The esteemed birthday of Prophet Muhammed صلى الله عليه وسلم

green-dome-madina

The first and last of the Prophets, Sayyinduna Muhammed صلى الله عليه وسلم was born on a Monday, 12th of Rabi al-Awwal. The following are some of the honors that was given to the birthday of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم .

Occurrence of Miracles on that day

The sira of Ibn Hisham (d. 213 H) recounts,

” …among the things that people recount – and God knows best – that Amina bint Wahb, the mother of the Messenger of God used to report that when she became pregnant with the Messenger of God [a being] came to her and said to her, “You have conceived the master of this community; when he falls to the earth, say, ‘I commend him to the protection of the One, from the evil of every envier’; then name him Muhammad.” When she became pregnant with him she saw that a light came forth from her by which she saw the castles of Busra in the land of Syria.”  – [Ibn Hisham, Sira, 1:293]

Coinciding with the day of the creation of trees and vegetation

Abu Hurayra (r) reported that Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) took hold of my hands and said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, created the clay on Saturday and He created the mountains on Sunday and He created the trees on monday and He created the things entailing labour on Tuesday and created light on Wednesday and caused the animals to spread on Thursday and created Adam (peace be upon him) after ‘Asr on Friday; the last creation at the last hour of the hours of Friday, i. e. between afternoon and night.  (Sahih Muslims Book#039, Hadith #6707)

Imam Ibn al-Hajj (r) in his book Kitab al-Madkhal, mentions with regards to the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) on a Monday that :

  “In the ĥadīth it is mentioned that plants and vegetation were created on Monday; this is an important day because the sustenance of humans – food and fruits – were created on this day.”

Recommendation of fasting on this day

Abu Qatada al-Ansari narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was asked why he regularly fasted on Monday, and he answered, “That is the day that I was born and that is the day I received the prophecy.”
[Recorded by Muslim (Kitab as-Siyam#1977-78), Abu Dawud (#2071), Nasa’i (Sunan Kubra, 2:147), Imam Ahmad (#21508), Hakim (2:602), Bayhaqi (Sunan 4:286, Dala’il 1:72-73), Abu Ya’la (1:133-34 #144), Tayalisi(#636), and others. Similarly, Ibn Hibban (8:403 #3642) and Ibn Khuzayma (3:298 #2087) in their Sahih collections both devoted a whole chapter to this topic and called it: “Mention of the desirability of the fast of Monday because  on that day the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was born and on that day the Revelation descended.” [Taken from the book “Defense of the Sunna” by Ibrahim ash-Shaghouri]]
Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his book Lata’if al-Ma`arif fi ma li Mawasim al-`Am min al-Waza’if  writes:
The Prophet’s saying – Allah bless and greet him – when he was asked about fasting al-Ithnayn: “That is the day I was born, and the day in which Prophetship was sent down upon me” [Muslim and Ahmad from Abu Qatada] points to the desirability of fasting the days in which Allah’s favors on His servants are renewed. For the greatest favor of Allah upon this Community is His causing to appear among them Muhammad – Allah bless and greet him – and sending him as His Prophet to them, as Allah said: “Allah verily hath shown grace to the believers by sending unto them a messenger of their own” (3:164). This favor is greater than the creation of the heaven and the earth, the sun and moon, the winds, night and day, sending down rain, causing vegetation to sprout, and other than that…. The fasting of a day in which those blessings of Allah on his believing servants are renewed is fine and well. It proceeds from the meeting of favors with thanks at the time these favors are renewed. The equivalent of this fasting is the fasting of the day of `Ashura’ in which Allah saved Nuh from drowning etc.

The continuous renewal of honor and blessings on this day

Ibn Marzuq al-Maliki  (d. 842), after relating the narrations on fasting on a Monday on account of the birth of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم,  writes:
“This hadith establishes that the virtue of the night of the mawlid and its morning continues, and its honor remains.”  [Ibn ‘Ammar, Nihla, p. 106.]
Hence, the blessings and honor in the birthday of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was not a one time event, neither that which occurs only annually, but instead occurs every week.  As a comparison, the fasting on Ashura, which was on account of various blessed events that occurred on that day, is an annual occurrence, while fasting on the birth of the Prophet (asws) on the other hand occurs every week.

