Imam Abu Abdullah Ibn al-Hajj al-Fasi (Rahimahullah) has discussed the subject of celebrating Mawlid un-Nabi (Birthday of Prophet Muhammad Salallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) in his book “al-Madkhal”.
Regarding the Mawlid, he (Ibn al-Hājj) says:
“From among those innovations which those people have brought about, thinking that thereby they are engaging in a great act of Ibadah (Worship) and participating in religious ceremonies (to celebrate the remembrance of some great event) is this that in the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal they celebrate the Mawlid, which celebration is constituted of many innovations and unlawful things. Among these are the participants sing songs and Ghazals while at the same time using musical instruments – drums, flutes, fiddles, etc. – and in this connection do many other evil actions which are customarily done mainly at those times which Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has endowed with excellence and greatness (e.g. Eid and other occasions) and which are innovations wholly and totally, and are prohibited. There is no doubt that this kind of Sama’, if it takes place on other nights apart from this, even then it would not be permissible. What then is the justification for holding such a Sama’ in this holy month, which Allah Almighty the Most Excellent has endowed with excellence and blessings in that His Beloved was born therein – such a Sama’ in which musical instruments are used? What relation can such a Sama’ have to this holy and blessed month, in which Allah, Exalted is His Majesty, granted us the great Ihsan of the auspicious birth of the Noble Prophet, the leader of those who are first and those who are last (Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam)?
Therefore, it is Wajib (Obligatory) that special gratitude to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala should be expressed in this month and as much ‘Ibadah (Worship) and charity should be done as is possible, since He has bestowed on us this very great favour (that He caused the birth therein) of His beloved Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam. Even though the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam did not engage in more ‘Ibadah (Worship) in this month as compared with other months (nor did he command us to do so), yet in reality, this was due to his mercy and kindness to his Ummah, and also to create ease and mildness for them. This is why at times the Noble Prophet would leave off doing an action, lest it should become compulsory on his Ummah. This is the result of his mercy on us.
Nevertheless, the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam has indicated the excellence of this great month in reply to a questioner. When the questioner wanted to find out about fasting on Mondays, the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam replied: ‘That is the day on which I was born’.
Since the excellence of this day (i.e. Monday) implies the excellence of this month (i.e. Rabi-ul-Awwal) in which the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam graced this world, then it is our duty to give this month its due respect and sanctity, and we should understand it to be very excellent just as Allah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala has deemed other blessed months to be very excellent. In this connection the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam is reported to have said: ‘I am the leader of the children of Adam and there is no pride (in this)’. ‘Adam and all other (Prophets ‘Alaihimus Salaam) will be under my flag (on the Day of Judgement)’.
The merits and excellence of times and places are a result of those forms of ‘Ibadah (Worship) which are carried out therein, and by which Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has specially favoured them. When it is known that times and places do not in themselves contain any honour and greatness accrues on account of those characteristics and distinctions (with which they have been granted exaltation), then reflect on this greatest favour of Allah Ta’ala, with which He has distinguished and ear-marked this blessed month, Rabi-ul-Awwal and the day, Monday. Do you not see that fasting on Mondays has great merit because the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam was born on a Monday?
