Critical Review of Gibril Haddad’s refutation of Mufti Taqi Usmani regarding Mawlid

By Muzzammil Husayn

This is the article critically reviewing various objections that Shaykh Gibril Haddad has brought up concerning an article regarding the Mawlid written by Mufti Taqi Usmani. We have used red as the colour of the text directly quoting Shaykh Haddad verbatim from his article as it appears on his website, livingislam.org. The article by Mufti Taqi can be found on the Albalagh.net website and is entitled; “Rabi’ul-Awwal”.

In reply to Mufti Taqi’s comment:

“Thus the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most significant and the most remarkable event in human history.”

Gibril Haddad says:

“This is a confession by Mufti Taqi `Usmani that the night of the Mawlid Sharif is of greater significance and merit than Laylat al-Qadr”

Mufti Taqi didn’t say this but said:
“the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most significant and the most remarkable event in human history.” Merit (fadilah) is one thing, which is not determined by ‘aql but nass, and significance and impact is another thing which can be measured by empirical tools of reasoning and history.

In reply to Mufti Taqi’s statement:

“Rabi’ul-Awwal is the most significant month in the Islamic history, because humanity has been blessed in this month by  the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam” 

Haddad strangely says:

“This is true, yet the author further down (item #17) annuls the benefit of his own statement by denying the validity of any specific day of that month as an appropriate or preferable date for celebrating Mawlid and goes so far as to condemn the choice of that date as a reprehensible innovation.”

This assumes just because a date is significant, this fact has no benefit if the date is not specified for celebration! Does this mean Haddad gives no significance to the Hijrah because he does not celebrate it? There are many events of history that were significant but we are not ordered to celebrate it, and nor do we – this does not annul the benefit of their significance. Rather to celebrate a particular date with the intention of acquiring the blessing of that day – when it has not been established – would be to accuse the Sahabah and Tabi’in of ignorance of that virtue and our superior knowledge, as it is not established any of them specified a particular day in Rabi’ al-Awwal for celebration or extra good deeds. And the Sahabah were the most earnest of people for goodness, so to establish a practice – the determinant reason for which was present in their time, in this case the virtue of the month/day – which the Sahabah did not do is precisely the definition of bid’ah, as stated by Hafiz Ibn Kathir: Under Qur’an 46:11 of his Tafsir, he says in no ambiguous terms: “As for the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah, they say about every action and statement not established from the Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them): it is bid’ah, because if it were good, they would have beaten us to it, because they did not leave a quality from the qualities of excellence except they hastened towards it.”

أما أهل السنة والجماعة، فيقولون في كل فعل وقول لم يثبت عن الصحابة رضي الله عنهم هو بدعة لأنه لو كان خيراً لسبقونا إِليه، لأنهم لم يتركوا خصلة من خصال الخير إِلا وقد بادروا إِليها

[Al-Shatibi and others put obvious conditions to this general rule as follows: that the determinant factor for such a good deed was present in the time of the Sahabah – which is found here – and the act is not merely a means to a greater objective but is taken as a religious recommendation and commendation in itself – as is clearly the case with Haddad here]

Surely the first ones to recognise the virtue of Rabi’ or a particular day thereof, and the excellence of increasing in acts of goodness therein, would have been the Sahabah? Since they missed it (!), it is bid’ah to specify a day for extra good deeds thinking it is more virtuous as it implies the Sahabah were ignorant of its virtue. For his proof, Haddad says:

“the night of the Mawlid Sharif is of greater significance and merit than Laylat al-Qadr which is the position of some of the Maliki Imams as cited by Abu al-`Abbas al-Wansharisi (d. 914) in his encyclopedia of Maliki fatwas titled _al-Mi`yar al-Mu`rab wa al-Jami` al-Mughrib fi Fatawa Ahl Ifriqya wa al-Andalus wa al-Maghrib (11:280-285)”

Remember, “some” normally means “more than one,” but this encyclopaedia only cites one person stating this view. Another example of Haddad’s dishonesty. Furthermore, one errant view is not a proof.

Haddad quotes a recent scholar who encourages inventing two new Eids in the year:

“The two nights of the distinguished noble birth and the magnificent Prophetic Ascension appear to be the very best of the nights of the world without hesitation nor doubt… and if this is the case then such as these two nights [MAWLID and MI`RAJ] deserve to be taken henceforth each as a recurring festival among other recurring festivals (`Eid min al-A`yad) and as a seasonal celebration (mawsim) among other seasonal celebrations devoted to good deeds and striving. Therefore those dates should be respected and venerated, the Book of Allah should be recited in them, and in their honor deeds should be performed that indicate joy and happiness at their immense merit as well as thankfulness to Allah Most High for His blessings and favors in them. This the Law in no way denies nor condemns, and no reprimand nor prohibition can be directed at those who perform this whatsoever”

Al-Shatibi al-Maliki while discussing the part of his definition of bid’ah that bid’ah is something that “rivals the Shari’ah,” he says:

“Meaning, it [i.e. bid’ah] resembles a method of the Shari’ah, although is in fact not so, rather is in conflict with it. An explanation of its [bid’ah’s] resemblance with it [Shari’ah], is from a number of perspectives…From them is sticking firmly to specified forms and ways, like dhikr in the form of congregation with one voice, and adopting the day of the birth of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as an ‘Id, and what resembles that.”

