Thursday, February 25, 2010

MILAD UN-NABI (s.a.w.) -Brief Thoughts Part 1.

From the Layman's Desk- 4: 
MILAD UN- NABI, Brief Thoughts, Part 1. 

In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful.


("O Allah, let Your Blessings come upon Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)) and the family of Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), as you have blessed Ibrahim (a.s.) and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious. Allah, bless Muhammad (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and the family of Muhammad sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), as you have blessed Ibrahim (a.s.) and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious").

The Holy Qur’an states: We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) but as a universal (Messenger) to mankind, giving them Glad Tidings and warning them (against sin), but most men do not understand. (34:28).

Indeed, scholars inform us that the arrival of Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has been heralded in all religious scriptures, including the Torah and the Bible. The Vedas and the Puranas also contain his prophecies. There are also references to him in the Parsi scriptures such as Dassatir and Zend Avesta and in the Buddhist scriptures (Ref. Dr.A.H. Vidyarthi – Mohammed in World Scriptures, 1990).

The Holy Qur’an also mentions: Allah verily hath shown grace to the believers by sending unto them a messenger of their own who reciteth unto them His revelations, and causeth them to grow, and teacheth them the Scripture and wisdom; although before (he came to them) they were in flagrant error. (3:164)

As Imam Sayuti (reh.) says in his al-Hawaii Lil Fatawii, the birthday of the Holy Prophet(sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is the greatest favour that Allah has bestowed on us.

Are we going to deny His favour? Shouldn’t we be showing our gratitude to Allah by expressing our joy? Doesn’t joy call for a celebration? Remember, he is the Chosen Messenger of Allah, the Crown of Prophets and Messengers, the Seal of Prophethood, the Praised One, the Best of Creations, and Mercy to the Worlds. Does not the Creator Himself praise His Beloved Messenger? If not, then why does He addresses him (s), as Sirajum Munir (the Light-giving Lamp), or Ta “Ha” or Ya-Seen or Raufur-Raheem, (Tenderly Merciful and Compassionate)  and Rehmatan lil 'Alameen (Mercy to the Worlds) amongst other beautiful names?

Classical Ulema and Muslim scholars of the past and the present have, ad infinitum, discussed in favour of the celebration. As stated by the prominent Sunni scholar of Saudi Arabia and a renowned scholar of Sufism, al-Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki (1944-2004) in his Fatwa Hawl al-Ihtifal bi Dhikra al-Mawlid al-Nabawi al-Sharif_ (10th ed. p. 15):

"The first to observe the celebration of the Mawlid was the Prophet himself by fasting on Mondays because it was the day of his birth as narrated in Sahih Muslim. This is the soundest and most explicit textual proof for the licitness of commemorating the Noble Prophetic Mawlid."

Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions in Sirat an-Nabi “Birth of the Prophet,” that Abu Lahab freed Thuwayba on the day the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was born. Imam Bukhari writes : "When Abu Lahab died, someone from his household saw him in a dream and asked him what happened in the grave. He said, 'I am being punished severely, but on Mondays I get water from the finger with which I am freed Thuwayba.”

The Najdi Shaykh, Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Wahhab,  writes:"Thuwayba, who was the freed slave of Abu Lahab, suckled Rasulallah milk.  Abu Lahab freed Thuayba at the time when she informed him that a son has been born at his brother's house.  After the death of Abu Lahab he was seen in a dream, in which he said 'I am in severe punishment but this is lessened on Mondays'.  He showed his forefinger and said 'I will suck from it because it was with this finger that I freed Thuwayba when she informed of the birth of the Prophet, and she also fed the Prophet milk'. (Mukhtasar Sirat ar-Rasul, Milad an-Nabi)

Therefore, one need not be a scholar to understand the importance and benefit of Miladun Nabi. For a lay muslim, it is enough to remember that even Abu Lahab who was an arch enemy of Islam in general and of Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) in particular, gets a reprieve from punishment in Hell on Mondays, for the simply reason that he expressed his happiness at the birth of the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) by freeing his slave, Thuwayba, with the flourish of his finger.  Imagine, if we celebrate this joyous occasions all the more within the Shariah, how much more we stand to benefit!

Of course, our celebrations should be within the bounds of the Shariah laws. As al-Hafiz ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said, "The best favor that Allah (swt) has granted this nation is the birth of Prophet Muhammad (s) when he was sent to humanity. So we review and recall Allah’s (swt) favor of sending the Prophet (s) by fasting on that day." The ways of celebrating the birth of our beloved Rasool includes reciting the Holy Qur’an, fasting, participating in assemblies for making a mention of the incidents relating to him, and praising or listening to the praises showered on Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), giving charities, and expressing happiness with all our heart.

