Is Mawlid Bid’ah?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Kind

Short Answer

Some classical scholars said Mawlid is Bid’ah Hasanah (a good Bid’ah). Therefore, it does not carry the sin of being an innovation. Rather, the Mawlid has been strongly encouraged by classical scholars.

عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنِ عَبْدٍ القَارِيِّ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ: خَرَجْتُ مَعَ عُمَرَ بْنِ الخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، لَيْلَةً فِي رَمَضَانَ إِلَى المَسْجِدِ، فَإِذَا النَّاسُ أَوْزَاعٌ مُتَفَرِّقُونَ، يُصَلِّي الرَّجُلُ لِنَفْسِهِ، وَيُصَلِّي الرَّجُلُ فَيُصَلِّي بِصَلاَتِهِ الرَّهْطُ، فَقَالَ عُمَرُ: «إِنِّي أَرَى لَوْ جَمَعْتُ هَؤُلاَءِ عَلَى قَارِئٍ وَاحِدٍ، لَكَانَ أَمْثَلَ» ثُمَّ عَزَمَ، فَجَمَعَهُمْ عَلَى أُبَيِّ بْنِ كَعْبٍ، ثُمَّ خَرَجْتُ مَعَهُ لَيْلَةً أُخْرَى، وَالنَّاسُ يُصَلُّونَ بِصَلاَةِ قَارِئِهِمْ، قَالَ عُمَرُ: «نِعْمَ البِدْعَةُ هَذِهِ، وَالَّتِي يَنَامُونَ عَنْهَا أَفْضَلُ مِنَ الَّتِي يَقُومُونَ» يُرِيدُ آخِرَ اللَّيْلِ وَكَانَ النَّاسُ يَقُومُونَ أَوَّلَهُ
Abd al-Rahman bin Abd al-Qari said, I went with Umar bin al-Khattab (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) one night in Ramadan to the Masjid and found the people praying in scattered groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a small group behind him. So, Umar said, ‘I think it would be best to gather these people with one Qari (Reciter).’ When he resolved to do so, he congregated them behind Ubay bin Ka’b. On another night I went with him (Umar), and the people were praying behind their reciter. Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent Bid’ah this is, but the prayer they sleep for, is better than the one they are standing for.’ He meant the prayer in the last part of the night, whilst the people were praying in the early part of the night. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2010).

It is important to have a general understanding regarding Bid’ah and its principles. However, one must recognise that it is a fairly complicated issue. Therefore, when it comes to a particular masalah (legal issue) we must return to the opinions of authoritative classical scholars and avoid oversimplifying complex legal matters.

Many scholars have differentiated between a reprehensible Bid’ah and a good Bid’ah. This differentiation is based on many proofs. Amongst them is the narration above, where Sayidina Umar (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) praises something whilst calling it Bid’ah.

وَمن أحسن مَا ابتدع فِي زَمَاننَا من هَذَا الْقَبِيل مَا كَانَ يفعل بِمَدِينَة اربل جبرها الله تَعَالَى كل عَام فِي الْيَوْم الْمُوَافق ليَوْم مولد النَّبِي صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم من الصَّدقَات وَالْمَعْرُوف واظهار الزِّينَة وَالسُّرُور فان ذَلِك مَعَ مَا فِيهِ من الاحسان الى الْفُقَرَاء مشْعر بمحبة النَّبِي صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم وتعظيمه وجلالته فِي قلب فَاعله وشكرا لله تَعَالَى على مَا من بِهِ من ايجاد رَسُوله الَّذِي أرْسلهُ رَحْمَة للْعَالمين صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم وعَلى جَمِيع الْمُرْسلين وَكَانَ أول من فعل ذَلِك بالموصل الشَّيْخ عمر بن مُحَمَّد الملا أحد الصَّالِحين الْمَشْهُورين وَبِه اقْتدى فِي ذَلِك صَاحب أربل وَغَيره رَحِمهم الله تَعَالَى. (الباعث على إنكار البدع والحوادث)
One of the best innovations in our time is what was practised in the city of Erbil, may Allah (Most High) bless it. Every year, on the day coinciding with the Prophet’s ﷺ day of birth, charity, good deeds, exhibiting beauty and joy was practiced. These actions do not only include helping the poor but also expresses love and veneration for the Prophet ﷺ in the hearts of those who are celebrating. And also, gratitude to Allah (Most High) for His blessing of creating His Messenger ﷺ, the one who He (Most High) sent as a Mercy to the worlds, peace and blessings be upon him and all of the Messengers. The first person to establish this practise in Mawsil was Shaykh Umar bin Muhammad al-Mula, one of the renowned people of piety. The leader of Erbil and others followed him in this. (Imam Abu Shaamah, al-Baith ala Inkaar al-Bid’ah). 

In the Nass (text) above, we find Imam Abu Shaamah referring to the Mowlid as ‘One of the best innovations in our time.’ So, there is no doubt that his answer to the question – ‘Is Mawlid Bidah?’ – would be that it is a good Bidah.

Other classical scholars did refer to the Mawlid as Bidah Hasanah too. However, some did not call it Bidah, rather they encouraged it as an act of piety without considering it a Bidah Hasanah. I am more inclined towards this approach, since the Mawlid celebrated correctly does not contain anything new, so there is no need to consider it a Bidah Hasanah.

There are many people in our time that do consider the Mawlid to be a reprehensible Bidah (innovation). This view does seem to contradict the classical scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah. However, it is not correct to deem such people to be outside the realms of Ahl al-Sunnah.

The early works of Sunni creed (Aqeedah) did not consider believing in the permissibility of the Mawlid to be a requirement for Sunnism. Therefore, it is not correct to insist upon it now. Rather we should dialogue with those who disagree with the Mawlid. If they reconsider then that is what we seek. If they do not, then we will agree to disagree and move on.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (02.02.24)