Is It Permissible to Celebrate the Birth of the Prophet (May Allah Bless Him and Give Him Peace), and/or the Righteous?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I have a question regarding celebrating the birthday of the righteous.

Al Azhar says that it is permissible to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet as well as righteous people like Awliya. Celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birth

They also say that it is permissible to participate in the commemoration of the pious and righteous or to visit their shrines. Traveling to visit the grave of the pious

What do you say to this?

Many say that it is forbidden to celebrate the birth of the Prophet at all, even more so they say that it is forbidden to celebrate the birth of others.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

It is permissible, and according to many, encouraged, to have gatherings in commemoration of the Prophet’s birth (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and those of the righteous scholars.

What is Meant by Celebrating

The essence of this issue centers mainly around what is meant by celebrating. Celebrating can mean various things:

If celebrating one means feeling a sense of joy, gratitude, and honest pride for the birth of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) or of his inheritors (the righteous scholars) – this is not only permitted but a part of one’s faith.

Allah Most High says, “Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “In Allah’s grace and mercy, let them rejoice. That is far better than whatever ˹wealth˺ they amass.” [Quran, 10:58]

It is narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) explained the “mercy” in the above verse to mean the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace). The verse “And We have not sent you except as a mercy to all the worlds.” [Quran, 21:107] supports this understanding.

With this understanding, the verse commands the Believers to rejoice at the blessing of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), the greatest manifestation of Allah’s mercy.

Holding a gathering in which people can express their gratitude for the blessing of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and the righteous, and the gathering contains elements that are permissible in themselves, such as:

  • Recitation of Quran
  • Remembrance of Allah Most High
  • Reading the Prophetic biography (sometimes about the birth of the Prophet)
  • Singing poetry in praise of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace)
  • A talk advising people to emulate the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace)

Holding a gathering in which people can express their gratitude for the blessing of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and the righteous, and the gathering contains elements that are impermissible in themselves, such as:

  • Dancing (especially with mixed genders interacting)
  • Singing songs of questionable content or elements
  • Innovative activities (elements that have no religious precedence, and go against the Prophetic teachings)
  • Sinful activities

Praiseworthy Celebration

The celebration of the Prophet’s birth (or those of the righteous), which the scholars of the Sunni mainstream profess, is a combination of the 1st and 2nd types of celebrating above.

Such celebration is within the limits of the Sacred Law, increases people in love, reverence, and longing for the Prophet, and encourages emulation and following of him (may Allah bless him and give him peace).

Although the modern versions of celebrating the birth of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) were not found at the time of the Companions, they and those who followed them expressed their love and reverence for the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) in their way-and many times in front of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) himself. [‘Amiri, Bahjat al-Mahafil]

Love and Emulation: A Condition of True Faith

Beyond being encouraged, love and emulation of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), and by extension, the righteous, is a condition of complete, true faith.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “None of you truly believe until their desires are in alignment with what I have brought (of guidance).” [Nawawi, al-Arba’in al-Nawawiyya]

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “None of you truly believes until they love for their fellow Muslim what they love for themselves.” [Bukhari; Muslim]

Summary

The Sacred law has as a core axiom the concept that “The means (that are permissible) are given the ruling of the intended ends.” [Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa al-Nazair]

The goal of commemorating the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and the righteous scholars is to instill in people’s hearts the love and reverence of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), which will then lead to emulation and following. For this reason, scholars not only allowed the celebration of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) but also encouraged it.

In the ways mentioned above, celebrating the Prophet’s birth is not an obligation of the religion, and to claim it as such is an innovation. Those who want to do it can, and those who don’t, don’t have to. However, the religion should be happy that Allah Most High has blessed us by bringing the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) into the world.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best

[Shaykh]Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.