Regarding the praise, it should be done excellently. The Holy Qur’an says: “Allah and His angels praise and venerate the Prophet. Believers, praise and venerate him, and pronounce peace upon him in abundance.”(33:56) Sending praise, blessings and salutations is a general obligation on every Muslim. According to Abu Najib Shahabuddin Suhrawardi, the name of Muhammad (salla laahu alaihi wassallam) should be mentioned with “salawat (benedictions), taslimat (salutations), ta’zim (reverence) and tamkin (honour)” (Awarif ul Ma’arif).

Hafiz ibn Taimiyya, mentions in his Iqtida as-sirat al-Mustakim (p.294): "Those people who celebrate Milad through the love and respect of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), will be rewarded by Allah." He mentions further (p.297): "If someone celebrates Milad with the love and respect of Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), he will have a 'big reward'... In Muslim communities, Milad an-Nabi gatherings are only done with the respect and love for the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)"

Yes, the Milad celebration is not compulsory but it is recommended (Mustahab) so as to thank Allah.  Sunni scholars have discussed and proved that celebration is not a “Reprehensible Bid’a’. It is “Bid’a Hasana” i.e. a good laudable innovation, just in the same way that compilation of the Qur’an was done or laws were codified later, or removing Ibrahim (a.s.) footprints from the original position when it was attached to the Ka’ba to the present position during the time of Hazrat ‘Umar ®; or introduction of the second Adhaan during the time of Hazrat Uthman ®; or introduction of sending salaat and salaam to Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alihi wassallam) during the time of Hazrat Ali ®; reading Bismillah Ar-Rehmanir Raheem before the Tasha’hud by Hazrat Ibn Umar ®; addition by ibn Masood ® of reciting “Assalaam Alaina Min Rabbena” in Tasha’hud after salaam.  All of which were introduced after the passing away of Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) Again, Umar (R) is reported to have gathered people to perform Tarawih (Ramadan night prayer) in congregation.  It is noteworthy here that the same act did not exist during the lifetime of the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam).   Do we call these innovations reprehensible? Muslim, al-Nasa’i and ibn Majah relate from Jarir bin ‘Abdullah al-Bajali who said: the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:

“Whoever introduces some good practice in Islam will have the reward of it, as well as the reward of those who act on it after him, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And whoever introduces some evil practice in Islam will bear the burden of it as well as the burden of those who act on it after him, without theirs being diminished in any respect.”

Come on, what does the common sense say? It says that based on the ijma of the Islamic scholars, the term “Bid’a” has been generally divided into a good one which is in conformity with the Shariah, and a bad one which introduced some evil practice in Islam. Islamic scholars have dwelt on these aspects at length and some like Shaykh al-Izz ibn Abd al-Salaam, have classified the Bid’a into at least five categories.  However, this is not our subject.  Suffice it to say that celebrating the birth of our Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) does not fall under any negative  categories of innovations. 

You want to be very strict in your interpretation of Bid’a?  Besides praying to Allah, how many of us have kept all the sunnahs of Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) alive? How many of us sleep on the mat in a small quarter? Remember what Hazrat Aisha ® had stated: That eating stomach-full was the first Bid’a that entered into Islam.  So stop enjoying the gourmet’s delight. Stop importing foreign mineral water for use. Stop drinking beverage drinks along the food that you eat when water is available. Stop wasting and throwing all that good food from your kitchen when you’re done, since millions of human go hungry elsewhere.   Stop wearing the suit and a tie, since neither the Sahaaba, nor the Tabieen nor the Taba-Tabieen nor Khalaf and later Muslims used this outfit.   Stop that extravagance of buying luxury yachts costing millions of dollars for pleasure trips and then spending billions in shopping.   Did any one of the righteous people from the three generations of the Salaf-as-Saliheen ever indulge in such monstrous extravagance? Stop the use of spoons and forks. Banish the TV and the Internet. Refrain from luxury, and abandon living in palaces, bungalows, suites and apartments. Don’t travel by planes or chartered flights or even cars! Stop the extravagance of buying new cars every time they are launched in the market. You have them by dozens already. Stop random constructions of posh hotels, huge buildings and skyscrapers. Remember, that Nimrod had constructed the Tower of Babel (Burj Babil) for his own glory too.  Or  the Pharoah telling Haman to build him a tower so that he could reach the God of Moses (al-Qur'an: 28:38,; 40:36;  40-37)  Stop celebrating the birthday of a country, since the Salaf did not do so.  And stop celebrating the birthdays of  non-Muslim dignatires and Heads of State when they happen to visit you on your own soil!   Or are they greater than the blessed personality of  the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam)?   The list of new things can go on and on. What about those innovations that have been introduced in the Haram Shareef itself for sometime past? Aren’t all (Kulli) these new things?

