• Mufti Desai’s fatwa on Madad

March 28, 2008

Question:

The folks at sunnipath, seem to give the impression that permissibility of using words like “Yarasoolullah madad” is the view of majority of ummah, and this view that u gave me was unique to deoband

Answer:
It is important to understand a fundamental issue regarding substantiations in Shari’ah. The order and sequence of substantiations is as follows: a) Qur’aan, b) Hadith, c) Ijmaa and, d) Qiyaas (analogy)

Majority ruling as a substantiation follows far beyond the four fundamental substantiations. It is only when there are no substantiations preceding that and there are differences of opinion among contemporary Ulama. The issue in reference, saying ‘Yaa Rasoolullah’ and seeking help from Rasoolullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] is clear. Only Allah is Omnipresent and we seek the help of Allah Alone. It is obsolutely incorrect to regard Rasulullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] as Omnipresent and address him as ‘Yaa Rasoolullah’ with that belief. It is also incorrect to seek the assistance of Rasoolullah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] and address him as ‘Yaa Madad’. The prohibition of these two issues are clearly in the very first source of substantiations – the Qur’aan. There is no need to consider the issue from an angle of majority view. Consider this – Allah condemns Kufr whereas the majority of the world is in Kufr. Will that make Kufr correct?

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai


• View of Dihlavi and Gangohi on Istigatha

March 28, 2008

QUESTION

What is the view of Hazrat Shah Abdul Aziz and Hazrat Rasheed Ahmed Gangohi on Isteghasa?

ANSWER

Imam Rashid Ahmad Gangohi wrote that Istigatha was unlawful, Fataawa Rashidiyya p72. However, he also wrote if a person were to do it with the belief that the person called upon has knowledge of the Unseen (Ilm al-Gahyb which only befits Allah taala) then it is Kufr. If, on the other hand, a person does not have this belief it will not be Kufr but close to Kufr as the act tells of this belief.
As for Shaikh Abd al-Aziz Dhelvi (the eldest son of Imam Shah Waliullah) in his Fataawa, he has also forbidden calling on or seeking the help of dead pious people, see Fataawa Azizi p180. The Shaikh has another treatise called Fayd-e-Aam, and in which he also states it is not permitted to directly call on a dead pious person to fulfill one’s need.

Wallahu Aalam bis-sawab

Mufti Mohammed Sajjad

Source: http://www.as-suffa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=416


• Taking vows for deseased, money lamps, oil to graves of saints

March 28, 2008

The great Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“Taking vows for the deceased like many ignorant people take money, lamps, oil, etc to the graves of the saints out of reverence is totally unlawful (haram) by consensus”.

Allama Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) commentates on the above:

“This is unlawful due to certain reasons: Firstly because, it is taking a vow for the creation (of Allah) and taking a vow for the creation is unlawful, for it (taking a vow) is worship (ibadah) and the creation is not worshiped. Secondly, the one for whom the vow is taken is deceased and a deceased does not own anything. Thirdly, if he had the belief that the deceased has an effect in one’s affairs other than Allah, then this is disbelief”. (Radd al-Muhtar, 2, 439).


• Abu Hanifa and Tawassul

March 28, 2008

It occurs in Durr ul Mukhtar (the famous book on Fatwa in the Hanafi Madhab) (2/630), ‘From Abu Hanifa: “It is not fitting at all that anyone should supplicate to Allah except by Him (Allah), and using such supplications have been permitted and ordered in the like of the Saying of Allah, the Most High, “And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call upon Him by them.”

In al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya (5/280), and al-Quduri (d. 428/1037) said in his large book of Fiqh called Sharh ul Kharkie in the chapter of detested matters: “Bishr Ibn al-Walid said: ‘Abu Yusuf (the students of Imam Abu Hanifa) narrated to us that Abu Hanifa said: ‘It is not right that anyone should supplicate to Allah except by Him, and I hate that anyone should say: ‘By the right of so and so’ or ‘By the right of your Prophets and Messengers’ or ‘By the right of your sacred house and the sacred area (of Muzdalifah).”

Murtada Az-Zabidi (d. 1205/1790) says in Sharh ul Ihya (2/285): “Abu Hanifah and his two companions hated that a person should say, ‘I ask You by the right of so and so’ or ‘By the right of Your Prophets and Messengers’ or ‘By the right of the sacred house and sacred area (of Muzdalifah)’ and the like, since no one has any right upon Allah. Likewise, Abu Hanifah and Muhammed Ibn Hasan ash-Shaybani hated that a person who made supplication should say: ‘O Allah I ask you by the glory of Your Throne.”

Al-Quduri (d. 428/1037) also said: “Asking Him by His creation is not allowed since the creation had no right over the Creator, thereforeit cannot be allowed.”

Here below are some scan’s of Durr ul Mukhar with the relevant quotes:

Similar statements can be found in many Hanafi Fiqh books like;

-Al Ikhtiyaar of Imam Mawsili (d. 683/1284)

-Molla Husraw’s (d. 885/1480) ; Durar al-hukkam fi Sharh Ghurar al-Ahkam

-Multaka-Al Abhur of of Ibrahim al-Halabi (d. 956/1549)

-Al Hidaya of Imam Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani  (d. 593/1197)

From these quotes it is clearly that Imam Abu Hanifa and his students hated these kinds of Waseelah.

