Yasir Qadhi wrote a long article on Mawlid, the birthday of our blessed Prophet (Allah bless him abundantly and grant him peace). The article titled “The Birth-Date of the Prophet and the History of the Mawlid” was divided into three parts.
According to Qadhi, the objective was not to discuss the legality of Mawlid from a religious standpoint – whether it is permissible to celebrate it or not – but to understand the discussion of the birth-date, its historical origins, and how it was eventually incorporated as a practice of many Sunnis worldwide.
All three parts of the article can be read at:
THE REAL OBJECTIVE
Qadhi decided to spend 99% of his time and effort explaining the birth-date and historical origins of Mawlid, with minimum input of the legal verdict on its permissibility or impermissibility — what really matters to a Muslim. Qadhi said the article:
…did not discuss the legal validity for such a celebration, as that is another topic altogether, and one that has been hashed and rehashed on many different sites and forums.
Yet, when one reaches the end of the article, Qadhi contradicts himself by doing what he said the article wouldn’t do: He gave his legal verdict on Mawlid.
Before discussing what his legal verdict was, it is clear that, contrary to what Qadhi said, his real aim was to convey that last 1% (legal verdict) to readers — otherwise, he wouldn’t have done so. Its relation to the 99% of birth-date and origins discussion was to set the context in detail for this final verdict. It was supposed to drive his final message home with full force, so his readers/fans would get the message loudly and clearly.
ATTACHING MAWLID TO UNCERTAINTY & NON-SUNNI ORIGINS
Qadhi did this by saying there is disagreement among scholars as to when the actual birth-date is, and that the Shi’ah originated the practice of Mawlid. Regarding the birth-date, Qadhi said:
“The exact birth-date of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam has always been the subject of dispute amongst classical scholars. Nothing authentic has been reported in the standard source books of tradition, and this fact in itself shows that it was not held in the significance that later authorities did.”
Regarding Shi’ah origins, Qadhi said:
“The intellectual (and at times even biological) descendants of the Fatimid caliphs in our times are many. In particular, the Ismaili Aga Khan Imams and the Bohri Imams both trace their direct lineage to the Fatimid caliphs, and the group known as the Druze also are an offshoot of the Fatimid dynasty. It was this dynasty that first initiated the celebration of the mawlid.”
It doesn’t take a genius to know what Qadhi’s up to. He’s trying to delegitimize Mawlid by attaching it to what he believes is a vile and heretical sect. Qadhi is already noted to have said that the Shi’ah is “the most lying sect of Islam” and “it is their religion to lie.” And if we didn’t know the birth-date for sure, then… maybe most Sunnis are just a bunch of idiots anyway as they practiced this vile, non-Sunni act at the wrong time!
QADHI’S FINAL (SLOPPY) VERDICT
I won’t hold you in suspense any longer. Here’s Qadhi’s verdict, in full, followed by an analysis:
My own leanings, which I have never shied away from expressing, are the same as those of Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728) that he mentioned in his work Iqtiḍā Sirāt al-mustaqīm: that the general ruling is that such a celebration is not a part of the religion, but was added by later generations, and hence should be avoided; but it is possible that some groups of people who practice it out of ignorance will be rewarded due to their good intentions. The mawlid of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam should be celebrated every day, by following his Sunnah and doing in our daily lives what he salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam wanted us to do.
He then says:
I also stress that even if I disapprove of a public celebration of the mawlid, not all mawlids are the same, and if the only matter that is done on a mawlid is to praise the beloved Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam in an appropriate manner, and mention aspects of his sirah, and thank Allah for blessing us to be of his Ummah, then this type of celebration is permissible, in fact praiseworthy, on any day of the year, and hence even if some groups choose one specific day to do it, others should not be harsh in their disapproval of it. I believe that the fatwas given by such esteemed authorities as Ibn Hajr (d. 852) and al-Nawawi (d. 676) legitimizing mawlids refer, in fact, to such ‘innocent’ mawlids. Sadly, it is well-nigh impossible to find such ‘pure’ mawlids practiced in our times!
Qadhi’s contradiction is glaring and can be seen in 3 parts. Focus on parts 1 and 3 as that is the ultimate contradiction. Here’s the absurdity in case you missed it. Please read carefully.
