Q: What is the truth about Milad? On the 12th of Rabi-Awwal Milad-un-Nabi is celebrated with great fanfare and Milad meetings are arranged. What is the ruling of Shariah regarding that?
A: The gatherings arranged to remember the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the mercy to the mankind, are called Milad gatherings. Remembering the life of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and teaching others about it, is an act of great blessing and virtue. However all good deeds have to be performed according to the rules and guidelines established by the Shariah. To exceed them is a grave sin. For example reciting the Qur'an is a great act of virtue, but it is prohibited to do so while one is in ruku or sujud in prayers. Likewise, Salat is one of the most important acts of worship. Yet, it is haram to perform it at sunrise or sunset.
Similarly, there are rules governing the blessed remembrance of the Sirah. For example, this remembrance must not be associated with a particular day or month; it should be considered equally virtuous during every month of the year, every week of the month, and every day of the week. Also it can take any permissible form. For example you can arrange a reading of an authentic book on Sirah or have a lecture delivered by a scholar. Doing that is not only permissible but it will bring great reward. But it is important to stay away from the evils found in the prevalent Milad gatherings. Here are some of those evils:
- A particular date (12 Rabi-Awwal) has been designated for this remembrance. There is no evidence supporting this designation during the time of Sahaba (Companions), the tabiyeen (the generation that followed the companions) or taba-tabiyeen (the next generation). This designation is bida'a (innovation).
- The element of showoff (riya) is commonly present in these gatherings.
- If someone does not attend these gatherings, he is looked down upon.
- Distribution of sweets is considered an indispensable part of the proceedings.
- To meet the expenses donations are collected from sometimes unwilling people who give money under social pressure. According to the hadith it is not permissible to take any Muslim's money without his willingness.
- Intermixing of men and women commonly takes place in these gatherings. People stay late at night in these meetings thereby missing the next morning's prayers.
- The focus of the talks delivered there is very limited. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has given guidance for every aspect of our life. These cover acts of worship, dealing with other people, morals and manners, social relationships, business dealings, etc. However, it has been observed that the prevalent Milad talks concentrate mainly or solely on the account of the birth of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his miracles. They do not attempt to cover the vast teachings of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. [Thus, not only the form of these meetings but also the message given by them is generally a distorted one. Translator.]
For these reasons one should refrain from the prevalent Milad gatherings. However if care is taken to avoid all of these evils and to follow the Shariah carefully, then a meeting organized to remember the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, with the sole purpose of seeking Allah's pleasure, will Insha-Allah be a blessed event. And Allah knows best.
Written: Muhammad Abdul Muntaqim Sylheti (Darul-Ifta, Darul-uloom Karachi)
Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani
Mufti Abdul Rauf Sakharvi
And many others.
Translated from Urdu by Khalid Baig.