Mawlid nabiyy — unlike ‘Īd al-Adhā and al-Fitr — lasts a whole year. The celebrators, as incontrovertibly seen around us, are usually at liberty to stage their spiritual parties anytime deemed appropriate. The implication of this, no doubt, is that the former (mawlid), even though it has no single entry in the Book of Allāh nor in the tradition of the prophet, is much more significant than the latter (Adhā and Fitr). How does one explain this when probed on Judgement Day?
The reward for congregational Salāh is twenty-seven, or twenty-five, at least, as evident in the tradition of the holy prophet. Lailatul Qadr which has a chapter dedicated to it in the Qur’ān is better than one thousand months – an equivalence of eighty-three long years and more. The reward or benefits of the Night of Majesty are unimaginably huge, as prayers are answered therein and unfavourable destinies changed.
The reward for greeting with salām is ten on the minimum, twenty on the average and thirty on the aggregate. Salāmu alaykum, for instance, is ten; salāmu alaykum warahmatuLlāh is twenty; while salāmu alaykum warahmatuLLāhi wabarakātuH is thirty. So I ask, ‘what reward has mawlid nabiyy?’
I have always wondered why the holy prophet, in spite of his special selection as a messenger and his closeness to the Creator, could forget to have his birth celebrated, at least once. And he didn’t remember too when he was asked why he would fast on Monday? That siege of forgetfulness equally gripped Allāh that oversight disallowed Him from according it a verse in His Book. A’ūdhubiLlāh! AstagfiruLlāh! SubhānaLlāh! But He did expressly emphasise that not only He but also His Angels would shower salāh on the holy prophet. Allāh therefore commanded muslims to do as ceaselessly done Him and His Angels, hence the origin of As-salātu ‘ala-n-Nabiyy. What then is the place of mawlid nabiyy?
The Sahābah whose love and loyalty to the holy prophet almost transcended the ladder top (some of whose instances verses of the Qur’ān were revealed), also forgot to propel their leader to ask for a legitimisation of his birthday commemoration from Allāh.
Abubakr got the mantle of caliphacy after the holy prophet’s noble demise. He spent years on the throne without showing how dearly his salaf was to him. How come he hated his teacher and leader that much? Perhaps he loved him while he was alive, but hated him on demise, right? How come his daughter — the prophet’s youngest wife (‘Āishah) — never reminded her father of her husband’s noble birthday so it could be celebrated? She hated him too?
Umar got the baton and reigned for years with no day earmarked to celebrate the prophet’s birthday. Uthmān – the luckiest man who had two daughters of the prophet married at different times, and who could have had the third had the prophet any more daughter after the death of Ummu Kulthum. Could the caliph who had benefitted so much affection from the prophet be so heartlessly ungrateful that he would not reciprocally appreciate such a rare gesture with a mawlid nabiyy? Aliyy – the fourth caliph and cousin to the prophet – was equally not disposed to celebrating his own relation (his father’s beloved). What about Fātimah, his wife who was the only surviving daughter of the prophet? She didn’t love her father too, right? And the Sahābah in general all slept with their heads positioned in the same direction without any single one giving a reminder of the prophet’s birthday?
Celebrating mawlid nabiyy is like laying claim to all the aforementioned. If it were part of Islām, how come none of the muslims who lived with the noble prophet never did it? If it were an act of ibādah (worship), what then is the reward for the doer or partaker in the celebration? If anyone would dare answer in the affirmative, where then is such readably enshrined in the Qur’an or in the Sunnah?
Mawlid nabiyy first came to life in Egypt in the 4th century – 362 years after the hijrah of the prophet. The originator was Ubayd Al-Qaddah – a slave who became freed on at the instance of Ja’far ibn Muhammad As-Sādiq. Ubayd claimed to be a great-grand son of ‘Aliyy ibn Abī Tālib who married Fātimah, the prophet’s daughter, the reason they claimed to be Fātimiyyūn. Ubayd and his people prevailed on the people of Egypt due to the power they had. The innovation travelled to Irāq, and then to Morocco. And it eventually spread like wild fire to the entire world.
It is evident from the above that mawlid nabiyy was never practised by the models of Islām – the holy prophet, the sahābah and the other two best generations. That’s why its celebration has no template. People do it as they so wish, even without any duration.
This piece will not be concluded without a brief mention of the fact that certain reliable scholars, such as Al-Imām Suyūti, Ash-Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah etc truly ‘conditionally’ okayed the celebration of mawlid nabiyy as usually quoted by the proponents of the festivity. Not aligning with those very knowledgeable scholars on this issue is a glaring indication that it is not them but Allāh and His apostle we follow. We love them, but we love Allāh and His apostle more. We respect their views, but we do not worship them. They are humans, and they aren’t infallible. They make mistakes, and their stance on mawlid nabiyy is one of them. May Allāh forgive them and us.
Have you ever wondered why no single statement as regards the permissibility of mawlid nabiyy has never been attributed to any of the four imāms – Mālik, Abū Hanīfah, Shāfi’ and Hambal? That’s because there was no such thing during their times. Even those who claim to have jealously adopted Mālik’s school of thought are yet to ascribe mawlid nabiyy to him.
Sanni Kay Yūsuf