. Moreover, Ibn al-Hajj’s inference contradicts what has been related concerning his attributes, namely that those who were far from him feared him, and that those who grew near him, frequented him, and saw his humbleness and the nobility of his manners, immediately were at ease with him and loved him. Here are some proofs:
Ibn Majah narrated (2:1101 Bk. 29 – at`ima Ch. 30) from Ibn Mas`ud that a man came to speak to the Prophet and he began to shake with fear. The Prophet said to him: “Put yourself at ease, for I am not a king, I am the son of a woman who ate sun-dried meat.” Tirmidhi narrated (5:599 – Bk. 50 manaqib ch. 8) from `Ali at the end of his description: “Whoever saw him from afar was awed by him, and whoever mixed with him and grew to know him, loved him.” The reason for this is the presence in the Prophet of the attributes of majesty and sanctity despite great humbleness before all who saw him.
5. Abu Mijlaz said: Mu`awiya went out to meet Ibn al-Zubayr and Ibn `Amir. The latter stood up while the former remained seated. Mu`awiya said to Ibn `Amir: “Sit, for I heard the Prophet say: “Whoever likes for men to stand up for him let him take his place in the fire.” Tirmidhi’s version mentions Ibn al-Zubayr and Safwan, and both get up. Abu Dawud narrated it (Adab 4:385), also Tirmidhi (Adab 5:90 #44) who said: hasan (fair) and Ahmad (4:94, 100).
NAWAWI’S COMMENTARY: Most people in disfavor of standing are fond of quoting this hadith. It is answered in many ways,
- The soundest and best — nay, the one answer which makes all others superfluous is that there is no proof against standing up in this hadith. Its plain, outward meaning is the explicit condemnation and harsh threat against any man who likes people to get up for him. There is neither prohibition nor other than prohibition concerning standing itself, and there is agreement about this… The gravity of the condemnation is in what takes place inside the mind of the person who likes people to stand for him. If there is no such thing in his mind there is no blame on him — all this whether they get up or not… The prohibition revolves around the love of adulation not the act of standing. Therefore there is no proof in this hadith against the permissibility of standing.
- Another answer is that the hadith is mudtarib (disordered — many incompatible narrations) according to the two imams of hadith Abu Bakr ibn Abi `Asim and Abu Musa al-Asbahani, and this is a necessary cause for the weakness of the hadith. However, this answer is open to question since both Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud have graded the hadith fair (hasan) and have spoken concerning it. Moreover, the disparity does not result in a disorder of the kind that makes it necessarily weak, and Allah knows best. [NB: Observe the honesty of Nawawi in defending what weakens his position.]
- The sayings of the imams and luminaries concerning whose eminence there is unanimity among the people of intellect and discernment: Abu Nasr Bishr ibn al-Harith al-Hafi al-Zahid, Abu Sulayman Hamd ibn Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Khattabi, Abu Muhammad al-Husayn ibn Mas`ud al-Baghawi, and Abu Musa Muhammad ibn `Umar al-Asbahani the hafiz, may Allah be well pleased with all of them: [after quoting the isnad]Ahmad ibn al-Mughlis said: Abu Nasr ibn al-Harith said, after I mentioned this hadith in front of him: “He only disliked the standing from the perspective of arrogance, but from the perspective of sincere love, he did not, since he himself stood up for `Ikrima ibn Abu Jahl… and he said: “Stand for your chief,” and he said: “He who likes people to stand for him…” indicating that whoever likes people to stand for him, you must not stand for him.” As for Baghawi and Khattabi as we mentioned with our isnad they spoke to the effect that the hadith concerns only those who order others from the perspective of pride and arrogance. Abu Musa said: “The meaning of the hadith is those who make men stand around them like courtiers stand around kings.”
6. From Abu Amama: The Prophet came out leaning on a stick and we rose up for him. He said: “Do not get up in the manner of the foreigners who aggrandize each others.” Abu Dawud narrated it (Adab – 4:358). Ibn Majah’s version (Du`a #34, 2:1261): “Do not do as the Persians do with their great ones.”