Was salaam


• Sha’ban: Merits, Do’s, and Dont’s

March 28, 2008

By Mufti Taqi Usmani

Sha’ban is one of the meritorious months for which we find some particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is reported in the authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the month in Sha’ban. These fasts were not obligatory on him but Sha’ban is the month immediately preceding the month of Ramadan. Therefore, some preparatory measures are suggested by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Some of these are given below:1. The blessed companion Anas, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked, “Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?” He replied, “Fasts of Shaban in honor of Ramadan.”

2. The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: “Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha’ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month.” Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, replied: “That (Sha’ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.”

3. Ummul Mu’mineen ‘Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, says, “Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast the whole of Sha’ban. I said to him, ‘Messenger of Allah, is Sha’ban your most favorite month for fasting?’ He said, ‘In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year. Therefore, I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting.”

4. In another Tradition she says, “Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would sometimes begin to fast continuously until we thought he would not stop fasting, and sometimes he used to stop fasting until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting a complete month, except the month of Ramadan, and I have never seen him fasting in a month more frequently than he did in Sha’ban.”

5. In another report she says, “I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha’ban. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month.”

6. Ummul-Mu’mineen Umm Salamah, Radi-Allahu anha, says: “I have never seen the Messenger of Allah fasting for two months continuously except in the months of Sha’ban and Ramadan.”

These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Sha’ban, though not obligatory, is so meritorious that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did not like to miss it.

But it should be kept in mind that the fasts of Sha’ban are for those persons only who are capable of keeping them without causing deficiency in the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. Therefore, if one fears that after fasting in Sha’ban, he will lose strength or freshness for the fasts of Ramadan and will not be able to fast in it with freshness, he should not fast in Sha’ban, because the fasts of Ramadan, being obligatory, are more important than the optional fasts of Sha’ban. That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself has forbidden the Muslims from fasting one or two days immediately before the commencement of Ramadan. The blessed Companion Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, “Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha’ban is gone.”

According to another report Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “Do not precede the month of Ramadan with one or two fasts.”

The essence of the above-quoted ahadith is that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself used to fast most of the month of Sha’ban, because he had no fear of developing weakness or weariness before the commencement of Ramadan. As for others, he ordered them not to fast after the 15th of Sha’ban for the fear that they would lose their strength and freshness before Ramadan starts, and would not be able to welcome the month of Ramadan with enthusiasm.

The Night of Bara’ah

Another significant feature of the month of Sha’ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as “Laylatul-bara’ah” (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha’ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows:

1. Ummul-Mu’mineen ‘Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, is reported to have said, “Once Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, performed the Salah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). The thumb moved, and I returned (to my place). Then I heard him saying in Sajdah: ‘I seek refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and I seek refuge of Your pleasure from Your annoyance, and I seek Your refuge from Yourself. I cannot praise You as fully as You deserve. You are exactly as You have defined Yourself.’ Thereafter, when he raised his head from Sajdah and finished his salah, he said to me: ‘Aishah, did you think that the Prophet has betrayed you?’ I said, ‘No, O Prophet of Allah, but I was afraid that your soul has been taken away because your Sajdah was very long.’ He asked me, ‘Do you know which night is this?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘This is the night of the half of Sha’ban. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).'”

2. In another Tradition Sayyidah’ Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, “Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha’ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb.”

Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty.

3. In yet another Tradition, she has reported Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, “This is the middle Night of Sha’ban. Allah frees in it a large number of the people from Fire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb. But He does not even look at a person who associates partners with Allah, or at a person who nourishes malice in his heart (against someone), or at a person who cuts off the ties of kinship, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending beyond his ankles (as a sign of pride), or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine.”

4. Sayyidna Mu’adh ibn Jabal, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: “Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha’ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)”.

Although the chain of narrators of some of these traditions suffers with some minor technical defects, yet when all these traditions are combined together, it becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who, on the basis of these minor defects, have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadith as authentic and the defects in the chain of some others have been treated by them as minor technical defects which, according to the science of hadith, are curable by the variety of their ways of narration. That is why the elders of the ummah have constantly been observing this night as a night of special merits and have been spending it in worship and prayers.

What Should be Done in this Night?

In order to observe the Night of Bara’ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose, and should perform the following acts of worship:

(a) Salah. Salah is the most preferable act to be performed in this night. There is no particular number of Rak’at but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salah like qiyam, rukoo’ and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Holy Qur’an one remembers by heart should be recited in the Salah of this night. If someone does not remember the long surahs, he can also recite several short surahs in one rak’ah.

(b) Tilawa. The recitation of the Holy Qur’an is another form of worship, very beneficent in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Qur’an as he can.

(c) Dhikr. One should also perform dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) in this night. Particularly the following dhikr is very useful:

One should recite Salah (durood) on Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as many times as he can. The dhikr can also be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure.

(d) Dua. The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is prayers and supplications. It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, insha-Allah. Prayer itself is an ‘Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator’s need. Even if the purpose prayed for is not achieved, one cannot be deprived of the reward of the prayer which is sometimes more precious than the mundane benefits one strives for. The prayers and supplications also strengthen one’s relation with Allah Almighty, which is the main purpose of all kinds and forms of worship.

