I start with the Name of Allah, the Lord of the creation. I ask Him to shower His blessings and commendation on the Messenger of truth and moderation, Muhammad, his Companions, and the pious scholars of this great nation.
During this month of Rabi^uil-Awwal (3rd Islamic month), Muslims all over the Earth are very happy and jolly about an occasion that reminds them of the greatest creation of all. They celebrate the birth of their beloved Messenger and guide, the one who was sent as mercy for the humans and jinn: Prophet Muhammad ﷺ .
We do not celebrate it by getting drunk or getting wild. What do we do? We recite the Qur’an which was received by this great Prophet of Allah. We talk about the Prophet’s life and qualities. We sing praises (nashid) and enjoy a meal.
Celebrating the birth of the Prophet did not take place at the time of the Prophet himself. The companions of the Prophet did not celebrate it, and the followers of the companions of the Prophet did not celebrate it.
This act started about 800 years ago. A noble scholar of Islam (549-630 H) who was the governor of Irbil in Iraq brought forth this innovation. He wanted to show his happiness to have had this great man as his prophet. He wanted to display love, and respect for the Prophet. He started it by recitation of Qur’an, then by telling about the the Prophet’s Sirah, then feeding people, the needy as well as the solvent.
Does any Muslim who is knowledgeable about Islam object to the recitation of Qur’an? Does any Muslim at large object to talking about this great man, Muhammad ﷺ? Does any real Muslim object to telling the people about the good qualities of the Prophet?! We don’t.
Some people may say: Since it was not done at the Prophet’s time, then it should not be done! We say: This is not an absolute religious rule. Never did the Prophet say: If I did not do certain things, then you could not do them. However, the Prophet ﷺ did say:
“.مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِى أَمْرِنَا هَـٰذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ”
“.مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَدٌّ”
They mean: “Whoever brings forth an innovation that is not part of our Religion, then it is rejected;” (Al-Bukhariyy, Muslim) “The one who does a deed that does not agree with the rules of our Religion, then one’s deed is rejected.” (Muslim)
Never did the Prophet say: If I did not do it, then it would not be acceptable Islamically.
I’m now using a microphone; did the Prophet have a microphone when he taught people about Islam?! No!! Does this mean that I cannot tell you about this great man using this microphone?! No!! Indeed, these people -who object to celebrating the Prophet’s birth- do not have a real love for him ﷺ. They are unjustly putting words in the mouth of the Prophet ﷺ.
You know that in the language (Arabic, English, etc.), there are words that are taken literally and there are words that you cannot take literally. “Lend me your ears!” Please do not take these words literally! Do not cut your ears off and give them to me, expecting me to return them to you at the end of my lecture. All I mean is: pay attention to me!
The Prophet does not contradict himself; the verses in the Qur’an do not contradict one another. The Qur’an and Hadith don’t contradict each other. The contradiction is in the eye and mind of the person who misunderstands the Prophet.
What the Prophet said was that whoever brings forth an innovation that does not agree with his rules, then his innovation is rejected. To claim that each and every innovation is misguidance, i.e., the advancement and practice of which is alledged to be sinful and deviant, some invoke the hadith narrated by al-Bukhariyy, Muslim, an-Nasa’iyy, and others:
“كُلُّ مُحْدَثَةٍ بِدْعَةٌ، وَكُلُّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ، وَكُلُّ ضَلَالَةٍ فِى النَّارِ”
This means: “Every new matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation and every deviation lands in hellfire”. There are several ways to prove them wrong. However, one easy response is the hadith (al-Bayhaqiyy, Ibn Hibban, others):
حديث “وَكُلُّ عَيْنٍ زَانِيَةٌ” (ابن حبان)
Which means: “every eye commits indecent acts”. If some took it literally, they would say each and every eye commits zina, meaning the sin of the forbidden look; i.e., the man looking at the woman with lust and the woman looking at the man with lust.
وحديث :”وَزِنَى العَيْنِ النَّظَرُ”. (الشيخان)
We tell those people who take things literally: If each and every eye commits the sin of the forbidden gaze, you are saying that all the honorable prophets, including Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, commit that forbidden gaze!.
However, Allah ordered us in the Qur’an to lower our gaze to refrain from doing the forbidden look. Who received this Qur’an? Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did! If his followers are ordered by God to lower their gaze and not have the forbidden look. If the followers are ordered not to do such a foul sin, would the Prophet ﷺ himself do it?! He is our example.
Consequently, those, who think that each eye commits the forbidden look, are consciously or unconsciously, saying that the eyes of the prophets, the impeccable creations of Allah, commit such an abject sin! Is this acceptable by us Muslims that the prophets look at people’s wives, people’s sisters, or other people’s women with lust? Do we accept that?! No! We do not.
Do the angels, who are praised in the Qur’an in the ayah:
﴿لَّا يَعۡصُونَ ٱللَّهَ مَآ أَمَرَهُمۡ وَيَفۡعَلُونَ مَا يُؤۡمَرُونَ ٦﴾ التحريم
Which means: ‘They never disobey God but do all that they are commanded’, commit this forbidden look? Never!
Islamically, the sane person is not accountable until reaching pubescence. Do the one-year old or six-year old children commit the forbidden look? No! Does it make sense to take this hadith literally? No, it doesn’t!
The correct explanation is: Most (not all) eyes commit the forbidden look. The great Imam An-Nawawiyy’s explained the misquoted hadith:
وَكُلُّ بِدْعَةٍ ضَلَالَةٌ
He said: ‘Most of the innovations that people bring forth are innovations of misguidance that do not agree with the rules of the Religion. Thus, these are rejected and lead to Hellfire. Thus, quoting our great Imam ash-Shafi^iyy, innovations are of two types: innovations of guidance that are Islamically acceptable because they agree with the rules of the Religion, and others of misguidance are rejected because they do not agree with the rules of the Religion.
Our late Shaykh, the Carrier of the Prophet’s Sunnah, ^Abdullah al-Harariyy said:
“عَمَلُ المَوْلِدِ يُجَدِّدُ حُبَّ النَّبىِّ ﷺ فى المسلم، يبُثُّ فيه الشُّعُورَ بالحُبِّ للنَّبىِّ والمَيلِ إليه”
“Celebrating the Mawlid renews the love of the Muslim for the Prophet ﷺ. It instils in him the feeling of love for and inclination towards the Prophet ﷺ.” Whoever loves the Messenger of Allah will adhere to his guidance and do the good. Let us follow the footsteps of the Prophet, by staying steadfast to the belief and sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ.
Let us fear God and not compromise our religion with anything. Let us be merciful to each other as our Prophet was with his Companions. Let us give to the believers glad tidings and relief, not distress or hardships. Let us all, in this time of many tendentious, dark, and unjust hateful slogans, be moderate, fair, and merciful to one another.
The way to seek righteousness is through justice. The strong does not oppress the weak. Strength is in following the truth and adhering to piety, and honor is in pure religiousness and adhering to the Prophetic law.
Whoever follows the pure ones will be purified, or will work on purifying oneself. The one who loves obeys; whoever obeys submits; whoever submits serves sincerely; whoever is sincere benefits oneself and others, and wins this life and the next.
Take part in building the society you live in, as the Companions did in the foreign countries they reached; spread the beauty of Islam.
Dear fellows, citizens, and non-citizens alike, we implore you to illustrate the merits of our religion, and to display the true manners of the Muslims. In the past, this had attracted non-Muslims to Islam and encouraged many of them to embrace this great religion. It is happening as we speak, and will continue to happen in the future.
And Allah knows best.