وقوله في الحد : ” تضاهي الشرعية ” ; يعني أنها تشابه الطريقة الشرعية من غير أن تكون في الحقيقة كذلك ، بل هي مضادة لها من أوجه متعددة :
منها : وضع الحدود; كالناذر للصيام قائما لا يقعد ، ضاحيا لا يستظل ، والاختصاص في الانقطاع للعبادة ، والاقتصار من المأكل والملبس على صنف دون صنف من غير علة .
ومنها : التزام الكيفيات والهيئات المعينة ، كالذكر بهيئة الاجتماع على صوت واحد ، واتخاذ يوم ولادة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عيدا ، وما أشبه ذلك

[although some may object that this conflicts with the dhikr-in-unison from the asghal of the Sufiyah, such dhikr is only allowed as a means to acquire the state of ihsan, and when it is only treated as a means and does not become widely regarded as a formal religious practice, it will not fall under the category of bid’ah.]

Hence, adopting that particular day as ‘id is precisely what al-Shatibi determined as bid’ah.

It is recorded in al-Mi’yar al-Mu’rib (7:102-3) that al-Shatibi was asked about bequeathing one third of one’s inheritance (the maximum that can be bequeathed) as a charitable donation to the mawlid, and he replied: “Bequeathing one third as a charitable donation to establish the night of mawlid of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace): it is known that establishing mawlid according to the way recognised amongst the people is an invented bid’ah, and every bid’ah is misguidance, so spending to establish a bid’ah is not permissible, and the will will not be effective, rather it is necessary for the Qadi to cancel it, and to return the one third to the heirs which they distribute amongst themselves – and may Allah curse those poor people (or it could mean: the Sufi “faqirs”) who seek such wills to be executed.”

الوصية بالثلث ليوقف على إقامة ليلة مولد النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم فمعلوم أن إقامة المولد على الوصف المعهود بين الناس بدعة محدثة و كل بدعة ضلالة فالإنفاق على إقامة البدعة لا يجوز و الوصية به غير نافذة بل يجب على القاضي فسخه و رد الثلث إلى الورثة يقتسمونه فيما بينهم و أبعد الله الفقراء الذين يطلبون إنفاذ مثل هذه الوصية

Notice, he says “according to the way recognised amongst the people,” indicating that it is this form that is bid’ah – i.e. treating it as an annual ‘id, saying it has virtue and thus deserves extra devotion which the Sahabah did not realise, taking it as a religious recommendation for that specific day etc. Of course, if “mawlid” means only recollecting the birth of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and expressing joy upon doing so without any of these restrictions, who can condemn that?

Mufti Taqi Usmani said:

“The dates of these two Eids do not correspond to the birthday of any of the outstanding persons of Islamic history, nor can their origin be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened in these dates.”

Gibril Haddad says in response:

“Secondly, it is patently false that the origin of the two `Eids cannot be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened on these dates as the books of Tafsir are replete with the story of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) with his son Isma`il (as) on the occasion of which was offered a huge ram as stated in the Holy Qur’an.”

Where is the proof that Ibrahim’s sacrifice happened on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah? It is clear that the reason for placing the date at that time was because that is the time of Hajj as said by Mufti Taqi, even if the sacrifice is to follow the Sunnah of Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam). Mufti Taqi is therefore correct that the date of the two ‘Ids cannot be attributed to the date of an event that happened on that day. This is why the udhiyah is not tied down to the particular day of ‘Id – it is permissible to perform the sacrifice on the day of ‘Id or a couple of days after. If it was the case that Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam) performed the sacrifice on that day and that is why ‘Id was ordained on that day, the sacrifice would not be allowed on the following two days. It seems it is a habit of Haddad to force a clearly false interpretation on a text and then attack a straw-man.

Regarding Mufti Taqi’s statement:

“The prophets of Allah are the persons of the highest status amongst all human beings. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them. Even the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, which was the most happy day for the whole mankind was never celebrated by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself, nor by his blessed Companions.”

Haddad says:

“As for the rest of the paragraph I am sorry to say it is a blatant lie, the Prophet expressly commemorated his own birthday – as did the early Umma in his wake – by fasting every Monday. He and they treated his birthday as the cause and driving factor (`illa) for this act of devotion as shown in the Sahih and as illustrated by the commentators of those narrations, among them Ibn Khuzayma and his student Ibn Hibban, each one of them in his Sahih. And this suffices as evidence for those endowed with sight.”

