IV. QUESTIONS ON MAWLID (CELEBRATING THE BIRTH
OF THE HOLY PROPHET,
ALLAH'S BLESSINGS AND PEACE
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 darud or 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?
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 `Eids, `Eid al-Adha and `Eid 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; and 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.
a) Ten 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
FIRST: 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" (68:4).
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.
The Prophet Emphasized Monday As the Day He Was Born
SECOND: Abu Qatada al-Ansari narrates in Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-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 Shaykh 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 (1:261): "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 Prophet... 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.)
Allah Said: Rejoice in the Prophet
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" (10:58).
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" (21:107).
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.
The Prophet Celebrated Great Historical Events
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.
Allah Said: Invoke Blessings on the Prophet
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" (33:56). 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.
The Effect of Observing Mawlid on Unbelievers
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" [sura 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"?"
The Obligation to Know Sira and Imitate Its Central Character
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 we will be readier to take the Prophet 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.
The Prophet Accepted Poetry in His Honor
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.
Singing and Recitation of Poetry
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 al-Salt had composed. Ibn Qayyim continues, "`A'isha always recited poems praising him and he was happy with her."
This Umayya ibn Abi al-Salt is a poet of Jahiliyya who died in Damascus before Islam. He was a pious man who had relinquished the use of wine and the worship of idols, as related by Dhahabi in Siyar a`lam al-nubala' (2:23).
Part of the funeral eulogy Hassan ibn Thabit recited for 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.
Singing and Recitation of Qur'an
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 in 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."
The Prophet Allowed Drum-Playing For A Good Intention
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 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."
The Prophet Emphasized the Birthday of Prophets
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`a (Friday), the Prophet said in his hadith: "On that day [i.e. Jum`a], 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.
Why Bukhari Emphasized Dying On Monday
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 al-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?"
The Prophet Emphasized the Birthplace of Prophets
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."
The Ijma` of `ulama on the Permissibility of Mawlid
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."
History of The Celebration of Mawlid:
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 salat 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.
Earliest Mentions of the Public Mawlid
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."
Ibn Battuta's Account of the Mawlid
The famous 8th-century historian Ibn Battuta relates in his Rihla, Vol. 1, p. 309 and 347, that on every Friday, after the salat, 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.
Three Tenth-Century Accounts of the Mawlid
The following description consolidates eyewitness accounts by three 10th-century authorities: the historian Ibn Zahira al-Hanafi from his al-Jami` al-latif fi fasl Makka wa ahliha, p. 326; Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami from his Kitab al-mawlid al-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 reached the 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.
The Celebration of Mawlid in Islamic Countries Today
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 Yugoslavia), 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 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.
Ibn Taymiyya's Opinion on the Meetings of Dhikr
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'."
Ibn Kathir Praises the Night of Mawlid
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."
`Asqalani and Suyuti's Fatwas on the Permissibility of Mawlid
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 praiseworthy 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 praiseworthy innovation, while if one 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 give 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. We repeat our thanks on the anniversary of that day every year, giving thanks to Allah with various forms of worship such as prostration, fasting, giving charity or reciting the Qur'an... 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 Musa 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."
Other Scholars' Opinions on the Mawlid
According to the 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 hearts, 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, fasting, charity, and the 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..."
To Celebrate Mawlid Is Mandub (Recommended)
Imam Suyuti in his book Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid, p. 54 and 62, says: "The reason for gathering for tarawih prayers is Sunna and qurba (to seek nearness to Allah)... and similarly we say that the reason for gathering to celebrate mawlid is mandub (recommended) and qurba (an act of drawing near).. and the intention to celebrate mawlid is mustahsana (excellent) without a doubt."
Imam Suyuti continues, p. 64-65, "I have derived the permissibility of Mawlid from another source of the Sunna [besides Ibn Hajar's deduction from the hadith of `Ashura'], namely, the hadith found in Bayhaqi, narrated by Anas, that "The Prophet slaughtered an `aqiqa [sacrifice for newborns] for himself after he received the prophecy," although it has been mentioned that his grandfather `Abd al-Muttalib did that on the seventh day after he was born, and the `aqiqa cannot be repeated. Thus the reason for the Prophet's action is to give thanks to Allah for sending him as a mercy to the worlds, and to give honor to his Umma, in the same way that he used to pray on himself. It is recommended for us, therefore, that we also show thanks for his birth by meeting with our brothers, by feeding people, and other such good works and rejoicing." This hadith confirms the aforementioned hadith of the Prophet's emphasis of Monday as the day of his birth and that of his prophethood.
CONCERNING THE CLAIM OF THE CONTEMPORARY "SALAFI" WRITERS WHO FORBADE MAWLID ON THE GROUNDS THAT IT IS AN INNOVATION, SUCH AS ALBANI, BIN BAZ, ABU BAKR JAZA'IRI,
MASHHUR SALMAN, `UTHAYMIN AND OTHERS.
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 shadhdh (anomalous and deviating from the norm) as the following evidence shows:
1. 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 (Riyadh: 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 innovation which contravenes something in the Qur'an or the Sunna or a report from a Companion or the consensus of he scholars: this is the innovation of misguidance (bid`a dalala); the other kind is whatever good has been innovated which contravenes none of the above, and this is an innovation that is not blameworthy (muhdathatun ghayru madhmuma).
2. 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-Turkumani al-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 kullu ("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. Imam Bayhaqi narrated in his Manaqib al-Shafi`i (2:42-46):
al-Hasan ibn Habib related from Mahmud al-Misri -- and he was one of those gifted with eloquence -- that Mahmud said: I saw al-Shafi`i when I was little, and I heard Ibn Hisham -- and I never set eyes on one from whom I took wisdom such as Ibn Hisham -- say: "I was al-Shafi`i's sitting-companion for a long time, and I never heard him use a word except that if that word were carefully considered, one would not find (in its context) a better word than it in the entire Arabic language." Mahmud also said: I also heard Ibn Hisham say: "al-Shafi`i's discourse, in relation to language, is a proof in itself."
It is also related from al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Za`farani: A group of the people of pure Arabic (qawmun min ahl al-`arabiyya) used to frequent al-Shafi`i's gathering with us and sit in a corner. One day I asked their leader: "You are not interested in scholarship; why do you keep coming here with us?" They said: "We come to hear al-Shafi`i's language."
The stylistic figure of meaning the part by the whole, or synecdoche 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 the hoopoe-bird's expression when he says that Balkis has been given in abundance from "everything" in Sura al-Naml (27:23), whereas she was not given any power over Sulayman nor any share of his kingdom. Similarly when Allah says: "Every soul (kullu nafsin) shall taste death" (3:185), it is understood though not mentioned that Allah Himself is excluded from the meaning.
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 above 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 sadly misguide. When asked to substantiate it with the criteria of scholarship in the light of the evidence against them, they just instead 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 bid`a" is similarly based on their own whimsical conviction that they alone are right although they stray from the larger group. May Allah guide them to the truth.
BRIEF ANSWERS TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS
PERTAINING TO MAWLID
Q. Since the purpose of Mawlid is to promote love and obedience of the Prophet, then why did the first generations of Muslims not celebrate it? Undoubtedly, love and obedience of the Prophet were not lacking at that time.
A. The answer is given in the question itself. If the people of today could practice love and obedience of the Prophet the way the Salaf did, then they would have no need of the voluntary celebration of Mawlid to remind them.
The same applies to knowledge and belief. In the first generations, knowledge and belief were pure and safe from the dangers of forgetfulness and innovation; when these evils appeared, the Imams of fiqh stepped forth and did their great work to protect the Umma from error. The Companions themselves had no need of formal schools of Law.
The same applies to morals. Zuhd ("Doing-without") was a characteristic of all the Companions and the natural state of the Prophet. When it became a rare thing, the imams of tasawwuf came and codified zuhd, encouraging people to return to the excellent manners and simplicity of earlier times. All of these: `ulum al-fiqh, `ulum al-tasawwuf, and Mawlid, did not exist formally in the first centuries because there was no need for them. The love for the Prophet and his imitation were certainly greater then.
Beware of those who say that Mawlid is wrong simply because it did not exist in the first three centuries. To claim that something goes against the Sunna because it was not present in the first three centuries, indicates that one is fostering the wrong understanding of "following the Sunna" and this is rejected. In fact, it is impermissible to claim that the Prophet did not celebrate his birthday, since it is established in sound hadith that he commemorated his birthday by fasting on Mondays.
Q. There was no such thing as Mawlid before the Fatimi regime in Egypt started it. Aren't they denounced by Ahl al-Sunna as deviants?
A. The Fatimis ruled in Egypt from about 360 to 560. But the historian of Mecca al-Azraqi (3rd century) mentioned the mawlid in the sense of the house where the Prophet was born, and he said that salat in that house was declared by the scholars as desirable (mustahabb) for the reason of seeking special blessing (tabarruk). See Akhbar Mekka (2:160). Also, the mufassir al-Naqqash (266-351) said in his Shifa' al-gharam (1:199) that the birthplace of the Prophet (mawlid al-nabi) is a place where du`a on mondays is answered. Ibn Jubayr (540-640) in his Kitab al-rihal (p. 114-115) mentions the Mawlid as a public commemoration taking place in Mecca in the House of the Prophet "every Monday of the month of Rabi` al-awwal." And the father-and-son 7th-century historians Abul `Abbas and Abul Qasim al-`Azafi said in Kitab al-durr al-munazzam that "On the day of the Mawlid in Mecca, no activities are undertaken, the Ka`ba is opened and visited, etc."
Furthermore, the fact that the Fatimis did a particular action does not automatically mean that such action is not good. Regarding Mawlid in particular, we refer you to the Maliki faqih of Alexandria, Egypt under the Fatimis: Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-Walid al-Turtushi (d. 520). He wrote a comprehensive book on the innovations of his time under the Fatimi regime, entitled Kitab al-hawadith wa al-bida`. This book has received two editions, one in Tunis (M. Talbim 1959), and one in Beirut (A.M. Turki, 1990). al-Turtushi's book constitutes one of the early comprehensive treatises on innovations in Religion. It had immeasurable influence on the style and structure of later books on the same subject, both in and outside his school, such as Ibn Rushd, Abu Shama, Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Hajj, al-Shatibi, Ahmad Zarruq, and al-Suyuti.
Turtushi is extremely thorough and severe in his listing of innovations in religion under the Fatimis, whether great or small. He lists, among other innovations:
- Tatrib or qira'a bi al-alhan of Qur'an: reciting with melody.
- Numbering the Suras and punctuating the Qur'an.
- Building mihrabs in mosques; embellishing mosques.
- Placing a collection-box in the mosques; eating and drinking there.
- Selling goods in the mosques.
- He defends Tarawih as not being an innovation (because the Shi`is attacked it as such).
- The alfiyya prayer of mid-Sha`ban and the Ragha'ib of Rajab.
- Stopping work on the day of Jum`a.
- Tathwib (pronouncing as-salatu khayrun min al-nawm in the adhan of Fajr). [al-Wansharisi, a later Maliki who died in 914, finally accepts it as a bid`a mustahsana: see his al-Mustahsan min al-bida` (The innovations that are considered good).]
- Raising the hands and voice during du`a.
- Wearing the turban without passing the longest extremity under the chin.
- Dragging one's clothes behind oneself on the ground.
- Mixing of the sexes in the mosques on the nights of Tarawih.
- Renting the services of a person to perform the pilgrimage by proxy. Etc.
Yet al-Turtushi never mentions nor condemns the Mawlid, although he undoubtedly must have witnessed it since it was a regular public celebration during his life in Egypt, and although it involved more people than many of the innovations he does mention! This is a glaring omission in view of the fact that he was especially intent on censoring the innovations that he deemed were connected to the Fatimi regime. al-Turtushi's omission is an indication that although he opposed the Fatimis, he considered Mawlid under the Fatimis to be neither an innovation, nor blameworthy, and it constitutes tacit approval of Mawlid on his part. And Allah knows best.
Q. What are the opinions on Mawlid of those whom the "Salafis" consider their authorities?
A. We have already touched upon the subject above. Following are some additional remarks with reference to Hafiz al-Dhahabi and Imam Ibn Kathir.
Dhahabi's and Ibn Kathir's favorable views on Mawlid can be ascertained by their remarks on Muzaffar the King of Irbil, who was famous for his sumptuous celebration of the Prophet's birthday. Dhahabi writes in his Siyar a`lam al-nubala':
He [Muzaffar] loved charity (sadaqa)... and built four hospices for the poor and sick... and one house for women, one for orphans, one for the homeless, and he himself used to visit the sick... He built a madrasa for the Shafi`is and the Hanafis... He would forbid any reprehensible matter entry into his country... As for his celebration of the Noble Mawlid al-Nabawi, words are too poor to describe it. The people used to come all the way from Iraq and Algeria to attend it. Two wooden dais would be erected and decorated for him and his wife... the celebration would last several days, and a huge quantity of cows and camels would be brought out to be sacrificed and cooked in different ways... Preachers would roam the field exhorting the people. Great sums were spent (as charity). Ibn Dihya compiled a "Book of Mawlid" for him for which he received 1,000 dinars. He [Muzaffar] was modest, a lover of good, and a true Sunni who loved scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of hadith, and was generous even to poets. He was killed in battle according to what is reported.
Source: al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-nubala', ed. Shu`ayb Arna'ut (Beirut: Mu'assasat al-Risalah, 1981) 22:335-336.
Ibn Kathir said in al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya:
He [Muzaffar] used to celebrate the noble Mawlid in Rabi` al-Awwal and organize huge festivities for it. He was a wise king, brave, a fierce fighter, intelligent, learned, and just. May Allah have mercy on him and ennoble his grave. Shaykh Abu al-Khattab ibn Dihya compiled for him a book on the Mawlid of the Prophet and named it al-Tanwir fi mawlid al-bashir al-nadhir (The illumination concerning the birthday of the Bringer of glad tidings and Warner) and the king rewarded him with 1,000 dinars for it. His rule lasted until he died in the year 630 [Hijri] as he was besieging the French in the city of Acca [Acre, Palestine] after a glorious and blameless life.
Source: Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya (Beirut and Riyad: Maktabat al-ma`arif & Maktabat al-Nasr, 1966) 13:136-137.
More importantly, Ibn Kathir himself composed a text on Mawlid, made of hadiths, invocations of blessings on the Prophet, and poetry in praise of him. It is entitled Mawlid Rasulillah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, and was edited and published by Salah al-Din al-Munajjad (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Jadid, 1961).
Note: Among other similar works of Mawlid by the authorities is that by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami entitled Mawlid al-Nabi (Damascus: `Ala dhimmat Muhammad Hashim al-Kutubi, [1900?]), and that by the Hanbali hafiz Abu al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi entitled Mawlid al-`Arus (Cairo: al-Matba`a al-Bahiyya al-Misriyya, [1850?]). The latter received a commentary entitled Fath al-samad al-`alim `ala Mawlid al-Shaykh ibn al-Qasim also known as al-Bulugh al-fawzi li-bayan alfaz Mawlid Ibn al-Jawzi by Muhammad Nawawi ibn `Umar ibn `Arabi (Cairo: Tubi`a bi nafaqat Fada Muhammad al-Kashmiri al-Kutubi, 1328/1910).
Q. Who are the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna that accept the celebration of Mawlid al-Nabi as permissible or recommended?