Revelation of  the Glorious Quran on this day

Abu Qatada al-Ansari narrates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was asked why he regularly fasted on Monday, and he answered, “That is the day that I was born and that is the day I received the prophecy.” [Sahih Muslim]

Is there any greater honor to be bestowed on the birth day of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) than the revelation of the Quran ? Allah says in praise of the revelation of the Qur’an:

 “… And We have sent down to you the Book, as an exposition of everything, a guidance, a mercy, and glad tidings for those who have submitted themselves.” [Quran (Surah An-Nahl, Verse 89)]

There are some who when verses of the Qur’an such as “In the bounty of God  and in His Mercy,  in that let them rejoice, that is better than the (wealth) they hoard” (Surah Yunus, 10:58) are mentioned to them, they divert it by suggesting that such verses are referring to the revelation of the Qur’an only. But they do not see that the day in which the Qur’an was revealed was in fact the same day in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was born. They do not notice that by fasting on Monday he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) showed us how we can rejoice on account of both events simultaneously. They do not notice that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) first mentioned his own birth when asked about the day, only in second did he mention the beginning of prophecy, thereby showing the priority and importance given to to his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birth.
Now with regards to the month in which the first revelation of Qur’an took place, there is a difference of opinion on it. One of the prominent opinion was that the Qur’an was revealed on the month of Rabi-ul Awwal itself, while others interpreted the events that took place on Rabi ul-Awwal differently. The other prominent opinion of course being that the Quran was revealed on Ramadan. Whatever be the case, one can notice from this that the renewal of blessings on the revelation of Quran was not just on every Monday (as in the hadith quoted above), but also on the month of Ramadan of every year, as well specific on Laylat al-Qadr. Thereby, we see that the blessings of revelation was renewed on every Monday, every year, as well as every laylat al-Qadr.  So one shouldn’t suppose, as some of them do,  that since the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) fasted on a Monday, the importance can only be with Monday and not Rabi al awwal or the 12th of Rabi al awwal.  And how can one differentiate ? If the importance of Monday was on account of his birthday, then this must be present in the month and date as well,  since the event of the birth is one event and Monday was connected/related to his birth just as the date and month was connected to it.
Imam Ibn al-Hajj writes in his Kitab al-Madkhal that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم),
indicated the auspiciousness of the glorious month when he  answered the person who questioned him about fasting on Mondays: It is the day on which I was born. The propitiousness of that day extends to the month as well in which he was born. It is necessary for us to be mindful of the reverence [of this month] as Allāh táālā has given superiority to this month, because RasūlAllāh has said: I am the leader of all of Ādam’s progeny [and I say this] without pride. Ādam and all others will be under my standard [on the day of Judgement]. The superiority of certain seasons or certain places and that Allāh táālā has specified forms of worship in them, is not because of the season or the place in itself; but  rather due to the importance associated with them. Look at the distinction accorded to this month and for Mondays; don’t you see that it is an act of great virtue to fast on this day, because he was born on this day? Therefore, when this month arrives, we should honour it, venerate and respect it – following the example of RasūlAllāh because, he would designate special days and increase charity and righteous deeds in such days. Do you not recall the saying of Ibn Ábbās : RasūlAllāh was the most generous and charitable among men; and his charity increased in Ramađān. So also, we should devote more time in special seasons for doing good and righteous deeds to the best of our ability.

The Hijra took place on this day

Ibn `Abbas (rad.) said: “The Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – was born on al-Ithnayn (Monday); received Prophetship on al-Ithnayn; emigrated out of Mecca on al-Ithnayn; entered Madina on al-Ithnayn; died on al-Ithnayn; and raised the Black Stone to its place on al-Ithnayn.” [Musnad of Imam Ahmad, 1:277;  Qastallani, Mawahib, 1:143; Ibn Rajab, Lata’if al-Ma`arif]

In a narration from Sahih Bukhari, we read: “When the Muslims of Medina heard the news of the departure of Allah’s Apostle from Mecca (towards Medina), they started going to the Harra every morning . They would wait for him till the heat of the noon forced them to return. One day, after waiting for a long while, they returned home, and when they went into their houses, a Jew climbed up the roof of one of the forts of his people to look for some thing, and he saw Allah’s Apostle and his companions dressed in white clothes, emerging out of the desert mirage. The Jew could not help shouting at the top of his voice, “O you ‘Arabs! Here is your great man whom you have been waiting for!” So all the Muslims rushed to their arms and received Allah’s Apostle on the summit of Harra. The Prophet turned with them to the right and alighted at the quarters of Bani ‘Amr bin ‘Auf, and this was on monday in the month of Rabi-ul-Awal. (Bukhari, Book#58, Hadith #245)
We see here that the day of the birth was honored by having the important event of Hijra of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) taking place on a Monday and in the month of Rabi ul-Awwal.  The hijra was not an event that took place randomly but rather based on a dream the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) had seen and then a specific permission being revealed by Allah (see Sahih Bukhari Volume 005, Book 058, Hadith Number 245).
Some of those who oppose showing joy in the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ask why importance is given to the birth only and not any other events, and they say that if the birthday was important than other days would also have been given significance. These narrations are a response to such arguments, because on the one hand, the day of the birth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was honored with other events on the same day and hence thereby the sharia not just gives them all specific significance but also multiples the significance of the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Secondly, when one rejoices on the birthday, one rejoices in all the events of his life by recalling all those events and teachings, increasing the acts of worship and so on in an encompassing way.