He accuses Mufti Taqi of lying (and I doubt he was really “sorry to say” that), whereas the facts he lists have nothing to do with what Mufti Taqi mentioned. Mufti Taqi is clearly referring to the annual birthday – i.e. the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal – that it was never observed or celebrated. The Monday fast is one method prescribed in the Sunnah for remembering the birth of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) – so why is this Sunnah method of observing this remembrance not emphasised but the yearly mawlid which was never practised in the formal way it is today?

The so-called “Wahhabi Misconception of Usul”

Mufti Taqi Usmani wrote:

“Had there been room in Islamic teachings for the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would have undoubtedly deserved it more than the birthday of any other person. But that is against the nature of Islamic teachings.”

In his reply, Gibril Haddad wrote:

“This is a Wahhabi misconception of Usul which was refuted notably by the Ghumari Shuyukh (see item #23), namely, that Tark (not doing something) is NOT a proof that something is condemned or that it is not praiseworthy, as the Prophet did not, in his lifetime, do absolutely everything that was praiseworthy or permissible. The same goes for the early generations. Rather, the criteria for judging if something belongs on the accepted side of Shari`a and is endorsable by the Sunna or not, is to evaluate it in the balance of the Qur’an and Sunna: whatever is confirmed by them is part of them and whatever violates them is rejected.”

Notice he describes the principle of leaving what the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) left a “Wahhabi misconception of Usul”. He also says the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the early generations did not do everything praiseworthy – and yet it is those who say they did do everything praiseworthy that are accused of denigrating them!

Ibn Kathir said: “As for the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jama’ah, they say with regards to every action and statement not established from the Companions: it is bid’ah, because had there been [any] good [besides what is established from them], they would have beat us to it, as they did not leave a trait from the good qualities, except they hastened to it.” (Tafsir ibn Kathir, p. 1703)

Shaykh Ahmad al-Sirhindi – the founder of Gibril Haddad’s tariqah – said: “We abstain from good bid’ah, even if its light is like the break of dawn, because bid’ah inevitably removes a sunnah. If one does something which he (upon him be peace) did not do, he is in opposition to him in this [practice], and if he did not do something that he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did do, that is also the case.” And he forbade verbalising the intention before Salah for this very reason. [The view of Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani has been discussed at great length in a previous post, which can be found at this link: Moulood and the Shariah ]

Also Shatibi discussed the issue of Tark in al-I’tisam [Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani in hismagnum opusFath al-Mulhim has quoted from al-Shatibi regarding the issue of tark (not doing something). The relevant pages from the mentioned book can be found at this link: http://tinyurl.com/dx5sp3x]. He explains that some (religious) things were left out even though their reasons were present – these are bid’ah; and some things were left out but their reasons were not present which should be assessed by the scholars based on the pricniples of the Shari’ah. The same was expressed by Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi [Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi’s discussion in Wa’azus Suroor can be found at this link: http://tinyurl.com/d5ayr3f]. Al-Shatibi then said: “Indeed, here, silence over the ruling of the performance of an act or leaving [it] when the factor demanding it is present, is [equivalent to] the consensus of all who are silent that there is no excess to what was, since if that [excess] was suitable according to the Shari’ah or permissible they would have done it, and they would be more deserving of comprehending it and beating [us] in practising it, because it is not correct that the legal cause was ineffective in the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the caliphs after him and then it came into effect . For this [reason] Malik said, ‘Do you believe people today are more desirous of good than those who have passed?’

The author of al-Hidayah probably the most widely-accepted and influential text on Hanafi fiqh says:

ولا يتنفل في المصلى قبل صلاة العيد ” لأن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لم يفعل ذلك مع حرصه على الصلاة ، ثم قيل الكراهة في المصلى خاصة ، وقيل فيه وفي غيره عامة لأنه صلى الله عليه وسلم لم يفعله

“One should not pray on the Musalla [of Id] before the Salat al-‘Id because the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not do that despite his enthusiasm for Salah. Moreover it was said the detestability was for the Musalla specifically, and it was said for the Musalla and other than it generally because he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not do it.”

Also the Maliki faqih Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Haffar (d. 811 H) said, echoing many of the points made by Mufti Taqi Usmani and supporting the so-called “Wahhabi misconception of Usul”:

وليلة المولد لم يكن السلف الصالح وهم أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والتابعون لهم يجتمعون فيها للعبادة، ولا يفعلون فيها زيادة على سائر ليالي السنة، لأن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يعظم إلا بالوجه الذي شرع فيه تعظيمه، وتعظيمه من أعظم القرب إلى الله، لكن يتقرب إلى الله جل جلاله بما شرع، والدليل على أن السلف الصالح لم يكونوا يزيدون فيها زيادة على سائر الليالي أنهم اختلفوا فيها، فقيل إنه صلى الله عليه وسلم ولد في رمضان وقيل في ربيع، واختلف في أي يوم ولد فيه على أربعة أقوال، فلو كانت تلك الليلة التي ولد في صبيحتها تحدث فيها عبادة بولادة خير الخلق صلى الله عليه وسلم، لكانت معلومة مشهورة لا يقع فيها اختلاف ولكن لم تشرع زيادة تعظيم …