One can pray for whatever purpose he wishes. But the best supplications are the ones made by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. These are so comprehensive and all-encompassing prayers that all the human needs, of this world and the Hereafter, are fully covered in the eloquent expressions used in them. Actually, most of the prophetic prayers are so profound that human imagination can hardly match their greatness.

Several books in various languages are available which provide these prophetic prayers, and one should pray to Allah Almighty in accordance with them, whether by reciting their original Arabic text or by rendering their sense in one’s own language.

(e) There are some people who cannot perform any additional Salah or recitations for any reason, like illness or weakness or being engaged in some other necessary activities. Such people also should not deprive themselves completely of the blessings of this night. They should observe the following acts:

(i) To perform the Salah of Maghrib, ‘Isha’ and Fajr with Jama’ah in the mosque, or in their homes in case of their being sick.

(ii) They should keep reciting the dhikr, particularly the one mentioned in para (c) above, in whatever condition they are until they sleep.

(iii) They should pray to Allah for their forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even when he is in his bed.

(f) The women during their periods cannot perform salah, nor can they recite the Qur’an, but they can recite any dhikr, tasbeeh, durood sharif and can pray to Allah for whatever purpose they like in whatever language they wish. They can also recite the Arabic prayers mentioned in the Qur’an or in the hadith with the intention of supplication (and not with the intention of recitation).

(g) According to a hadith, which is relatively less authentic, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, went in this night to the graveyard of Baqi’ where he prayed for the Muslims buried there. On this basis, some of the fuqaha hold it as mustahabb (advisable) in this night to go to the graveyard of the Muslims and recite Fatihah or any other part of the Qur’an, and pray for the dead. But this act is neither obligatory nor should it be performed as regularly as an obligatory act.

What Should Not be Done in This Night

1. As mentioned earlier, the Night of Bara’ah is a night in which special blessings are directed towards the Muslims. Therefore, this night should be spent in total submission to Allah Almighty, and one should refrain from all those activities, which may displease Allah. Although it is always incumbent upon every Muslim to abstain from sins, yet this abstinence becomes all the more necessary in such nights, because committing sins in this night will amount to responding to divine blessings with disobedience and felony. Such an arrogant attitude can invite nothing but the wrath of Allah. Therefore, one should strictly abstain from all the sins, particularly from those mentioned in the Hadith No. 3 quoted earlier in this article, because these sins make one devoid of the blessings of this night.

2. In this night some people indulge in some activities which they regard as necessary for the celebration of the Night of Bara’ah, like cooking some special type of meal, or illuminating houses or mosques, or improvised structures. All such activities are not only baseless and innovated in the later days by ignorant people, but in some cases they are pure imitation of some rituals performed by non-Muslim communities. Such imitation in itself is a sin; performing it in a blessed night like the Night of Bara’ah makes it worse. Muslims should strictly abstain from all such activities.

3. Some people spend this night in holding religious meetings and delivering long speeches. Such activities are also not advisable, because these acts can easily be performed in other nights. This night requires one to devote himself for the pure acts of worship only.

4. The acts of worship like Salah, recitation of the Qur’an and dhikr should be performed in this night individually, not collectively. The Nafl Salah should not be performed in Jama’ah, nor should the Muslims arrange gatherings in the mosques in order to celebrate the night in a collective manner.

On the contrary, this night is meant for worshipping Allah in solitude. It is the time to enjoy the direct contact with the Lord of the Universe, and to devote one’s attention to Him and Him alone. These are the precious hours of the night in which nobody should intervene between one and his Lord, and one should turn to Allah with total concentration, not disturbed or intermitted by any one else.

That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, observed the acts of worship in this night in total seclusion, not accompanied by anyone, not even by his favorite life companion Sayyidah ‘Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, and that is why all forms of the optional worship (Nafl Ibadah), are advised by him to be done in individual, not in collective manner.

Fast of the 15th Sha’ban

On the day immediately following the Night of Bara’ah, i.e. the 15th of Sha’ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to keep fast. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have recommended this fast emphatically. Although the scholars of hadith have some doubts in the authenticity of this report, yet it is mentioned earlier that the fasts of the first half of Sha’ban have special merits and Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the days in Sha’ban. Moreover, a large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban. This constant practice indicates that they have accepted the relevant hadith as authentic.

Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Sha’ban as an optional (nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of qada on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit from the merits of this fast.

Mufti Taqi Usmani


• The Month of Rajab

March 28, 2008

By Mufti Taqi Usmani

Rajab is the seventh month in the Islamic lunar calendar. This month was regarded as one of the sacred months (Al-Ashhur-al-hurum) in which battles were prohibited in the days of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is also a prelude to the month of Ramadan, because Ramadan follows it after the intervening month of Sha’ban. Therefore, when the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam sighted the moon of Rajab, he used to pray to Allah in the following words:

“O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).”

Yet no specific way of worship has been prescribed by the Shari’ah in this month. However, some people have invented some special rituals or practices in this month, which are not supported by reliable resources of the Shari’ah or are based on some unauthentic traditions. We would like to explain here the correct position about them.

1. Celebration of Lailatul Mi’raj

It is generally believed that the great event of Mi’raj (ascension of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam to the heavens) took place in the night of 27th of Rajab. Therefore, some people celebrate the night as “Lailatul- Mi’raj” (the night of ascension to heavens).