The 1st part:
My own leanings, which I have never shied away from expressing, are…that the general ruling is that such a celebration is not a part of the religion, but was added by later generations, and hence should be avoided.
Though his words are plain enough to understand, it is clear that he sees Mawlid as an extremely abominable, irreligious practice that should be avoided. It is a categorical rejection of Mawlid. How else could this be interpreted?
The 2nd part. Qadhi then softens up and says:
“…but it is possible that some groups of people who practice it out of ignorance will be rewarded due to their good intentions.”
I appreciate the friendly qualification, Qadhi. Maybe the majority of Sunnis who practiced Mawlid “out of ignorance” just may get away with it and be blessed. After all, they couldn’t have intended anything vulgar by honoring the Best of Creations, right?
Qadhi then rightly wonders: wait…but this would include the eminent Imams Nawawi, Ibn Hajar, and other great `ulema of our Ummah. Perhaps calling them “ignorant” isn’t such a good idea, so…
The 3rd part. Qadhi does the inevitable. He blurts a position completely contradictory to his initial opposition to Mawlid.
In fact, he illustrates this contradiction beautifully in one line. I’ll break it up in 2 parts so you can see it:
(a) “I also stress that even if I disapprove of a public celebration of the mawlid,
(b) not all mawlids are the same, and if the only matter that is done on a mawlid is to praise the beloved Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam in an appropriate manner, and mention aspects of his sirah, and thank Allah for blessing us to be of his Ummah, then this type of celebration is permissible, in fact praiseworthy, on any day of the year, and hence even if some groups choose one specific day to do it, others should not be harsh in their disapproval of it.
As you see, a above (or the 1st part, as explained earlier) is the opposite of b above (or the 3rd part explained earlier), yet Qadhi manages to say both in the same line! Mawlid should be avoided because it’s not part of the Religion (1st part), but it’s also praiseworthy because it can be (3rd part)?
Let’s try to make sense of this:
-1st part: Mawlid is “not a part of the religion” so it “should be avoided.”
-2nd part: If you celebrate this bad act, you are an ignoramus who still might be blessed.
-3rd part: You can celebrate Mawlid if it’s done properly and it can even be “praisworthy.”
Huh? How can you agree to celebrate Mawlid and call it possibly “praiseworthy” in the 3rd part if you’ve categorically rejected it in the 1st part by saying Mawlid is “not a part of the religion”? This is pure gibberish.
It is clear, however, that in spite of your glaring contradiction, you certainly wish to please your Wahhabi-Salafi audience more. This is a shame.
More can be said of Qadhi’s views on Mawlid from the above excerpts, such as his claim that no authentic Mawlid exists today, or that he has yet to see one — a claim so outlandish as to not merit explanation. But the above is sufficient to illustrate the point.
Note another deception. Qadhi in his own words says his views of Mawlid
“…are the same as those of Ibn Taymiyya.”
But Qadhi’s views are not the “same” as Ibn Taymiyya’s views on Mawlid. Qadhi should read more carefully what his own team (Ali Shehata) writes about Ibn Taymiyya’s “correct” view of Mawlid in an article on his own Muslim Matters website ( http://muslimmatters.org/2009/04/01/misunderstanding-ibn-taimiyyah-on-the-mawlid/ ).
To be clear, according to his own Muslim Matters author, Ibn Taymiyya rejected Mawlid and said that those with good intentions who celebrate Mawlid may be blessed nonetheless if they performed this rejected act. This is where Qadhi and Ibn Taymiyya are one and the same (as illustrated in the 1st and 2nd parts of the analysis above).
But going into more detail reveals the context of how they differ. To Ibn Taymiyya, the response to more observant Mawlid celebrators is to admonish them with evidence that it is incorrect. That is, Ibn Taymiyya’s predominant view is that celebrating Mawlid is wrong and should be forbidden.
However, those who are less observant should be left to celebrating Mawlid because leaving it may lead them to bigger evils. In other words: it’s better for less observant/deviated Muslims to stick to something deviated (Mawlid) while focusing on whatever good it can have (such as good intentions) to prevent them from participating in more deviant activities (probably related to shirk). It is the lesser of two evils. Nowhere does Ibn Taymiyya say the act can be “praiseworthy”.
