Mawlid: Celebrating the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (s)

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

 In the Name of Allāh all-Beneficent Most Merciful

“It is beyond me how someone who has strong īmān can possibly dispute
the manifestation of joy on the occasion we consider the dearest and most
auspicious of all―the dawning of the Muhammadan light on this world.”1

Badr al-Dīn al-Kattānī. 

Glory to Allāh Who has illuminated existence with the rising of the light of the Best of Creation, our Master Muhammad – upon him and his Family blessings and peace!

According to the majority of the Ulema, the celebration of the Prophetic birth, called Mawlid al-Nabī or Mīlād al-Nabī, is among the qurubāt or recommended beneficial acts through which one hopes to obtain the good pleasure of Allāh (swt) and shows gratitude for His greatest favor to worlds in the person of the Final Prophet, the Messenger of Allāh (swt).

This ruling of recommendation and desirability was stated by the following authorities among others:

  • ‘Abd al-Sāmī al-Rampūrī. A Khalīfa of Hajjī Imdād Allāh, he wrote a book titled al-Anwār as-Sāti‘a fī Ithbāt al-Mawlid wal-Fātiha.
  • Abū Shāma. The hāfiz and historian Abū Shāma (599-665), the Shaykh of Imām al-Nawawi, said in his book on innovations titled al-Bā‘ith ‘alā Inkār al-Bida‘ wa al-Hawādith (p. 23): “Among the best innovations in our day is the remembrance of the birthday of the Prophet (s).”
  • Al-‘Alā’ī. The Hanafī hāfiz Salāh al-Dīn Khalīl ibn Kīkaldī al-‘Alā’ī in his book al-Durra al-Saniyya fī Mawlidi Khayr al-Bariyya (s).
  • Al-Bakrī. Shaykh Abū al-Hasan ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Bakrī in his seven part book al-Anwār wa Miftāh al-Surūr wal-Afkār fī Mawlid al-Nabī al-Mukhtār (“The Lights and the Key to Happiness and Reflection Concerning the Birth of the Elect Prophet (s)”).
  • Al-Bursawī. The Ottoman Shaykh al-Islām Sulaymān al-Bursawī (d. >800), Imām to the Sultan Yild Bayram Bāyazīd, authored a Mawlid text that achieved great fame and was recited in Mawlid gatherings for a long time.
  • Dahlān. The Shaykh al-Islām and Mufti of Makka al-Sayyid Ahmad ibn Zaynī Dahlan, in his large book al-Sīra al-Nabawiyya wal-Āthār al-Muhammadiyya, said (p. 51): “To celebrate the Mawlid and to remember the Prophet (s) is accepted by all the Ulema of the Muslims.”
  • Al-Dirdīr. The Mālikī Faqīh Sīdī al-Dirdīr in his Mawlid.
  • Al-Fayrūzābādī The Shāfi‘ī Imām, hāfiz, and lexicographer Majd al-Dīn Abū Tāhir Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Fayrūzābādī al-Shīrāzī (d. 817) in his book al-Nafhat al-‘Anbariyya fī Mawlidi Khayri al-Bariyya (s).
  • Hajjī Imdād Allāh Muhājir Makkī (d. 1317/1899), the murshid of Shaykh Rashīd Ahmad Gangohī, held Mawlid gatherings each year during which he would stand and recite invocations of blessings and peace upon the Prophet (s).2
  • Al-Haytamī. The Imām and hāfiz of Makka and pre-eminent Jurist of the Shāfi‘ī School, Ibn Hajar al-Haytamī, in his books such as the Fatāwā Hadīthiyya; al-Ni‘mat al-Kubrā ‘alā al-‘Ālam fī Mawlidi Sayyidi Waladi Ādam (s); Tahrīr al-Kalām fi al-Qiyāmi ‘inda Dhikri Mawlidi Sayyidi al-Anām (s); Tuhfat al-Akhyār fī Mawlidi al-Mukhtār (s).
  • Al-Himyarī. Shaykh ‘Īsā al-Himyarī’s Bulūgh al-Ma’mūl fī al-Ihtifā’ wa al-Ihtifāl bi-Mawlid al-Rasūl (s).
    Ibn Dihya. The Mālikī hāfiz Abū al-Khattāb ‘Umar ibn al-Hasan, known as Ibn Dihya al-Kalbī (d. 633) in his book al-Tanwīr fī Mawlid al-Sirāj al-Munīr.
  • Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī. He issued a fatwa declaring the praiseworthiness of the celebration of Mawlid as quoted in full by al-Suyūtī in Husn al-Maqsid:
    An authentic primary textual basis from which its legal validity is inferable has occurred to me, namely the rigorously authenticated (sahīh) hadīth in the collections of al-Bukhārī and Muslim that the Prophet (s) came to Mādīna and found the Jews fasting on the tenth of Muharram.3 (‘Āshūrā’), so he asked them about it and they replied: “It is the day on which Allāh drowned Pharaoh and rescued Mūsā, so we fast in it to give thanks to Allāh (swt),” which indicates the validity of giving thanks to Allāh 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 Allāh with various forms of worship such as prostration, fasting, giving charity or reciting the Qur’ān… Then what blessing is greater than the birth of the Prophet (s), 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 Mūsā 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.3
  • Ibn al-Humām’s father. Burhān al-Dīn Abū al-Safā’ ‘Alī ibn Abī al-Wafā’ al-Shāfi‘ī al-Maqdisī (d. 887) in his book Fath Allahū Hasbī wa Kafā fī Mawlid al-Mustafā (s).
  • Ibn Nā al-Dīn. The hāfiz of Damascus Muhammad ibn Abī Bakr al-Qaysī, known as Ibn Nāsir al-Dīn al-Dimashqī (777-842) in three books:
    Jāmi‘ al-Āthār fī Mawlid al-Nabī al-Mukhtār (“The Compendium of Reports on the Birth of the Chosen Prophet (s)), al-Lafz al-Rā’iq fī Mawlid Khayr al-Khalā’iq (“The Shining Expressions Concerning the Birth of the Best of Creation (s)) and Wird al-Sādī bi Mawlid al-Nabī al-Hādī (“The Continuous Spring: the Birth of the Guiding Prophet”). In the latter book he cited al-Bukhārī’s narration in his Sahīh that every Yawm al-Ithnayn [Monday] the punishment of Abū Lahab – the disbelieving uncle of the Prophet (s) – is diminished in the grave in recognition of his once freeing his slave-girl Thuwayba when she announced him the news of the birth of his nephew.4

