Friday, 6 January 2017

The Mawlid is a Recurring Celebration

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Imam Shihab ad-Din Abu Shamma ash-Shafi’i (r.a.), who was one of the main teachers of Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.), wrote in his book the impetus to reject the innovations and invented matters the following: “Among the best of what has been newly introduced in our era is what occurs every year during the time of his birth, such as charity, show of happiness and joy, and other good deeds.  For this - which includes beneficence towards the needy - is a manifestation of love of him and veneration of him in the heart of the one who commemorates that event, and an act of gratitude to Allah for the Great Bounty He Blessed us with in Creating His Messenger (s.a.w.), whom He Sent as a Mercy to all the people ...”

Remembrance of the birth of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is an occasion for and an encouragement towards praying for blessings upon the Prophet (s.a.w.) and praising him, which is an obligation on us through Allah’s (s.w.t.) Order in the verse:


Allah, and His angels, Send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe!  Send ye blessings on him and salute him, with all respect. (Surah al-Ahzab:56)

Coming together and remembering the Prophet (s.a.w.) causes us to pray for blessings upon him and to praise him, and is a means of consolidating frequent remembrance and love of him in our hearts, which is one of the manifestations of the experience of the sweetness of true faith.  And it is known among the scholars of the fundamentals of fiqh that “any action which aids one in performing an obligation is itself praiseworthy and recommended.”  Therefore, this is one of the Qur’anic verses that serve as a primary basis for the Mawlid, thus taking it out of the category of reprehensible innovation into praiseworthy innovation.

That obligation, furthermore, is Mentioned in the plural: Allah (s.w.t.) and His angels are continuously Sending blessings upon and praising the Prophet (s.a.w.) in a heavenly gathering.  It is entirely incorrect, therefore, to say that sending blessings, swalawat, upon and praising the Prophet (s.a.w.) must be done alone.  We have also seen before the hadits recorded by Imam Muslim (r.a.) in his Swahih and others that the Prophet (s.a.w.) encouraged dzikr of Allah (s.w.t.) and swalawat upon him in a group, and warned that any group which does not send swalawat upon him exposes themselves to the punishment of Allah (s.w.t.).

Allah (s.w.t.) Says:


All that We Relate to thee of the stories of the messengers with it We make firm thy heart ... (Surah Hud:120)

And He Says to Musa (a.s.):


… “Bring out thy people from the depths of darkness into light, and teach them of the Days of Allah.” ... (Surah Ibrahim:5)

In the first verse, Allah (s.w.t.) emphasises the importance of regularly recounting the stories of the messengers and righteous people, so that our hearts may be kept firm through mention of them.  One of the principle functions of the Mawlid is to recount the events of his birth and life, and draw lessons from it, so this is another Qur’anic basis.

Furthermore, the second verse here goes further in supporting the regular recounting of the events of the “Days of Allah” and what is meant by the “Days of Allah”?  The scholars of tafsir state that it means those days in which Allah (s.w.t.) Granted them Great Blessings and in which occurred notable and great events, such as the day when Allah (s.w.t.) Saved the Bani Isra’il from the grip of the Pharaoh.  Those who explained the verse in this way include ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), Mujahid (r.a.), Ubayy ibn Ka’b (r.a.), and Qatada (r.a.); and this explanation is the preferred one in the tafsir of Imam ath-Thabari (r.a.), Imam al-Qurthubi (r.a.), Hafizh ibn Katsir ad-Dimashqi (r.a.), Imam ibn Abi Hatim (r.a.), Imam al-Baydawi (r.a.), Imam Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi (r.a.), Imam as-Suyuthi (q.s.), Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.), Imam al-Baghawi (r.a.), Imam al-Mawardi (r.a.), Imam ibn ‘Athiyyah (r.a.), Imam an-Nasafi (q.s.), Shaykh al-Khazin (q.s.), Sayyid Mahmud al-‘Aluwsi (r.a.), Imam al-Qushayri (r.a.), and many others.

Imam ash-Shawkani (r.a.) mentioned in his tafsir of this ayah, a hadits from the Messenger (s.a.w.) wherein he himself interprets it this way, which is recorded in the collections of Imam an-Nasa’i (r.a.), Imam Ahmad (r.a.) from ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), and Imam Ahmad’s (r.a.) son, Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad (r.a.) in his Zawa’id al-Musnad, Imam ad-Daylami (r.a.) in Musnad al-Firdaws, Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) in Shu’ab al Iman from Ubayy ibn Ka’b (r.a.), Imam ibn Jarir ath-Thabari (r.a.), Imam ibn Mundzir (r.a.), Imam ibn Abi Hatim (r.a.), Imam ibn Mardawayh (r.a.), Imam ‘Abd ar-Razzaq (r.a.), and Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Humayd (r.a.) in his Musnad.

Imam ‘Isa ibn Mani’ al-Himyari (q.s.) wrote about this verse, Surah Ibrahim:5, “The intended meaning behind it is to make regular mention of them and to recall the blessings Allah Graced them with, and to remember the guidance, light, wisdom, laws, counsels, and miracles they came with, by virtue of which hearts and intellects are turned towards the Favours of Allah upon His slaves.  By this, they will attend to the Rights of Allah upon them, in the hopes they will come to hope for His Mercy and fear His Punishment, and call Him in desire and dread.  Therefore, this verse includes in its meaning the events and lives of the messengers from the moment of their birth until their passing away from this world, all of which is considered Guidance by which Allah Makes the hearts firm, and enlightens the intellects, and uplifts the spirits, and polishes the insights, and purifies the emotions, and softens the hold of the rebellious self so that it is returned to the obedience of Allah and submersion in His love, and to remain constant in His Company and stick to His Presence, and become attached to His Contentment and escape from His Anger.  All of this and more are among the benefits of recalling and commemorating the blessings of Allah.  This is why it is recommended to invite people to this activity, to make them aware of and encourage them in following the object of the Mawlid.”

He further wrote, “Indeed, the longing of the souls after noble goals and sublime intentions and lofty stations occurs as a result of making regular mention and commemorating he who is the most perfect model and example.  For there is nothing that has a deeper and longer-lasting effect upon the soul than mentioning and commemorating the life-story of he whom people recognise and love, whose lofty image and sublime stature is firmly etched in their minds.  For when they hear news of him and listen to recountings of events related to him, in which the unsurpassed greatness of his life and acts and the inimitable eloquence of his words and speech is brought to light, then without doubt they will constantly press themselves towards imitating him and following him with unquenchable desire and great longing.  How much clear loss have the Muslims suffered when they dispensed with and abandoned the commemoration of their great leaders and models.”

He also said, “It is indeed strange that they neglected the commemoration of our noble Messenger (s.a.w.) while the Qur’an is replete with commemoration of the love of the great ones, and took great care concerning their lives, from the moment they were foetuses in their mothers’ wombs until Allah Took them to Himself.  Therefore, this is among the Qur’anic verses from which we can infer the desirability of commemorating his birth of the Messenger (s.a.w.).”

As an example of the previous point, Allah (s.w.t.) Says:


Said Jesus the son of Mary, “O Allah, our Lord!  Send us, from heaven, a table set (with viands), that there may be for us ― for the first and the last of us a solemn festival and a sign from Thee ...” (Surah al-Ma’idah:114)

In other words, the day of its descent would become an ‘Iyd which we and the succeeding generations to follow would commemorate.  By extension, the same principle would apply to the blessed event of our noble Prophet’s (s.a.w.) birth, with the exception that it should not be taken as a once-a-year event, but rather a regularly recurring one, not restricted to a particular time or place.


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