And this brings us to: drunk Mongol soldiers — no joke.
MAWLID CELEBRATORS AS DRUNK MONGOL SOLDIERS
To clarify Ibn Taymiyya’s position on less observant Mawlid celebrators, Ali Shehata of Muslim Matters gave the following example, as quoted verbatim from him:
In case you are trying to make sense of these concepts, an example from Ibn Taimiyyah’s life itself may clarify it greatly insha’Allah. It has been narrated that once Ibn Taimiyyah was walking with his students when they came across some drunken Mongol soldiers. In his time, the Mongolians had invaded the Muslim lands, including Iraq where he was born, and they had decimated these lands with a degree of killing heretofore never seen. From the mercy of Allah though, these invaders came to accept Islam even though this didn’t result in the absolute cessation of their hostilities and atrocities, but it did protect the Muslims to a greater degree alhamdulillah. In any case, Ibn Taimiyyah refrained from censuring these Muslim soldiers and his students asked him why he didn’t forbid the soldiers from the evil (drinking alcohol) that they were openly doing. He answered them with great wisdom by saying that when they are sober they kill Muslims, and this is a far greater evil then their drinking (lesser of two evils).
Ali Shehata then says:
So, in summary what may seem like Ibn Taimiyyah validating or permitting the celebration of the Mawlid is in theory no different than this example.
Therefore, according to Ibn Taymiyya (as explained by Ali Shehata) less observant Muslims who celebrate Mawlid are like drunk Mongol soldiers who are better off drinking alcohol (or celebrating, in the case of less observant Mawlid celebrators) rather than killing which is a bigger evil (!). It escapes me how the crime of drinking alcohol by Mongol soliders can be equated to the noble act of honoring and praising the Best of Creation (Allah bless him abundantly and grant him peace).
Ibn Taymiyya’s views and Ali Shehata’s interpretations of them are bizarre indeed. Qadhi’s are just as bizarre albeit in a modified, contradictory form, as explained above.
THE REALITY: QADHI’S VIEW IS HIS OWN
In summary: Contrary to Qadhi’s claims that his views are the “same” as Ibn Taymiyya’s, Ibn Taymiyya never supported Mawlid as a “praiseworthy” act in the way Imams Nawawi and Ibn Hajar did — even though Qadhi portrayed it as such in his article.
While Ibn Taymiyya is surprisingly consistent in his position on Mawlid, Qadhi is not. Qadhi’s position is littered with logical fallacies. He claims to oppose Mawlid but simultaneously claims it can be praiseworthy if it is “innocent.” This is a clear-cut contradiction that attempts to unify Ibn Taymiyya’s views of Mawlid with those who considered it a praiseworthy innovation, as Imams Nawawi and Ibn Hajar did.
But after Qadhi stitched both contradictory views from each cloth and made his own cloth, he deceitfully claimed it was the “same” cloth as Ibn Taymiyya’s. As we have seen beyond any shadow of a doubt, it is not. Qadhi’s view is only his own in spite of his fallacious claim.
The reason why Qadhi chose to portray himself as closer to Ibn Taymiyya’s view rather than Imams Nawawi’s and Ibn Hajar’s view is because Ibn Taymiyya is a favorite of Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab and other Wahhabis. Qadhi finds more comfort with these controversial figures and outcasts who were infamous for their literalism, anthropomorphism, and opposition to Sunni `aqeedah and `ibadaat than the majority of mainstream scholars who opposed them.
We can also conclude that Qadhi’s claim that his view on Mawlid is the “same” as Ibn Taymiyya’s contradicts Ali Shehata’s article on the topic. Either Qadhi is wrong or Ali Shehata is wrong, though Ali Shehata seems to have analyzed the evidence more carefully. If so, Qadhi has either made an honest mistake by saying what he did, or he intentionally wished to deceive his readers.
It is clear, however, that Muslim Matters needs to stop giving contradictory messages of Mawlid and misrepresentations of scholars they claim to love. This sloppiness and confusion must stop. Al-Maghrib Institute students are confused, and for good reason.
DISCREDITING MAWLID: A SLOPPY ATTEMPT
Unfortunately Qadhi’s sloppiness doesn’t end here. As noted, Qadhi attempted to discredit Mawlid in 99% of his article before he ended with his one-line, love-hate contradiction.