NAWAWI’S COMMENTARY: The answer is in two beautiful ways:
- The two Imams Abu Bakr ibn Abi `Asim and Abu Musa al-Asbahani said that this is a weak hadith which cannot be used as a proof. Abu Bakr said: “This hadith cannot be established and its sub-narrators are unknown.” I say: to this is added the fact that it is “mudtarib” (disordered — see above), and it would suffice that only one of these two factors were present to grade it as weak, let alone two.
- The hadith in itself is crystal-clear as to its intent as opposed to that of the rest: namely, it purports to condemn those who stand for the purpose of aggrandizement. That is why he said: “Do not get up in the manner of the foreigners who aggrandize each others.” There is no doubt as to what is being condemned. And Allah knows best.
7. From (Nafi`) Abu Bakra: The Prophet said: “Let no man stand from his seat for another.” Abu Musa al-Isbahani narrated it with his chain. Al-hafiz Abu al-Qasim Ibn `Asakir said in his book al-Atraf that Abu Dawud narrated in the book of Adab (4:258). The chain has Abu `Abd Allah Mawla Al Abi Burda, who is unknown. See al-Taqrib #8215.
NAWAWI’S COMMENTARY: The answer to this is the same two answers as the preceding section… There is possibly a third way to answer it reasonably. The meaning would be: “Do not get up from the place of prayer, of listening to a sermon and to remembrance and knowledge et cetera, for it is disliked that one should give up one’s seat in such cases, or leave it and take another farther away from the imam.
The same is true of all gestures that are similar to these, and we consider this to muster the general agreement of scholars, as opposed to giving up one’s food and drink other things related to one’s personal lot: to give those up is a most desirable thing, one of the marks of the righteous and among the manners of saints and gnostics, concerning which this verse was revealed: “They prefer others above themselves though poverty become their lot” (59:9).
The difference between the two types of sacrifice is that the right, in the person’s nearness, belongs to Allah the Exalted, and to transfer it is not permissible, as opposed to food and the like where the right belongs to the person, although in some cases it belongs to Allah even then…
8. Nawawi says:
al-Shaykh Abu Muhammad told us – Abu Taher al-Khashaw`i told us – Abu Muhammad al-Akfani told us – Al-hafiz Abu Bakr al-Khatib al-Baghdadi told us by permission not hearing: – Al-Husayn ibn `Ali al-Jawhari told us – `Amr ibn al-`Abbas al-Khazzaz related to us – Abu Bakr al-Sawli told us – Ishaq ibn Ibrahim al-Qazzaz told us – Ishaq al-Shahidi related to us
I would see Yahya al-Qattan — may Allah the Exalted have mercy on him — pray the midafternoon prayer, then sit with his back against the base of the minaret of his mosque. Then `Ali ibn al-Madini, al-Shadhakuni, `Amr ibn `Ali, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Yahya ibn Ma`in, and others would stand before him and ask him questions about hadith standing on their feet until it was time for the sunset prayer. He would not say to a single one of them: “Sit” nor would they sit, out of awe and reverence.
9. Nawawi said: the hafiz Abu Musa al-Asbahani (d. 581) recited:
qiyami wa al-`azizi ilayka haqqun
I swear by the All-Powerful that my standing for you (O Prophet) is right and true
wa tarku al-haqqi ma la yastaqimu
and to leave truth and right is to embrace error
fa hal ahadun lahu `aqlun wa lubbun wa ma`rifa
yaraka fa la yaqumu?
I ask: can anyone possessed of a mind and a heart and knowledge, upon seeing you, not stand up?
We hold, as Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Nawawi and Abu Musa al-Asbanahi, that no-one possessed of a heart and mind can object to standing for the sake of the Prophet, and that this is desirable and recommended not only in the time of the Prophet but until the end of time. Observe that the hafiz Abu Musa died in 581, more than five centuries after the time of the Prophet, and yet stands for him in the present tense and mentions “seeing him”: this seeing of the Prophet by the pious believers both in a sleeping and a wakeful state is an attested fact in the Shari`a which has been mentioned by the scholars, among them al-Haytami in his Fatawa hadithiyya:
He was asked: “Is it possible to meet the Prophet while awake in our time?”