ولو فتح هذا الباب لجاء قوم فقالوا يوم هجرته إلى المدينة يوم أعز الله فيه الإسلام فيجتمع فيه ويتعبد، ويقول آخرون الليلة التي أسري به فيها حصل له من الشرف ما لا يقدر قدره، فتحدث فيها عبادة، فلا يقف ذلك عند حد، والخير كله في إتباع السلف الصالح الذين اختارهم الله له، فما فعلوا فعلناه وما تركوا تركناه، فإذا تقرر هذا ظهر أن الاجتماع في تلك الليلة ليس بمطلوب شرعا، بل يؤمر بتركه

“The pious predecessors, that is the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the Successors, did not congregate for worship on the night of the mawlid, and they would not increase therein over the rest of the nights of the year, because the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is not glorified except in the manner in which his glorification has been established in the Shari’ah; and his glorification is from the greatest acts of nearness to Allah, but one should seek proximity to Allah with what has been legislated in the Shari’ah. The proof that the Salaf did not increase on that [night] more than the rest of the nights is that they differed over it; so it has been said he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was born in Ramadan and it has been said in Rabi’, and the day on which he was born has been disputed according to four different views. So if it was the case that on the night in the morning of which he was was born acts of worship were invented in it due to the birth of the best of creation (Allah bless him and grant him peace), it would have been specified and well-known containing no controversy. But increased glorification has not been legislated…If this door is opened, some people will say the day of Hijra is a day in which Allah honoured Islam so they would gather therein and increase in worship, and others will say in the night of Isra he attained immeasurable honour so they invent worship therein, and this will have no boundary. And all good is in following the Pious Salaf for which Allah has selected them; so whatever they do, we do and whatever they left we leave. When this is realised, it becomes clear gathering on this night is not legally required, rather one is ordered to leave it.” (Al-Mi’yar al-Mu’rib 7:99-100)

Were al-Shatibi, Imam Malik, al-Haffar, Ibn Kathir, al-Marghinani and Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani all following a “Wahhabi misconception of Usul”?

Celebrating Birthday’s is a Pagan Custom

Mufti Taqi Usmani writes:

In fact, commemorating the birth of a distinguished person has never been prescribed by any religion attributing itself to divine revelation. It was originally a custom prevalent in pagan communities only. Even Christmas, the famous Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ finds no mention in the Bible or in the early Christian writings.

Shaykh Gibril Haddad writes, in response to this:

Here we find three errors. First, and this is the gravest error, the author denies that the commemoration of the birth of a distinguished person was ever prescribed by any heavenly religion as if he never heard that the Prophet was ordered to dismount from the Buraq during Isra’ and pray at the spot where `Isa (as) was born precisely for that reason and no other. The narration goes, “Then he [Allah bless him and give him peace] reached a land where the palaces of al-Shaam became visible to him. Gibril said to him: ‘Alight and pray.’ He did so and remounted, then the Buraq continued his lightning flight and Gibril said: ‘Do you know where you prayed?’ He said no. Gibril said: ‘You prayed in Bayt Lahm, where `Isa ibn Maryam was born.’” Narrated as part of a longer hadith from Anas by al-Nasa’i with a sound chain and from Shaddad ibn Aws by al-Bayhaqi who declared it sound in Dala’il al-Nubuwwa (2:355-357), and by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir and al-Bazzar with a sound chain as indicated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa’id and Ibn Hajar in Mukhtasar Zawa’id Musnad al-Bazzar (1:90-91 #32). Secondly, the prescription of the commemoration of the birth of Christ *was* prescribed in the early Christian Church, even if its chronological proximity to the pagan commemoration of the winter solstice was co-opted by the political authorities as a means to recycle prevalent social customs in certain regions including those of pagan origins. Thirdly, what flimsier way to adduce evidence is there than to cite tampered Scriptural texts in order to infer or disinfer a Shari`a ruling?

I wished to analyse this quote of GF Haddad, as it offers us an example of where under greater scrutiny, it is he who is flimsy and, in fact, plain dishonest:

Narrated as part of a longer hadith from Anas by al-Nasa’i with a sound chain

Note, he does not mention who considered the chain of al-Nasa’i sound. Al-Nasa’i’s chain of narration contains two narrators that were criticised: Yazid ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Malik (d. 130 H) of whom al-‘Asqalani said “reliable, sometimes erring” (saduq rubama wahim) (Taqrib) and Ya’qub ibn Sufyan said “there is weakness in his hadith” (fi hadithihi lin), although other narrator-critics praised him; and Makhlad ibn Yazid (d. 193 H) of whom al-‘Asqalani said “reliable, he made errors” (saduq lahu awham) (Taqrib) although others praised him. Along with the slight weakness in the chain, there is nakarah(objectionability on the grounds of conflicting with stronger narrations) in it as mentioned by Ibn Kathir who mentions this narration in his Tafsir and says “in it is severe nakarah(objectionability) and gharabah (strangeness).”