The black stone was raised on this day

Another important event that took place in the life of the Prophet  five years before his first revelation,  which is an event that takes an important space in all of the biography’s of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), was the raising of the Blackstone to the Kaaba.  This event too took place on his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) birthday:

Ibn `Abbas (rad.) said: “The Prophet – Allah bless and greet him – was born on al-Ithnayn; received Prophetship on al-Ithnayn; emigrated out of Mecca on al-Ithnayn; entered Madina on al-Ithnayn; died on al-Ithnayn; and raised the Black Stone to its place on al-Ithnayn(Monday).” [Musnad of Imam Ahmad, 1:277;  Qastallani, Mawahib, 1:143; Ibn Rajab, Lata’if al-Ma`arif]

The first mosque, Masjid al-Quba, was built on this month

Masjid al-Quba was built soon after the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) reached Medina after his emigration from Mecca. This is the mosque about which the Quranic verse  “In it are men who love to be purified” (Q 9:108) was revealed [see Abu Dawud].

Imam Muslim made a separate section called “Eminence of the mosque of Quba; and excellence of prayer in it” under which  is one of the narration shows the importance of this masjid:

 ‘Abdullah b. ‘Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) used to come to Quba’, i.e. (he came) on every Saturday, and he used to come riding or on foot. Ibn Dinar (another narrator) said that Ibn Umar used to do like this. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Whoever goes out until he comes to this mosque – meaning the Mosque of Quba’ – and prays there, that will be equivalent to ‘Umrah.” [Also, Ahmad; al-Nasaa’i; Ibn Majah]

The first Jumah prayer took place on this month

After resting in Quba, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then continued on the way to Medina, and than at the valley of Banu Salim, he performed the first Jumah Prayer.

Masjid an-Nabawi was built on this day

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then after entering Medina on a Monday built Masjid an-Nabawi, as related in the following long narration on Hijra reported in Sahih Bukhari (Volume 005, Book 058, Hadith Number 245):

“…Allah’s Apostle prayed in it (i.e., Masjid Quba) and then mounted his she-camel and proceeded on, accompanied by the people till his she-camel knelt down at (the place of) the Mosque of Allah’s Apostle at Medina. Some Muslims used to pray there in those days, and that place was a yard for drying dates belonging to Suhail and Sahl, the orphan boys who were under the guardianship of ‘Asad bin Zurara. When his she-camel knelt down, Allah’s Apostle said, “This place, Allah willing, will be our abiding place.” Allah’s Apostle then called the two boys and told them to suggest a price for that yard so that he might take it as a mosque. The two boys said, “No, but we will give it as a gift, O Allah’s Apostle!” Allah’s Apostle then built a mosque there. The Prophet himself started carrying unburnt bricks for its building and while doing so, he was saying “This load is better than the load of Khaibar, for it is more pious in the Sight of Allah and purer and better rewardable.” He was also saying, “O Allah! The actual reward is the reward in the Hereafter, so bestow Your Mercy on the Ansar and the Emigrants.” Thus the Prophet recited (by way of proverb) the poem of some Muslim poet whose name is unknown to me.”

Isra wal Miraj reportedly took place on this month

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his Lata’if al-Ma`arif mentions:  “As for Isra’, it was said that it took place in Rajab, but several scholars consider this position weak. It was said that Isra’ took place in Rabi` al-Awwal; this is the position of Ibrahim al-Harbi and others.

Conquest of Mecca took place on this day

The Muslim army entered Mecca on a Monday. [see Qastallani, Mawahib, 1:143; Fazlur Rehman,The Chronology of the Prophetic Events, p 72 ]

The gates of Paradise are open on this day

Yahya related to me from Malik from Suhayl ibn Abi Salih from his father from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The doors of the Garden are opened on Monday and Thursday. Every Muslim slave who does not associate anything with Allah is forgiven except for the man who has enmity between him and his brother. It is said, ‘Leave these two until they have made a reconciliation. Leave these two until they have made a reconciliation.'” – [Muwatta Book 047, Hadith Number 017. Also in Sahih Muslim Book 32, hadith 6222]

Note that the only other days which was described in similar terms of having the gates of Paradise open, is in the month of Ramadan : Narrated by Abu Huraira : Allah’s Apostle said, “When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of the (Hell) Fire are closed, and the devils are chained.” [Sahih Bukhari Volume 004, Book 054, Hadith Number 497.]