He replied: “Yes, it is possible. It has been asserted as part of the miracles of saints (karamat al-awliya’) by Ghazali, al-Barizi, al-Taj al-Subki, and al-Yafi`i among the Shafi`is, and by al-Qurtubi and Ibn Abi Jamra among the Malikis. It has been narrated that one of the awliya’ was sitting in the assembly of a jurist (faqih) while the latter related a hadith, whereupon the wali said: “This hadith is false.” The jurist said: “How do you know that?” The wali replied: “There is the Prophet standing right next to you, and he is saying: “I never said this.” When he said this the sight of the faqih was unveiled and he could see the Prophet.”
The above kind of testimony constitutes evidence that the Prophet hears and sees us, as has been stated by the hadiths to the effect that he sees our actions and hears our greetings and blessings, and that he intercedes for us as we mention below, in the section on Ziyara. Following we present further sound evidence that the Prophet is alive in his grave and we conclude by asking: If it is meritorious to stand as a mark of respect for others in religion, and if the Prophet is alive and hears us, and if he himself ordered the Companions to stand for their sayyid, then what better sayyid to stand for than the Prophet himself, and what other act of standing can possibly compete with this one in merit and excellence?
“Allah has defended the earth from consuming the bodies of Prophets”.
“The Prophets are alive in their graves, praying to their Lord”.
“(The night I was enraptured to my Lord) I saw Musa standing in prayer in his grave”.
CONCERNING THE OBJECTIONS OF SOME TO USING THE PHRASE: AS-SALAMU `ALAYKA YA RASULALLAH (“PEACE UPON YOU, O MESSENGER OF ALLAH”), ALTHOUGH ALLAH SAYS IN THE HOLY QUR’AN:
“O BELIEVERS, SEND BLESSINGS AND GREETINGS UPON HIM,” AND THEIR CLAIM THAT ONE CANNOT HAIL THE PROPHET WITH THE TERM YA (“O”)
Our answer is, al-hamdu lillah, that it is permissible, excellent, praiseworthy, and highly meritorious to invoke blessings upon the Prophet with the phrases:
Ya Rasulallah (O Messenger of Allah)
Ya Habib Allah (O Beloved Lover of Allah)
Ya Nabi Allah (O Prophet of Allah)
Ya Safi Allah (O Intimate Friend of Allah)
Ya Khalil Allah (O Intimate Friend of Allah)
Ya Naji Allah (O Intimate Friend of Allah)
and any such phrases at all times and places, but most especially in gatherings of dhikr where such phrases increase love of the Prophet in the heart in untold amounts, and we are obliged to love him more than children, parents, and life itself. The scholars of manasik (rites of Pilgrimage) recommend these phrases, moreover, when visiting the Prophet in Madina. It is established that `Abdullah ibn `Umar would say: as-salamu `alayka Ya Rasulallah upon each of his visits to the Prophet, and a similar phrase with Abu Bakr and with his father. Those who object to using “YA” with the Prophet are injuring themselves and others by falling into various traps of inconsistency and innovation due to the following reasons:
1. Apparently they don’t make salat, or they don’t say tashahhud in
salat and this renders their salat invalid if this is the case. For
in every salat, at least ten times a day, we say, in tashahhud:
as-salamu `alayka ayyuha al-nabi wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh
and the phrase ayyuha al-nabi is the same as ya nabi.
2. Allah orders us not to call upon the Prophet in the same way as we call upon each other:
la taj`alu du`a’a al-rasuli baynakum ka du`a’i ba`dikum ba`dan
“Make not the calling of the Messenger among you as your calling one of another” (24:63)
This is a proof that He did not prohibit us from calling upon him, for an absolute prohibition needs not be qualified further. Allah Himself shows us the etiquette of addressing the Prophet by calling him Himself “Ya ayyuha al-nabi” — O Prophet — and referring to him as “The Messenger” in the Qur’an, whereas He calls other Prophets by name: Ya Ibrahim, Ya Yahya, Ya Musa, Ya `Isa, etc. The `ulama have explained that Allah established by this an honorific difference between the Seal of Prophets and those that preceded him, blessings and peace of Allah upon him and upon all of them. They have also said that it is the reason why we should prefer to say: Ya Rasulallah over saying Ya Muhammad.