Indeed, the event of mi’raj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life of our beloved Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. He was called by Almighty Allah. He traveled from Makkah to Baitul-Maqdis and from there he ascended the heavens through the miraculous power of Allah. He was honored with a direct contact with his Creator at a place where even the angels had no access. This was the unique honor conferred by Allah to the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam alone. It was the climax of the spiritual progress which is not attained by anybody except him. No doubt the night in which he was blessed with this unparalleled honor was one of the greatest nights in the history of this world.

But, Islam has its own principles with regard to the historic and religious events. Its approach about observing festivals and celebrating days and nights is totally different from the approach of other religions. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam did not prescribe any festival or any celebration to commemorate an event from the past, however remarkable it might have been. Instead, Islam has prescribed two annual celebrations only. One is Eid-ul-Fitr and the other is Eid ul-Adha. Both of these festivals have been fixed at a date on which the Muslims accomplish a great ‘ibadah (worship) every year. Eid-ul-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramadan, while Eid-ul-Adha has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Hajj annually. None of these two eids is designed to commemorate a particular event of the past which has happened in these dates. This approach is indicative of the fact that the real occasion for a happy celebration is the day in which the celebrators themselves have accomplished remarkable work through their own active effort. As for the accomplishments of our ancestors, their commemoration should not be restricted to a particular day or night. Instead, their accomplishments must be remembered every day in the practical life by observing their teachings and following the great examples they have set for us.

Keeping this principle in view, the following points should be remembered with regard to the “Lailatul-mi’raj”:

(1) We cannot say with absolute certainty in which night the great event of mi’raj took place. Although some traditions relate this event to 27th night of the month of Rajab, yet there are other traditions that suggest other dates. Al-Zurqani, the famous biographer of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has referred to five different views in this respect: Rabi-ul-Awwal, Rabi-u-Thani, Rajab, Ramadan and Shawwal. Later, while discussing different traditions, he has added a sixth opinion, that the mi’raj took place in the month of Zulhijjah.

Allama Abdulhaq Muhaddith Dehlawi, the well-known scholar of the Indian subcontinent, has written a detailed book on the merits of Islamic months. While discussing the ‘Lailatul-mi’raj’ has mentioned that most of the scholars are of the view that the event of mi’raj took place in the month of Ramadan or in Rabi-ul-awwal.

(2) It is also not known in which year the event of Mi’raj took place. The books of history suggest a wide range between the fifth-year and the twelfth year after the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam was entrusted with prophethood.

Now, if it is assumed that the event of Mi’raj took place in the fifth year of his prophethood, it will mean that the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam remained in this world for eighteen years after this event. Even if it is presumed that the mi’raj took place in the twelfth year of his prophethood, his remaining life-time after this event would be eleven years. Throughout this long period, which may range between eleven years and eighteen years, the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam never celebrated the event of mi’raj, nor did he give any instruction about it. No one can prove that the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam ever performed some specific modes of worship in a night calling it the ‘Lailatul-mi’raj’ or advised his followers to commemorate the event in a particular manner.

(3) After the demise of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam also, no one of his companions is reported to celebrate this night as a night of special acts of worship. They were the true devotees of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and had devoted their lives to preserve every minute detail of the sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and other Islamic teachings. Still, they did not celebrate the event of mi’raj in a particular night in a particular way.

All these points go a long way to prove that the celebration of the 27th night of Rajab, being the lailatul-mi’raj has no basis in the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam or in the practice of his noble companions. Had it been a commendable practice to celebrate this night, the exact date of this event would have been preserved accurately by the Ummah and the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and his blessed companions would have given specific directions for it.

Therefore, it is not a Sunnah to celebrate the Lailatul-mi’raj’. We cannot declare any practice as a sunnah unless it is established through authentic sources that the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam or is noble Companions have recognized it as such, otherwise it may become a bid’ah about which the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has observed in the following words: “Whoever invents something in our religion which is not a part of it, it is to be rejected.”

Being mindful of this serious warning, we should appreciate that the 27th night of the month of Rajab is not like ‘Lailatul-qadr’ or ‘Lailatul-bara’ah’ for which special merits have been mentioned expressly either y the Holy Qur’an or by the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

However, all the recognized modes of ‘ibadah (worship) like Salat, recitation of the Holy Qur’an, dhikr, etc. are commendable any time, especially in the late hours of night, and obviously the 27th night of Rajab is not an exception. Therefore, if someone performs any recognized ‘ibadah in this night from this point of view nothing can stop him from doing so, and he will be entitled to the thawab (reward allocated for that recognized ‘ibadah insha-Allah.) But it is not permissible to believe that performing ‘ibadah in this night is more meritorious or carries more thawab like ‘Lailatul-qadr’ or ‘Lailatul-bara’ah’, because this belief is not based on any authentic verse or on a sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night collectively and to invite people to special ritual congregations.

(4) Some people suggest some special modes of worship to be performed in this night. Since no special mode of worship is prescribed by the Shari’ah in this night, these suggestions are devoid of any authority and should not be acted upon.

It is believed by some that the Muslims should keep fast on 27th of Rajab. Although there are some traditions attributing special merits to the fast of this day yet the scholars of hadith have held these traditions as very weak and unauthentic reports which cannot be sufficient to establish a rule of Shari’ah. On the contrary, there is an authentic report that Sayyidna ‘Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, used to forbid people from fasting on this day, rather to compel them to eat if they had started fasting.