But an astute commentator on Muslim Matters silenced Qadhi and his followers when he said:
To use the argument that the Mawlid was originally a Shia celebration, therefore it’s validity is on shaky grounds is not a logical one.
Here is another example for you to think about.
Al-Ahzar was an institution started by the same Fatimid Dynasty, what does that mean for the Al-Ahzar we have today, or about all the scholars it has produced.
When Qadhi and his team were unable to furnish a sensible response, the astute commentator gave them another example to ponder over:
The argument still stands. The validity of an action, in Islam, is not dependent on who or how it started. It depends on Quran, Sunna and Ijma.
It is related by Imam Bukhari on the authority of Ibn-i-Abbas that when the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam came to Madinah he found that the Jews observed the fast of ‘Ashura. He enquired about it from them and was told that it was the day on which God had delivered the Children of Israel from the enemy and Moses used to keep a fast on it as an expression of gratitude to the Almighty. The Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam thereupon, remarked that ‘Moses has a greater claim upon me than upon you,’ and he fasted on that day and instructed his followers to do the same.
This article would be incomplete without the final verdict of the illustrious Sunni scholars — the heirs of the Prophets (Allah bless them abundantly and grant them peace!). This is the part Qadhi forgot to tell you about. He mentioned just two great scholars who approved of Mawlid as if it was a minority view. The reality is different. Special thanks to http://seekingilm.com/archives/203. May Allah bless him immensely!
“One of the best innovations in our time is what is being done every year on the Prophets birthday, such as giving charity, doing good deeds, displaying ornaments, and expressing joy, for that expresses the feelings of love and veneration for him in the hearts of those who are celebrating, and also, shows thankfulness to Allah for His bounty by sending His Messenger, the one who has been sent as a Mercy to the worlds.”
“Someone asked Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani about commemorating the Mawlid.Ibn Hajar answered:
“As for the origin of the practice of commemorating the Prophet’s birth(may Allahs blessings be upon him), it is an innovation ( bida’a ) that has not been conveyed to us from any of the pious early muslims of the first three centuries, despite which it has included both features that are praisweorthy and features that are not. If one takes care to include in such a commemoration only things that are praiseworthy and avoids those that are otherwise, it is a praiseworthy innovation, while if ones occured to me, namely the rigourously authenticated ( sahih ) hadith in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim that ‘ the Prophet(may Allahs blessings be upon him) came to Medina and found the Jews fasting on the tenth of Muharram ( ‘Ashura ‘ ), so he asked them about it and they replied ‘It is the day on which Allah drowned Pharaoh and rescued Moses, so we fast in it to thanks to Allah Most high’,which indicates the validity of giving thanks to Allah for the blessings He has bestowed on a particular day in providing a benefit, or averting an affliction, repeating one’s thanks on the anniversary of that day every year, giving thanks to Allah taking any various forms of worship such as prostration, fasting, giving charity or reciting the Koran.”
“Then what blessing is greater than the birth of the Prophet (may Allahs blessings be upon him), the Prophet of Mercy, on this day?”
“The reason for gathering for tarawih prayers is Sunna and qurba (to seek nearness to Allah )… and similarly we say that the reason for gathering to celebrate mawlid is mandub (recommended) and qurba (an act of drawing near).. and the intention to celebrate mawlid is mustahsana (excellent) without a doubt.”……”I have derived the permissibility of Mawlid from another source of the Sunna [besides Ibn Hajar’s deduction from the hadith of `Ashura’], namely, the hadith found in Bayhaqi, narrated by Anas, that “The Prophet slaughtered an `aqiqa [sacrifice for newborns] for himself after he received the prophecy,” although it has been mentioned that his grandfather `Abd al-Muttalib did that on the seventh day after he was born, and the `aqiqa cannot be repeated. Thus the reason for the Prophet’s action is to give thanks to Allah for sending him as a mercy to the worlds, and to give honor to his Umma, in the same way that he used to pray on himself. It is recommended for us, therefore, that we also show thanks for his birth by meeting with our brothers, by feeding people, and other such good works and rejoicing.” (Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid 64-65).
