Qadi Muhammed ibn Qasim al-Rassa al-Maliki (d. 894H) on Mawlid

mawlid-libya

The North African scholar and sufi Muhammad ibn Qasim al-Rassa‘ (d. 894 AH/1489 CE) (1) in his book Tadhkirat al-muhibbin fi asma’sayyid al-mursalin (2), writes,

It is part of the correct conduct (adab) of one who loves this noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to honor the night of his birth and the day on which God made manifest the final successor (al-‘aqib) of His prophets. . . . Everyone who feels longing and love (sha’iq wa-muhibb) [for the Prophet] ought to manifest delight and gladness (al-surur wa’l-bishara) on that night and the following morning, and treat his children and wife to whatever he can afford (wa-yumatti‘a awladahu wa-ahlahu bi-ma amkana lahu) in order to receive its blessings. [He should] entertain them (yudkhila al-surur ‘alayhim) and teach them that he did so simply out of love for that night, delight in it, and concern for its merit. [He should] explain to them that it is the noblest of nights in the eyes of God, because on it the Messenger of God (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was born, and mention to them the description of the Messenger of God, his beauty and comeliness, his per- fection, virtues and moral qualities, his speech and eloquence, his generosity and magnanimity, his character and clemency, his forgiveness and tolerance, his miracles and signs, everything that endears him to their hearts and exalts him. [He should also] teach them poems praising and extolling him. I and every [other] person who loves [the Prophet] consider this to be judicious and well-considered (min husn al-ra’y wa’l-nazar), because teaching something [to a person] in his youth is like carving in stone – especially since youths are enamored of wonders, and [the Prophet’s] miracles are among the most wondrous things.

He further says that the “common people” should share in the benefits of the mawlid, being instructed in the miracles of the Prophet’s birth and receiving clothing and charity.  He recommends that the believer “should frequently study (mutala‘a) [the story of] his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birth and take pains to memorize its date and to learn [the Prophet’s] noble ancestry” and the ways in which God preserved him in his childhood. He should also “ponder the signs, wonders, prodigies and marvels that were manifested at his birth, so that his heart is gladdened (yansharihsadruhu), his love is increased even more, his faith is strengthened, and he follows [the Prophet’s] sunna and path.”(3) He also writes:

On this noble day, remember all that characterized our Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and all the ways in which God honored him; [remember] everything that will endear him to our hearts and all the ways in which he benefited us (ma kana yuhsinu bihi ilayna) so that our faith and love will increase. Hearts are naturally dis- posed to love those that benefit them (inna al-qulub majbula ‘alahubb man ahsana ilayha), and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) benefited all created beings so that they were gladdened and hoped that their Lord would forgive their sins. (4)

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Notes:

(1)  al-Rassa‘ served as a qadi and as the imam and khatib of the Zaytuna Mosque of Tunis. He was known for his knowledge of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, kalam, and logic. See Kahhala, Mu‘jam, 3:593.

(2) Muhammad ibn Qasim al-Rassa‘, Tadhikrat al-muhibbin fi asma’sayyid al-mursalin, ed. Muhammad Ridwan al-Daya, Abu Dhabi: al-Majma‘ al-Thaqafi, 1423 AH/2002 CE, pp. 152–4.

(3) Ibid., p. 148.

(4) Ibid., p. 160.

[All translated by Marion Holmes Katz]

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