It should be borne in mind here that a “nafl” fast can be observed any day (except the six prohibited days of the year); therefore, fasting on 27th of Rajab is not prohibited in itself. What is prohibited is the belief that fasting on this day is more meritorious than fasting in other normal days. One should not fast in this day with this belief. But if someone fasts therein, believing it to be a normal nafl fast, there is no bar against it.

Sacrifice (qurbani) in the month of Rajab

In the days of ignorance (jahiliyyah) the Arabs used to offer the sacrifice of a goat in the month of Rajab. This sacrifice used to be called “Atirah’ or ‘Rajabiyyah’. This sacrifice was offered in the name of different so-called gods and their icons. In the beginning of Islam, this custom was retained, but the Muslims modified it by offering the sacrifice of ‘Atirah in the name of Allah instead of the false gods. But finally, this custom was abandoned and the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam prohibited the offering of ‘Atirah. In a tradition of Sayyidna Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “Fara’ is nothing and ‘Atirah is nothing.”

Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, has explained in the same tradition that ‘Fara” was the first child of a she-camel. Whenever a she-camel delivered its first child, the Arabs used to sacrifice it in the name of their so-called gods, while the ‘Atirah’ was a goat used to be sacrificed in the month of Rajab. Since the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam stopped both these customs, ‘Atirah is no longer a recognized practice.

‘Umrah in the month of Rajab

Ibn ‘Abidin, the well-known scholar of the Islamic jurisprudence, has mentioned that the people of Makkah (in his days) used to perform ‘umrah in the month of Rajab. Perhaps they believed that performing ‘umrah in this month is more meritorious than in other months. Then Ibn Abidin himself has rejected the authenticity of this practice, because no tradition of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam is found to this effect. Conversely Sayyidah ‘Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has expressly negated the presumption by saying that the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam never performed an ‘umrah in the month of Rajab (Sahih Muslim 1:409)

However, Ibn ‘Aibidin has quoted a narration that ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair, Radi-Allahu anhu, completed the renovation of Ka’bah shortly before 27th of Rajab, and as a sign of gratefulness he performed ‘umrah and slaughtered some animals. But this report cannot form the basis of a recognized annual practice, firstly because the report is not very authentic, and secondly because it does not mention that Abdullah ibn Zubair, Radi-Allahu anhu, had adopted it as a continuing practice. At the most, he performed ‘umrah once as a sign of gratefulness on the completion of Ka’bah. It does not mean that he performed it as a characteristic of the month of Rajab. Therefore, performing ‘Umrah in this month is like performing it in any other month and no special merit can be attached to it merely because it has been performed in the month of Rajab.

The Salat of “Ragha’ib”

Another special mode of worship attributed by some people to this month is the Salat of Raghai’b. According to the custom of such people, this Salat is performed in the night of first Friday of the month of Eajab. The Salat of Raghaib is said to consist of twelve rak’ats to be performed in pairs with six salams, and in each rak’at the surah al-qadr is recited three times followed by the Surah-al-ikhlas. This type of Salat is also not based on any sound source of Shari’ah. Therefore, almost all the jurists and scholars of Shari’ah have held that the Salat of Raghaib is a baseless practice and it is not permissible to treat it as a recognized practice of this month. It is true that there is a tradition, narrated by Razin, the author of a book of hadith, which attributes the origin of this practice to the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam but almost all the scholars of the science of hadith have held it to be absolutely unauthentic. Therefore, no importance can be attached to it.

Distribution of Breads:

Another baseless practice in the month of Rajab is that the people bake special types of breads and, after reciting some verses and prayers on them, distribute them among their friends and neighbors. This custom has two different shapes.

1). In some communities, this custom is celebrated on 17th of Rajab on the assumption that Sayyidna Ali, Radi-Allahu anhu, was born on 11th of Rajab and the 17th of Rajab is the day on which his ‘Aqiqa (Shaving of his head) was performed. In order to celebrate this happy event, the breads of some special type are prepared and after reciting Surah Al-Mulk on them, they are distributed among the relatives and friends. These breads are generally called “breads of Tabarak” because Surah Al-Mulk is usually recited on them.

This practice is baseless because it is never proved that Sayyidna Ali, Radi-Allahu anhu, was born on 11th of Rajab or that his Aqiqa was performed on 17th of this month and, as explained earlier, even if these events are proved to have happened in those days, their commemoration through these specific rituals is not warranted by the Shari’ah.

2). A more common practice of this type is observed on 22nd of Rajab whereby some breads and meals of a special type are prepared and distributed among the people. Since these special meals are usually placed in some bowls made of clay, the custom is usually known as “Koonda”, an Urdu equivalent of such bowls. It is usually believed that the custom is designed to make ‘isal-al-thawab to the soul of Sayyidna Jafar Al-Sadiq who himself has directed his followers to observe this custom and has promised them that whoever observes it, his desires will be fulfilled.

All these assumptions also have no basis at all, neither historically, nor according to the principles of Shari’ah. In fact, the date of 22nd of Rajab has no concern whatsoever with Sayyidna Jafar al-Sadiq, Rahimah-u-Allah. According to the historians, he was born on 8th of Ramadan 80 A.H. and died in Shawwal 148 A.H. No specific event of the life of Sayyidna Jafar al-Sadiq is proved to have happened on this date. The people believing in the custom refer to a coined story mentioned in an unauthentic book named “Dastaan-e-Ajeeb”.