A. They are the overwhelming majority of Ahl al-Sunna. Among them are found the following, together with the title of the works where their position is stated:
Imam Qutb al-Din al-Hanafi, al-I`lam bi a`lam bayt Allah al-haram
Imam Muhammad ibn Jar Allah ibn Zahira, al-Jami` al-latif
`Abd al-Haqq Muhaddith Dihlawi, Ma thabata min al-sunna
Shah `Abd al-Rahim Dihlawi, al-Durr al-thamin
Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi, Fuyud al-haramayn
Mufti `Inayat Allah Kakurawi, Tarikh Habib Allah
Mufti Muhammad Mazhar Allah Dihlawi, Fatawa mazhari
Mulla `Ali al-Qari, al-Mawrid al-rawi fi Mawlid al-nabi.
Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki, Shama'im imdadiyya
Muhaddith `Abd al-Hayy al-Lucknawi, Fatawa `Abd al-Hayy
Hafiz Ibn Dihya al-Kalbi, al-Tanwir fi mawlid al-bashir al-nadhir
Imam al-Turtushi, Kitab al-hawadith wa al-bida` (indirectly)
Imam al-Faqih Abu al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Sabti (d. 695), as quoted by al-Adfawi in Suyuti's Husn al-maqsid
Abu `Abd Allah Sayyidi Muhammad ibn `Abbad al-Nafzi, al-Rasa'il al-kubra
Shaykh Jalal al-Din al-Kattani, Rawdat al-Jannat fi Mawlid khatim al-risalat, also quoted in Sakhawi's Subul al-huda
Shaykh Nasir al-Din ibn al-Tabbakh, quoted in Sakhawi's Subul al-huda
Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Makki, al-Ihtifal bi dhikra al-mawlid
Hafiz Abu Shama, al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith
Hafiz Shams al-Din al-Jazari, `Urf al-ta`rif bi al-mawlid al-sharif.
Hafiz Shams al-Din ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi, al-Mawrid al-sadi fi mawlid al-hadi; Jami` al-athar fi mawlid al-nabi al-mukhtar; al-lafz al-ra'iq fi mawlid khayr al-khala'iq
Hafiz Zayn al-Din al-`Iraqi, al-Mawrid al-hani fi al-mawlid al-sani
Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-nubala' (indirectly)
Hafiz Ibn Kathir, Kitab Mawlid an-Nabi, and al-Bidaya p. 272-273.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, as quoted by Suyuti in al-Hawi.
Qastallani, al-Mawahib al-laduniyya
Hafiz al-Sakhawi, Subul al-huda, also quoted in Qari, al-Mawrid al-rawi
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, Fatawa hadithiyya; al-Ni`mat al-kubra `ala al-`alam fi mawlid sayyid waladi Adam; Tahrir al-kalam fi al-qiyam `inda dhikr mawlid sayyid al-anam; Tuhfat al-akhyar fi mawlid al-mukhtar
Hafiz Wajih al-Din `Abd al-Rahman al-Zabidi al-Dayba` (d. 944), Kitab al-mawlid.
Zahir al-Din Ja`far al-Misri, quoted in Sakhawi's Subul al-huda
Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Salihi al-Shami, quoted in Sakhawi's Subul al-huda
Kamal al-Din al-Adfawi, al-Tali` al-sa`id
Hafiz al-Suyuti, Husn al-Maqsid fi `amal al-Mawlid in his al-Hawi li al-fatawi
al-Zarqani, Sharh al-mawahib
Abu Zur`a al-`Iraqi, as quoted in Muhammad ibn Siddiq al-Ghumari's Tashnif al-adhan
Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya, Iqtida' al-sirat al-mustaqim (in some cases)
Q. During Mawlid the reading of the life of the Prophet and the recitation of poems in his honor take place. Is there a precedent in the Sunna for them?
A. We have shown conclusively that the recitation of poetry in honor of the Prophet is a Sunna which he himself and the Companions practiced. See further below, in the section on Na`t, the list of over a hundred Companions who composed and recited such poetry. As for reading about his life, it falls within the obligation upon every Muslim to know their Prophet and to love him.
Narrated Ibn `Umar:
The Prophet used to deliver his sermons while standing
beside the trunk of a datepalm. When he had the pulpit made,
he used it instead. The trunk started crying and the Prophet
went to it, rubbing his hand over it (to stop its crying).
[Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 56, Number 783]
If a dead tree could cry with sorrow when distanced from the Prophet, what about a human being? And how distant from the Prophet are we in comparison to those who lived in his blessed time? If some people accuse Ahl al-Sunna of innovation when they want to remember the Prophet on his birthday and on any other day by reciting his Sira, making salawat in groups, singing qasidas of praise, and longing for him: then let them accuse the tree trunk
of bid'ah and stop it from its sorrow. As for us, we are rejoicing for his advent to this worldly life and yet lamenting his passing, on the same day as his birth, for our hearts are missing him and seek the day of meeting with him. May Allah perfume his blessed grave and endow it with ever more lights and peace.
It is from the Sunna to long for the Prophet after his passing from this life. This is documented in an authentic hadith in which Abu Hurayra narrated that the Prophet said: "A time will come when any of you will long to see me more than to have his family and property doubled." (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 56, Number 787)
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 some 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 reason 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: his proof is irrefutable, 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. It follows that people are constantly invoking blessings and greetings on the Prophet without stop in the world, and that he is constantly returning it. 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 while making salawat only at the time of Mawlid, but at any time, such as after salat, after Jum`a prayer, individually or in congregation. 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 overwhelmed 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 any hadiths were mentioned in their presence they would lower their voices. Malik said: "His sacredness (hurmat) is in death is as his sacredness was 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 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's Tarkhis, 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: anzilu al-nasa manazilahum: "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 approaching 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:
(1) 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.
(2) 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: (1) 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 being questioned [i.e. not due to respect].
(2) Nawawi's explanation can be reversed 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, whereas while Abu Bakr and `Umar were present among the people, they were too afraid to speak to him, 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: (1) 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, lest they should fall into excess and confusion. Yes, 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.
(2) 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, (1) 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.
(2) 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.
(3) 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 other." 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: (1) 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.
(2) 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 other." 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-Asbahani 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 and 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 knowers, 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 also said:
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. It is related that when Abu Hanifa visited Sufyan after the death of the latter's brother Sufyan stood up, went to greet him, embraced him, and bade him sit in his place, saying to those who questioned this act: "This man holds a high rank in knowledge, and if I did not stand up for his science I would stand up for his age, and if not for his age then for his godwariness (wara`), and if not for his godwariness then for his jurisprudence (fiqh)." It is narrated by Suyuti in Tabyid al-sahifa (p. 32) and al-Tahanawi in his book Inja' al-watan (1:19-22).
10. al-Hakim narrates in Ma`rifat `ulum al-hadith (p. 104) that when al-Dhuhli went to see Imam Ahmad the latter stood up for him and the people were astounded. Then he told his son and his companions: "Go to Abu `Abd Allah [al-Dhuhli] and write his narrations."
11. Nawawi also 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-Asbahani, 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".
A sound (sahih) tradition related on the authority of Aws ibn Aws al-Thaqafi by: Ahmad in his Musnad, Ibn Abi Shayba in the Musannaf, Abu Dawud in the Sunan, Nisa'i in his Sunan, Ibn Majah in his Sunan, Darimi in his Musnad, Ibn Khuzayma in his Sahih, ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Hakim in the Mustadrak, Tabarani in his Kabir, Bayhaqi in Hayat al-anbiya', Suyuti in Anba' al-adkhiya, Dhahabi who confirmed Hakim's grading, and Nawawi in the Adhkar. Another version in Ibn Majah has this addition: "And the Prophet of Allah is alive and provided for (fa nabiyyullahi hayyun yurzaq)." Bayhaqi mentions it also in the Sunan al-kubra.
· "The Prophets are alive in their graves, praying to their Lord".
A sound (sahih) tradition related on the authority of Anas ibn Malik by: al-Bazzar in his Musnad, Abu Ya`la in his Musnad, Ibn `Adi in al-Kamil fi al-du`afa', Tammam al-Razi in al-Fawa'id, al-Bayhaqi in Hayat al-anbiya' fi quburihim, Abu Nu`aym in Akhbar Asbahan, Ibn `Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq, al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa'id (8:211), Suyuti in Anba' al-adhkiya' bi-hayat al-anbiya' (#5), and al-Albani, in Silsilat al-ahadith al-sahiha (#621). Suyuti adds: "The life of the Prophet in his grave, and [also] that of the rest of the prophets is known to us as definitive knowledge (`ilman qat`iyyan)."
· "(The night I was enraptured to my Lord) I saw Musa standing in prayer in his grave".
A sound (sahih) tradition related on the authority of Anas and others by Muslim, Nasa'i, Bayhaqi in the Dala'il al-nubuwwa and the Hayat al-anbiya', and others. Some mention the beginning (in parentheses), while others omit it. Nawawi said in his explanation of this hadith: "The work of the next world is all dhikr and du`a" (Sharh Sahih Muslim 1/73/267).
· "No one greets me except Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his salam".
Abu Hurayra in Abu Dawud (Manasik #2039) with a sound chain; Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:407; Ahmad, Musnad 2:527; Abu Nu`aym, Akhbar Asbahan 2:353; Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 145; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman #4161; Haythami, Majma` al-zawa'id 10:162; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir 6:464; al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-tarhib 2:499; Talkhis al-habir 2:267.
This hadith has been adduced by the scholars as the legal proof for the validity and modality of visiting and greeting the Prophet, although the hadith does not mention the necessity of physically visiting the Prophet in Madina.
A note about the translation of "has returned": Suyuti in Anba' al-adhkiya' bi hayat al-anbiya' and Haytami in al-Jawhar al-munazzam 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 returned it to the Prophet permanently, and the Prophet is alive permanently.
Sakhawi, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani's student, said: "As for us (Muslims of Ahl al-Sunna) we believe and we confirm that he is alive and provided for in his grave" (al-Qawl al-badi` p. 161). Ibn al-Qayyim said in Kitab al-ruh p. 58: "It is obligatory knowledge to know that his body is in the earth tender and humid (i.e. as in life), and when the Companions asked him: "How is our greeting presented to you after you have turned to dust" he replied: "Allah has defended the earth from consuming the flesh of Prophets," and if his body was not in his grave he would not have given this answer." Ibn Hajar al-Haythami wrote in al-Jawhar al-munazzam:
The proofs and the transmitted texts have been established as authentic in the highest degree that the Prophet is alive and tender... that he fasts and performs pilgrimage every year, and that he purifies himself with water which rains on him.
· "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.
· "Whoever visits my grave, my intercession becomes guaranteed for him."
Narrated by al-Daraqutni, al-Dulabi, al-Bayhaqi, Khatib al-Baghdadi, al-`Uqayli, Ibn `Adi, Tabarani, and Ibn Khuzayma in his Sahih, all through various chains going back to Musa ibn Hilal al-`Abdi from `Ubayd Allah Ibn `Umar, both from Nafi`, From Ibn `Umar. Dhahabi declared this chain hasan (fair) as narrated, in Mizan al-i`tidal, vol. 4, p. 226 and he said: "Huwa salih al-hadith" which means: "He -- Musa ibn Hilal -- is good in his narrations." This is also Imam Ahmad's opinion as related by Shawkani in Nayl al-awtar 5:95. Imam Sakhawi confirmed Dhahabi's grading in the Maqasid al-hasana, and al-Lucknawi also declared it hasan in his commentary on Jurjani entitled Zafr al-amani p. 422 (3rd ed.) while al-Subki declared it sahih as stated by Samhudi in Sa`adat al-darayn 1:77, and Shawkani said: "Ibn al-Sakan, `Abd al-Haqq (ibn al-Kharrat al-Ishbili), and Taqi al-Din al-Subki have declared this hadith sound (sahih)." Ibn `Adi said in al-Kamil fi al-Du`afa (6:2350): "He [Musa ibn Hilal] is most likely acceptable; other people have called him "unknown" [i.e. Abu Hatim al-Razi and al-`Uqayli] and this is not true... He is one of the shuyukhs of Imam Ahmad and most of them are trustworthy." Even the "Salafi" Albani declared him thabit al-riwaya (of established reliability) in his Irwa' (4:338). About `Ubayd Allah ibn `Umar al-`Umari:
- Dhahabi calls him saduq hasan al-hadith [truthful, of fair narrations] in al-Mughni 1:348;
- Sakhawi says of him salih al-hadith [of sound narrations] in al-Tuhfa al-latifa 3:366;
- Ibn Ma`in said to Darimi about him: salih thiqa [sound and reliable] in al-Kamil 4:1459.
This is one of the proof-texts adduced by the ulama of Islam to derive the obligation or recommendation of visiting the Prophet's grave and seeking him as a wasila (intermediary / means), as we have cited in the present book from the chapters on visiting the Prophet's grave in Nawawi's book al-Adhkar and al-Idah and in Qadi Iyad's book al-Shifa. Sakhawi said in al-Qawl al-badi` (p. 160):
The emphasis and encouragement on visiting his noble grave is mentioned in numerous hadiths, and it would suffice to show this if there was only the hadith whereby the truthful and God-confirmed Prophet promises that his intercession among other things becomes obligatory for whoever visits him, and the Imams are in complete agreement from the time directly after his passing until our own time that this is among the best acts of drawing near to Allah.
DOES STANDING WHILE INVOKING SALAWAT
UPON THE PROPHET SIGNIFY THAT HE IS
PRESENT IN PERSON?
Some of those who forbid standing for the Prophet, do so because of what they imagine people to believe when standing and invoking blessings on him: namely, that the Prophet is actually present in person at that time. However, this is not the reason why the people stand and no one claims this except those who actually object to standing. Rather, those who stand are only expressing happiness and love, and they are overflowing with respect and dedication at the Prophet's mention in the august assembly of those who remember him. They stand to attention because of their awe before the light that dawns upon creation for the one whose fame Allah has exalted high. They stand as a sign of thankfulness for the immense mercy bestowed on creation in the person of the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace upon him.
At the same time it is impermissible to object to the freedom of the soul in barzakh to travel wherever it pleases by Allah's permission, according to the sayings reported by Ibn al-Qayyim in his book Kitab al-ruh (p. 144) whereby Salman al-Farisi said: "The souls of the believers are in an isthmus of land from where they go wherever they wish," and Imam Malik said: "I have heard (balaghani) that the soul is set free and goes wherever it wishes."
Standing or dancing out of joy for the Prophet, or for what is connected to him or proceeds from him, has clear proofs in the Sunna. Among them:
· The Ethiopians put on a dancing display with spears out of joy (farahan) when he came to Madina. Abu Dawud narrated it with a good chain in the book of Adab in his Sunan from Anas.
· They played again in the Prophet's Mosque on the day of `Eid al-Fitr, whereupon they danced while the Prophet and his wife looked on, and the Prophet encouraged them with the words dunakum ya bani arfada, "Jump to it, O sons of Arfada!" thus indicating that what they were doing was harmless and permissible. Muslim narrated it in the book of Salat al-`idayn in his Sahih from `A'isha.
· Similarly, they would bang the drum, sing, and play in front of him on the day of `Eid. Ahmad and Ibn Majah narrated it from Qays ibn Sa`d ibn `Ubada.