عن أنس بن مالك، وفيها غرابة ونكارة جداً وهي في ” سنن النسائي ” المجتبى ولم أرها في الكبير، قال: حدثنا عمرو بن هشام

and from Shaddad ibn Aws by al-Bayhaqi who declared it sound in Dala’il al-Nubuwwa (2:355-357)

Although al-Bayhaqi declared it sound (despite the presence of a questionable narrator), Ibn Kathir said in his tafsir after mentioning this narration from al-Bayhaqi’s Dala’il:

“This hadith from Shaddad ibn Aws was narrated in its length by Imam Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Hatim in his Tafsir from his father from Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn al-‘Ala al-Zabidi with it. There is no doubt that this hadith, I mean the hadith narrated from Shaddad ibn Aws, contains parts, from which is what is sahih (authentic) as mentioned by al-Bayhaqi, and from which is what is rejected (munkar) like the prayer in Bayt Lahm (Bethlehem) and al-Siddiq’s asking about the description of Bayt al-Maqdis and other than that. Allah knows best”

وقد روى هذا الحديث عن شداد بن أوس بطوله الإمام أبو عبد الرحمن بن أبي حاتم في تفسيره عن أبيه عن إسحاق بن إبراهيم بن العلاء الزبيدي به، ولا شك أن هذا الحديث – أعني الحديث المروي عن شداد بن أوس – مشتمل على أشياء، منها ما هو صحيح كما ذكره البيهقي، ومنها ما هو منكر كالصلاة في بيت لحم، وسؤال الصديق عن نعت بيت المقدس، وغير ذلك، والله أعلم.

Ibn Kathir, therefore, considers the part about praying at Bayt Lahm – which is described as the birthplace of ‘Isa – rejected. The hadith from Shaddad only comes through the route of Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn al-‘Ala ibn Zibriq (d. 238) who was said to lie by Muhammad ibn ‘Awf (as mentioned in Taqrib) and al-‘Asqalani considered him “truthful with many errors” (saduq yahimu kathiran), while Shu’ayb Arna’ut said he is truthful but weak when narrating from ‘Amr ibn al-Harith and this particular hadith comes through this route; so, is weak.

Besides the weakness of its chain, the reason Ibn Kathir considered it munkar (rejected) is probably because of other narrations which clearly state Buraq took them straight to the Bayt al-Maqdis without any stops in the journey; one such narration is narrated by Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman from the Musnad Ahmad (38:356) with a sound (hasan) chain according to Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut [the narrators are the narrators of the two Sahihs besides ‘Asim ibn Bahdalah who is reliable], which states “we, Jibril and I, did not part from its back [i.e. Buraq’s] until I came to Bayt al-Maqdis.” Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah mentioned the narration of praying at Bayt Lahm in his Zad al-Ma’ad and said “it is unsound.”

The following is where Haddad was clearly dishonest:

and al-Bazzar with a sound chain as indicated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa’id

Al-Haythami in Majma’ al-Zawa’id says, after mentioning the narration of Shaddad ibn Aws: “Al-Bazzar and al-Tabrani in al-Kabir narrated it…In it is Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn al-‘Ala, considered trustworthy by Yahya ibn Ma’in and weakned by al-Nasa’i.”

رواه البزار والطبراني في الكبير ، إلا أن الطبراني قال فيه : ” قد أخذ صاحبك الفطرة ، وإنه لمهدي . وقال في وصف جهنم كيف وجدتها ؟ قال : مثل الحمة السخنة ” . وفيه إسحاق بن إبراهيم بن العلاء ، وثقه يحيى بن معين ، وضعفه النسائي

And this Haddad claims is an indication of its soundness from al-Haythami though he makes no such judgement.

and Ibn Hajar in Mukhtasar Zawa’id Musnad al-Bazzar (1:90-91 #32)

This conjunction suggests to the reader Ibn Hajar also indicated to the soundness of this report of Shaddad ibn Aws from al-Bazzar; however, al-‘Asqalani does not say it is sound at all in Mukhtasar Zawa’id Musnad al-Bazzar, and he himself says Ibn Zibriq (Ishaq ibn Ibrahim) one of the narrators of the chain “errs excessively.”

The important point to note about this narration is, therefore, the chains of narration are not without fault and Ibn Kathir deemed the prayer at Bayt Lahm munkar because of its contradiction with stronger reports which do not mention this and which state he went straight to Bayt al-Maqdis without pause. Gibril Haddad deceptively claimed Haythami and Asqalani indicated the chain is sound and he himself assessed the chain of Nasa’i to be sound without supporting this assertion. Furthermore, this can hardly be considered a prescription/order to commemorate (= remember) the birth of ‘Isa if the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when told to pray did not know where he was.

