To mention the biographical anecdotes of the Prophet’s sacred life is a source of great blessing and fortune. To talk about no one’s biographical sketches who lived or is living in this world is so praiseworthy and rewarding as to talk about the Holy Prophet’s sacred life. Notwithstanding this, we have begun to mention in these gatherings of the Prophet’s birthday celebrations unauthentic and baseless anecdotes. So we do not reap the true reward and benefit from these birthday gatherings.
1. Restricting the remembrance of the Prophet to few particular days or a month
One of the serious mistakes we commit on this auspicious occasion is that we have confined these speeches, addresses, or the celebration exclusively to the month of Rabi ul Awal and that too only to one day and only to a few hours of that day. We think that by so doing we have done full justice to the discourse about the Prophet’s sacred “Seerat” (biography). This is indeed a great rather the greatest, injustice to the Holy Prophet’s biography.
We find the no traces of such trends in the lives of the Noble Companions (R.A) of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. You will also not. get a single occasion in their lives on which they ever celebrated the twelfth day of the month of Rabi ul Awal or held special gatherings this month to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday. On the other hand, every moment of their life reflected a remembrance of the Prophet’s beautiful biography. Whenever two Companions (R.A) met, they talked about the Prophet’s Ahadith, his teachings, and different events and aspects of his ﷺ sacred life. In this way, every gathering or meeting of the Noble Companions (R.A) was a meeting of discussion on the Prophet’s biography. As such, they did not require any formal celebration or procession in the name of the birthday of the Prophet ﷺ to express the love of, and attachment they had with, the Holy Prophet ﷺ not a single instance of such showy and formal activities can be produced from the times of the Noble Companions (R.A) the Tabieen and their followers.
Islam is not the Faith of formalities
In fact it was not the practice of the Noble Companions (R.A) to indulge in formal and showy processions and celebrations. They had imbibed the very spirit of the Sunnah and the practices of the Prophet’s sacred life. They always tried to understand why the Holy Prophet ﷺ had come to this world, what were his mission and teachings and what he ﷺ expected from the world concerning his mission. The Noble Companions (R.A) had devoted their entire lives to reflect on, and promotion of, such ideals concerning the Faith; they were not after such formal, empty, and showy celebrations and processions which we have borrowed from the non-Muslims, like Christians and Hindus. We invented the festival of celebrating the Prophet’s birthday in blind imitation of these infidel nations living around us who celebrate the birthdays and death anniversaries of their prominent leaders. We fail to consider that these so-called leaders of the infidels did not possess lives worthy of being followed; they were only either political leaders or leaders in some other field of worldly activities. These leaders were not, in general, men to be emulated on account of some moral-spiritual or religious distinction.
As for the Holy Prophet ﷺ, the very divine intention of sending him to this world was that he ﷺ should present a perfect practical model for the entire humanity, so that men may follow his way of life and try to mold their own lives on the pattern available in the Holy Prophet’s Sunnah. Every moment of his life is a valuable example for us to follow. As Muslims, it is binding on all of us to imitate the Prophet’s life to the best of our abilities. The Holy Prophet ﷺ should not be compared to any other leader of the world in memory of whom a particular day relating to his life is celebrated and the matter ends there. Every day of our lives is a day to celebrate the memory of the Prophet’s life concerning everything we do or say, Allah, sent him~ to this world to serve as a complete model till the Day of Judgment.
2. Wrong Intensions
It is true that Seerah (biographical) meetings are held from place to place and speeches are delivered therein about the sacred life and practices of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. However good and appreciable this action may be in itself, it will not produce the desired effect in the heart of the doer of that action unless he is true and sincere in his intention. If the action is not based on sincere intentions it is fruitless. At times such actions may become harmful and even sinful. For example, how highly dignified is the prayer! It is an act of worship of Almighty Allah. The Qur’an and the Ahadith are full of its virtues and importance, this dignified worship goes waste if anyone does it only to show it to the people, so that they may regard him as a very pious and righteous man. It is not only useless, but it is possible that such worship may attract punishment instead of a reward. It is said in a Hadith:
من صلی یرائی فقد أشرک باللہ
This means He who prays only to show his praying to the people, commits the grievous sin of attributing a partner to Allah.
This is quite obvious because he is not praying to please Allah, but he is praying to please the people and to impress upon them that he is a pious and righteous man. It is just as if he has made someone a partner in the Divinity of Allah. An action so virtuous and elevated as prayer became sin for want of sincerity of intention.
