Mawlid Nabawi : Is celebrating the Prophet’s birthday contradictory to Islamic law ?

On the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal Sunni Muslims celebrate the Prophet’s birthday. In a festive atmosphere, some of them recite the Quran, praise the lord and study the prophet’s biography. But is celebrating the date of birth of Mohammed (peace be upon him) contradictory to Islamic Law ?

Is celebrating the Prophet’s birthday contradictory to Islamic law ?./Ph. DR
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Every year, Muslims around the world celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, the Messenger of Allah sent to confirm the essential teachings of monotheism. Born on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-Awwal in the year 570, of the Gregorian calendar, Prophet Mohammed’s day of birth is an opportunity for many people to praise his good manners, his sacred mission and get to commemorate his existence.

The Prophet’s birthday, also known as Mawlid Nabawi, is a public holiday in Morocco. During the day, several people organize large street parades, donate food, read out poems and seize the moment to visit their friends and family members. It is also a joyful celebration for children who receive treats, buy new clothes and get to have a day off from school.

Officially, an annual event is held every year and hosted by King Mohammed VI at Hassan II mosque in Casablanca. During the ceremony, verses from the Holy Quran are recited and prophetic praise and liturgic music are played.

However, although some people see the Prophet of Islam's birthday as an event worthy of praise, others view the celebrations of birthdays as contradictory to Islamic law. Moreover, while Sunni Muslims agree on celebrating the Mawlid on the 12th of every Rabi’ al-awwal, Shia Muslims mark it on the 17th of the same month. Meanwhile, other countries ban the Prophet birthday’s celebration, such as Saudi Arabia.

The Mawlid is contradictory to Islamic law

Speaking to Yabiladi, Abderrahim Ghazali, a Salafi preacher indicated that «the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) had never celebrated his birthday nor his companions (Sahaba) had done this. Even during the three centuries that followed the Prophet’s death no one celebrated that day».

«More than that, none of the Muslim caliphs who ruled during those three first centuries of Islam celebrated the birth of the Prophet. No one loves the Prophet more than Abu Bakr, Omar, Othmane, Ali, his companions and family who lived with him».

Ghazali explained that «commemorating the Prophet’s birthday became a celebration through the years» adding that «Muslims have only two dates to celebrate : Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr».

To justify his point of view, the Salafi preacher indicated that «historians believe that Prophet Mohammed was born on a Monday in the Year of the Elephant (Known as Amu l-Fil) circa 570 AD. Some people believe he was born on the 12th of Rabi' al-Awwal while others think his birthday is on the 8th or the 10th of the same month». But since the accurate date of his birth is unclear the celebration takes place on the 12th, the same day he passed away. To put in other words, Ghazali sees «the celebration of this anniversary as a heresy».

Celebrating the Prophet's birthday as a way of expressing love

As opposed to Abderrahim Ghazali, Abdellah Kadira, head of the local scientific council in Rabat told Yabiladi that celebrating the Prophet’s birthday is not «an invented thing, it is supported by the Holy Quran». He said that the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast every Monday to mark the day he was born in.

«We celebrate the day the Messenger of God was, and that is in itself a joyful occasion». According to Kadira, the commemoration began in the fifth century of the Hijra calendar (i.e. the eleventh century according to the Gregorian calendar) and it is an opportunity for Mohammed’s nation to gather, study his biography and defend his ethics.»

«There are two holidays known in the Quran and Sunnah. Those who love the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) are free to celebrate his birth and feel happy about such a date».

«Those who refuse to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday are the same ones who claim that cars, trains and airplanes shouldn’t be used because the Prophet did not», he said.

He concluded by pointing out that the Higher Scientific Council «will celebrate the holiday by helping families in need by providing clothes for their children in an initiative entitled «For the love of the Prophet».