3. As mentioned in the section on Tawassul, the Prophet taught a blind man to make a du`a in which he has to say: “Ya Muhammad”. This is a well-known authentic hadith and no-one can refute it except those who have no knowledge of the Religion. This is the invocation:
“O Allah, I am asking you and turning to you by means of your Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of mercy; O Muhammad, I am turning with you to my Lord regarding my present need so that He will fulfill it; O Allah, allow him to intercede (with You) for me!”
The words “O Muhammad” are missing from the version in Tirmidhi. It is a strange, ungrammatical omission because without the vocative “O Muhammad,” the sense of the direct address continues to be “O Allah,” which makes no sense since in the latter part he is saying: “I am turning with you to my Lord,” which clearly does not mean “O Allah, I am turning with You to my Lord.”
In this connection Muslims should take note of the followinheinous act on the issue of “Ya Muhammad,” because it is established without doubt as one of the great Wahhabi tamperings of our time. If one looks at an old picture of the golden gate at the entrance of the Prophet’s grave, one will see, at the top of each door, intertwined, the invocations in Arabic calligraphy:
If one looks now at the top of each door, one will notice that the Arabic letter Y in the initial position in the word YA in “Ya Muhammad” has been lopped off, but the A ( ) as well as the bottom two dots of the Y have been left in place, so that now one will read:
We have published a picture of the old gate, before the Wahhabis defaced it, on the front cover of our book Islamic Beliefs and Doctrine According to Ahl al-Sunna: A Repudiation of “Salafi” Innovations, Part I. It is a high-quality, clear color picture which we hope can seen and understood by all Muslims. All must know the acts of the shaytans who rage against the Prophet with their hand, their tongue, and their heart.
We declare that we consider such enemies of the Prophet and those who support them as our enemies, and call upon every Muslim to oppose them with us. They may have penetrated many mosques and Islamic centers, but they are very easily unmasked. All you have to do is shout: “YA RASULALLAH!” in front of them and you will see them scurry away.
The above invocation was also used after the Prophet’s lifetime, as is proven by the sound (sahih) hadith authenticated by Bayhaqi, Abu Nu`aym in the “Ma`rifa,” Mundhiri (“Targhib” 1:473-474), Haythami, and Tabarani in the “Kabir” (9:17-18) and the “Saghir” (1:184/201-202) on the authority of `Uthman ibn Hunayf’s nephew Abu Imama ibn Sahl ibn Hunayf: A man would come to `Uthman ibn `Affan for a certain need, but the latter would not pay him any attention nor look into his need, upon which he complained of his condition to `Uthman ibn Hunayf who told him:
“Go and make ablution, then go to the mosque and pray two rak`at, then say (this du`a),” and he mentioned the invocation of the blind man, “then go (to `Uthman again).”
The man went, did as he was told, then came to `Uthman’s door, upon which the door-attendant came, took him by the hand, and brought him to `Uthman who sat him with him on top of the carpet, and said: “Tell me what your need is.” After this the man went out, met `Uthman ibn Hunayf again, and said to him: “May Allah reward you! Previously he would not look into my need nor pay any attention to me, until you spoke to him.” He replied: “I did not speak to him, but I saw the Prophet when a blind man came to him complaining of his failing eyesight,” and he mentioned to him the substance of the previous narration.
Finally, “Ya Muhammad” is the speech of sayyidina `Isa to the Prophet after `Isa’s descent, according to an authentic hadith on the authority of Abu Hurayra:
I heard the Prophet say: “By the one in Whose hand is Abu al-Qasim’s soul, `Isa ibn Maryam shall descend as a just and wise ruler. He shall destroy the cross, slay the swine, eradicate discord and grudges, and money shall be offered to him but he will not accept it. Then he shall stand at my grave side and say: Ya Muhammad! and I will answer him.”
Abu Ya`la relates it with a sound (sahih) chain in his Musnad (Dar al-Ma’mun ed. 1407/1987) 11:462; Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani cites it in al-Matalib al-`aliya (Kuwait, 1393/1973) 4:23, chapter entitled: “Concerning the Prophet’s life in his grave” and #4574. Haythami says in Majma` al-zawa’id (8:5), Chapter entitled: “`Isa ibn Maryam’s Descent”: “Its sub-narrators are the men of sound (sahih) hadith.”