For this reason it is of the utmost appropriateness (and it behoves us to do so) that when this holy month comes, it should be treated with the exaltation, honour, esteem and respect it deserves. The example of the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam should be followed in that in times endowed with special distinction, he himself used to perform the maximum possible acts of virtue and of charity, and he used to make special arrangements thereof. Have you not seen the following statement of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiallahu ‘Anhu)? ‘The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) was the most generous of men and his generosity was the utmost in Ramadan'”.For this reason, just as the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam honoured those times endowed with distinction, we carry out this very duty in accordance with our capacity, in the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal. If it be said that what the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam took upon himself in times of special distinction is known, but what he undertook in other months he did not do so in this month (i.e. Rabi-ul-Awwal) – then the answer is that it is well-known that the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam had this noble trait of wanting ease and relief for his Ummah, especially in those things concerning himself. Do you not see that the Noble Prophet, the leader of the world, Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam declared Madinah Munawwarah as sacred territory just as Ibrahim (‘Alaihis Salaam) has declared Makkah Mukarramah to be, yet he did not fix any punishment for hunting, cutting down any tree, etc. in Madinah? – do you not see that he did this out of desiring ease and relief for his Ummah and out of mercy on them
As it were, the Noble Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam used to consider what things concerned his own self, and even though those things in themselves are of great merit, yet through desiring ease and relief for his Ummah, he used to abstain from them. The honouring of Rabi-ul-Awwal is of this category, that in it the maximum possible acts of virtue and charity should be done and he who cannot do so (i.e. for any reason is unable to perform these acts), at least he should abstain from all Haraam (Forbidden) and Makruh (Disliked) things in this holy month, out of respect for it. Even though the abstention from all Haraam (Forbidden) and Makruh (Disliked) things is required in other months as well, yet this month deserves the greatest respect. He should do so just as in Ramadan al-Mubarak and other sacred months, he remains careful to the utmost, abstains from misdeeds in religion and keeps away from other unsuitable things.
However, at the present time some people are acting contrary to this. When this blessed month comes they busy themselves with amusement and sport, using musical instruments. However, regretful it is that they make music and merriment and then entertain the assertion that they are showing respect for this blessed month!Leave aside the fact that they begin such Mawlid celebrations with the recitation of the Holy Quran. They then, for the sensual delight of the Nafs, take resort to those who are expert at the art of creating restlessness and excitement in the emotions – which in itself contains many causes of corruption and destruction.
Yet they do not content themselves with that alone – but some of them add an even more dangerous thing in that the singer is young, handsome, mellow-voiced, well-attired and of a very pleasing appearance. He sings Ghazals, at the same time with crescendo and diminuendo in voice and ascent and descent in movements. Thus, he puts the audience, men and women into temptation. The result is that the two sides become prey to temptation and other many evils take the root. In some extreme cases, the husband-wife relationship is destroyed and it even reaches the extent of separation between them at times. Thus, the period of destruction and ruin begins, in which a settled and complete home is destroyed and peace of mind and heart ruined. These evils are the result of that kind of Mawlid celebration in which there is also a session of Sama’.
Yes, if the Mawlid is free from those evils (and that kind of Sama’) – only food is prepared and in that ones Niyyah (intention) is of celebrating the Mawlid and Muslim brethren are invited and in which those matters contrary to the Shari’ah and those blameworthy matters described above are abstained from – then it is an innovation merely on account of one’s Niyyah (intention) because this is an accretion in the religion. Also the pious predecessors have not done it, and it is evident that it is better than more appropriate to follow the predecessors from none of whom has this been transmitted, nor has it been said of any of them that they made the Niyyah (intention) of celebrating the Mawlid. We are their followers and are obligated to observe the same precepts as they were. (Thus, we should do only that which they did).
After this Ibn al-Hajj wrote: “There are some people who do not celebrate the Mawlid solely for the purpose of demonstrating honour and respect. On the contrary, someone has some money in the possession of various people which he had given them on different occasions and ceremonies and now he wants to re-possess this money and is shy to ask for it. Therefore, he makes arrangement for the Mawlid which becomes the cause for the recovery of his wealth which was in the hands of people.
In this many types of corruption are found. One is that hypocrisy is found there – in his heart the opposite of what he outwardly shows is present. Outwardly he shows that he is celebrating the Mawlid because he wants to gain benefits in the Hereafter, however in his heart that he should recover his money dispersed in the hands of people.
Some are such that they celebrate the Mawlid in order to collect money or so that people may praise them (saying for example, ‘Well done, brother!’ or ‘What good work you have done!’) and join them to work (so that it may be evident from this how many people are with them). In these forms as well as the acts of corruption and destruction are not hidden”.
Translated by Mufti Ahmadul Qadri from Darul Uloom Azizia Plano, Texas, USA.