Briefly stated, the gist of the story is that a poor woodcutter lived in Madinah in the days of Jafar Al-Sadiq. He went abroad to earn his livelihood. His wife was employed in the house of the Prime Minister. Once she was cleaning the courtyard of the Prime Minister when Sayyidna Jafar al-Sadiq passed by her. It was 22nd of Rajab. He advised her to bake some breads of a special type and make ‘isal-al-sawab to him. According to this story, he promised her that if her desire is not fulfilled after this practice, she can catch hold of him at the doom’s day. On hearing this, the woman made a vow that if her husband will come back with a considerable wealth, she will observe the custom of “Koonda”. On the same day her husband, who was in another country, found a valuable treasure in the earth and came back with it to Madinah where he established himself as a rich man and started living in a magnificent castle. When his wife told the story to the wife of the Prime Minister, she disbelieved her and because of this disbelief, she and her husband, the Prime Minister, were punished by Allah. He was removed by the king from the prime minister-ship and was imprisoned in a jail and was ordered to be hanged. While being in the prison, the wife of the Prime Minister remembered that she had disbelieved the story of Jafar al-Sadiq told to her by her maidservant and their misery might be the punishment of their disbelief. On this point, she and her husband repented before Allah and made a vow to observe the custom of “Koonda”, if they are released from the jail. After they made such a vow, the whole scenario of the events changed suddenly. The king released the Prime Minister from the jail and reinstated him on his former position.

As it can be seen by any reasonable person, this story is totally forged on the face of it. The person who has coined this story did not even know that Madinah had never a king nor a Prime Minister. All the Muslim rulers were named as caliphs and had no Prime Minister at all. In the days of Umayyads, their capital was Damascus and in the days of Abbasids, their permanent seat was in Baghdad.

It is ironical that the story of such a woodcutter is not even known to anybody in Madinah, nor in any city of the Arab countries. No Arabic book has ever referred to it. It has no mention except in an Urdu book ‘Dastaan-e-Ajeeb’, the author of which is unknown. One can easily see that a custom based on such a fallacious and mythical story can never be an Islamic custom. Islam has always been far away from such superstitions.

Therefore, this baseless custom should completely be avoided by the true Muslims. Some historians have opined that in fact, this custom has been coined by some Shi’ites because the date of 22nd of Rajab is the date of the demise of Sayyidna Mu’awiyah whom they take as their biggest enemy. They took that date as a happy occasion and made the Sunni Muslims also to celebrate it on the pretext of the above mentioned story.

Be that as it may, it is evident that such customs have crept into the Muslim society by their long association with Hindus who commemorate different historical events of their religion in the like manner. The Muslims must be careful about these customs, because they are not only an invention of ignorance but also the imitation of non-Muslims in their religious rituals. No doubt the “‘isal-al-thawab’ to the soul of a deceased Muslim, and particularly to a pious person is not only permissible but also a commendable practice but the Shari’ah has not prescribed a particular date, nor a particular mode to do so. If someone wants to make “‘isal-al-thawab” to Sayyidna ‘Ali, Radi-Allahu anhu, or to Ja’far al-Sadiq, he can do it any day and by performing any act of worship, like Salat, fast, Sadaqah, dhikr etc. There is no reason why it should be restricted to a special type of meal or bread distributed on a particular date. What makes this practice worse is the fact that the people accustomed to this practice deem it as necessary as a fard (obligation); rather they treat it as more necessary than fard because they do not care to perform the obligatory Salat or to fulfill the rights of men obligated on them, but they are very strict and punctual to perform these activities. Moreover, if a person does not observe this practice, they reproach him and call him with bad names. Such behavior makes this custom a bid’ah which is condemned by the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam as a misguidance. Therefore, the Muslims must abandon all such practices and should not cling to it only because it has been the practice of their society for many years. A Muslim is supposed to follow the dictates of Shari’ah and not the practice of the society, if it violates any of its principles.

Conclusion

The upshot of the above discussion is that the Shari’ah has not prescribed any specific way to observe the month of Rajab or to perform a specific mode of worship or a ritual in any one of its dates. However, being a prologue to the month of Ramadan, it should be availed of for preparing oneself for Ramadan and one should pray Allah to make him reach the blessed month and to benefit from its unique merits.

Mufti Taqi Usmani


• Rabi’ul-Awwal – Mawlid

March 28, 2008

 

By Mufti Taqi Usmani 

From Superstitions into Light

Rabi’ul-Awwal is the most significant month in the Islamic history, because humanity has been blessed in this month by the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Before the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, not only the Arabian peninsula, but also the so-called civilized nations of Rome and Persia were drowned in the darkness of ignorance, superstitions, oppression and unrest. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came with the eternal truth of Tawhid (Oneness of Allah), the only faith which provides a firm basis for the real concepts of knowledge, equity and peace. It was this faith which delivered humanity from ignorance and superstitions and spread the light of true knowledge all over the world.

Islamic Celebrations

Thus the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most significant and the most remarkable event in human history. Had there been room in Islamic teachings for the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would have undoubtedly deserved it more than the birthday of any other person. But that is against the nature of Islamic teachings. That is why, unlike Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism, there are very few festivals in Islam, which provides for only two Eids (Eidul-fitr and Eidul-Adha) during the whole year. The dates of these two Eids do not correspond to the birthday of any of the outstanding persons of Islamic history, nor can their origin be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened in these dates.