The deeds are presented on this day

Abu Huraim reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying, The deeds of people would be presented every week on two days, viz. monday and Thursday, and every believing servant would be granted pardon except the one in whose (heart) there is rancour against his brother and it would he said: Leave them and put them off until they are turned to reconciliation.  (Muslim, Book #032, Hadith #6224)

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم passed away on this day

Narrated Hisham’s father: Aisha said, “I went to Abu Bakr (during his fatal illness) and he asked me, ‘In how many garments was the Prophet shrouded?’ She replied, ‘In three Sahuliya pieces of white cloth of cotton, and there was neither a shirt nor a turban among them.’ Abu Bakr further asked her, ‘On which day did the Prophet die?’ She replied, ‘He died on monday.’ He asked, ‘What is today?’ She replied, ‘Today is monday.’ He added, ‘I hope I shall die sometime between this morning and tonight.’ [Sahih Bukhari Book #23, Hadith #469]

Imam Qastallani in commenting on this narration says:  “Why did Abu Bakr ask for his death to be on Monday? So that his death wouldcoincide with the day of the Prophet’s passing, in order to receive the blessing of that day…Does anyone object to Abu Bakr’s asking to pass away on that day for the sake of blessing? Then why are people objecting to celebrating or emphasizing the day of the Prophet’s birth in order to get blessing ?”

As for what some argue that since the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) passed away on this day than this day should be a day of mourning, then, firstly mourning (for more than 3 days after a death) is prohibited by shariah;  secondly,  the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is still alive and the passing away is only a bodily death while the soul of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) enters into the gardens of Paradise and hence there is happiness in this; thirdly, the death of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is an event recalled during mawlid events just as other events of his life; fourthly, in an authentic narration the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) described about himself  “My life is a great good for you: you will relate about me and it will be related to you. And my death is a great good for you, your actions will be presented to me and if I see goodness I will praise Allāh for it, and if see any evildoing I will ask forgiveness (of Allāh) for you”, and this narration also exists with another weaker chain whereby the text specifies the deeds would be presented on the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “And as for my departure from amongst you, it is a great good for you because your works will be shown to me every Monday and Thursday“. And finally the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, ‘The best of days on which the sun rises is the day of jumua. In it Adam was created, and in it he fell from the Garden. In it he was forgiven, and in it he died” (Muwatta Book 5 hadith 17),  and therefore we see the day of the death of Adam (عليه السلام) rather than decreasing any importance for the day was instead mentioned as the best of days. Then how much more the birth and death of the best and noblest of creations Sayyiduna Muhammed  صلى الله عليه وسلم ?

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2 comments

  1. Assalaamu ‘Alaykum

    Dear author,

    I’m Alhamdulillaah a Muqallid of Hanafi fiqh. I just want to know how were you confirmed that Rasulullaah’s صلى الله عليه وسلم birthday was indeed 12th of Rabi al-Awwal?

    Those references only mentions Monday as the esteemed birthday of Rasulullaah صلى الله عليه وسلم. But 12th of Rabi al-Awwal?

    Please provide evidences.

    1. Wa alaikum salam,

      It is the well known and relied opinion related by most scholars. In discussions scholars might have brought other dates and this is common among all issues that scholars relate many opinions on a subject. The scholars do not go on to conclude that some other date besides 12th Rabi al-Awwal was the birthday.

      GF Haddad said the following on this matter:

      “It is true that there are months other than Rabi` al-Awwal reported for the month of the blessed Prophetic Birth such as Safar, Rajab, Ramadan, and Rabi` al-Thani, cf. Ibn Rajab, “Lata’if” (p. 184) and al-Haytami, “al-Minah al-Makkiyya” (1:181); also, dates other than the 12th of Rabi` al-Awwal, such as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 17th, or 18th of that month. Nevertheless, the massive majority of the scholars (al-jumhur) have settled on Rabi` al-Awwal, and specifically on the 12th of Rabi` al-Awwal as the most famously established (mash-hur) date according to Ibn Rajab in “Lata’if al-Ma`arif“, the hadith master al-Salihi in his encyclopedia of all Siras, “Subul al-Huda wa al-Rashad fi Sirat Khayr al-`Ibad“, our teacher Dr. Nur al-Din `Itr in his Mawlid book, “al-Nafahat al `Itriyya fi Sirat Khayr al-Bariyya“, Dr. Muhammad Abu Shuhba in his 1,400-page “al-Sira al-Nabawiyya”, Dr. Sa`id Ramadan al-Buti in his “Fiqh al-Sira al-Nabawiyya”, and many others past and present scholars.”

      Secondly, the scholars nor anyone else have insisted that this specific date has to solely be chosen for a mawlid gathering. In practice mawlid gathering take place throughout the month and the days nearing the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal.

      Regards,

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