Secondly, the prescription of the commemoration of the birth of Christ *was* prescribed in the early Christian Church, even if its chronological proximity to the pagan commemoration of the winter solstice was co-opted by the political authorities as a means to recycle prevalent social customs in certain regions including those of pagan origins

In exact contradiction to this statement, the Catholic Encyclopaedia states: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the “birthdays” of the gods.” The Encyclopaedia goes on to mention that the first time it was celebrated was two centuries after Christ.

From this it is clear the early Church in fact scorned the celebration of birthdays and had no knowledge of the celebration of the birth of Christ. Based on this, Mufti Taqi’s claim, that revealed religions did not prescribe the celebration of birthdays and that this was prevalent only amongst pagans, holds true. And, it seems, Haddad’s assertion above, that the commemoration of the birth of Christ was prescribed in the early Church, is simply fabricated and has no basis in fact.

The Prophet and Observing Anniversaries

Mufti Taqi said:

“In original Islamic resources, also we cannot find any instruction about the celebration of birthdays or death anniversaries. Many Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, passed away during his life-time. His beloved wife Sayyidah Khadijah, Radi-Allahu anha, passed away in Makkah. His beloved uncle Sayyidna Hamzah, Radi-Allahu anhu was brutally slaughtered during the battle of Uhud. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, never observed their birthday or their death anniversaries, nor did he ever advise his followers to celebrate his own birthday in Rabi’ul-Awwal.”

GF Haddad responds:

The above again shows strange or rather tragic (for such a celebrated author) ignorance of the Sunna. We already established beyond doubt that the Prophet celebrated his birthday by fasting. As for death anniversaries, the Prophet definitely visited his wife and uncle’s graves on a regular basis as well as his mother’s. Al-Bayhaqi narrates that the Prophet used to visit the graveyard of the martyrs of Uhud annually and punctually – “`ala ra’si kulli hawl”. Al-Bayhaqi also narrated in Shu`ab al-Imaan (6:201 #7901) that the Prophet said: “Whoever visits the grave of his parents or the grave of one of them every Friday, he will be forgiven and [his name will] be written among the pious sons.” (Man zaara qabra abawayhi aw ahadihima fi kulli Jumu`ah, ghufira lahu wa kutiba barran). And he is without the shadow of a doubt the most pious of all pious sons. Also, al-Bazzar narrates that the Prophet visited the Jannat al-Ma`la graveyard in Makkah, where his dear wife Sayyidah Khadijah was buried and called the whole place a blessed graveyard: “Ni`ma al-Maqbarah Hadhihi.” Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq narrated with his chain from al-Hasan ibn `Ali that Fatima the daughter of the Prophet used to visit every Jumu`a the grave of her uncle Hamza ibn `Abd al-Muttalib – may Allah be well-pleased with all of them! – which she had marked with a rock in order to recognize it, and she used to pray and weep there as narrated by `Abd al-Razzaq in his Musannaf, al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan, al-Hakim in his Mustadrak and he declared its chain sahih, and Ibn `Abd al-Barr in al-Tamhid.

Firstly, Haddad’s proofs are irrelevant to Mufti Taqi’s statement. Mufti Taqi is referring to specifying the dates of the death or birth in the year to celebrate, as is the case with the mawlid. None of the examples in Haddad’s tirade prove this. If fasting on Mondays really is mawlid in the sense that is commonly understood, why not just fast on Mondays, and why does that not spring to mind when the word “mawlid” is used? Of course, Mufti Taqi is not condemning remembrance in general or visitation of graves in general. He himself says in the article under question: “The life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, no doubt, the most important source of guidance for all the Muslims, and every Muslim is under an obligation to learn and study the events of his life [i.e. including the birth], and to follow the practical example set by him in every sphere of life. The narration of his pious biography (the Seerah) in itself is a pious act, which invites the divine blessings, but the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah have not prescribed a particular time or method for it. This pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times [i.e. without restrictions].” Therefore, Haddad’s reply is of no consequence to Mufti Taqi’s original comment. But what it does reveal is his clear dishonesty:

Haddad wrote:

As for death anniversaries, the Prophet definitely visited his wife and uncle’s graves on a regular basis as well as his mother’s.” Note the use of the word “definitely” and “a regular basis.

Based on this a general reader would think that the authentic collections and hadiths [as he said “definitely”] prove that he time and time again visited the graves of his wife, mother and uncle. But there is no sound evidence for this. There is the famous narration in Sahih Muslim of visiting his mother – once – but not “on a regular basis.” As for his “proofs”:

Haddad wrote:

Al-Bayhaqi narrates that the Prophet used to visit the graveyard of the martyrs of Uhud annually and punctually – “`ala ra’si kulli hawl”.