Both of these two Eids have been prescribed for paying gratitude to Allah on some happy events that take place every year. The first event is the completion of the fasts of Ramadan and the second event is the completion of Hajj, another form of worship regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.

The manner prescribed for the celebration of these two Eids (festivals) is also different from non-Islamic festivals. There are no formal processions, illumination or other activities showing formal happiness. On the contrary, there are congregational prayers and informal mutual visits to each other, which can give real happiness instead of its symbols only.

No Birthdays

On the other hand, Islam has not prescribed any festival for the birthday of any person, however great or significant he may be. The prophets of Allah are the persons of the highest status amongst all human beings. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them. Even the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, which was the most happy day for the whole mankind was never celebrated by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself, nor by his blessed Companions.

The Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, remained alive after him for about a century, but despite their unparalleled and profound love towards the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, they never celebrated the birthday or the death anniversary of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Instead, they devoted their lives for promoting the cause of Islam, for bringing his teachings into practice, for conveying his message to the four corners of the world and for establishing the Islamic order in every walk of life.

The Origins of Christmas

In fact, commemorating the birth of a distinguished person has never been prescribed by any religion attributing itself to divine revelation. It was originally a custom prevalent in pagan communities only. Even Christmas, the famous Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ finds no mention in the Bible or in the early Christian writings. It was only in the 4th century after the ascension of Jesus Christ that Christmas was recognized as a regular Christian feast. To quote the Collier’s Encyclopedia:

“It is impossible to determine the exact date of the birth of Christ, either from the evidence of the gospels, or from any sound tradition. During the first three centuries of the Christian era there was considerable opposition in the Church to the pagan custom of celebrating birthdays, although there is some indication that a purely religious commemoration of the birth of Christ was included in the feast of Epiphany. Clement of Alexandria mentions the existence of the feast in Egypt about the year A.D. 200 and we have some evidence that it was observed on various dates in scattered areas. After the triumph of Constantine, the Church at Rome assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of the feast, possibly about A.D. 320 or 353. By the end of the fourth century the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day, with the exception of the Eastern Churches, where it was celebrated on January 6. The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god, and that the Saturnalia also came at this time.” (Collier’s Encyclopedia 1984 ed, v. 6, p. 403).

A similar description of the origin of Christmas is found in-the Encyclopedia Britannica with some more details. Its following passage will throw more light on the point:

“Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church, and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on Jan. 6, March 25 or Dec. 25. The earliest identification of Dec. 25 with the birthday of Christ is in a passage, otherwise unknown and probably spurious, of the philos of Antioch (c.180), preserved in Latin by the Magdeburyg centuriators (i, 3, 118), to the effect that the Gauls contended that since they celebrated the birth of Lord on Dec. 25, so they ought to celebrate the resurrection on March 25. A passage, almost certainly interpolated, in ‘Hippelates’ (c. 202) commentary on Daniel iv, 23, says that Jesus was born at Bethlehem on Wednesday, Dec. 25, in the 42nd year of Augustus, but he mentions no feast, and such a feast, indeed, would conflict with the then orthodox ideas. As late as 245, Origin (hem. viii on Leviticus) repudiated the idea of keeping the birthday of Christ “as if he were a king Pharaoh”. (Britannica, 1953 ed. v. 5, p.642)

These two quotes are more than sufficient to prove the following points:

1. The commemoration of birthdays was originally a pagan custom, never recognized by a divine scripture or prophetic teaching.

2. The exact date of the Birth of Sayyidna ‘Isa is unknown and impossible to be ascertained.

3. The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ was not a recognized practice in the early centuries of the Christian history.

4. It was in the 4th or 5th century that it was recognized as a religious feast, and that, too, under the influence of the pagans who worshipped Sun-god.

5. There was a strong opposition against the commemorating of the birthday by the early Christian scholars like Origin, on the ground that it is originally a custom of pagans and idolaters.

Original Islamic Resources

In original Islamic resources, also we cannot find any instruction about the celebration of birthdays or death anniversaries. Many Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, passed away during his life-time. His beloved wife Sayyidah Khadijah, Radi-Allahu anha, passed away in Makkah. His beloved uncle Sayyidna Hamzah, Radi-Allahu anhu was brutally slaughtered during the battle of Uhud. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, never observed their birthday or their death anniversaries, nor did he ever advise his followers to celebrate his own birthday in Rabi’ul-Awwal.

What is Wrong with These Celebrations

The reason for abstinence from such celebrations is that they divert the attention of people from the real teachings of Islam towards the observance of some formal activities only. Initially, these celebrations may begin with utmost piety and with a bona fide intention to pay homage to a pious person. Yet, the experience shows that the celebration is ultimately mixed up with an element of merrymaking and rejoicing and is generally confused with secular festivals and the secular, and often sinful, activities creep into it gradually.

The Transformation of Christmas

The example of Christmas will again be relevant. This Christian feast was originally innovated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and, of course, to remember his teachings. But once the occasion had been recognized as a feast, all the secular elements of public festivals crept in. The following quotation from the Encyclopedia Britannia is worth attention:

“For several centuries Christmas was solely a church anniversary observed by religious services. But as Christianity spread among the people of pagan lands, many of the practices of the winter solstice were blended with those of Christianity because of the liberal ruling of Gregory I, the great, and the cooperation of the missionaries. Thus, Christmas became both religious and secular in its celebration, at times reverent, at others gay.”