The same applies to those who arrange and take part in assemblies held for having discourses and speeches on the sacred life of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. It is no doubt an act of great virtue and reward which may produce revolutionary results if such assemblies are arranged and attention in right earnest and, true intention, the sincerity of purpose, and warmth of faith. If there is a man or a group that participates in Seerah (Biography of the Prophet ﷺ) Assemblies and processions, devoid of sincere intentions but prompted only by some hidden, worldly purposes and not in honor of and obedience to him ﷺ in whose sacred name these celebrations are being staged, then all this is a bad bargain. To all appearances, these activities are very righteous deeds, but in reality, they are sins incurring Allah’s wrath and punishment.
If we review our attitude and activities from this angle of vision to find if the gatherings we are holding and the celebrations we are staging on the twelfth of Rabi ul Awal are to please Allah and follow the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and to make his teachings the guiding light of our lives, the result will be disappointing. There may be a few sincere persons attending these functions to reform their lives, but on the whole, the intention of holding these glamorous shows is something else. Some local groups usually arrange for purposes other -than religion. There may be a group participating in these celebrations, so that people may praise the grandeur illumination and the number of the audience, the number of the speakers taking part and their formal high worded, well-prepared speeches eliciting applause from the listeners. At places, assemblies may be held to gain some political advantage or some sectarian attainment, not possible to attain it through open and direct approaches to the public. The general practice on such occasions is to open the meetings with a few words devoted to the topic of the prophet’s ﷺ biography than to shoot, accusations and charges against the rival parties or sects in cleverly concealed words. These assemblies are held, in general, for such irreligious and mundane purposes.
3. The functions are attended to please the friends
The form and method of these celebrations would have been totally different had they been intended to sincerely seek guidance from them. These birthday celebrations take the form of private functions in which invitation cards are issued and displeasure is expressed against those who do not attend the: functions held in the name of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Those attending these functions do not do so out of love for the Prophet ﷺ, but they participate in such functions only to avoid resentment and complains of the patrons of the function arranged to please men and the society and not Allah and His Prophet ﷺ.
4. Enjoying the oratory and force of the orator’s speeches
Sometimes a person attends this function to enjoy the exciting speech of a famous speaker because he is renowned for his firry and thrilling speeches. In short, this gentleman is going to attend the birthday Assembly only to satisfy his lust for enjoying the sophisticated, well-studied speeches and not to take any useful lessons from the sacred life of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
5. Just to while away spare time
Some people attend seerah assemblies for no purpose other than whiling away their spare time in listening to speeches, enjoying the lights and decoration, and thus having a good time. It is obvious that a good number of men attending these auspicious assemblies have no special interest in listening to the speeches and learning lesson from the sacred sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ projected in these assemblies. They attend them, as mentioned above, to satisfy their own desires. Although even while attending, these gatherings, in such a carefree and amusing mood, a man may be moved by some word or point and his life may be reformed, yet this happens in very exceptional cases. People, in general, do not participate in the gatherings with sincere intention to learn lessons from the life of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
6. Benefits are not derived from Seerat e Tayyebah
The Holy Qur’an declares:
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ
You have a beautiful model in the Prophet ﷺ of Allah. (3321)
In the light of this Qur’anic verse, it may be emphasized that the Prophet’s sacred life is a beacon of light, a message of guidance, and a complete, flawless model. It is, however, a beautiful model only for such people as a desire to please Almighty Allah, have an unflinching belief in the Hereafter, and want to ameliorate their Hereafter, and are busy most often with the remembrance of Allah. So the Prophet’s life is a message of guidance only for those who are endowed with these attributes and qualities. There is no guarantee that the Prophet’s life will prove a guiding light also for those who are devoid of these qualities, particularly, belief in the Hereafter and a desire to reform and beautify it. The light of the Prophet shone brightly even before Abu JahI and Abu Lahab, but they could not receive any benefit from that light.
باراں کہ در لطافت طبعش خلاف نیست
در باغ لالہ روید و در شورہ بوم وخس
This Persian couplet means: The rain-water has the same refreshing and reviving properties, but in the gardens, it brings out the beautiful crimson tulip flowers but it brings out the useless, thorny shrubs in the saline, barren lands.
The meaning of this couplet applies with equal force to these two wretched infidels into whose hearts the light of the Prophet’s life could not penetrate, as they neither believed in, nor had them any desire to prepare for their Hereafter, nor to please Allah. What effect can the discourse about the sacred life of the Holy Prophet ﷺ have on such errant and hard-hearted persons?
Most often we are not sincere and true in our intentions in organizing these assemblies and the birthday celebrations. The result of all this is that no change for the better takes place in our lives even after listening. to thousands of speeches on the Prophet’s life and after attending thousands of gatherings held in the month of Rabi ul Awal in every nook and corner of the country. The temptation to commit sins and enjoy worldly pleasures is not at all eradicated or even reduced through these celebrations.