He did not give any reference for al-Bayhaqi’s narration and I did not find it in the Ziyarat al-Qubur section of al-Sunan al-Kubra (Muhammad ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Ata ed. 4:127-35) It is found in Musannaf of ‘Abd al-Razzaq (Habib A’zami ed. no. 6716) but ‘Abd al-Razzaq’s shaykh is unknown (he says “from a man from the people of Madinah”) and the narration is a mursal of Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Taymi who met very few of the Sahabah, so his irsal is likely from another Tabi’i whose identity is unknown. The narration is, therefore, certainly weak, and cannot be the basis for a “definite” assertion that he visited his uncle Hamzah every year.

Haddad wrote:

Al-Bayhaqi also narrated in Shu`ab al-Imaan (6:201 #7901) that the Prophet said: “Whoever visits the grave of his parents or the grave of one of them every Friday, he will be forgiven and [his name will] be written among the pious sons.” (Man zaara qabra abawayhi aw ahadihima fi kulli Jumu`ah, ghufira lahu wa kutiba barran).

In the edition of Mukhtar Ahmad al-Nadwi, he explains the narration (also found in Tabrani’s Mu’jams) is mawdu’ or close to mawdu’ (al-Jami’ li Shu’ab al-Iman, 10:297-8, no. 7522) Thus his inference that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) visited his parents on every Friday (as he said: “he is without the shadow of a doubt the most pious of all pious sons”) based on such a weak narration is invalid.

Haddad wrote:

al-Bazzar narrates that the Prophet visited the Jannat al-Ma`la graveyard in Makkah, where his dear wife Sayyidah Khadijah was buried and called the whole place a blessed graveyard: “Ni`ma al-Maqbarah Hadhihi.”

I did not find this in the relevant sections of the Zawa’id of al-Bazzar by al-Haythami (Kashf al-Astar) or in Majma’ al-Zawa’id. Haddad’s statement therefore, that “the Prophet definitely visited his wife and uncle’s graves on a regular basis as well as his mother’s”, is a clear example of dishonesty.

Gibril Haddad quotes:

Comment [from Brother Ahmad I on msa-ec mail list, 11 July 2000]: The Ulama of Deoband celebrated their hundred years anniversary of Darul Uloom Deoband in which they called Indhira Ghandi who was dressed in a Sarrie. She was seated on the stage while hundreds of Ulama were seated on the ground. Was this Islamic? Early Muslims did not celebrate hundred years establishment of Islam which was far more important that the establishment of Darul Uloom Deoband. According to you, our Nabi (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) did not celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. If the Ulama-e-Deoband claim to be true followers of the Sunnah, why then did they celebrate the hundred year anniversary of Darul Uloom Deoband? Was this not a Bid`at?

Indira Gandhi was not invited to the Dar al-‘Ulum event. She came without invitation of her own accord and at the time she was prime minister [Mawlana Rab Nawaz discusses the issue of Indira Gandhi attending the event at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxZ0MY8QAOQ].

The hundred year conference would be a one-time event that is not confused with being part of religion. The formal annual mawlid, on the other hand, is taken as part of religion, and for some it is so integral that it defines who is a “Sunni” and who is not. This is therefore an example of qiyas ma’a al-fariq (an invalid analogy), as the Dar al-‘Ulum event is different in this important respect to the formal mawlid.

Gibril Haddad says:

Nor is his harping on “the example of Christmas” when referring to Muslims acceptable. One well-known contributor on the newsgroupsoc.religion.islam, `Abd al-Rahman Lomax, said in a thread titled “Re: Al-Mawled (6/7) : Even worse!” Date: 22 Sep 1996: “I remember my first ‘Eid al-Fitr, in Tucson. This was a largely student community, with a few older Muslims including professors at the University of Arizona at Tucson. My clearest memory is of the sub-teen daughters of some of these families getting up on the tables and dancing to the encouragement of nearly everyone, with drum music coming over the P.A. system. This was not mawlid, this was ‘Eid ul-Fitr! Times have changed. But it is not clear to me that the more sober ‘Eids I have seen in recent years are closer to the actual sunna than that first ‘Eid. I’ll leave it to someone else to cite the relevant hadith; suffice it to say that the Prophet did, it appears, encourage having *fun* on ‘Eid, and that dancing and at least some form of music were actually encouraged.” Following Mufti Taqi Usmani’s reasoning in the above paragraph, if enough “bad” displays such as the above had been witnessed on `Eid, then `Eid celebrations should have been banned, either in absolute terms or in temporary and local terms. But isolated incidents are never a proof in ruling for or against something.

This is an incorrect deduction, as Mufti Taqi Usmani’s reasoning applies to that which has no basis in the early generations, that is, the formal annual celebration of the mawlid. The ‘Id is an established celebration of Islam, so will not be banned based on sinful activities. The rule is as follows: “When a ruling wavers between Sunnah and innovation, avoidance of Sunnah is given priority. And that which wavers between obligatory and innovation, it should be practised with caution.”