All this was not for any other reason than joy at being around the Prophet, as confirmed by the act of the women of the Banu Najjar when the Prophet came to Madina:
· Anas narrates that when the prophet first came to Madina the Ansar came out, men and women, and they were all saying: "With us, O messenger of Allah!" [i.e. come stay with us.] The Prophet said: "Let the camel choose, for she has her orders." The camel alighted at the door of Abu Ayyub. Anas continued: (After he went in) the women of Banu al-Najjar came out banging their drums and singing:
Nahnu jawar min bani al-najjar
ya habbadha muhammadin min jar
We are the girls of the Sons of Najjar
O delight of Muhammad for a neighbor!
The Prophet came out and said: "Do you love me?" (atuhibbuni?) They replied:
Ey wallah Ya Rasulallah
Yea, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah!
At this he said:
Wa ana uhibbukum
Wa ana uhibbukum
Wa ana uhibbukum
And I love you.
And in another version he said:
Allahu ya`lamu anna qalbi yuhibbukunna
Allahu ya`lamu anni la uhibbukunna
Allah knows that my heart loves you /
that in truth I love you.
It is narrated by Bayhaqi with two chains in Dala'il al-nubuwwa (2:508), Ibn Kathir in al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya (3:199-200), and Suyuti in al-Khasa'is al-kubra (1:190). Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Maliki in al-Bayan wa al-ta`ri fi dhikra al-mawlid al-sharif (p. 24-25) said that al-Hakim documents it, Abu Sa`d al-Nisaburi mentions it in his Sharaf al-mustafa, and Ibn Majah narrates it in his Sunan, book of Nikah (#1889).
· Several female Companions came up to the Prophet after he came back from his campaigns and said that they had vowed to bang the drum before him if he came back safe and sound, and the Prophet allowed them. This is narrated by Tirmidhi from Burayda and he said: hasan sahih gharib, also Abu Dawud, and elsewhere.
· `Ali said: I visited the Prophet with Ja`far (ibn Abi Talib) and Zayd (ibn Haritha). The Prophet said to Zayd: "You are my freedman" (anta mawlay), whereupon Zayd began to hop on one leg around the prophet (hajala). The Prophet then said to Ja`far: "You resemble me in my creation and my manners" (anta ashbahta khalqi wa khuluqi), whereupon Ja`far began to hop behind Zayd. The Prophet then said to me: "You are part of me and I am part of you" (anta minni wa ana minka) whereupon I began to hop behind Ja`far. Imam Ahmad related it in his Musnad (1:108) and Ahmad Muhammad Shakir declared it sound (sahih) in his Riyadh, 1949 edition; it is related also by `Uqayli, Abu Nu`aym from Jabir, and Ibn Sa`d in his Tabaqat with a sound chain to Muhammad al-Baqir.
There is no doubt that such singing, dancing, reciting of poetry, and banging the drum was for joy at being with the Prophet, nor did he condemn or frown upon such displays in any way whatsoever. These are common displays of happiness and lawful merriment, and similarly to stand up at the mention of the Prophet's birth is an ordinary act that shows love and gladness symbolizing the joy of creation: it does not constitute worship, nor law, nor Sunna! That is why the savant al-Barzanji said in his famous poem of Mawlid:
wa qad sanna ahl al-`ilmi wa al-fadli wa al-tuqa
qiyaman `ala al-aqdami ma`a husni im`ani
bi tashkhisi dhati al-mustafa wa huwa hadirun
bi ay maqamin fihi yudhkaru bal dani
It is the usage of the excellent people of knowledge and piety
To stand on their feet in the best demeanor
Acting as if the Prophet were actually present
Every time they mention him, and visualizing him coming to them.
Observe that he spoke well when he said: acting as if he were present and visualizing him, that is: strongly calling to mind his gracious form and qualities so as to increase and perfect the motions of their hearts and bodies towards respecting and loving him, as the narrations show. This is a delicate matter from which are shut out those in whose hearts Allah did not place mercy. And Allah knows best.
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 the love of the Prophet in the heart in untold amounts, and we are obliged to love him more than our 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 grammatically faulty 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."
THE WAHHABIS' TAMPERING OF THE MUWAJAHA AL-SHARIFA (GATE TO THE PROPHET'S NOBLE GRAVE)
In this connection Muslims should take note of the following heinous 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 (Ar. ya') in the initial position in the word YA in "Ya Muhammad" has been lopped off, but the A (Ar. alif) 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 be seen and understood by all Muslims.
4. 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.
5. 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."
6. 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.
7. 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).
8. 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 knows
CONCLUSION: ONE MAY NOT OBJECT TO MAWLID
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 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 spent 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 ignorant and 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.
V. QUESTIONS ON ZIYARAT (VISITATION OF THE PROPHET
The "Salafis" have declared it prohibited to travel for the purpose of visiting the Prophet on the grounds of the hadith: "Do not travel except to three mosques." What do the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna say about travelling to visit the Prophet? The "Salafis" also claim that the grave of the Prophet should be taken out of the mosque because its inclusion was an innovation. What do Ahl al-Sunna say about that?
SOME FALSEHOODS OF THE "SALAFIS"
CONCERNING THE PROPHET'S GRAVE
AND HIS MOSQUE
"Salafis" claim, on the basis of the Prophet's grave not being initially part of the Prophet's mosque, that its present location inside the mosque is an innovation. This is the position of Nasir al-Din Albani and those who follow him.
The answer to such aberrant and discordant views is in the Prophet's hadith in Sahih Muslim: "The best of my Community are those of the century (qarn) wherein I was sent, then those that came after them." The blessed grave was included in the Masjid in the time of al-Walid ibn `Abd al-Malik on the recommendation of his brother-in-law `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz. Both are Tabi`in and the latter's standing in the Umma then and now is second only to the first four khalifas.
Let it be understood clearly that in Islam the primacy of the mosque of the Prophet and the sanctity of Madina, its earth, flora, fauna, protected space etc. as does its name itself, ALL hinge upon the fact that it is the city of the Prophet because he emigrated and died there. The greatness of Madina and its masjid is not for any other reason.
Some of them say: "To visit the Prophet's Mosque is not obligatory, not even after performing Hajj." This, again, is a contrived statement that typifies innnovation, not the discourse of traditional Sunnis. What the overwhelming majority of the books of fiqh say on the question is as follows:
ziyaratu qabr al-nabi sallallahu `alayhi wa sallama
mashru`atun bi al-ijma` wa hiya min afdal al-a`mal bi al-ijma`.
"The visit of the Prophet's grave is lawful by consensus,
and it is among the most meritorious deeds by consensus."
Sa`di Abu Habib, Mawsu`at al-ijma` fi al-fiqh al-islami 2:919.
Nawawi, al-Majmu`, al-Idah fi Manasik al-hajj and al-Adhkar.
Ibn Jama`a, Hidayat al-salik 3:1384f.
Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari 3:51.
Sakhawi, al-Qawl al-badi` p. 160.
Shawkani, Nayl al-awtar 5:97. etc.
Some of them say: "It is not a sin not to visit the Prophet's Mosque. It is recommended to visit it, but not mandatory such as the obligation of performing Hajj." Again these are contrived provisos which have an air of innovation about them, and the false comparison to Hajj is specious. The authors of such statements seem to confuse between visiting the Prophet's mosque, which is recommended generally speaking, and visiting the Prophet himself or the Prophet's grave, which is specifically recommended, as the wording of the authorities all attest. Imam Malik even stated that it should be said: "visit the Prophet" rather than "visit the Prophet's grave."
Some of them say: "One can perform all the rituals of Hajj and not visit the Prophet's Mosque, and yet have the Hajj accepted if Allah wills," and this is clear and manifest innovation as it departs from the practice of the Salaf and Khalaf, for whom the question was whether to begin Hajj by visiting Madina or first going to Mecca. Samhudi states that among the Salaf who considered that one should begin by visiting the Prophet in Madina was `Ilqima, al-Aswad, and `Amr ibn Maymun (Nawawi reports that Imam Ahmad said: "The best of the Tabi`in are Ibn al-Musayyib, then `Ilqima and al-Aswad"), and that Abu Hanifa said in the Fatawa of Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi): "The best for the pilgrim is to begin with Mecca, and after he has finished his rituals, let him pass by Madina." Imam Ahmad said the same, and the reason he gave puts their opinion in perspective: "Let him go first to Mecca lest something happen on the road that might prevent him from reaching it." In other words, to avoid any risk of not reaching Mecca.
As for not going to Madina at all it is unheard of, rather, Ibn `Abd al-Barr and al-Baladhiri relate that Abu Bakrah and Ziyad ibn Abih and others intended pilgrimage on a certain year but postponed it when they realized they would be unable to go to Madina as well! `Abd al-Haqq al-Ishbili (d. 582) stated that the visit is a sunna wajiba or obligatory Sunna, and as for the schools it differs between wajib (some Malikis and some Zahiris), near wajib (Hanafis), and Sunna manduba (Shafi`is and Hanbalis).
Samhudi, Khulasat al-wafa' p. 101.
Nawawi, al-Taqrib wa al-taysir p. 98-99.
Shawkani, Nayl al-awtar 5:94, 97.
As for visiting the Prophet's grave it is permissible and praiseworthy in Islam according to the massive majority of the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna, as the following translated excerpts establish beyond doubt. In his reference book for the fiqh of the Four Schools entitled al-Fiqh `ala al-Madhahib al-arba`a (p. 711-715), `Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri writes at length about the many benefits of visiting the Prophet's grave and of the importance of the visit. He says that it is among the great actions which Islam, the pure religion, encourages. He also says that it is not a secret that visiting the Prophet's grave is more beneficial to those endowed with understanding (ulu al-albab) more than any other experience. He cites many sayings on the recommended acts of the visit and its proper adab:
Let the visitor imagine the Prophet's magnificent and generous form, as if he is sleeping in his grave, knowing him (the visitor) and hearing his words. Only then does he say: Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah... and the visitor conveys to the Prophet the greetings of those who asked him to send Salam to to the Prophet, so he says: Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah, from [name of person] the son of [name of parent] who seeks shafa'a (intercession) with you to your Lord, therefore ask for his shafa`a for all believers....
Of the fallacies of those who oppose visiting the graves of the Prophet and the saints is their interpretation of the hadith of `Ali ibn Abi Talib: "The messenger of Allah commanded me that I omit no honored tomb but to level it, no statue but to efface it."
We answer: the meaning of the words "honored tomb" is "tomb that is worshipped." After Islam, the absence of idolatry precludes such a necessity. This is proven by the fact that the Prophet marked one grave with a rock with his own hand for the purpose of identifying it when he visits it later.
Abu Dawud narrates in his Sunan, book of Jana'iz: When `Uthman ibn Ma`zun died, he was brought out on his bier and buried. The Prophet ordered a man to bring him a stone, but he was unable to carry it (due to its great size and weight). The Prophet got up and going over to it rolled up his sleeves. The narrator Kathir told that al-Muttalib remarked: The one who told me about the Apostle of Allah said: I still seem to see the whiteness of the forearms of the Apostle of Allah when he rolled up his sleeves. He then carried it and placed it at his head saying: "I am marking my brother's grave with it, and I shall bury beside him those of my family who die."
Another proof is the fact that the Sunna is to build up the grave slightly into a convex mound or a flat top. Some scholars have seen in this a principle for allowing a superstructure over the grave -- in addition to the principle of the praiseworthiness of visiting graves, which is established by other sound evidence.
Another fallacy is their misunderstanding of the hadiths "May Allah curse the Jews and Christians who have taken the tombs of their prophets for mosques" and "Those who were before you used to take tombs as mosques. Do not do that. Do not take tombs as mosques, for I have forbidden you that." They misunderstand this to constitute evidence against the inclusion by the Salaf of the Prophet's grave inside his mosque.
We answer: Ahl al-Sunna scholars have explained the words "take their graves for mosques" to mean "take their graves as directions for their prayers." This is confirmed by the hadith mentioning the pictures. When they mentioned to the Prophet the church in the land of Ethiopia and related to him the beautiful things and pictures in it, he said: "Those people, when some upright man among them dies, they build a mosque on his grave and fashion those pictures. Those people are the worst of creation before Allah on the Day of Resurrection." Allah's curse therefore is on those who worship the Prophets and saints whether they are buried or represented on pictures; not on those who visit them for the obtainment of blessings associated to their visit.
No Muslims have made the grave of the Prophet as a mosque, since no Muslim prays to it. The orientation of `A'isha's room in relation to the Prophet's masjid was arranged deliberately in order to avoid this in view of the Prophet's prohibition cited above. A stronger proof yet is that Allah answers the supplication of the Prophet, and the Prophet supplicated: "O Allah, do not allow my grave to be taken as an idol that is worshipped after me" which forms the beginning of the hadith: "Allah's wrath is great against the nation that took the graves of their Prophets as idols."
It is particularly wrong on the part of some people to ascribe shirk to Muslims who visit the graves of Prophets and the pious. The Prophet asked Allah not to allow his Community to relapse into idol-worship, and it is a tenet of Ahl al-Sunna that the du`a of the Prophet is mustajab or fulfilled; furthermore, the Shari`a forbids interpreting in the worst sense acts susceptible of more than one interpretation, as those who cast the worst aspersions on Muslims who come to the grave of Prophets and saints do.
SHAYKH `ALAWI AL-MALIKI'S EXCELLENT WORDS
ON TRAVELLING TO VISIT THE PROPHET
The following is translated from Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani's Mafahim yajib an tusahhah [The Necessary Correction of Certain Preconceptions] Dubai: Hashr ibn Ahmad Dalmook, 4th ed. 1407/1986:
Some people -- may Allah reform them and guide them to the straight path -- look at the grave of the Honored Prophet from the mere perspective that it is a grave like any other. It is no wonder that all sorts of wrong imaginings and bad thoughts occur in their minds and hearts with regard to the Muslims who do visit the Prophet and travel for that purpose and stand at his grave making du`a (invocations).
Such people may be heard objecting: "It is forbidden to travel to his grave," and "it is forbidden to make du`a at his grave." Indeed they will push their denial to the point that they say: "Du`a at his grave is shirk (idolatry) or kufr (unbelief)," or "Whoever says that the grave is the most blessed spot in the earth including the Ka`ba, has committed shirk and is misguided." And this wholesale blind and thoughtless condemnation of others with the charges of kufr and dalal (misguidance) contravenes the way of the Salaf al-salih (pious early generations).
No two people can be found who will not agree on what is meant when we (Muslims) speak of the Noble Grave or the visit to it or its preference or travelling to it or invoking Allah and asking Him in front of the grave. There is no qualm nor divergence about the meaning of all this among Muslims. Clearly, the meaning of what is sought after is the inhabitant of the grave himself: the master of all prophets and the best of all of Allah's creations, the greatest Prophet and the most noble Messenger, peace be upon him and upon his Family.
THE PRAISEWORTHINESS OF VISITING
THE PROPHET'S BLESSED GRAVE
Imam Ghazali said in his Ihya `ulum al-din after mentioning the
hadith: "Do not travel except to three mosques": "The gist of the matter is that some ulama use it as evidence for prohibiting travel to places of religious visitation and pilgrimage. It is clear that this is not the case. On the contrary, visitation to graves is commanded by the hadith: 'I have forbidden you in the past to visit graves, but now I tell you to visit them.' The hadith only mentions the prohibition of frequent visitation to other than the three Mosques because of the likeness of one mosque to another. Furthermore, there is no city in which there is no mosque. Hence, there is no need to travel to another mosque. As for places of religious visitation, the blessing (baraka) of visiting them varies to the measure of their rank with Allah."
