PROF. SHAH FARIDUL HAQUE
Translator of al-Quran (Kanzul Iman)
by Maulana Taqi Usmani, printed in The News International, Pakistan - August 18, 1994
“Say you, only because of Grace of Allah, and only of His Mercy, therefore let them rejoice over it. That is better than all of their wealth.” (al-Qur’an)
Muslims of this region particularly, and the Muslims of the world generally express their pleasure on the birth date of the Beloved Prophet (S.A.W.) and celebrate this occasion calling it as Eid-e-Milaad-un-Nabi.
Muslims prove themselves to be the true followers of the Prophet (S.A.W.). Paying highest respect to the last Prophet is the basic faith. The slightest disinclination towards the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his disrespect knowingly or unknowingly through connivance or openly, destroys a Muslim's entire faith (iman). Milaad-un-Nabi is celebrated for creating love and respect of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and through him the love and respect of Allah Almighty, the only Creator and Sustainer of the world.
A prominent 'alim belonging to Deobandi school of thought has expressed his views about celebration of Milaad on 12th of Rabiul Awwal and has termed the celebration an innovation as there is no religious authenticity behind it.
The first plea taken by the learned author is that anything not done in the period of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions cannot be allowed to enter religion and all such things shall be termed as bida or innovations. These people divide bidat (innovation) into worldly and religious while Islam as a religion is a complete code of life. If this notion is taken as correct then a Muslim has the right to ask about those many things that are being done these days, though they were not done during the days of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions and they are considered good and are being appreciated. For example, the publication of Qur’an in present shape with Urdu or English translation and explanation adding vowels in beautiful bounded shape is appreciated, though this was not done in the period of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions. I do not know whether this action would be termed as a religious or non-religious innovations by this school of thought. Establishing big dar-ul-ulums and imparting Dars-e-Nizami and awarding degrees of 'Alim in a congregation mainly organized for celebrating the occasion known as "Jalsa Taqseem-e-Asnad", were not done during the days of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions. But these functions are performed with religious fervor hoping good rewards from Allah.
Then the decoration of mosques and holding Mahafil-e-qirat and naat are considered by all as good and appreciated. Then many Mahafil-e-zikr and Seerat-un-Nabi gatherings are organized by the opponents of Milaad. These venues are fully decorated and illuminated. Would Maulana Sahib prove that these things were done in the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Compainions? Would he stop awarding Dars-e-Nizami degrees to his students in specially organized jalsas(gatherings)?
The key issue here is there is difference among 'ulama regarding the definition of bidat (innovation). Ulema-e-Ahle Sunnat say that every new things is not an innovation, only a new thing which is against the fundamental of the Shari’ah and its roots are not traceable in Qur’an and Sunnah and it directly effects any prevailing tradition of the Prophet (S.A.W.), is to be called innovation in Shari’ah. The definition given by Ulama-e-Deoband would stop the march of Islam altogether.
I am sure that the following tradition of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) would surely resolve the confusion in people’s mind: “One who begins a good tradition he would get its reward and the reward of those who would practice it till the Day of Judgment and the rewards of the persons practicing it would not be curtailed”.
The learned writer would have also heard this saying of Hadrat Umar(Radhiyallahu Anhu) about Tarawih prayers in congregation, ‘What a good innovation it is”.
In fact while performing or abstaining from any work, a Muslim is to see whether such action has been prohibited in the religion, or not. If it is not, then the performance is allowed and in Shari’ah it is known as jaiz and mubah. No person has said that the celebration of the Milaad is obligatory or wajib, but it is appreciable, as rejoicing at the time of getting any favour from Allah is natural and Islam allows it, even the Qur’an allows rejoicing at the time of getting any favour from Allah.
It is said in the Qur’an that: “And publicise well the favours of Allah.”
The greatest favour of Allah to mankind is the birth of the Prophet (S.A.W.).
Another point which has been raised by the learned writer is that many evil and bad practices have entered in such celebration. No doubt some innocent and illiterate people commit such things, but no learned 'alim has ever appreciated these things. Therefore, bad practices should be stopped. If children make noise and play in the mosque or make fun, they would not be stopped from going to the mosque, rather they would be admonished politely to leave such things.
In Milaad-un-Nabi, people participate in peaceful procession, hurl banners, shower flowers; naats are recited, slogans of Allah-o-Akbar and Ya Rasullah are raised and then gatherings are held in which 'ulama deliver speeches about the conduct and character of the Prophet(S.A.W.).
The writer has himself called the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal as blessed so the Blessing should be celebrated and be made known to others.
I would request the learned writer to go through the books of his predecessors such as Haji Imdadullah’s booklet “Haft Masala” and the book “Islahe Mafaheem” in Urdu by Shaikh Syed Muhammad Alawi al-Malaki and "Madarej-un-Nabuwat” by Allama Jalaludin al-Suyuti.
The writer allows celebration and description of the biography (Seerat of the Prophet) anytime and in every month, not only in Rabi-ul-Awwal.
It should be made known to the learned and honourable writer that Milaad functions have not been fixed for this month only. Muslims celebrate such functions throughout the year irrespective of any particular month. An objection has also been raised for fixing 12th of Rabi-ul-Awal as there is a difference of opinion about the authenticity of the actual date. Most of the jurist and 'ulama have agreed upon 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal as the Holy Prophet’s (S.A.W.) birthdate. The fixing of a date for any good work is not prohibited in Islam rather it has been approved by Qur’an and Sunnah. “And remind them of the Days of Allah”. (5:14). What would be the method of reminding, if the dates are not fixed?
Then the date of Lailat-ul-Qadr is not fixed, it occurs on any odd nights during the last ten days of the sacred month of Ramadan, but usually Muslims consider the 27th night of Ramadan as Shab-e-Qadr and celebrate it in a befitting manner. Should this practice should be stopped or be allowed?
Then again the question would arise according to the writer’s notion whether Seerat function and gatherings in present shape were organized and publicised in the days of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions?
The writer himself allows such meetings with some limitation that it should be held in complete conformity to the rules of Shari’ah. 'Ulama-e-Ahle Sunnat do so accordingly.
No one allows irreligious (ghair Shari'ah) actions in such meetings. For expressing pleasure if Allah provides and making illuminations, this would not be termed as extravagance. No one denies the rules of Shari’ah, i.e., mixed gathering of men and women are not allowed. No woman is allowed to recite naats before the male audience.
I would request the writer to write and wage practical war against evils and such innovations which are corrupting the moral fabric of society. In this day and age, when our faith is in danger and Muslims are being converted and made murtad. By celebrating the Milaad no Muslim commits haram. There is not a slightest chance of going out of Islam by doing this. Such gatherings enhance faith. The works and sacrifices of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Companions are eulogized in such meetings.
What if some hours are spent by Muslims in celebrating the Milaad, reciting and listening to naat and religious speeches of ulama? At least during this period they are saved from rebuking, quarelling, backbiting and doing any sinful act.
May Allah bestow us sagacity to think and ponder.