Yes, every new thing is an innovation. But every innovation cannot be discarded as misguidance or evil.   As Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller has stated: “The only form of innovation that is without exception misguidance is that which concerns tenets of faith, like the innovations of the Mu’tazilites, Qadarites, Murji’ites, and so on, that contradicted the beliefs of the early Muslims. This is the ‘innovation of misguidance’ because it is harmful and devoid of benefit.” Therefore, celebrating Miladun Nabi cannot be termed as “misguidance” because it is neither harmful nor devoid of benefit. (When I use “celebrate” I always mean the one within the bounds of Shariah). What a laugh to say that Meeladun Nabi “diverts our attention from the real teaching of Islam”. On the contrary, when we celebrate Miladun Nabi we celebrate Islam. Is our Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) not a part of Islam? So if we make his celebration a part of our life, does that become evil? Celebrating the birthday of Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) draws us ever so close to Allah and his Prophet (sallal laahu alayhi wassallam) and his teachings, bringing the freshness and fragrance of ‘Imaan’ into our lives and giving us the sense of belonging to the Ummah and instilling in us more piety and goodness.  Allah says in the Holy Qur’an “Of the favours and Mercy of Allah, let them rejoice.” (Surah Yunus, v.58)

Actually, when we celebrate the Miladun Nabi we celebrate the birth of Islam. As Shaykul Islam, Dr. Tahir al-Qadri, states: The entire Islam is a celebration. There is the guarantee of the acceptance of durood-o-salaam sent on the Prophet (sallal laahu alayhi wassallam). “Salaam Ka Badla Salaam aur Salaat ka badla Salaat (durood-e-paak).” That’s how Allah rewards us. We don’t want to be deprived of this reward. Do we?

Yes, we know that we should be celebrating the Miladun Nabi all the year round, but the month of Rabbiul Awwal is specially preferable since this is month when Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) was born.  Go ahead and share the happiness of Miladun Nabi with all the Muslims and gain immense rewards from Allah. Loving and obeying Mohammed Mustafa (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam) means loving and obeying Allah the Almighty, and it can’t be otherwise. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Say to them, If you love Allah, follow (and love and honour) me, and Allah will love you” (Surah Ale Imran, v. 31). If one is truthful in his love, should express his joy and happiness regarding the birth of Rasulullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). Otherwise, too, in many prophetic traditions loving the Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassalla) has been emphasized, and this love must be more than one’s love for his own self, his property and children. In fact, one’s Imaan is not perfect unless one loves Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) more than one’s kith and kin and life and property.

Again, there can be no extravagance in the celebration of Miladun Nabi, as long as it is in honour and love of Mohammed Mustafa Sallalaahu Alayhi Wassalalam and not for personal triumph.

As Ashiq-e-Rasool Imam Ahmad Raza ® reported: Imam Ghazali ® wrote in his Ihya’al Ulum, on the basis of writing by Sayyid Abu Ali Rudhbari ® that a believer had organized a zikr meeting [remembrance of the Prophet’s name]. He had installed a thousand lights in the meeting hall. A guest arrived, and seeing the lights, began to leave [in disapproval of the host’s extravagance]. The organizer of the function held him back, took him inside, and said, Any light that has been lit for one other than God should be put out. The man tried to do so, but none of the lights could be extinguished.

The list of Islamic scholars who are in favour of Milad Shareef is too long to cite here. It’s only the Satan who is not pleased with the coming of Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam). While discussing the birth of Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) in his Sirat an-Nabi, Hafiz Ibn Kathir has written that it was Shaytan (Satan) who had cried a lot this day.

Unknown to outsiders, in Saudia Arabia itself there are still many pious souls who celebrate Milad Shareef with great enthusiasm and generosity but somewhat cautiously.  I was really astounded to learn about this from my Sufi friend (may Allah prolong his life).  He had been there to one such Milad assembly.  The host was some rich man who held the celebration in his palatial home.  There were many people of all classes and countries who attended.   At the end of the zikr held there, every attendee was asked to collect a packet before leaving.  Each packet contained more than a thousand Riyals.   O what a joy for the needy ones!  What an occasion to select 'zikr' and charity!  Doesn't that show happiness?  Naturally, happiness is connected to the things that are related to us.  When there's no happiness it shows that there is no connection.  We rejoice the event of  Id-e-Milad because it is connected with the occasion of the birth of the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wassallam), i.e. the birth of Islam itself!  When we find no happiness, the inference deducted is that there is no connection.  And if there's no connection, whence the Imaan! 

Allah and His Rasool know best.

To continue insha Allah…..


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