The Perennial Dispute: Mawlid

By ANISAH ARIF

 It’s that time of the year again. Where we see social media infused with alternating posts and videos from opposing sides about the permissibility of celebrating the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. The squabbling of this debate has become more prevalent in recent years, where recognisable public figures from each party presented the solid reasons behind their standpoint.

The Prophet Muhammad is deeply placed in the heart of Islam where Muslims use his actions as a way of life. His name mentioned nearly every day in every prayer, to seek blessings. No other human in the history of Islam comes above the Prophet Muhammad and no other human dares to. After all, his name is Muhammad, which means the most praised one.

However, how to praise the most praised one, is one of many topics that is hovering in the air of the Islamic world. On one end of the spectrum you have strong disbelievers of the celebrating of the Prophet’s Birthday, i.e. Mawlid and on the other side, members in abundance who do celebrate this day to highest of their ability.

The agreed date by Sunni Muslims is the 12th day of the Islamic month Rabbi Al-awwal, whereas Shia Muslims celebrate on the 17th day.

The many that celebrate spend this day cherishing the Prophet Muhammad’s memory and glorifying him by singing and reciting. This spiritual method plays across all over the world, from Damascus to Delhi, Pakistan to Timbuktu, where sweets are distributed and flags waved in streets, chanting his name ‘Ya Muhammad, Ya Muhammad’.

Their argument is that they are celebrating the birth of Islam and God’s most beautiful creation. By partaking in this day, they are getting closer to God and increasing their faith.

Imam Asim, Founder of Al-Hikam Institute hosts Mawlid events every year for the community: “For many Muslims around the world, Rabi ul-Awwal is the time of the year where they celebrate the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is important now more than ever before for Muslims to rejoice and unite at the Prophet Muhammad’s coming in to this world for us to study his blessed life and teachings. Though some object against this rejoicing and in turn creating tension within the Ummah, it’s evidence is found within the Shariah Law (Islamic Law) and we encourage everyone to rejoice”.

Others who beg to differ, insist that the celebration of this day is an act of Bid’ah (Innovation). Their argument is that the Qur’an and the Hadith (ways of the Prophet Muhammad) have already perfected the religion, thus any new addition to the practices of Islam is regarded as forbidden on the grounds that it is misguiding others. This party treats this day like any other and regards this commemoration completely unacceptable.

The General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta said: “It is a prohibited Bid’ah to hold a celebration on the night of the birth anniversary of the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) is the most aware of his status and the proper manner of venerating him. He is the most knowledgeable of the Shariah Law of Allah. It was not authentically reported that the Prophet (PBUH) celebrated his birthday, or the birthday of one of his previous fellow Prophets (PBUH) or the birthday of his Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet).”.

Isra Ahmed, is from a Salafi background, a strict orthodox Sunni sect. She says: “The prophet was sent down to be an example of how we should live our life, to teach us right from wrong. The prophet did not once recognise his birthday, except fasting on the day of the week He was born, i.e. Mondays and Thursday. It is not from the sunnah. If the best of Islam didn’t partake in this event, then why should we believe Mawlid is from Islam”.

This controversy that has been uncontrollable for many years and over the recent course of the debate, what was once a polite discussion, has seen members resort to calling one another derogatory names “pagans” and “deviants” and “kuffars” (disbelivers).

But when the Muslim world is in jeopardy, the argument of this issue seems trivial. With the Muslim hate crimes increasing, Western-led wars and oppression, famine is Muslim countries, unemployment, the matter of Mawlid appears fruitless.

People will spend a large chunk of their time vehemently debating parts of Islam that differentiates to their own personal view. In a time where unity is paramount to society, bigger issues need to be addressed.  We should perhaps question what the benefits are of such disputes and the consequences. Last year we saw figures from each opposing party, battle it out in a series of videos back and forth on the topic of Mawlid.

We at Asian Sunday strongly believe in respecting everyone’s views and practices. Let’s focus on the similarities than the differences and stand together as one!

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