7. A Fun is being made of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ
Moreover, during these assemblies held on the subject of the Prophet’s life we indulge in activities which are totally opposed to the injunctions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. This is nothing but making fun of the Sunnah, the teachings, and the guidance of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. These are topics on which we are delivering, and listening to, and attending full-throated speeches, without paying any serious attention to them.
8. Seerat Assemblies and the violation of Purdah (Hijab)
It is an increasing practice in our society that male and female joint gatherings are held on the topic of Seerah. This is being done in flagrant violation of the command of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. The command lays down that if women have to offer prayer they should do this in their houses instead of going to the mosque. Even in the house women have been commanded to pray not in the courtyard, but in a room, rather in a separate small room. This is the command of the Holy Prophet ﷺ about Purdah, but in an assembly held to talk about his life and Sunnah men and women are present sides by side. None feels how fun is being made of the Seerah Assemblies. Women are participating in the assemblies along with men with glamorous make-up, in attractive dresses, and without Purdah.
9. Music in Seerah assemblies
The Holy Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said that one of the important duties for the sake of which he ﷺ was sent to this world was the total eradication of music and the forms of musical instruments. What an irony of fate it is that meetings are held in the name of seerah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ in which his praise “Naat” is sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments along with Qawwali “Shareef” (a so-called special musical performance of the mystics). This Qawwali is called “Shareef” meaning pious. No difference is made between the songs sung in praise of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and song on otherworldly themes. What a greater fun one can make of the sacred, theme of the Holy Prophet ﷺ! More than this, both men and women are taking part in the Radio and Television Seerah programs together with female partners with highly attractive make-up, showy attires, and without Purdah. Is she not the same woman about whom the Qur’an has said?
وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ
That is, do not display your features (before men) as you used to display in the early days of Ignorance.
What a greater wrong and disrespect can be done to the pious Nat (praise) and Seerah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ that such ornately prepared women are taking part in these Seerah celebrations by delivering speeches and singing Naat along with males. You are in a great delusion if you think that this behavior and conduct on your part will attract Allah’s mercy. You are trying to efface the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ to violate his teachings and ridiculing his sacred Seerah. These are sins that can invite-only Allah’s wrath and punishment. While holding the Seerah meetings and making speeches on his Sunnah, we flagrantly violate and disobey the Prophet’s teachings. May Allah guide us.on to the right path.
10. Missing Prayers during Seerah Assemblies
In the beginning, only some rules of the Shariah were violated during participation in these Seerah gatherings and none minded this, but with the passage of time, things have gone too far. People involved in managing these gatherings and listening to the speeches delivered therein forget to offer their prayers and miss them quite frequently. These gatherings with their programs continue till two O’clock in the night and the Fajr prayer is missed deliberately. The injunctions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ about the importance of prayer are violated, although he ﷺ has emphasized in his injunctions that if a man who misses his one ‘Asr prayer is like one who loses all his property and all the members of his family: What a tremendous loss indeed! How strange it is that we are busy with an apparently sacred program concerning the Holy Prophet’s life and at the same time we are freely violating his ﷺ imperative command regarding the protection and preservation of the obligatory Prayers!
11. Disturbing the Muslims through Seerah Gatherings
The Seerah programs are in progress with only about two or three dozens of participants but a very big loudspeaker has been installed which is transmitting the speeches of the speakers at its full volume disturbing all living in the surrounding area. This means that no sick, old or disabled person in the area can sleep as long as the programs are going on. Was this the pious conduct’ of the Holy Prophet ﷺ?
When the Holy Prophet ﷺ got up at night for the Tahajjud prayer, as narrated by Hazrat ‘Ayeshah (R.A) he rose from his bedding very quietly, and opened the door also quietly, lest ‘Ayeshah (R.A) should be awakened from her sleep. As for the Holy Prophet’s behavior in an obligatory duty like the Prayer, he ﷺ is reported to have said: When I hear during prayer a child weeping I shorten the prayer, lest by hearing the child’s weeping his mother should be in distress. But look! What is being done in these Seerah celebrations? Such powerful loudspeakers are installed unnecessarily only for the sake of two to three dozen participants with the result that an old and sick person cannot sleep in his house peacefully. Those responsible for all this are ignorant of the fact that by so doing they are committing grievous and major sins because to cause distress to a Muslim is a major sin. Yet nobody is mindful of this serious situation. (Nsaee Book of ten women ….. Hadith no: 3963)
12. Taking out processions in imitation of others
All these activities prove that we are not true in our intentions – which are concentrated on something other than adopting and acting upon the teachings of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. As already mentioned, in the beginning, our activities are confined only to holding gatherings and meetings at various places. Crossing this limit we have now gone ahead to the extent of taking out processions on the plea that such and such sect takes out processions in remembrance of the name of its Imam in a particular month. Why should we, too, not take out processions in Rabi ul Awal in the name of our Prophet ﷺ? In other words, in taking out processions in the month of Rabi ul Awal we are imitating the sect that takes out processions in the month of Muharram. By so doing we are only deluding ourselves into the belief that we are following the commands of the Holy Prophet # and are doing full justice to hisﷺ dignity and honor.