The following is an excerpt from the booklet by Shaykh `Issa ibn `Abd Allah ibn Mani` al-Humayri, Director of the Da'irat al-awqaf in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, entitled: Al-i`lam bi istihbab shadd al-rihal li ziyarati qabr Khayr al-anam `alayhi al-salat was-salam (The notification concerning the recommendation of travelling to visit the grave of the Best of creation Blessings and peace be upon him):
The hadiths supporting the general order to visit graves
There are many hadiths to that effect which have reached the grade of tawatur (highest authenticity). See: Nazm al-mutanathir fil hadith al-mutawatir. One of the common mutawatir narrations is: “I had forbidden you from visiting graves, but now I tell you to visit them for they remind you of the Hereafter.” Muslim, Ahmad and al-Tahawi from Burayda ibn al-Hasib.
Another narration according to al-Nisa’i also from Burayda: “Faman arada an yazur al-qubur fal yazur...” “Whoever wants to visit the graves, let him do so, and do not prohibit it” [wa la taqulu hajran]. This is a general narration which makes visiting permitted whether a journey was intended for it or not. This hadith is definitely not restricted to one person or one circumstance but is a general order in nature. [See next section for the hadiths on visiting graves.]
This general order is evidence that the Legislator is recommending movement by the word “ziyarat” which in Arabic implies traveling from one place to another by undertaking a journey.
If people claim that Ibn Taymiyya in his answer to Akhna’i said: “The order to visit graves does not entail travel,” I answer: The hadith is general without any condition. If ziyarat implies a journey, there is no way for us legally to prohibit that journey! Further, the higher reference in case of difference of opinion, is the Law (al-shar`), and the Legislator called the journeying “ziyarat”:
“Inna rajulan zara akhan lahu fi qariyatin ukhra...” “A man visited a close brother of him in another village, so Allah ordered an angel to meet him on the way and ask him: Where are you going? He answered: I intend to visit a brother of mine in the next village. He asked him: Is there any business between you and him? He replied: None except love of Allah. He said: Know that I am A Messenger from your Lord to tell you that Allah loves You both as you both love each other for His sake.” Narrated by Muslim in his Sahih 4:1988.
The Legislator here made ziyarat entail both travel and non-travel. To limit the ziyarat to something not entailing travel is an abuse of the meaning of the word and a deviation from the fundamentals of the Law, and Allah knows best.
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, disciple of Ibn Taymiyya once told al-Hafiz al-`Iraqi on a trip: “I am intending to pray in the mosque of Sayyidina Ibrahim.” al-`Iraqi said: “As for myself I am intending to visit the grave of Sayyidina Ibrahim.” Ibn Rajab said: “Why your difference in intention?” al-`Iraqi said: “You have contradicted the Sunna of the Prophet, who said: Do not intend to journey except to three mosques, and you have intended to visit a fourth. As for me, I am following his Sunna according to the hadith: Visit the graves. ” -- i.e. all of the graves, not excluding those of the prophets.
Travelling to Visit the Prophet's Grave
Ibn `Abd al-Barr said: It is allowed among people to visit graves in general, and it is obligatory (wajib) to travel to the grave of the Prophet: wajib shadd al matiyy ila qabrihi.
Abu al-Hasanat al-Lucknawi said in his Ibraz al-ghayy fi shifa' al-`ayy [The exposure of deviation for the healing of the sick]: "Until Ibn Taymiyya, not a single scholar ever questioned even in the slightest the permissibility of visiting the Prophet's grave. Rather, all scholars unanimously supported the ruling that it was one of the best acts of worship (afdal al-`ibadat) and highest acts of obedience (arfa` al-ta`aat). The only difference was whether it was wajib (Malikis) or near the wajib (Hanafis) or merely recommended -- mandub (Shafi`is and Hanbalis). The first who broke the unanimity is Ibn Taymiyya."
Ijma` in shadd al-rihal (travelling) to visit the noble grave is of the highest grades of ijma` among the ulama. Level after level of both the ulama and the commonality, century after century, accross the disciplines -- all agree on this. This is for both the grave and the masjid. To make a difference betwen the grave and the masjid of the Prophet is decisively null and void.
The hadith la tushaddu al-rihal illa li thalath "Mounts are not to be saddled except to go to three (mosques)," does not indicate that it is forbidden to visit the noble grave. Ibn Taymiyya's inference that this kind of trip (traveling to visit the grave) is a disobedience and salat must not be shortened during it, is patently incorrect. Ibn Hajar said in the Fath: "This is one of the ugliest matters reported from Ibn Taymiyya."
Hafiz al-'Iraqi said in al-Ajwiba al-Makkiyya and Tarh al-Tathrib 6:43: There are several answers to this:
a. Either he means: absolutely no travel except to these three places. And this is completely false. The nature of an exception must be the same as that of the things forbidden. If the exception concerns the masajid, the prohibition must concern the masajid. This rule is followed by Imam Ahmad as quoted in Sharh al-Kawkab al-Munir by Ibn al-Najjar al-Hanbali, al-Kharqi in the Mukhtasar, Ibn Badran, al-Ghazali in al-Mankhul, and Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi in al-Luma`.
b. Therefore the proper significance must be: "Do not travel to any masjid other than these three masajid. This is confirmed by the hadith related by Shahr Ibn Hawshab formulating the legal ruling retained by the ulama: La yanbaghi lil musafiri an yashudda rihalahu ila masjidin yabtaghi fihi al-salat ghayra al-masjidi al-haram wal-masjid al-aqsa wa masjidi hadha "The traveller must not saddle the mounts in order to go to pray a certain prayer in a mosque except in the Holy Mosque, or the Farthest Mosque, or my Mosque." Cf. Ahmad in the Musnad (3:64, 3:93) Abu Ya`la in the Musnad (2:489). Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari (3:65): "Shahr's narration is good despite some weakness." Dhahabi said: "Shahr is trustworthy."
c. Subki in Shifa' al-siqam p. 121 said: There are two reasons for travelling: a certain cause (seeking knowledge, visiting parents), or the place of destination itself (Mecca, Madina, Quds). There is no question about the first one. As for the limitation on the latter in the hadith, although it has to do with the Prophet's mosque, the limitation does not rule concerning the grave of the Prophet. Therefore even if the mosque of Madina were not mentioned in that hadith, we would still not be concerned by the order in relation to visiting the Prophet's grave.
d. The true meaning of the hadith can be seen in the light of other authentic hadiths praising the travel to the mosque in Quba':
- "If they knew what was in Quba' (the masjid), they would have travelled there at the highest speed (riding the camel to death)." [sahih]
- "If the masjid of Quba' was at the top of the skies, we would have ridden our camels to death in order to attain it" (Umar ibn al-Khattab). [hasan]
- Abu Hurayra used to travel to visit Quba' masjid. If he understood the hadith la tushadd al-rihal as a categorical tahrim (prohibition) he would not have gone. See Ibn Battal, Nawawi (Sharh Sahih Muslim 9:106), Ibn Qudama in al-Mughni (2:103-104), al-Khattabi in Ma`alim al-Sunan, (2:443), Ahmad (3:336), Bazzar in Kashf al-astar (2:4), Tahawi in Mushkil al-athar (1:241), Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf (2:373), Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (3:69), and `Abd al-Razzaq in the Musannaf (5:133).
In Conclusion: al-Khattabi said: The position of Nawawi and Ibn Qudama and Ibn Battal is that there is no tahrim (prohibition) of an act of travel in the hadith; rather it is an emphasis on the importance of travelling to these three masajid in particular, and the emphasis becomes an obligation in case of nadhr (vow), which is not the case for a vow to pray in any masjid other than these three.
HADITHS ON VISITING GRAVES
1. "Whoever wishes to visit the graves, let him visit them, for they remind one of the next world." It is related in Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and al-Nisa'i through various chains.
2. "Pay visits to your dead and give them your salutations, for in them there lies a lesson for you." Related by Ibn Abi al-Dunya, Ahmad 3:38, 5:356, and Tabarani in his "Kabir." Al-`Iraqi said: "Its chain is fair (hasan)." Haythami mentions it in "Majma` al-zawa'id" (3:58 #348) with the words: "to your brothers" instead of "to your dead."
3. "Visit the graves, and you will be reminded of the Afterlife." Al-Hakim related it (1:377, 4:330) with a good chain (jayyid) according to al-`Iraqi.
4. "Visit the graves for they soften the heart." Tabarani mentions it in his "Kabir," and Haythami in "Majma` al-zawa'id" (#152).
5. The Prophet placed a stone on top of the grave of `Uthman ibn Maz`un and said: "By this I shall know where the grave of my brother `Uthman is." Abu Dawud and others narrated it.
6. "No man visits the grave of his brother and sits by him except his brother enjoys his company until he rises." Cited by Ibn Abi al-Dunya in "Kitab al-qubur," Ibn `Abd al-Barr in "al-Tamhid," Suyuti in "Sharh al-sudur" p. 202, Ghazali in the book on the remembrance of death in his "Ihya," and Zabidi in his Commentary on the "Ihya" 10:367. Al-`Iraqi said: It was declared sound (sahih) by `Abd al-Haqq al-Ishbili.
7. "Do not visit the graves of the disbelievers except weeping profusely. If you are not weeping, do not visit them lest something of what touched them touches you." Muslim related it.
TRANSLATING THE HADITH
"DO NOT MAKE MY GRAVE AN `EID"
This concerns the proper translation of the well-known hadith from Abu Hurayra whereby the Prophet said: "Do not make my grave an `Eid." Abu Dawud relates it with a sound chain. Some translate it falsely to read: "Do not make my grave a place to gather as for visitation"
It should be pointed out that the translation of the word "`Eid" as "place to gather as for visitation" or even simply "place" is inaccurate. One never translated, for example, `Eid al-adha
and `Eid al-Fitr as the "place of sacrifice" and the "place of
breaking fast." The translation of any word in the hadith should be as literal as possible, and additional or explanatory meanings be placed in brackets, not the other way around. The literal meaning of `Eid is "anniversary festival," because `Eid denotes two things:
- a time that returns (=`aada) annually; and
- a time that one observes with festive activities (=`ayyada).
A further meaning connoted is that of gathering, and only then does `Eid begin to have the connotation of "place" which the
above mistranslation arbitrarily gave as the primary meaning. Thus to begin with the hadith should be literally translated:
"Do not make my grave an anniversary festival."
And since this rendering mixes two unmixable classes of words, namely the grave -- a solid object -- and the anniversary festival -- a time -- it becomes clear that the proper final meaning is:
"Do not make (the visit to) my grave an anniversary festival."
This is understood in the sense of an insistance on the part of the Prophet that the believers should visit him frequently and at all times, rather than visit him sparsely, which one might falsely understand from the mistranslation quoted at the top, as that superimposes on the hadith the exact reverse of its intended meaning!
"Visit me often and at all times" is the explanation preferred by Hafiz al-Sakhawi the student of Imam al-hadith Ibn Hajar in his chapter entitled "On the meaning of the hadith: Do not
make my grave an `Eid" in al-Qawl al-badi` fi al-salat `ala al-habib al-shafi` (Beirut 1987/1407) p. 159-160. Here is his text:
The author of Silah al-mu'min said: "It is probable that the intent (murad) of the Prophet's saying: "Do not make my grave an `Eid" is emphasis and encouragement (al-hathth) on the frequency of visiting him and not treating his visit like an anniversary festival which does not occur in the year other than at two times.
This meaning is supported by his saying: "Do not make your houses graves," that is, do not abandon prayer in your houses and thus turn them into places similar to the graves where one does not pray." There is no agreement on this. It seems that the Prophet was pointing to what he said in the other hadith concerning the prohibition of taking his grave as a place of prostration (masjid), or else that his intent was from the perspective of gathering. We have already seen something to that effet in the ahadith of this chapter. Some of the commentators of the Masabih [Baghawi's Masabih al-Sunna] have said: "The Prophet's saying is an abridged form of the sense: "Do not make the visit to my grave an anniversary festival," and its meaning is the prohibition of (formally) gathering for the purpose of his visit in the way that people gather together to celebrate `Eid. The Jews and Christians used to gather for the visit of their prophets' graves and busy themselves with entertainment and music, so the Prophet forbade his Community from doing that." It was also said that it is probable that the Prophet's prohibition was intended to prevent hardship (raf` al-mashaqqa) for his Community, and also because it was disliked that they commit excess in overly honoring his grave. I say: The emphasis and encouragement on visiting his noble grave is mentioned in numerous ahadith, and it would suffice to show this if there was only the hadith whereby the truthful and God-confirmed Prophet promises that his intercession among other things becomes obligatory for whoever visits him, and the Imams are in complete agreement from the time directly after his passing until our own time that this is among the best acts of drawing near to Allah. Shaykh al-Islam (Taqi al-Din) al-Subki said in his book Shifa' al-siqam: "A large number of imams have inferred from the hadith "No one greets me except Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his salam" [Abu Dawud with a sound chain] the legal desirability (istihbab) of visiting the grave of the Prophet." I say: This is a sound inference because when the visitor greets the Prophet his reply is given from near, and this is a benefit much sought-after which Allah has made easily available for us to return again and again to the very beginning of that blessing.
AL-HAFIZ AL-QADI `IYAD AL-YAHSUBI
AL-MALIKI ON ZIYARAT
Qadi `Iyad devoted a section of his book al-Shifa', to visiting the Prophet, under the Chapter entitled: On the visit to the Prophet's grave, the excellence of those who visit it and how he should be greeted. Below are excerpts from that chapter:
Visiting his grave is part of the Sunna and is both excellent and desirable. Ibn `Umar said that the Prophet said, "My intercession is assured for all who visit me." The ziyarat to his grave is a Sunna of the Sunnas of Muslims (sunna min sunan al-muslimin) over which there is consensus (mujma` alayha)." (Qari comments: "Of those that state that there is a consensus are al-Nawawi and Ibn al-Humam, [and it is more than Sunna,] rather it was said that it is necessary (qila innaha wajiba) and a great benefit (fadila) that is highly desirable (murghabun fiha).")
Imam Malik disliked people saying: "We visited the grave of the Prophet." People have disagreed about the meaning of this statement. It is said that he disliked it because of the Prophet's saying: "Allah curses women who visit graves" [Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban]. People related that the Prophet then said: "I forbade you to visit graves, but now you can visit them" [Muslim]. The Prophet also said, "Anyone who visits my grave..." [man zara qabri] and he himself used the word "visit"...
Abu `Imran al-Fasi said, "Malik disliked anyone saying, "the tawaf of the visit," or, "we visited the grave of the Prophet," because people normally use that for visits between themselves, and he did not like to put the Prophet on the same level as other people. He liked that the Prophet be distinguished by one's saying: We bade peace to the Prophet, as opposed to saying: We visited his grave; and also because visiting graves is 'permitted' (ja'iz) among ordinary people, whereas it is 'necessary' to travel to his grave (WAJIB shadd al-rihal ila qabrihi). Here he means a kind of necessity (wujubiyya) equating recommendation, encouragement, and confirmation that it is important, not one of absolute obligation (fard)."
I think the best interpretation is that Malik forbade and disliked the practice of connecting the word "grave" with the Prophet. He did not dislike the people saying: "We visited the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace." This is because of the Prophet's statement, "O Allah, do not make my grave an idol to be worshipped after me. Allah was angry with people who took the graves of their Prophets as mosques." So he [Malik] omitted the word "grave" in order to cut off the means and close the door to this wrong action. Allah knows best.
