All praise is for Allāh, and salutations and prayers are upon the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam)
This is a call to have a different type of “celebration” of the birth of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) this week…
The perennial dispute
The month of Rabīʿ al-Awwal each year brings with it the ancient argument surrounding celebrating the birthday (Mawlid or Mīlād) of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam); whether it is a blameworthy innovation or a permissible practice.
As is normally the case with many of these disputes, one group or another will likely consider it a core creedal issue; thus moving the argument from the realms of politely mannered academic discussions, into the realms of conflict and dispute, causing disunity among the Ummah. Furthermore, this inevitably leads to creedal allegiances being forged upon the results of these disputes and conflicts, often spilling over from the theological into the sectarian and political realms. And so, the issue of the Mawlid has become, for many, a pivotal defining point for declaring walā and barāʿa—of allegiance and disavowal.
This state of affairs is despite the fact that Allāh, the Exalted, has made “Islām” in its wider context itself His desired axis or criterion of defining one’s allegiance to others. He, glorified is He, divided people essentially into two clear camps without mention of any third:
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; they establish prayer and give zakāh, and they obey Allāh and His Messenger. Those—Allāh will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allāh is Exalted in Might and Wise.”
And He, the Exalted, said:
“It is He who created you, and among you is the disbeliever, and among you is the believer. And Allāh, of what you do, is Seeing.”
Without a doubt, both Islamic legislation and sound intellect confirms that that which both the Mawlid celebrators and non-celebrators agree upon is far greater, broader, and more important than that which they disagree upon. For all camps love and venerate the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) and Allāh, the Exalted, and all parties are free and far from intending to transgress the rights of Allāh and His Messenger. They simply disagree on the means of showing their love and adoration to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) and his Sunnah, and the boundaries and criteria allowed for expressing their love. So why, then, do we not look to the greatness of that which we agree upon and look at how small and relatively minor the things we disagree upon are?
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) laid down a great principle for judging others. He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) said in tempering people’s condemnation of a Muslim who commit a major sin: “Do not curse him, for indeed he loves Allāh and His Messenger.”
This year is different
Unlike previous years, where unfortunately some personalities on both sides go to extremes and may even join hands with open enemies of Islam against their brothers who differ with them on this issue, we have another debate. The childish actions of the French President Emmanuel Macron and his desperate colleagues, pandering to the worst racist and Islamophobic impulses of their society, have seen them encourage defamation and attacks on the personality of the Leader of Creation (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) to provoke and antagonise their already disenfranchised Muslim community as a scapegoat.
So this year we have another debate: how do we effectively respond to the attacks against the supreme station of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) from his jealous enemies?
The entire Muslim Ummah has responded in various ways, from boycotting French goods to statesmen issuing harsh rebukes. Politicians, activists, scholars and da’wah organisations have gone into overdrive in defending the Best of Creation (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) and calling out the desperate hypocrisy of the French state.
This reconfirms that we need to look at the disputes that we inherited from classical fiqh or aqīda debates differently, in light of the current challenges against the core of our aqīda: the personality and greatness of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam).
Make this an international week to reintroduce the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam)
This is why I propose that instead of debating over the means of celebrating the Prophet’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) birth, we do something more constructive and fruitful for propagation of his Sunnah. Let us spend this whole week, as an Ummah, reintroducing him to ourselves and the rest of the world. Let us reintroduce the Sunnah of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) to the world in a way which is desperately needed today, which might be different from previous centuries: a specific, tailored diagnosis. We need to utilise all available modern communications means in recognising and familiarising ourselves and others with his beauty, greatness, eminence, values, character, and achievements, in a contextualised way for today’s world, sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam.
The world today is in desperate need of recognising the Sunnah of the Prophet in building communities and nations. The world needs his Sunnah of laying the foundations for a just economic system. The world is in need of his Sunnah in nurturing and reforming people. We are in need of his Sunnah in a politics infused with ethics and morality, unlike that which is widespread today. We need to familiarise ourselves with his Sunnah in wartime and during peace. We need his Sunnah in creating curricula for education. We need to know his Sunnah in the preservation of the ecosystem, as stewards (khulafā) of the world, not dominators and exploiters. We need his Sunnah in law and order.
The list goes on, of the areas of this magnificent model (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) whose divinely-inspired guidance is there for the taking once again to cure the widespread injustices and disasters that have resulted from being far away from it over the last century or two.
“Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful.”
My dear respected brothers and sisters, we are in need of a complete project for the revival of the Ummah, and it is not possible for any nation to revive itself if it is busy squabbling amongst itself, disunited. Allāh, the Exalted, says:
“And obey Allāh and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allāh is with the patient.”
Some of these differences that we are always discussing have remained within our Ummah for centuries and they will not be removed with ease, so let us overlook them for the sake of fulfilling one of the great aims of the Sharīʿa—the centrality and glorification of Allāh and His guidance, for the flourishing once again of creatures on this earth and the next life.
And so, let us begin by joining the ranks of those who fall under the inclusive, broader understanding of the banner of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamāʿa—the people of the Prophetic way and community. With one condition: that they wish to be from those who act in order to be a part of the greater, worldwide Islamic project, which is to facilitate that the Word of Allāh and the Sunnah of His beloved Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhī wa sallam) are given their due right. And let us rather rearrange the map of conflict to be based upon this understanding.
And Allāh is the Granter of Success
 Al-Qur’ān 9:71
 Al-Qur’ān 64:2
 The complete hadith is found in Sahīh al-Bukhārī
 Al-Qur’ān 7:157
 Al-Qur’ān 8:46
Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom’s Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari’ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.