Then, what kind of activities have been adopted to celebrate Christmas is mentioned in the next paragraphs of which the following quote is more pertinent here:

“Merrymaking came to have a share in Christmas observance through popular enthusiasm even while emphasis was on the religious phase. … In the wholly decked great halls of the feudal lords, whose hospitality extended to all their friends, tenants and household, was sailing, feasting, singing and games, dancing, masquerading and mummers presenting pantomimes and masques were all part of the festivities.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 v. 5, p. 643)

This is enough to show as to how an apparently innocent feast of reverence was converted into a secular festival where the merrymaking and seeking enjoyment by whatever means took preference over all the religious and spiritual activities.

Being fully aware of this human psychology, Islam has never prescribed, nor encouraged the observance of birthdays and anniversaries, and when such celebrations are observed as a part of the religion, they are totally forbidden.

The Religion is Complete

The Holy Qur’an has clearly pronounced on the occasion of the last Hajj of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: “Today, I have completed the teachings of your religion.” [Al-Maida 5:3]

It means that all the teachings of Islam were communicated to the Muslims through the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. No one is allowed after it to add any thing to them as a part of religion. What was not a part of religion during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, can never become part of it. Such additions are termed by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as Bid’ah or innovation.

Thus, the observance of the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as a religious feast is not warranted by any verse of the Holy Qur’an or by any teaching of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Had it been a part of the religion it would have been clearly ordered or practiced by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his blessed companions or, at least, by their immediate pupils. But no example of the celebration of the occasion can be traced out in the early centuries of the Islamic history. It was after many centuries [Albalagh Note: According to Maulana Yusuf Ludhinavi it was in the year 604 A.H.] that some monarchs started observing the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, without a sound religious basis, and the congregations in the name of Maulood or Milad were held where the history of the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to be narrated.

Disagreement About the Date

The observance of the 12th of this month as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is not only an innovation having no basis in the Islamic teachings, but the accuracy of this date as the real birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is also very much doubted. There are different dates suggested in different traditions, and the majority of the authentic scholars is inclined to hold that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was born on the 9th of Rabi’ul-Awwal. This difference of opinion is another evidence to prove that the observance of the birthday is not a part of the religion, otherwise its exact date would have been preserved with accuracy.

The life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, no doubt, the most important source of guidance for all the Muslims, and every Muslim is under an obligation to learn and study the events of his life, and to follow the practical example set by him in every sphere of life. The narration of his pious biography (the Seerah) in itself is a pious act, which invites the divine blessings, but the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah have not prescribed a particular time or method for it. This pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times. The month of Rabi’ul-Awwal has not been designated by the Shariah as a special season for holding such congregations to commemorate the birth or life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is thus an innovation (Bid’ah) to restrict the Seerah meetings to the month of Rabi’ul Awwal only, or to believe that the meetings held in this month are worthy of more reward than the meetings held on any other date during the year. In fact, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to commemorate the life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, throughout the year, not only by studying and conveying his message to others, but also by following his way of life and acting upon his teachings in each and every branch of their activities, and this is exactly what a Muslim is required and supposed to do.

By this we do not mean that the Seerah meetings should not be held in the month of Rabi’ul-Awwal. The point is only that they should not be restricted to it, nor should it be believed that the Shariah has laid any kind of emphasis on holding such meetings in this particular month.

Another point that should always be kept in mind while holding such meetings is that they must be in complete conformity with the rules of Shariah. A Muslim is supposed to abide by the rules of Shariah in all his activities. But at least the meetings held in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, should be free from all the acts forbidden by the Shariah.

Contemporary Seerah Meetings and Shariah

It is often observed, especially in the Western countries, that the people hold the Seerah meetings where men and women sit together without observing the rules of hijab prescribed by the Shariah. The teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are obviously against such mixed gatherings. How can a Seerah meeting bring fruits where such fundamental teachings of the Shariah are openly violated?

In some meetings the Na’ts (poems) in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are recited by the women before the male audience, sometimes with music, which is totally against the instructions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is clearly prohibited by the Shariah to hold such meetings or to participate in them, because it is not only a violation of the Shariah rules, but it is an affront to the sanctity of the Seerah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

All other activities, often practiced on the twelfth of Rabi’ul-Awwal, like holding processions, constructing the mock tombs of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and illumination of the buildings and the roads are not warranted by any rule of the Shariah. Rather they are based on conscious or unconscious imitation of certain other religions. No example of such activities can be traced out from the earlier Islamic history.

Real Message of Seerah

What is really important with regard to the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, first, to follow his teachings, and second to make his pious Seerah available to every Muslim, to preserve it in the hearts of the Muslims from the very childhood, to educate the family members to run their lives according to it and to hold it as the most glorious example of the human conduct the universe has ever witnessed — and all this with utmost love and reverence, not manifested by some formal activities only, but also through actual behavior of following the Sunnah. This cannot be done by merely holding processions and illuminating the walls. This requires constant and consistent efforts and a meaningful program of education and training.

Mufti Taqi Usmani