It is not necessary for the person greeting the Prophet to be standing at the Prophet’s graveside, since the Prophet also said: “Whoever invokes blessings on me at my grave, I hear him, and whoever invokes blessings on me from afar, I am informed about it.”
Abu al-Shaykh cites it in Kitab al-Salat `ala al-nabi (“Jala’ al-afham” p. 22), and Ibn Hajar says in “Fath al-Bari” (6:379): “Abu al-Shaykh cites it with a good chain (sanad jayyid).” Bayhaqi mentions it in “Hayat al-anbiya” and “Shu`ab al-iman” (2:218 #1583) with “ublightuhu” in the end.
Thus the following report of Ibn Abi Fudayk, one of the early scholars of Madina and one of Shafi`i’s shaykhs, applies not only to the Prophet’s visitor in Madina, but to every person who invokes blessings on the Prophet from afar with the words Ya Muhammad as if he were standing in front of the Prophet: “I heard one of the authorities whom I have met say: “It has reached us that whoever stands at the Prophet’s grave and recites: “Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet…” (33:56) and then says: “May Allah bless you, O Muhammad” (sallallahu `alayka ya Muhammad) seventy times, an angel will call him saying: May Allah bless you, O So-and-so; none of your needs will be left unfulfilled.”” Ibn Jama`a related it in Hidayat al-salik 3:1382-1383, Ibn al-Jawzi in Muthir al-gharam p. 487, Qadi `Iyad in al-Shifa’, and Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-iman (#4169).
Bukhari in his Adab al-mufrad, Nawawi in his Adhkar, and Shawkani in Tuhfat al-dhakirin all relate the narrations of Ibn `Umar and Ibn `Abbas whereby they would call out Ya Muhammad whenever they had a cramp in their leg (Chapters entitled: “What one says if he feels a cramp in his leg”). Regardless of the grade of authenticity of these narrations, it is significant that Bukhari, Nawawi, and Shawkani never raised such a disturbing notion as to say that calling out “O Muhammad” amounted to shirk.
In conclusion, we advise the beloved brothers and sisters who meet objections to saying “Ya Rasulallah” to stand firm in the knowledge that their act is grounded in the Shari`a and that it is the objectors who are in the wrong. If the objectors show enmity, such as using labels of “shirk” and so forth in the manner of “Salafis” and Wahhabis, at that time steer clear of them because Allah has sealed their hearts and they will even reject the evidence of Qur’an and hadith through pride in their hearts. It is better to emigrate from them and protect one’s religion until they repent, rather than to accommodate their disease and lose even one iota of a meritorious act, and Allah knowsbest.
O People of Islam, O Nation of the Prophet, celebrate your Prophet with pride and joy, and do not go into dispute about matters that create fitna and confusion. Do not prevent others from celebrating, leave everyone to their heart, and let us unify ourselves by keeping Allah’s order in the Holy Qur’an to “Hold fast together to the rope of Allah and do not separate.” And let us pray for heavenly support against the enemies of Islam in the world. That is better than going into disputes and arguments.
We encourage every Muslim who has questions about this topic not to be intimidated by idiotic assertions such as: “Mawlid is like Christmas” but to inform themselves of the views of the authorities in the four schools and to know that even Ibn Taymiyya, who wrote against the Mawlid, admitted that it may be good to celebrate Mawlid and gave as his precedent for this concession the fact that Imam Ahmad accepted that a certain man spend a large sum of money decorating a copy of the Qur’an, although Ahmad considered it an innovation.
In shari`a, nothing is declared haram except if the scholars are unanimous that the Qur’an and sunna declare it so, whether explicitly or allusively. In the case of Mawlid, not only does such a unanimity not exist, but there is a majority declaring that it is an excellent action which merits reward, and even a supporter of the opposite view admitting that it can be praiseworthy! It is fair to say that someone who persists in rejecting the permissibility of Mawlid after all the above evidence, which is based on Qur’an, Sunna, and the derivations of ahkam (rulings) from the relevant dala’il (proof-texts), can only be a blind-follower of his own ignoranand stubborn opinion. “They will pass through the religion the way the arrow passes clean through its quarry” (Bukhari and Muslim). Allah knows best, and Allah guides whomever He will.