“Sultan Muzaffar used to arrange the celebration of the Meelad Shareef with honour, glory, dignity and grandeur. In this connection he used to organise a magnificent festival”. Then ibn kathir said in praise of that man: “He was a pure-hearted, brave and wise Aalim (Scholar) and a just ruler, may Allah shower His Mercy upon him and grant him an exalted status.”
“in the last days of his life wrote a book entitled Mawlid Rasul Allah which was spread far and wide. That book mentioned the permissibility and recommendability of celebrating the Mawlid.”
Ibn Kathir also said: “The Night of the Prophet’s birth is a magnificient, noble, blessed and holy night, a night of bliss for the believers, pure, radiant with lights, and of immeasurable price.” (Ibn Kathir, Mawlid Rasul Allah , ed. Salah al-Din Munajjad (Beirut: dar al-kitab al-jadid, 1961)).
“He [Muzaffar] loved charity (sadaqa)… and built four hospices for the poor and sick… and one house for women, one for orphans, one for the homeless, and he himself used to visit the sick… He built a madrasa for the Shafi`is and the Hanafis… He would forbid any reprehensible matter entry into his country… As for his celebration of the Noble Mawlid al-Nabawi, words are too poor to describe it. The people used to come all the way from Iraq and Algeria to attend it. Two wooden dais would be erected and decorated for him and his wife… the celebration would last several days, and a huge quantity of cows and camels would be brought out to be sacrificed and cooked in different ways… Preachers would roam the field exhorting the people. Great sums were spent (as charity). Ibn Dihya compiled a “Book of Mawlid” for him for which he received 1,000 dinars. He [Muzaffar] was modest, a lover of good, and a true Sunni who loved scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of hadith, and was generous even to poets. He was killed in battle according to what is reported.”
(al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-nubala’, ed. Shu`ayb Arna’ut (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 1981) 22:335-336.)
“It is permissible to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday.” He mentioned that Mullah `Ali Qari held the same opinion in a book entitled al-Mawrid ar-Rawi fi al-Mawlid al-Nabawi, written specifically to support the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday.”
“The Mawlid was begun three centuries after the Prophet(may Allahs blessings and peace be upon him), and all Muslim nations celebrated it, and all `ulama accepted it, by worshipping Allah alone, by giving donations and by reading the Prophet’s Sira.”
Al-Shawkānī concluded in Nayl al-Awtār that the foundational division of innovations into “good” and “bad” is the soundest and most correct position. ( Al-Shawkānī, Nayl al-Awtār (4:60).
al-hamdu lillah al-ladhi abraza min ghurrati `arusi al-hadrati subhan mustanira
(”Praise be to Allah Who has manifested from the radiance of the bridegroom of His presence a lightgiving daybreak..”).
“When we were celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, a great uns (familiarity) comes to our hearts, and we feel something special.”
(Husn al-maqsid fi amal al-mawlid(”Excellence of purpose in celebrating mawlid”) is one of his books.)
“Certain innovated matters ( muhdathāt) have taken place which do not oppose the Sacred Law nor contradict it, so they [the Salaf] saw no harm in practicing them, such as the convening of the people by ‘Umar for the night prayer in Ramadān, after which he saw them and said: ‘What a fine bid’ah this is!’”
“It is security throughout the year, and glad tidings that all wishes and desires will be fulfilled.”
“fa-t’adheem al-Mawlid wat-tikhaadhuhu mawsiman qad yaf’alahu ba’ad an-naasi wa yakunu lahu feehi ajra `adheem lihusni qasdihi t’adheemihi li-Rasulillahi, salla-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam”
“To celebrate and to honor the birth of the Prophet (may Allahs blessings be upon him) and to take it as an honored season, as some of the people are doing, is good and in it there is a great reward, because of their good intentions in honoring the Prophet (may Allahs blessings be upon him).”
”Listening to a good voice celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (s) or celebrating any of the holy days in our history gives peace to the heart, and gives the listener light from the Prophet (s) to his heart, and he will drink more from the Muhammadan spring (`ayn al-Muhammadiyya).”
-Imam Shamsu Din Ibn Al Jazri. He wrote Al nashr fil qira’at al `ashr, `urf al ta’reef bil mawlid al shareef.