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1In the daily “al-Mīthāq,” published by Rābitat ‘Ulamā’ al-Maghrib, #488 (10 Rabī‘al-Awwal 1404 = 15 December 1983). 

2Faysla-i-Haft Mas’ala (p. 111).

3Ibn Hajar as quoted in al-Suyūtī, Husn al-Maqsid in al-Hāwī li al-Fatāwā as
translated by Keller in The Reliance of the Traveller, section w58.0.
4There is doubt as to the connection of Thuwayba’s manumission with the Prophet’s (s) birth despite the apparent statement to that effect in ‘Urwa’s version. Al-Bukhārī’s narration states: Narrated ‘Urwa: Thuwayba was the freed slave girl of Abū Lahab whom he manumitted and/then she nursed the Prophet (s) (kāna Abū Lahabin a‘taqahā fa’ard a‘at al-Nabī (s) cf. Ibn Sa‘d, Abū ‘Awāna in his Musnad, ‘Abd al-Razzāq in his Musannaf, Abū Nasr al-Marwazī in al-Sunna, al-Bayhaqī in the Shu‘ab, al-Kilā‘ī in al-Iktifā’, Ibn Taymiyya in al-Sārim al-Maslūl, Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāya, al-Zayla‘ī in Nas. b al-Rāya, the Sīra Halabiyya, al-Suyūtī in the Khasā’is, etc.). When Abū Lahab died, one of his relatives saw him in a dream in a very bad state and asked him: “What have you found?” Abū Lahab said: “I have not found any rest since I left you, except that I have been given water to drink in this (the space between his thumb and other fingers) and that is because of my manumitting Thuwayba.” However, evidence from Ibn Sa‘d’s Tabaqāt (1:108), and other books of Sīra cf. Muhibb al-Dīn al-Tabarī’s Dhakhā’ir al-‘Uqbā (1:259) indicates that Abū Lahab manumitted Thuwayba in connection with the Prophet’s (s) migration rather than his birth cf. Ibn Hajar, Fath. (9:145) and Is. āba, book of the Women, under “Thuwayba” (8:36 =7:548), citing the narration from Ibn Sa‘d in his Tabaqāt, chapter of “those who nursed the Prophet (s)”: “Thuwayba was the Prophet’s (s) milknurse and he would treat her as his family while he was in Makka, and Khadīja would treat her with great respect; at that time she was owned by Abū Lahab andKhadīja asked him to sell her to her, but he refused. When the Prophet (s) migrated, Abū Lahab manumitted her.” And Allāh (swt) knows best.