Would the Holy Prophet ﷺ appreciate the processions, if he ﷺ was ever to see them which are being taken out in his name? Our Holy Prophet ﷺ has always taught this Ummah to refrain from such formal and showy processions and demonstrations. He ﷺ has commanded us that instead of hankering after showy, useless, and formal activities like these, we should resort to his sacred teachings and try to make them the guiding light of our lives. Nobody can point out a single instance from the pious lives of the Noble Companions (R.A) that they ever took out any procession in the month of Rabi ul Awal or any other month of the year in the name of the Prophet’s Seerah (biography). I at least have not come across even single evidence during the history of this entire period of thirteen centuries which may prove that anyone ever took out such a profession. It is, however, true that the Shia community takes out processions in the month of Muharram in the name of their Imams. We also become tempted to take out processions in the name of our Prophet ﷺ in imitation of the Shi as, in violation of this Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ:
من تشبہ بقوم فھو منھم
(Abu Dawood, Book garments … Hadith no: 4031)
A man who tries to make resemblance with any community becomes one of them.
It is a pity that we have not confined our activities to taking out only processions. We have gone too far beyond that. Now we are making images of the sacred Kaaba the sacred Rozah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ including the green dome. A large number of men, women, and children visit these images and touch them with their hands for blessing and ask for boons there and vow offerings for some need and the fulfillment of some desire. And all this is in the name of the sacred Seerah of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. The Holy Prophet ﷺ was sent to this world to efface from the surface of the earth, apostasy, idolatry, Bid ah, and ignorance, but today we have started all these innovations and sinful practices in the very name of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. The image of the mausoleum of the Holy Prophet ﷺ which you have made with your own hands has absolutely no virtue in it. Yet this false and artificial image is being touched and kissed for blessings. May Allah save us from this.
Hazrat Umar Farooq (R.A) and the Hajr-e-Aswad
At the time of Kissing the Black stone Hazrat Umar Farooq (R.A) said:
O Black Stone! I know that you are nothing more than a piece of stone. By Allah, I would never have kissed you, if I had not seen the Holy Prophet ﷺ kissing you. I am kissing you only because I have seen the Holy Prophet ﷺ kissing you and because this is his Sunnah. (Sahih Bukhari chapter on Hajj – Black stone, Hadith no: 1597)
This is what Hazrat Umar Farooq (R.A) said to the Black Stone, but here we have made with our own hands a Green Dome, and an image of the Kaaba which are regarded as a source of blessing and which are being kissed. This is reviving what the Holy Prophet ﷺ had uprooted. There is illumination, record-playing, musical entertainments, and enjoyment. Festivals are held in the name of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
This is an excuse for turning the Deen (Faith) into a play and sport, which Satan has taught us to do. I appeal to you to have, for Allah’s sake, mercy on your souls and do full justice to the dignity and honor of the Prophet’s seerah. The Prophet’s dignity and honor demand of us that we should try to mold our lives on the pattern of the Prophet’s sacred practice.
For the sake of Allah change this practice
How many people attend these meetings with the intention that they shall change their practices according to the Sunnah? If they are deviating fifty of the Prophetic Practices after listening to these sermons they shall correct at least ten of them. Is there a single soul who changed himself like this? They are, however always ready to devote their time, effort, and spend money to take out processions, stage festivals, erect arches, and arrange illuminations because they receive joy and satisfaction from such activities. On the other hand, neither the Self nor Satan are pleased with the real conduct and course of life shown by the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
I appeal, in the name of Allah, to relinquish this misconduct and disobedience and do full justice to the dignity and honor of the Holy Prophet ﷺ by strictly following his teachings. May Almighty Allah help us all to follow the straight path of his sunnah. Aameen.
Source: Islahi Khutbat, Vol 2, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
12 Rabi ul Awal: Celebration of Eid Milad un Nabi, Reality & Background, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, click on the link below: