By DIDMAR FAJA
Every Muslim believer should feel joy and happiness for the coming of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in this world. Also, gatherings in which the Prophet (pbuh) is cherished and gratitude to God is expressed for sending His beloved Prophet to us are indeed valuable gatherings.
These gatherings or mawlid (s) in which the Prophet (pbuh) is remembered are often regarded as bad innovations by some who may be very limited in understanding the Quran and the Sunnah. Their refutation usually consists of statements like, “If the Prophet did not gather for such occasions, we should not gather either.” According to them, this and other “bad innovations” will lead one astray from the path of God, Islam. This short article intends to refute such statements by concentrating only on one of the verses of the Quran and one authentic hadith, with a balanced commentary, supporting mawlid gatherings.
The joy that every believer must experience by the coming of the Prophet in this world is stated by the Almighty God in His Quran with these words, Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice…” (Q. 10:58) Even though different meanings are given to the word “bounty” and “mercy” by the Quran commentators (mufassirīn), there is an exceptional connotation of these words given by the prodigious commentator of the Quran, the companion and the cousin of the Prophet, Abdullah Ibn Abbas (r.a.) where he states that “bounty” stands for knowledge and “mercy” stands for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He also elaborates this finding by mentioning the other corresponding verse from the Quran in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is described as a Mercy to the worlds. “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds” (Q.21:107). [Jalāl al-Dīn Ṣuyūṭī, Al-Durr Al-Manthūr Fī Tafsīr Bil-Ma’thūr, Markaz Hijr lil Buhuth wa al-Dirasat al-Arabiyyah wa al-Islamiyyah, Cairo, 2003, vol. 7, pg. 668.]
According to this commentary, Muslim believers must feel the joy for the Prophet’s coming into this world. This joy can be expressed differently by Muslim believers. The beloved Prophet of God has instructed Muslims to pray for him by imploring God’s blessings and mercy upon him. He has also advised them to fast on Mondays because he came into this world on a Monday. These are all ways of expressing love and joy for his coming into this world. Nonetheless, he approved other means of expression of joy, as long as those means did not invalidate the Islamic ethics and guidelines. The following hadith will elaborate more on the acceptability of such means.
Abū Saīd al-Khuḍrī (r.a.), Prophet Muhammad’s companion mentioned, “Muāwiyah (r.a.) said, “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) went out to a circle – meaning, of his companions – and said, “What are you doing? They said, “We have come together to pray to Allah and praise Him for guiding us to His religion, and blessing us with you.” He said, “I ask you, by Allah, is that the only reason?” They said, “By Allah, we have not come together for any other reason. He said, “I am not asking you to swear an oath because of any suspicion; rather (angel) Jibrīl came to me and told me that Allah, the Mighty and Sublime is boasting of you to the angels.” [This is an authentic (ṣaḥīḥ) hadith narrated by Imam Bayhaqī in his book, Shu’ab al-Īmān, Maktabah al-Rushd, Riyad, 2003, vol. 2. pg. 70. Imam Ṭabarānī also recorded this in his Mu’jam, and so did Imam Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ahmad, and other hadith collectors with a sound chain of narration (may God show mercy to them all)].
This hadith clearly states the intention of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh). They have gathered to praise God for two reasons: The first reason is for guiding them to Islam and the second reason is for blessing them with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This particular gathering of theirs appears to be a non-mandatory and non-instructed gathering. Instead, it is a joint effort based on the individual’s choice to express their joy to God for sending them the Prophet (pbuh). The Messenger of God embraced them and confirmed God’s approval and contentment on their favorable action. Therefore, gatherings or mawlid (s) of praising God, remembering His beloved and praying for him are indeed gratifying expressions of joy for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who is described in the Quran as: “Mercy for the Worlds.” Any attempting that suppresses or illegitimate the Muslims’ acceptable joyful expression for their Messenger of God is not embedded in Islam’s broad horizons and must be rejected.
May the peace and mercy of God be upon Prophet Muhammad, his beloved family, and his honorable companions.