Ishaq ibn Ibrahim, the faqih, said that when someone goes on hajj, he should go to Madina with the intention of praying in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah, seeking the blessing of seeing his Meadow [Rawda], his pulpit [minbar], his grave, the place where he sat, the places his hands touched and the places where his feet walked and the post on which he used to lean, where Jibril descended to him with the revelation, and the places connected with the Companions and the Imams of the Muslims who lived there. He should have consideration for all these things.
Ibn Abi Fudayk said that he heard someone state, "We have heard that all who stop at the Prophet's grave should recite the ayat, "Allah and His angels bless the Prophet..." (33:56) and then say, "May Allah bless you, Muhammad." If someone says this seventy times, an angel will call to him, "May Allah bless you!" and all his needs will be taken care of."
Yazid ibn Abi Sa`id al-Mahri said that he went to `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz and when `Umar bade him farewell, he said, "I would like you to do something for me. When you reach Madina and see the grave of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, greet him for me with peace." Another said, "He used to send such greetings in his letters from Syria."...
In al-Mabsut, Malik says, "I do not think people should stand at the grave of the Prophet, but should greet and then depart"... and "It is not necessary for the people of Madina who enter and leave the mosque to stand at the grave. That is for strangers"... and "There is no harm in someone who comes from a journey or leaves on a journey standing at the grave of the Prophet"...
Ibn al-Qasim said, "When the people of Madina left or entered Madina, I saw that they used to come to the grave and give the greeting... That is what is considered the correct thing to do."
Al-Baji said, "There is a difference between the people of Madina and strangers because strangers have a specific intention for doing so [visiting the grave] whereas the Madinans live there and do not intend to go there for the sake of the grave and the greeting." End of Qadi `Iyad's words.
In the Chapter entitled: "The adab of entering the Mosque of the Prophet and its excellence, the excellence of the prayer in it and in the mosque of Makka, the Prophet's grave and minbar, and the excellence of living in Madina and Makka," the same author says: "There is no dispute that the place of his grave is the best place on earth."
IBN QUNFUDH AL-QUSANTINI
AL-MALIKI ON ZIYARAT
Ibn Qunfudh (d. 810 H) says in his book Wasilat al-islam bi al-nabi `alayhi al-salat wa al-salam [The Means to Islam With the Prophet, peace be upon him] (Beirut: Dar al-gharb al-islami, 1404/1984) p. 144-145:
The visit to his grave, peace be upon him, is a Sunna from among the Sunnas of prophets, and an excellent action which is highly desirable. The Prophet said: "Whoso visits my grave, my intercession for him becomes guaranteed" and "Whoever [performs the Pilgrimage and then] visits me after my death, it is as if he visited me in my life." His visit is a greatly profitable matter for seeking blessings by standing at his grave, and by praying in his mosque.
The order of priority is to send blessings upon him before greeting the mosque (tahiyyat al-masjid) and before approaching to greet him. It is permissible to say: "So-and-so sends his greetings to you." Ibn Wahb relates from Imam Malik: "When one greets the Prophet, let him face the grave not the Qibla, and let him not touch the grave with his hand nor raise his voice. The Prophet said: "A prayer in this mosque of mine [in Madina] is better than a thousand prayers in any other, except the Holy Mosque [in Mecca]" (Muslim). Its meaning is that prayer in the Prophet's mosque is better than that in the Holy Mosque, but not by one thousand times."
[The reason why one does not raise his voice in front of the Prophet's grave is not primarily because he is in a mosque, but because he is in the Prophet's presence, and Allah said: "Lo! they who subdue their voices in the presence of the messenger of Allah, those are they whose hearts Allah hath proven unto righteousness. Theirs will be forgiveness and immense reward." (49:3)]
There is also in the hadith: "Between my grave and my pulpit lies a grove from the groves of Paradise" (Bukhari and Muslim) and: "Madina is a great good for them, if they but knew!" (Malik, al-Bazzar with a sound chain, Tabarani with a fair chain, and Ahmad in the Musnad) and: "Whoever is able to die in Madina let him die there, for verily I intercede for him who dies there". The scholars differ concerning which is better, Mecca or Madina. Allah the Exalted said: "Lo! the first sancturay appointed for mankind was that at Becca, a blessed place, a guidance to the peoples; wherein are plain memorials (of Allah's guidance); the place where Abraham stood up to pray; and whosoever entereth it is safe" (3:96-97). The experts of Qur'anic commentary said that "he is safe" means safe from the fire.
IMAM MALIK'S PREFERENCE
OF MADINA OVER MECCA
Abu Hurayra related that the Prophet said: "One prayer in this mosque of mine is better than a thousand prayers in any other, except the Sacred Mosque (in Mecca)." Muslim narrated it through ten chains in his Sahih.
Imam Nawawi in his commentary on Sahih Muslim said: "The scholars have differed regarding the meaning of the above exception in the same way that they have differed concerning Mecca and Madina: which of the two is better? The way of Shafi`i and the vast majority of the scholars is that Mecca is better than Madina and that the mosque in Mecca is better than the mosque in Madina. The opposite is true for Malik and a group of scholars.
"According to Shafi`i and the vast majority, the meaning of the exception is: "except the Holy Mosque (in Mecca), for prayer in it is better than in my mosque." According to Malik and those who agree with him, however, the meaning of the exception is: "except the Holy Mosque (in Mecca), for prayer in my mosque is better than there, but not by a thousand times."
Nawawi goes on to quote the hadith of `Abd Allah Ibn al-Zubayr whereby the Prophet said: "One prayer in this mosque of mine is better than a thousand prayers in any other except the Holy Mosque (in Mecca), and one prayer in the Holy Mosque (in Mecca) is better than one hundred prayers in my mosque." Nawawi said: "A fair hadith (hadith hasan), narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, Bayhaqi, and others with a fair chain, and Allah knows best." End of Nawawi's words from his Sharh Sahih Muslim, Khalil al-Mays ed., Beirut: Dar al-Qalam, 9/10:172.
Qadi `Iyad al-Maliki said in al-Shifa', chapter entitled "the etiquette of entering the mosque of the Prophet and its excellence":
[Regarding the hadith: "One prayer in this mosque of mine is better than a thousand prayers in any other, except the Sacred Mosque (in Mecca)"]
"The scholars have differed regarding the meaning of the above exception in the same way that they have differed concerning the greater excellence of Mecca and Madina. Malik considers, according to the narrations of Ashhab [ibn `Abd al-`Aziz], Ibn Nafi` the companion of Malik, and a large group of others among his companions: that the meaning of the hadith whereby prayer in the Prophet's mosque is better than that one thousand in any other mosque except the Holy Mosque (in Mecca), is that prayer in the Prophet's mosque is better than that in the Holy Mosque (in Mecca), but not by a thousand times. They use as proof what has been related from `Umar ibn al-Khattab ["in Musnad al-Humaydi" -- `Ali al-Qari] whereby prayer in the Sacred Mosque (in Mecca) is better than a hundred prayers in other mosques in any other. It follows from this that the excellence of the Prophet's mosque (over Mecca) is nine hundred times greater, and a thousand times greater than all other mosques. This is based on the preferability of Madina over Mecca to which we have referred, and is the position of `Umar ibn al-Khattab, Malik, and the majority of the people of Madina." End of Qadi `Iyad's words.
al-Shawkani in Nayl al-Awtar says:
"The position of `Umar and some of the Companions and Malik and the majority of the people of Madina is that Madina is better."
Sources: Qadi `Iyad, al-Shifa', ed. al-Bajawi, 2:681.
Shawkani, Nayl al-awtar, Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya, 5:28.
In his commentary on Qadi `Iyad, Imam `Ali al-Qari al-Hanafi writes:
"There is no doubt that Mecca, among the highly venerated sanctuaries, is preferable to Madina itself, except for the mound of the Prophet's grave, which is mercy and tranquillity: for it is better than the Ka`ba or rather, better than the Throne itself according to a group of the scholars." End of Qari's words.
Source: al-Qari, Sharh al-Shifa', Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya ed., 2:162.
Yahya ibn Sa`d related that the Prophet said: "There is no place on earth which I would prefer my grave to be than here (meaning Madina). He repeated it three times." Malik narrated it in al-Muwatta'.
IMAM MALIK'S ADDITIONAL NARRATIONS
ON THE MERITS OF MADINA IN AL-MUWATTA'
The Du`a for Madina and Its People
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.1.1:
Yahya ibn Yahya related to me from Ishaq ibn `Abd Allah ibn Abi Talha al-Ansari from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "O Allah! Bless them in their measure, and bless them in their sa and mudd." He meant the people of Madina.
On Residing in Madina and Leaving It
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.2.3:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Qattan ibn Wahb ibn `Umayr ibn al-Ajda that Yuhannas, the freedman of al-Zubayr ibn al-`Awamm informed him that he was sitting with `Abd Allah ibn `Umar during the sedition (at the time of al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf). A female freedwoman of his came and greeted him. She said: "I want to leave, Abu `Abd al-Rahman. The time is harsh for us." `Abd Allah ibn `Umar said to her: "Sit down, O you with little knowledge, for I have heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say: No one will be patient in hunger and hardship in it (Madina) except that I will be a witness or intercede for him on the Day of Rising."
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.2.5:
Malik related to me that Yahya ibn Sa`id said: I heard Abu al-Hubab Sa`id ibn Yasar say that he heard Abu Hurayra say that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say: "I was ordered to a town which will eat up towns. They used to say Yathrib, but it is Madina. It removes the bad people like the blacksmith's furnace removes impurities from the iron."
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.2.6:
Malik related to me from Hisham ibn `Urwa from his father that the
Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "No one leaves Madina preferring to live elsewhere, but that Allah will give it better than him in place of him."
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.2.7:
Malik related to me from Hisham ibn `Urwa from his father from
Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr that Sufyan ibn Abi Zuhayr said: I heard
the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
say: "Yemen will be conquered and the people will be attracted to
it, taking their families and whoever obeys them. Madina would
have been better for them, had they but known. Al-Sham [Syria] will be conquered and people will be attracted to it, taking their families and whoever obeys them. Madina would have been better for them, had they but known. Iraq will be conquered and people will be attracted to it, taking their families and whoever obeys them. Madina would have been better for them, had they but known."
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.2.9:
Malik related to me that he had heard that when `Umar ibn `Abd
al-`Aziz left Madina, he turned towards it and wept. Then he said:
"O Muzahim! Do you fear that we might be among those that Madina casts off?"
The Making a Haram (sacrosanct place) of Madina
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.3.10:
Yahya related to me from Malik from `Amr, the freedman of al-Muttalib from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw Uhud and said: "This is a mountain which loves us and we love it. O Allah! Ibrahim made Mecca Haram, and I will make what is between the two tracts of black stones (in Madina) a Haram."
The Epidemic of Madina
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.4.14:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn `Urwa from his
father that `A'isha, umm al-mu'minin said: When the Messenger of
Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to Madina,
Abu Bakr and Bilal came down with a fever. I visited them and
said: "Father, how are you? Bilal, how are you?" She continued:
When Abu Bakr's fever worsened he would say: "Every man is visited among his family in the early morning and death is nearer to him than the strap of his sandal."
When the fever left Bilal, he raised his voice and said: "Will I spend another night in the valley of Mecca with the idhkhir and the jalil (fragrant herbs) around me. Will I go one day to the waters of Majinna? Will of Shama and Tafil (two mountains or springs near Mecca) ever appear to me again?"
`A'isha continued: I went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and informed him. He said: "O Allah! Make us love Madina as much as we love Mecca or even more. Make it sound and bless us in its sa` and its mudd (units of measure used in Madina). Remove its fever and put it in al-Juhfa (a town seven travelling-units from Madina, and three travelling-units from Mecca)."
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.4.16:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Nu`aym ibn `Abd Allah al-Mujmir that Abu Hurayra said: The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "There are angels at the entries of Madina, and neither plague nor the Dajjal will enter it."
The Expulsion of the Jews from Madina
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.5.17:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Isma`il ibn Abi Hakim that he heard `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz say: One of the last things that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said was: "May Allah fight the Jews and the Christians. They took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration. Two religions
shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs."
Muwatta', Book 45, Number 45.5.18:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "Two religions shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula."
Malik said that Ibn Shihab said: `Umar ibn al-Khattab searched for information about that until he was absolutely convinced that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had said: "Two religions shall not co-exist in the Arabian Peninsula," and he therefore expelled the jews from Khaybar.
THE PROPHET'S GRAVE IS THE
HOLIEST SITE ON EARTH
Qadi `Iyad states in al-Shifa', in the chapter on visiting the Prophet, the consensus of the Muslims whereby the site of the Prophet's grave is the holiest site on earth. This particular consensus has been questioned by Ibn Taymiyya in his al-Ziyara and Shawkani in Nayl al-awtar, however, it is established that some of the major scholars of all Four Schools agree to this view whether or not it is a consensus, among whom are the following:
Hanafis: `Ali al-Qari in his Sharh al-Shifa' already quoted.
Malikis: Qadi `Iyad in al-Shifa' already quoted. He cited ijma` on this question.
Shafi`is: Nawawi in his Sharh Sahih Muslim 6:101 and al-Majmu` sharh al-muhadhdhab 7:444. He reported `Iyad's statement and did not contradict it.
Hanbalis: Ibn `Aqil as quoted by Ibn Qayyim in Bada'i` al-fawa'id
See also: Sa`di Abu Habib, Mawsu`at al-ijma` fi al-fiqh al-islami 2:919.
AL-GHAWTH AL-A`ZAM AL-IMAM AL-SHAYKH
`ABD AL-QADIR AL-JILANI AL-HASANI AL-HANBALI
Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani writes the following in the section on entering Madina, at the end of the section on the Pilgrimage in his book al-Ghunya li talibi tariq al-Haqq `azza wa jall:
Entering Madina the Illuminated
If Allah blesses the pilgrim with prosperity and he is able to come to Madina, then what is desirable for him is that he come to the mosque of the Prophet and say upon entering it:
allahumma salli `ala muhammadin wa `ala ali muhammad, waftah li abwab rahmatik, wa kaffi `anni abwab `adhabik, al-hamdu lillah rabb al-`alamin.
O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, and open for me the gates of your mercy, and close for me the gates of your punishment, all praise belongs to Allah.
Then let him come to the grave of the Prophet and stand in its proximity so that he will be between the grave and the Qibla, and let him stand so that the facade of the Qibla will be behind him and the grave in front of him exactly facing his face, and the minbar to his left... Let him then say:
Peace upon you, O Prophet, and Allah's mercy and His blessings!
O Allah, send blessings upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad as you have sent blessings upon Ibrahim, praised and glorified are You!
O Allah, bestow upon our master Muhammad the Means (al-wasila) and the Priority (al-fadila) and the high rank (al-daraja al-rafi`a), and raise him to the exalted station (al-maqam al-mahmud) which You have promised him!
O Allah, send blessings upon the spirit of Muhammad among all spirits, and upon his body among all bodies, just as he has conveyed Your Message and recited Your signs and fought according to Your command and striven in Your path and commanded that You be obeyed and forbade that You be disobeyed and opposed those who opposed You and befriended those who befriended You and served You until death came to him.
O Allah, You said to Your Prophet in Your Book: "If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful" (4:64), and I have come to Your House [sic; two other manuscripts have: "and I have come to You"] in repentence from my sins and seeking forgiveness, therefore I ask You that you make forgiveness guaranteed for me as you have made it guaranteed for those who came to him in his lifetime acknowledging their sins, so that their Prophet invoked You on their behalf and You forgave them.
O Allah! I am turning to You with Your Prophet, upon him Your peace, the Prophet of mercy. O Messenger of Allah! I am turning with you to my Lord so that He will forgive me my sins. O Allah, I am asking You for his sake (bi haqqihi) that You forgive me and grant me mercy.
O Allah, grant to Muhammad that he be the first of the intercessors, the most successful of those who ask, and the most honorable of the first and the last. O Allah, just as we believed in him without seeing him; and just as we confirmed him without meeting him: enter us where he entered and raise us in his group and bring us to his Pond and quench us with his cup of a satisfying, pure, fresh, whole drink after which we shall never thirst , and keep us forever away from disappointment, betrayal, deviation, negation, and doubt, and make us not of those You are angered against, nor of the misguided, but place us among the people of his intercession.
Then let him step to his left and say: Peace be upon both of you, O Companions of Allah's Messenger, and Allah's mercy and His blessings. Peace be upon you, O Abu Bakr the Most-Truthful. Peace be upon you, O `Umar the Distinguisher. O Allah, reward them with abundant good on behalf of their Prophet and all Islam, and forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in the faith, and do not place in our hearts rancor towards the believers, O Allah! for You are Most Kind, Merciful.
Then let him pray two rak`at and sit. It is desirable that he pray between the grave and the pulpit in the Rawda; and, if he so desires, that he rub the pulpit to take its blessing (wa in ahabba an yatamassah bi al-minbar tabarrukan bih); and that he pray in the mosque of Quba'; and that he go visit the graves of the martyrs and make abundant invocations there.
Then, if he wants to leave Madina, let him come to the Prophet's mosque, approach the grave, greet the Prophet, and do exactly as he did before, then bid him farewell and similarly greet his two Companions and bid them farewell. Then let him say: O Allah, don't make this the last of my visits to the grave of Your Prophet, and if you cause me to die, then make me die loving him and his Sunna. Amin, O Most Merciful of the merciful!
Then he may leave in peace, by Allah's will.
AL-HAFIZ ABU AL-FARAJ IBN AL-JAWZI AL-HANBALI
Ibn al-Jawzi writes in Muthir Al-Gharam Al-Sakin Ila Ashraf Al-Amakin:
Chapter on Visiting the Grave of The Prophet
He who visits the grave of Allah's Messenger should stand while visiting him in the most respectful manner possible, as if he were with him in his lifetime. Ibn `Umar narrates that Allah's Messenger said: "He who performs pilgrimage then visits my grave after my death, is like those who visited me during my lifetime." Ibn `Umar narrates: Allah's Messenger said, "He who visits my grave becomes eligible for my intercession." Anas narrates: Allah's Messenger said: "He who visits me in Madina counting on his visit to me (muhtasiban), I will be his witness and intercessor on the day of Judgment."
Ibn Abi Mulayka said: "Whoever wants to stand facing the Prophet, let him position himself where the Lamp which is located in the Qibla at the grave is over his head." There is another mark that is more easily recognizable than the Lamp, it is a brass nail in the room's wall. When someone stands besides it, the Lamp would be over his head.
Ibn Abi Fudayk said, "I heard some people who lived during the same era, we heard that anyone who stands at the Prophet's grave and recites this verse, Inna Allaha wa mala'ikatahu yusalluna `ala al-Nabi (33:56) and then says: Salla Allahu `alaika ya Muhammad seventy times, an angel will call out to him: "May Allah send blessings on you, O So-and-so! No need of yours will go from hence unfulfilled."
It was related to us [with its chain of transmission] that Ka`b al-Ahbar said: "Every dawn, seventy thousand angels descend and encircle the grave, flapping their wings, and invoking blessings on the Prophet until it is evening time, whereupon they ascend, and an equal number descend and do the same. And this is so until the earth breaks open, whereupon he will come out among seventy thousand angels supporting him.
`Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz used to send his courier from Syria with the message: "Convey my greetings to Allah's Messenger."
Chapter on His Nation's Greeting Reaching Him
`Abd Allah ibn Mas`ud said: Allah's Messenger said, "Allah has angels that roam the earth bringing me the greetings of my nation." Abu Huraira said, "No one sends me Salam except Allah has returned my soul to me so that I can return his Salam."
[We have already mentioned the explanation of this hadith in the section on Mawlid above.]
Chapter on Some Sayings That Were Retained From the Visitors to his Grave and States They Have Experienced
Abu Nasir told us [with his chain of transmission] that `Ali said: "When Allah's Messenger was buried, Fatima came and stood in front of his grave, took a handful of soil, put it on her eyes, cried and recited:
The one who breathes from the soil of Ahmad
Will never breathe trouble all his life long
If the troubles that have been poured on me
Were poured on days, they would turn into nights.
Muhammed ibn Hibban said: I heard Ibrahim ibn Shayban saying: "I performed pilgrimage one year, so I came to Madina and approached the grave of the Prophet and said Salam to him. I heard from inside the room: "Wa `alayka al-Salam."
Abu Hazim [Salama ibn Dinar] said: I heard Sa`id ibn al-Musayyib say: "During the nights of the heat wave there were no people in the Prophet's Masjid except myself. The people of Syria would enter in groups and say: "Look at this crazy old man!" and whenever the time of prayer came, I would hear adhan coming from the Prophet's grave. I would step forward, call iqama and pray, and there would be no one in the Masjid but me."
Muhammad ibn Harb al-Hilali said: I entered Madina, and came to the grave of Allah's Messenger. An Arab came to visit him and said: O best of the Prophets, Allah has revealed to you a truthful book and said in it: "If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful" (4:64), so I have come to you asking forgiveness for my sin, seeking your intercession with my Lord. Then he began to recite poetry:
O best of those whose bones are buried in the deep earth,
And from whose fragrance the depth
and the height have become sweet,
May I be the ransom for a grave which thou inhabit,
And in which are found purity, bounty and munificence!
Then he left, and I dozed and saw the Prophet in my sleep. He said to me: "Run after the Arab and give him glad tidings that Allah has forgiven him through my intercession."
Abu al-Khayr al-Aqta` said: "I entered the city of Allah's Messenger and I was in material need. I stayed five days without eating anything. I came toward the grave and said Salam to the Prophet and to Abu Bakr and to `Umar, then said: "I am your guest tonight, O Allah's Messenger!" I then stepped aside and slept behind the Minbar. I saw the Prophet in my dream, with Abu Bakr to his Right, `Umar to his left, and `Ali in front of him. `Ali shook me and said, "Get up, Rasullullah is coming." I got up and kissed him between his eyes; he gave me a loaf of bread, I ate half of it; when I woke up I found half a loaf in my hand."
SHAYKH AL-ISLAM AL-HAFIZ AL-IMAM
MUHYI AL-DIN AL-NAWAWI AL-SHAFI`I
Imam Nawawi writes in his al-Idah fi Manasik al-Hajj:
Chapter 6: On Visiting the Grave of our Master, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. In this chapter are discussed the recommended and discouraged actions of those who perform Hajj.
The first of the issues concerns those who make Hajj and `umra. When they leave Mecca, they should go towards the city of Allah's Messenger to visit his turba or burial ground. It is one of the most important of those actions that bring one towards Allah, and a most important effort. Al-Bazzar and al-Daraqutni narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar that Allah's Messenger said "Whoever visits my grave, my intercession becomes guaranteed for him."
The second point concerns preferred or recommended actions for the visitor to have intention to do when visiting Allah's Messenger. His intention should be to draw closer to Allah by travelling to his mosque and praying in it.
Third, it is also recommended that when the visitor is in transit he should increase his recitation of greetings and blessings on the Prophet, and that when he sees the trees of Medina, its blessed sanctuary, or any landmark in Medina, he should increase his recitations of greetings and blessings; he should ask that Allah accept his visit and grant him benefit for visiting.
Fourth, it is recommended that the pilgrim perform the greater ablution (ghusl) before entering Madina and put on his cleanest clothes. He should visualize in his heart the honor of Madina, the best place in the world after Mecca according to some scholars; others consider Madina to be the best place in the world without exception. What makes it so honorable is the presence of Allah's Prophet, the best of all creation.
Fifth, the pilgrim should attune himself to the feeling of the greatness of Allah's Messenger; his heart should be full of his presence, as if he is seeing him.
Sixth: when he arrives at the door of his mosque, let him say the things he says when entering Mecca; he should enter with his right foot and leave with his left, as he should when entering and leaving any Masjid. As he approaches the holy Rawda, which is the place between the Prophet's grave and his pulpit, he prays tahiyyat al-Masjid (the prayer of greeting the Masjid) near the Minbar, in the standing place of Allah's Messenger. In the book of Madina the
distance between the Minbar and the Maqam or standing place, where he used to pray until his death, is fourteen arm-lengths and one hand span, and the distance between the Minbar and the grave is fifty-three arm lengths and a span, and Allah knows best.
Seventh, after he prays the Tahiyya in the Rawda (or anywhere else in the Masjid), in thankfulness to Allah for this bounty, and asking Him for the completion of his mission and for the acceptance of his visit, he should face the wall of the holy grave, with the Qibla behind him, looking to the lower part of the grave's wall, lowering his gaze in a state of awe and reverence, emptying his heart of worldly concerns and focusing on the reverent nature of his situation and the status of the one in whose presence he is. Then he gives greetings in a voice neither too loud nor too soft, but with moderation; he says the following:
As for him who cannot memorize all of this or who does not have the time to recite it, it is enough to recite a part of it, as a minimum the words al-Salamu `alayka ya Rasul Allah.
Then, if someone has asked him to convey Salams to Allah's Messenger, let him say al-Salamu `alayka ya Rasul Allah min Fulan ibn Fulan (Greetings to you, O Messenger of Allah, from So-and-so, the son of So-and-so), or some such greeting, after which he steps an arm's length to the right and sends Salams to Abu Bakr because he stands at the shoulder of Allah's Messenger; then he says al-Salamu `alayka ya Aba Bakrin safiyya rasulillahi wa thaniyahu fi al-ghari, jazakallahu `an ummat al-nabiyyi khayran, (Greetings to you, O Abu Bakr, the Intimate Friend of Allah's Messenger and his second in the Cave! May Allah grant you the best reward on behalf of the Prophet's Community). Then he steps an arm's length to the left of his original position, to the space before `Umar, saying: al-salamu `alayka ya `umara a`azz allahu bika al-islam, jazak allahu `an ummati muhammadin khayran (Greetings to you O `Umar, Allah has strengthened Islam through you, may Allah reward you well on behalf of the Nation of Muhammad). Then he returns to his original position, directly in front of Allah's Messenger, and he uses the prophet as his means in his innermost (fa yatawassalu bihi fi haqqi nafsihi), and seeks his intercession before his Exalted and Mighty Lord (wa yatashaffa`u bihi ila rabbihi subhanahu wa ta`ala), and one of the best things that he can say is what has been narrated by our colleagues on al-`Utbi's authority, and they admired what he said:
As I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet, a Beduin Arab came and said: "Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! I have heard Allah saying: "If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful" (4:64), so I have come to you asking forgiveness for my sin, seeking your intercession with my Lord." Then he began to recite poetry:
O best of those whose bones are buried in the deep earth,
And from whose fragrance the depth
and the height have become sweet,
May I be the ransom for a grave which thou inhabit,
And in which are found purity, bounty and munificence!
Then he left, and I dozed and saw the Prophet in my sleep. He said to me: "O `Utbi, run after the Beduin and give him glad tidings that Allah has forgiven him."
The pilgrim should next advance to the head of the grave and stand between the grave and the pillar that is there, facing the Qibla [without turning his back on the grave]. Let him praise and glorify Allah and supplicate for himself regarding what concerns him and what he loves, for his parents, and for whomever he likes among his relatives, revered teachers, brothers, and Muslims in general; then he comes to the Rawda and increases his supplication and prayer. It established in the two Sahihs in a narration from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet said: "Between my grave and my Minbar lies one of the Gardens of Paradise, and my Minbar overlooks my Pool (hawd). Let him stand by the Minbar to make supplication.
Eighth: It is impermissible (la yajuz) to circumambulate the grave of the Prophet, and it is reprehensible (makruh) to stand so close to the grave that one's entire front or back is in direct contact with it. This is according to the opinion of al-Halimi and others. Also reprehensible is rubbing the grave with one's hand or kissing it. The good etiquette is to stay a distance from it, as one would from a living person. This is what the `ulama have said, and we should not be misled by such actions of common people that are in violation of these good manners; we should only follow the prescriptions of the scholars, without paying attention to the behavior of the common people. The respected master, Abu `Ali al-Fudayl ibn `Iyad spoke to the effect that one must follow the paths of guidance and not be distracted that so few travel them, and to beware the paths of misguidance that are well-travelled by those who will perish. Therefore, he who thinks that rubbing and such brings more baraka is misled by his ignorance and heedlessness, because baraka is in what is in accordance with the Shari`a and the sayings of the scholars; how then can benefit be obtained through opposition to what is right?
Ninth: Throughout his stay in Madina he must perform all of his prayers in the Prophet's Masjid, and must form the intention of making i`tikaf (retreat) in it.
Tenth: It is desirable that he go daily to the cemetary of Baqi`, especially on Friday; he should first say Salams to the Prophet. When he arrives at Baqi`, he says: al-Salamu `alaykum Dara Qawmin mu'minina wa inna insha Allahu bikum lahiqun, Allahumma ighfir li ahli Baqi` al-gharqad, Allahumma ighfir lana wa lahum. Then he visits the visible graves there, such as that of Ibrahim, `Uthman, al-`Abbas, al-Hasan the son of `Ali, `Ali the son of Al-Hussein, Muhammad ibn `Ali, Ja`far ibn Muhammad, and others. The last stop would be the grave of Safiyya, the Aunt of Allah's Messenger; it has been established in numerous sound hadiths that there is merit in the graves of the Baqi` and in visiting them.
Eleventh: It is recommended to visit the graves of the martyrs of Uhud, the best day being Thursday, and to begin with Hamza, starting early in the morning after the dawn prayer in the mosque of the Prophet, so as to allow time to return to the Masjid before the Noon prayer.
Twelfth: It is definitely recommended to come to the Masjid of Quba', preferably on a Saturday, with the intention of drawing closer to Allah by visiting it and praying in it, due to the authentic hadith in the book of Tirmidhi and others from Usayb ibn Hudhayr, that a prayer in the Masjid of Quba' is like `umra; and in the two Sahihs Ibn `Umar is related to say that Allah's Messenger used to come to Masjid Quba' both riding and walking to pray in it two rak`a, and in an authentic narration he used to come to it every Saturday. It is recommended to visit the well of Aris, which is located by the mosque of Quba', and drink from its water and perform ablution with it.
Thirteenth: It is desirable that one visit all the sites of significance in Islam. There are approximately thirty such places, and they are known to the inhabitants of Madina. The pilgrim should visit as many as he can. He should also come to and drink from the wells where Allah's Messenger used to perform ablution and wash. There are seven such wells.
Fourteenth: The pilgrim must maintain reverence toward this city throughout his stay there, keeping in his heart that it is the place chosen as the place of Allah's Messenger's emigration and residence, and the place where he was buried; he must visualize the Prophet's coming and going in the city and his walking in its streets.
Fifteenth: Taking up residence in Madina [especially for study] is desirable on the same conditions that were previously mentioned with reference to Mecca. The desirability of this practice has been established in Sahih Muslim: Ibn `Umar and Abu Hurayra related that the Prophet said: "He who perseveres through the difficulties and hardships of Madina, I will be a witness or an intercessor for him on the day of judgment."
Sixteenth: It is recommended that he fast in Medina whenever it is possible and as much as possible, and to give Sadaqa as much as possible to the Prophet's jiran (people performing mujawara i.e. living in Madina in order to keep the Sunna), because it is a way of being faithful to the Prophet.
Seventeenth: He is not to carry with him any of the pottery made from the soil and stones of the Haram of Medina, nor the pitchers nor others of the ustensils made from it, as has been stated with regard to the Haram of Mecca.
Eighteenth: Hunting at the Haram of Medina is forbidden, and it is also forbidden to remove from the trees of the Haram; these rules have been discussed in reference to the Haram of Mecca. The boundary of the Haram of Medina is what has been narrated by Bukhari and Muslim in their two authentic books from `Ali ibn Abi Talib from the Prophet: "The Haram of Madina is between `Ayr and Thawr [a hill behind Uhud]"; and in the two authentic books from the hadith of Abu Hurayrah who said: "If I see the deer grazing or drinking in Madina I would never interfere with them." The Prophet also said, "What is between her two tracts of black stones [i.e. city limits]," and so it has been narrated by a group of Companions in the Sahih.
Nineteenth: If he wants to travel from Madina and go back to his country or another country, it is desirable to say farewell to the Masjid by performing two rak`a and making supplication for any matter about which he is concerned; he has to come to the grave and say something similar to the supplications mentioned at the beginning and says, "Oh Allah, do not make this the last time that I come to the Haram of Your Messenger; make easy my return to the two Sacred Sanctuaries, and bestow upon me forgiveness and security in this life and in the hereafter, and grant us safe return with your bounty." He leaves facing away from the tomb.
Twentieth: Important matters regarding the Prophet's mosque: It has been narrated in Sahih Bukhari from Ibn `Umar that he said: "In the time of Allah's Messenger the masjid was built with sun-dried clay bricks, its roof was made of palm branches, the pillars were of palm wood. Abu Bakr did not add to it anything; `Umar added to it and built it the way that it used to be during the time of the Prophet with bricks and palm branches and palm-wood pillars. `Uthman, in turn, changed it, adding considerably to it, and he built up its walls with engraved stone and freestone, put up pillars of engraved stone, and a roof of teak [Indian oak]." It is incumbent to keep Salat in the Masjid that used to exist during the time of Allah's Messenger. For the previously mentioned sound hadith: "A prayer in this, my Masjid, is better than a thousand prayers in any other Masjid" applies only to what was in place in his own time. If one prays in congregation, stepping forward to the first row, and those rows immediately behind it, is best. Let him pay attention to what I have warned about. In the two Sahih books on the authority of Abu Hurayra the Prophet said: "My Minbar overlooks my Pool." Al-Khattabi said that the meaning of this hadith is that he who keeps the prayers at my Minbar shall be given water from the Prophet's Pool on the Day of Judgment. The other hadith in the Sahih has already been mentioned: "Between my grave and the Minbar, lies one of the Gardens of Paradise."
Twenty-first: Some of the common people claimed that Allah's Messenger said: "Whoever visits me and my father Ibrahim in the same year, I guarantee Paradise for him," and this is false; it is not from Allah's Messenger and it is not mentioned in any books of hadith. Rather, it is a fabrication of some corrupt individuals. The visit of the Friend of the Merciful is not disapproved. What is rejected is only what the common people have narrated and there is no relation between the visit of the Khalil and Hajj; the visit of the Khalil is a separate act of devotion. Likewise, the saying of some of the common people whereby if they perform the Hajj and complement it by visiting Jerusalem, they are thereby completing the Pilgrimage: this is false. While visiting Jerusalem is desirable, it is not related to Hajj. And Allah knows best.
Twenty-second: If one swears an oath to visit the Prophet's Mosque or Jerusalem, there are two points of view for al-Shafi`i; the more correct one is that it is desirable that he go, but not obligatory.
And Allah knows best.
"SALAFI" MUTILATIONS OF
THE TEXT OF NAWAWI'S ADHKAR
The following is translated from a booklet by Shaykh Hassan ibn `Ali al-Saqqaf entitled: al-Ighatha bi adillat al-istighatha (Help with the proof-texts of seeking help) published in Amman at Maktabat al-Imam Nawawi (1410/1990) page 17:
Saqqaf says: This is the untampered text of Imam Nawawi in the Book of Pilgrimage which is part of his larger book Kitab al-Adhkar according to the original manuscript, published editions, and Ibn `Allan's commentary on the Adhkar:
Concerning the visit to the grave (qabr) of the Prophet and the invocations pertaining thereto:
Know that it is incumbent (yanbaghi) upon every pilgrim to go and visit the Prophet, whether this visit is on his way or not. Indeed, the visit of the Prophet is among the most important of the acts that draw one near to Allah (qurubat) and of the most gainful of errands and of the most excellent of quests. Once one turns his steps to visit the Prophet, let him invoke abundant blessings on him while on the way. As soon as his sight reaches the trees of Madina [he invokes even more blessings]...
Saqqaf continues: Below is the corrupt (munharif) text of the same passage of Imam Nawawi's book, as it stands mutilated by the hand of the mutamaslif `Abd al-Qadir al-Arna'ut... in the edition of Dar al-Huda, Riyadh, 1409/1989 sponsored by the Supervisory Board for Publications, which is presided by the [Saudi] Authority for Scholarly Research and Ifta, p. 295:
Concerning the visit of the mosque (masjid) of the Prophet:
Know that it is recommended (yustahabb) that whoever wants to visit the mosque of the Prophet invoke abundant blessings on him while on the way there. As soon as his sight reaches the trees of Madina...
Our commentary: Observe how the "Salafi" edited Imam Nawawi's text: He got rid of Nawawi's two sentences: "it is incumbent (yanbaghi) upon every pilgrim to go and visit the Prophet, whether this visit is on his way or not. Indeed, the visit of the Prophet is among the most important of the acts that draw one near to Allah (qurubat) and of the most gainful of errands and of the most excellent of quests" and replaced them with "it is recommended (yustahabb) that whoever wants to visit the mosque of the Prophet...."! We know that the Prophet said: "Whoever deliberately lies concerning me, let him prepare himself for his seat in the Fire." Does this mean that it is permitted to lie concerning the scholars who are the inheritors of the Prophet?
Saqqaf continues: Then the said Salafi editor took a further liberty by completely eliminating the account of al-`Utbi told by al-Nawawi [at the end of this section], because it contradicts his impure spring [the Salafi School]. Is this scholarly trustworthiness? He could have commented on it and denied it, as some of his [Salafi] brothers have done in other editions. He did not have to commit such corruption of the text, such disgraceful tampering which leads Muslims to doubt in the great texts of our heritage that are printed and disseminated among all. End of Saqqaf's words.
THE OPINION PROHIBITING TRAVEL TO
VISIT THE PROPHET IS NULL AND VOID
Mulla `Ali al-Qari said in his commentary on al-Shifa:
What al-Shu`bi and al-Nakh`i claimed about hatred of visiting graves is out of the pale (shadhdh) and not to be depended upon (la yu`awwal `alayh) as it contradicts the consensus of everyone else (limukhalaftihi ijma` ghayrihima). Ibn Taimiyya exceded proper bounds (farrata) from among the Hanbalis by prohibiting traveling to visit the Prophet. Others have also exaggerated by saying that whoever denies the visitation is an act bringing one closer to Allah that is obligatory knowledge in the Religion, is ruled upon to be a disbeliever (kafir). Perhaps the latter is closer to correctness (than what Ibn Taymiyya claimed), because to prohibit that upon which the Scholars have formed consensus is disbelief because it exceeds the allowable prohibiting that is agreed upon in this topic.
The objections of the scholars to this view of Ibn Taimiyya are well-known. Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari (3:85 1989 ed.):
Ibn Taymiyya said: This kind of trip (traveling to visit the grave of the Prophet) is a disobedience and salat must not be shortened during it. And this is one of the ugliest matters reported from Ibn Taymiyya.
The Saudi scholar Bin Baz commented the above thus: "No! it is not ugly, and Ibn Taymiyya was right"! The vast majority of the scholars obviously think otherwise.
In Nayl al-awtar (3:94-97), Shawkani writes:
The sayings of the people of knowledge have differed on it [travelling to visit the Prophet]. The vast majority (al-jumhur) have sided that it is recommended. Some of the Malikis and some of the Zahiris said that it is necessary (wajib), and the Hanafis said it is close to being necessary, while Ibn Taymiyya al-Hanbali said that it is not lawful (ghayr mashru`), and in this he was followed by some of the Hanbalis. He ascribed this view to Malik, al-Juwayni, and Qadi-'Iyad... The gist of his words is that not one of the hadiths related to the ziyara is fair (hasan) or sound (sahih), but all are weak and forged, or rejected and without foundation.
Abu al-Hasanat al-Lucknawi commented on these statements in his Zafr al-amani sharh mukhtasar al-sayyid al-sarif al-Jurjani fi mustalah al-hadith edited by `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda (Aleppo and Beirut: maktab al-matbu`at al-islamiyya, 3rd ed. 1416, p. 422 n.):
Do not listen to the saying that is far from the truth by one of the eminent people of our time in his article entitled Rihlat al-siddiq ila al-bayt al-`atiq whereby "not one of the hadiths related to the ziyara is fair (hasan) or sound (sahih), but all are weak and forged, or rejected and without foundation." I wonder that he can even ascribe the claim that they are weak, to Imam Malik, Qadi `Iyad, and others, for this is an invention attributed to them. For example, his saying: "Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya said that it is not in the Law, and in this he was followed by some of the Hanbalis, and he related this from Malik, al-Juwayni, and Qadi `Iyad." This is all an utter fabrication, for neither Malik, nor Juwayni, nor `Iyad ever considered it unlawful to visit the grave of the Prophet. They were not of those whose learning exceeded their intelligence so that they would say with their mouth what Ibn Taymiyya said. [A reference to al-Subki's unflattering remark about Ibn Taymiyya, "his learning exceeded his intelligence."]
Lucknawi's strong words are reminscent of Mulla `Ali al-Qari's statement already quoted whereby "Ibn Taimiyya exceded proper bounds from among the Hanbalis by prohibiting traveling to visit the Prophet."
And it has been answered to one who related from Malik the saying of hating the visiting of the prophet's grave, that he only said it to preclude wrongdoing, and it has been said he hated saying the phrase al-ziyara (the visit), because whoever wishes to visit does it, and whoever wishes to leave it is free also, whereas the visit to his grave, peace be upon him, is from the necessary Sunnas (min al-sunan al-wajiba). `Abd al-Haqq [Ibn al-Kharrat al-Ishbili] held this also. And also those who say that it is part of the Law have adduced as evidence the persistence of Muslims who proceed to Hajj at all times, regardless of the varied countries of origin and the different madhhabs, in coming to Madina with the goal (qasd) of visiting him, and they consider this to be among the best of actions. And it has not been narrated that anyone has forbidden that for them, and so it is a consensus.
FATWA OF FORTY-FIVE SCHOLARS OF MECCA,
MADINA, EGYPT, SYRIA, AND INDIA
ON THE PRAISEWORTHINESS OF
TRAVELLING TO VISIT THE PROPHET
A century ago eleven major scholars of Ahl al-Sunna in India issued a fatwa on the lawfulness of travelling with the explicit intention of visiting the Prophet in response to the question:
What do you say concerning travelling to visit the leader of creation, blessings and peace upon him and upon his Family and Companions? Which do you prefer for the traveller at the time of undertaking travel: to intend to visit the Prophet, or to intend also to visit the mosque? For someone said: One traveling to Madina must not intend other than the Mosque of the Prophet.
The reply was reproduced in full in the book al-Mufannad al-muhannad, and Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Alawi al-Maliki again reproduced it recently in his book Shifa' al-fu'ad bi ziyarat khayr al-`ibad (p. 83-88). This fatwa was subsequently approved and co-signed by scholars of Mecca, Madina, Egypt, and Syria. Below is a list of these scholars, followed by excerpts from the fatwa:
Scholars from India
- `Allama muhaddith Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi (d. 1905 CE)
- `Allama muhaddith Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanfuri (d. 1927 CE)
- `Allama muhaddith Shaykh Mahmud al-Hasan al-Deobandi
- `Allama shaykh Mir Ahmad Hasan al-Husayni
- `Allama muhaddith shaykh `Aziz al-Rahman al-Deobandi
- `Allama murshid shaykh `Ali Ashraf al-Tahanawi
- `Allama shaykh Shah `Abd al-Rahim al-Ranfuri
- Shaykh al-Hajj al-Hakim Muhammad Hasan al-Deobandi
- Mawlawi Qudrat Allah
- Mawlawi mufti Kifayat Allah
- `Allama shaykh Muhammad Yahya Saharanfuri
Scholars from Mecca
- Shaykh Muhammad Sa`id ibn Muhammad al-Shafi`i the chief of the scholars of Mecca and the imam and khatib at the Masjid al-haram
- Shaykh Ahmad Rashid Khan Nawab
- Shaykh Muhammad `Abid ibn Husayn al-Maliki
- Shaykh Muhammad `Ali ibn Husayn al-Maliki
Scholars from Madina
- al-Faqih al-Sayyid Ahmad ibn Isma`il al-Barzanji (d. 1919 CE)
- al-Shaykh Ahmad al-Jaza'iri al-Maliki
- al-Sayyid Muhammad Zaki al-Barzanji
- al-Muhaddith al-Shaykh `Umar Hamdan al-Mahrisi
- al-Sharif Ahmad ibn al-Ma'mun al-Balghith
- al-Shaykh Musa Kazim
- al-Shaykh Mulla Muhammad Khan
- al-Shaykh Khalil ibn Ibrahim
- a-Shaykh Muhammad al-`Aziz al-Wazir al-Tunisi
- al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Susi al-Khayari
- al-Hajj Ahmad ibn Muhammad Khayr al-Shanqiti
- al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Umar al-Fulani
- al-Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ahmad Sa`d
- al-Shaykh Muhammad Mansur ibn Nu`man
- al-Shaykh Ahmad Bisati
- al-Shaykh Muhammad Hasan Sindi
- al-Shaykh Mahmud `Abd al-Jawad
Scholars from al-Azhar
- Shaykh al-Azhar al-shaykh Salim al-Bashri
- Shaykh Muhammad Ibrahim al-Qayati
Scholars from Syria
- al-Faqih al-muhaddith Muhammad Abu al-Khayr Ibn `Abidin al-Husayni
- al-Shaykh Mustafa ibn Ahmad al-Shatti al-Hanbali (d. 1929)
- al-Shaykh Mahmud Rashid al-`Attar al-Dimashqi
- al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Bushi al-Hamawi
- al-Shaykh Muhammad Sa`id al-Hamawi
- al-Shaykh `Ali ibn Muhammad al-Dallal al-Hamawi
- al-Shaykh Muhammad Adib al-Hurani
- al-Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Lababidi
- al-Shaykh Muhammad Sa`id Lutfi al-Hanafi
- al-Shaykh Faris ibn Ahmad al-Shaqfa
- al-Shaykh Mustafa al-Haddad al-Hamawi
TEXT OF THE FATWA
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim....
FIRST let it be known, before we state our answer, that by Allah's grace we, all our shaykhs -- may Allah be pleased with them, -- and the totality of our assembly are, in the branches of the religion, strict imitators (muqallidun) of the guide of mankind and the apex of Muslim scholars, the greatest Imam, Abu Hanifa al-Nu`man; and, in beliefs and principles of the faith, strict followers (muttabi`un) of the principal Imams Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, may Allah be well pleased with them; and that we are strict adherents (muntasibun) to the following Sufi ways: the most distinguished way of the Naqshbandi masters, the most pure way of the Shishti masters, and the most radiant way of the Suhrawardi masters.
SECOND let it be known, that we do not here speak one word nor utter one syllable concerning the Religion except that we stand upon authority for it with our proof from the Qur'an or Sunna, or the consensus of the Umma, or the saying of one of the major scholars of the madhhab. Nevertheless, we do not say that we are exempt from error and forgetfulness in writing and speaking, therefore, if it becomes apparent to us that we erred in something, whether in the principles or in the branches, then we are not ashamed to take it back and proclaim that we do so. How could it not be so when our own Imams took back many of their positions, such as the most honorable Imam of Allah's Sanctuary, our Imam, al-Shafi`i, may Allah be well pleased with him, until there was little left except he had a new position concerning it? The Companions themselves took back some of their positions in the light of each other's opinions, as is known to those who pursue the sciences of hadith. Therefore, if one of our contemporary scholars asserts that we erred in some ruling, then if concerns the principles let him produce his evidence in the light of one of the Imams of theology (kalam), and if it concerns the branches, then let him bring forth his evidence from the most conclusive position of one of the Imams of the madhhab. If he so does, then nothing more is left for us except rightful acceptance with the heart and the tongue, and added to that, sincere gratitude....
IN REPLY TO THE QUESTION: According to us and our shaykhs, the visit to the grave of the master of Messengers -- may my life be sacrificed for him -- is among the greatest of the acts that draw near to Allah and those who earn the most reward and those most efficacious in obtaining a high rank. In fact, it is close to being a required act. This holds true even if its fulfillment comes by way of travelling and expenditure, and even if one forms the intention, at the time of departure, to visit the Prophet -- upon him a thousand thousand salutations -- and along with that intention he intends to visit his masjid and other blessed spots and noble graves.
Moreover, the most appropriate for him is as the great savant Ibn al-Huham said: let him devote his intention solely to the visit of his grave, then he will obtain the visit of his masjid at the time he arrives there, for in so doing he will show additional reverence and honor to him. This is according to the narration: "Whoever comes to me as a visitor driven by no other need but my visit, it is incumbent upon me to be his intercessor on the Day of Resurrection." Hence it is reported from the noble knower of Allah al-Mulla [`Abd al-Rahman] Jami that he set apart the Visit from the Pilgrimage, and that is more in keeping with the madhhab of those who love the Prophet.
As for what the objectors say whereby the traveller to Madina -- upon its dweller a thousand thousand salutations -- must not intend other than to visit the noble masjid, on the basis of the hadith "Mounts are not to be saddled except to go to three masjids," then this is rejected because the hadith does not indicate an absolute prohibition! Rather, if one endowed with understanding and learning considers it carefully one sees a proof in the text for permissibility. The factor by which the three mosques are excepted from the commonality of mosques or other places, is the special merit that is attached to them: and that special merit is present in the noble spot of the grave, for that noble spot and enlightened expanse of space which contains his limbs -- blessings and peace upon him -- is absolutely more meritorious even than the Ka`ba, the Throne, and the kursi, as explicitly declared by our fuqaha'. And since the three mosques have been singled out for their special merit, then it is definitely the case that the blessed spot of his grave be singled out even more.
The sun of the pious scholars, our shaykh, Mawlana Rashid Ahmad al-Gangohi has expounded upon this matter in the same terms that we used, or even more explicitly, in his treatise Zubdat al-manasik fi fadl ziyarat al-madina al-munawwara, which has been printed several times. Also relevant to this noble issue is the treatise of the shaykh of our shaykhs, Mawlana Sadr al-Din al-Dihlawi -- may Allah sanctify his precious secret -- in his treatise Ahsan al-maqal fi hadith la tushadd al-rihal which came out in print and became well-known, and in which he unleashed disaster on the heads of those who call themselves "salafiyya." Let the reader consult these works. And Allah knows best.
Narrated from Shaddad ibn Aws by al-Bazzar, Abu Ya`la, and Tabarani. Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa'id (1:47): "Its narrators are the men of the sound collections." Ibn Hajar mentioned this hadith in his Fath al-Bari (7:199) without saying anything against 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 instead of bullightuhu in the end.
Abu Hurayra in Abu Dawud (Manasik #2039) with a sound chain; Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:407; Ahmad, Musnad 2:527; Abu Nu`aym, Akhbar Asbahan 2:353; Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 145; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman #4161; Haythami, Majma` al-zawa'id 10:162; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir 6:464; al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-tarhib 2:499; Talkhis al-habir 2:267.
Abu al-`Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Khatib, known as Ibn Qunfudh al-Qusantini al-Maliki, Wasilat al-islam bi al-nabi `alayhi al-salat wa al-salam (The means to Islam with the Prophet, peace be upon him) (Beirut: Dar al-gharb al-islami, 1404/1984) p. 145-146.
 See the following sources:
- Nawawi's al-Tarkhis fi al-ikram bi al-qiyam li dhawi al-fadl wa al- maziyya min ahl al-islam `ala jihat al-birr wa al-tawqir wa al-ihtiram la `ala jihat al-riya' wa al-i`zam (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) ed. Kilani Muhammad Khalifa (Beirut: Dar al-Basha'ir al-islamiyya, 1409/1988);
- Nawawi's Sharh Sahih Muslim;
- Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani's Fath al-Bari sharh sahih al-Bukhari (The victory of the Creator: commentary on Bukhari's collection of sound hadiths);
- Shams al-Din al-Sakhawi's al-Jawahir wa al-durar fi tarjamat shaykh al-islam Ibn Hajar (The diamonds and the pearls: biography of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar).
See Qadi `Iyad, al-Shifa'; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman; Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Wafa'; Qastallani, al-Mawahib al-laduniyya; Suyuti, al-Khasa'is al-kubra; and others, chapters concerning Allah's bestowal of precedence and preference to His Prophet.
Related by Ahmad (4:138 #17246), Tirmidhi (Da`awat Ch. 119), Ibn Majah (Iqamat al-salat wa al-sunnat, Ch. on Salat al-hajat), Nasa'i (`Amal al-yawm wa al-laylat p. 417-418), al-Hakim (1:313), and rigorously authenticated as sound (sahih) by nearly fifteen hadith masters including Ibn Hajar, Dhahabi, Shawkani, and Ibn Taymiyya.
1970 Riyadh edition: p. 271
1988 Ta'if edition: p. 383
1992 Mecca edition: p. 370
Bukhari's Adab al-mufrad:
1990 `Abd al-Baqi Beirut edition: p. 286
1994 Albani edition entitled Da`if al-adab al-mufrad: p. 87
The latter gives as a reference: Takhrij al-kalim al-tayyib (235)"
date? Beirut: `Alam al-kitab: p. 324
date? Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya: p.142.
Shawkani's Tuhfat al-dhakirin:
1970 Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya: p. 206-207.
Daraqutni, Abu al-Shaykh, Tabarani, Ibn al-Jawzi in Muthir al-`azm al-sakin ila ashraf al-amakin, Ibn al-Najjar in al-durra al-thamina fi akhbar al-madina, Ibn `Adi, Ibn `Asakir, al-Subki in Shifa' al-siqam (p. 17-23), Sa`id ibn Mansur in his Sunan, and Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-kubra (5:246), Book of Hajj, Chapter on visiting the Prophet's grave, through Ibn `Umar. Ibn `Adi, Ibn `Asakir, and Bayhaqi declared it weak because of Hafs ibn Sulayman. However:
- Tabarani relates it through other than Hafs in al-Kabir and al-Awsat; Mulla Qari says in Sharh al-shifa' (Beirut: Dar al-kutub al-`ilmiyya ed. 2:149): "The ahadith on this chapter are numerous and their narrations are well-known, among them `Ali's narration traced back to the Prophet: "Whoever visits my grave after my death it is as if he visited me in my life" and "Whoever does not visit my grave has slighted me." It has been inferred from this that the Prophet's visitation is obligatory upon those who are able to visit him."
- Sakhawi relates in al-Maqasid al-hasana (p. 410 #1125) that Dhahabi says: "Its chains strengthen each other and none of them contains a liar. Among its best is the hadith: "Whoever visits me after my death it is as if he visited me in my life";
- Ahmad ibn Hanbal declared Hafs a good (salih) and acceptable (ma bihi ba's) narrator as cited in Subki p. 22;
- Subki shows (p. 20-21) that there are two possible Hafs ibn Sulayman one of which Ibn Hibban declared reliable and the other weak.
"According to Shafi`i and the majority of the scholars the meaning of "except the Holy Mosque" is that prayer in the Holy Mosque is better than prayer in the Prophet's Mosque. According to Malik and those who agree with him, its meaning is that prayer in the Prophet's mosque is better, but not by one thousand times. Qadi `Iyad said: The scholars are unanimous that the site of his grave is the best spot on earth and that Mecca and Madina are the best spot on earth, but they differ as to which of these two is better apart from the site of his grave. `Umar, some others of the Companions, Malik, and most of the people of Madina say that Madina is better. The people of Mecca and Kufa, al-Shafi`i, Ibn Wahb al-Maliki and Ibn Habib al-Maliki hold that Mecca is preferable.
I say: What our companions adduced as evidence for their position about the preference of Mecca is the hadith of `Abd Allah ibn `Adi ibn al-Hamra whereby he heard the Prophet say as he stood on top of his mount in Mecca: "By Allah, verily you are the best of Allah's earth and the most beloved of Allah's earth to Him, and had I not been brought out from you I would have never come out." Tirmidhi and Nisa'i narrated it and the former said it is hasan sahih [Ibn Hibban and Bayhaqi also narrated it]. `Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr related that the Prophet said: "One prayer in this mosque of mine is better than a thousand in any other except the Holy mosque, and one prayer in the Holy mosque is better than a hundred in mine." A fair (hasan) hadith narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, Bayhaqi, and others with a fair chain. And Allah knows best." Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Qalam ed.) vol. 9/10 p. 172-173.
The first part of the hadith is narrated by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, and Tirmidhi who said it is hasan sahih gharib. The hadith with both its first and second part is related by Tabarani with a fair (hasan) chain.
 al-Jilani, al-Ghunya, ed. Farj Tawfiq al-Walid (Baghdad: maktabat al-sharq al-jadida, n.d.) 1:89-93.
Bayhaqi, Sunan 5:246 and Shu`ab (#4154); al-Asbahani, al-Targhib (#1080), Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:406; Daylami, al-Firdaws (#5709), Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 144; al-Daraqutni, Sunan 2:278; Tabarani, al-Kabir, al-Awsat. Bayhaqi in the Shu`ab (#4155) said: "Only Hafs ibn Sulayman narrates it and he is weak." However, al-Haythami mentions in his Majma` al-zawa'id (4:2) that Ahmad declared him reliable although others said he was weak. See Dhahabi's Mizan #2121.
Al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-tarhib 2:224; al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman (#4157), Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:406; Tanzih al-Shari`a 2:176; Suyuti, al-La'ali' al-masnu`a 2:72; Tadhkirat al-mawdu`at (#75). Weak because of Sulayman ibn Yazid al-Ka`bi, however, he was declared trustworthy (thiqa) by Ibn Hibban.
Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar tarikh Dimashq 2:407; Suyuti from Ibn Mubarak in al-Khasa'is al-kubra; Ibn Abi al-Dunya 2:376; Ibn al-Najjar p. 145; al-Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman (#4170) from Wahb ibn Munabbih.
Ahmad, Musnad 1:378, 441, 452; Ibn Hibban, Sahih (#2393); al-Darimi, Sunan 2:58; al-Nisa'i, Sunan 3:43; al-Hakim, Mustadrak 2:421, (sahih), and Dhahabi confirmed it, cf. Siyar a`lam al-nubala' 17:106; Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 144.
Abu Hurayra in Abu Dawud (Manasik #2039) with a sound chain; Ibn `Asakir, Mukhtasar Tarikh Dimashq 2:407; Ahmad, Musnad 2:527; Abu Nu`aym, Akhbar Asbahan 2:353; Ibn al-Najjar, Akhbar al-Madina p. 145; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman #4161; Haythami, Majma` al-zawa'id 10:162; Ibn Kathir, Tafsir 6:464; al-Mundhiri, al-Targhib wa al-tarhib 2:499; Talkhis al-habir 2:267.
We have already mentioned Imam Ahmad's permission to touch the grave and kiss it, and Dhahabi's words of endorsement to this effect in his Mu`jam al-shuyukh Vol. 1 p. 73 #58 (see above p. 27-28): "[The Companions] saw the Prophet with their very eyes when he was alive, enjoyed his presence directly, kissed his very hand, nearly fought with each other over the remnants of his ablution water, shared his purified hair on the day of the greater Pilgrimage, and even if he spat it would virtually not fall except in someone's hand so that he could pass it over his face. Since we have not had the tremendous fortune of sharing in this, we throw ourselves on his grave as a mark of commitment, reverence, and acceptance, even to kiss it. Don't you see what Thabit al-Bunani did when he kissed the hand of Anas ibn Malik and placed it on his face saying: "This is the hand that touched the hand of Allah's Messenger"? Muslims are not moved to these matters except by their excessive love for the Prophet, as they are ordered to love Allah and the Prophet more than they love their own lives, their children, all human beings, their property, and Paradise and its maidens."
The Salafis/Wahhabis have destroyed all these graves, so that they are no longer known when someone wishes to make the visitation according to the prescriptions of the Sunna in Imam Nawawi's definition, so that the Baqi` now appears like a desert, where none of the graves can be recognized. In the time of the Prophet, those buried people were few and it was easy to recognize where they were. In later times, however, because the cemetary became filled with Muslims, the importance of signs to determine where the Sahabas are buried became even greater than in the past, just as it is important to maintain the mark of the site of the Prophet's grave. That is why Muslims have kept these signs protected from the vicissitudes of time and change, until the advent of Wahhabis and Salafis on the scene. Nevertheless it is important to keep up these signs, more now than in the past, for the reasons Nawawi mentioned.
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami added in his commentary on Nawawi: "Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and others related that the Prophet said: "Whoever can die in Madina, let him die in it, for I shall intercede for him who dies in it." The hadiths on the merit of living and dying in Madina are numerous."
In his few notes on Fath al-Bari (3:85 1989 ed.).
Haytami said in Majma` al-zawa'id: "Tabarani narrates it in al-Kabir and al-Awsat from Ibn `Umar with a chain containing Maslama ibn Salim and he is weak." al-`Iraqi said in al-Mughni `an haml al-asfar: "Ibn al-Sakan declared the hadith sound (sahih)."