The Usul of Bid’ah and the Salaf

Mufti Taqi said:

“The Holy Qur’an has clearly pronounced on the occasion of the last Hajj of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: “Today, I have completed the teachings of your religion.” [Al-Maida 5:3] It means that all the teachings of Islam were communicated to the Muslims through the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. No one is allowed after it to add any thing to them as a part of religion. What was not a part of religion during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, can never become part of it. Such additions are termed by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as Bid’ah or innovation.”

Gibril Haddad commented:

“Comment: This is the weakest paragraph in the entire fatwa as it is entirely borrowed from the Wahhabi conception of bid`a, which violates the principles and methods of the Jumhur of Sunni `Ulema as to what constitutes bid`a and what does not. The Ulema have clarified this major methodological innovation in many useful publications which we have summarized elsewhere and there is no space nor need to reproduce this material here. Suffice it here to quote the words of Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki – Allah keep him and all our impeccable Ulema and true Teachers – in one of his fatwas on Mawlid: “There is no doubt that such singing, dancing, reciting of poetry, and banging the drum [as narrated in the authentic Sunna] was for joy at being with the Prophet , nor did he condemn nor frown upon such displays in any way whatsoever. These are common displays of happiness and lawful merriment, and similarly to stand up at the mention of the birth of the Prophet is an ordinary act that shows love and gladness symbolizing the joy of creation: it does not constitute worship, nor law, nor Sunna!” It is also ironic that the verse they quote: { This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you} (5:3) was revealed on a Monday, the day of his Mawlid – Allah bless and greet him and his Family – according to some reports narrated by Ibn `Asakir as mentioned by al-Salihi in _Subul al-Huda_ (1:401).”

I will first address Haddad’s “ignorance of the Sunnah” (which he unduly accused Mufti Taqi of as shown above). He refers to a report that the verse (5:3) was revealed on a Monday,and yet ignores the well-known narration found in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that the verse was revealed on a Friday on the Day of ‘Arafah! Yet, Haddad quotes this little-known narration that contradicts the accepted narration to make an invalid point. The established and authentic narration in Arabic is as follows:

أن رجلا من اليهود قال له يا أمير المؤمنين آية في كتابكم تقرءونها لو علينا معشر اليهود نزلت لاتخذنا ذلك اليوم عيدا قال أي آية قال اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا قال عمر قد عرفنا ذلك اليوم والمكان الذي نزلت فيه على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وهو قائم بعرفة يوم جمعة

Next, Haddad says:

“This is the weakest paragraph in the entire fatwa as it is entirely borrowed from the Wahhabi conception of bid`a.”

It is in fact borrowed from the attitude of the early Salaf towards innovations, the explicit statements of Imam Malik to this effect and his muqallids, Ibn Waddah, al-Turtushi, and others, in particular al-Shatibi, and the statements of other pre-Wahhabi scholars and revivers.

Al-Shatibi quotes Ibn Habib al-Maliki: Ibn al-Majishun narrated to me: that he heard Malik say: “Whoever innovates in this ummah anything which its predecessors [i.e. the Sahabah] were not upon, then he has claimed that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) betrayed the messengership, because Allah says: ‘This day have I perfected for you your religion, and I have completed My favour upon you, and I am pleased with Islam as your religion.’ (5:3) So whatever was not religion then is not religion today.” (Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi (d. 790), al-I’tisam, Mashhur ibn Hasan Al Salman ed. 2:306-7)

قال : وقد حدثني ابن الماجشون : أنه سمع مالكا يقول : من أحدث في هذه الأمة شيئا لم يكن عليه سلفها ؛ فقد زعم أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خان الرسالة ؛ لأن الله يقول : اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا ، فما لم يكن يومئذ دينا ؛ فلا يكون اليوم دينا

Similarly, the same Ibn al-Majishun reported from Imam Malik: “Whoever innovates an innovation in Islam, believing it to be good, then he has claimed Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) betrayed the messengership, because Allah says: ‘This day have I perfected for you your religion, and I have completed My favour upon you, and I am pleased with Islam as your religion.’ (5:3) So whatever was not religion on that day, is not religion today.” (ibid. 1:62)

من ابتدع فى الاسلام بدعة يراها حسنة فقد زعم أن محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم خان الرسالة الخ

In the same way, Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani Imam al-Sirhindi wrote: “From where do they judge that bid’ah, newly-invented in the perfect religion and the desired Islam [an allusion to Qur’an 5:3], is good after the perfection of the blessing [of Islam]?” (Al-Maktubat Vol 2, Letter 20)

It is therefore untrue that Mufti Taqi Usmani borrowed this principle from the “Wahhabis.” ‘Allamah Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri gave several sources from where the Deobandi elders acquired their strong opposition to bid’ah, and none of those sources are “Wahhabi”. He wrote: “Bid’ah is that which is not found in the Book, the Sunnah and the ijtihad of a mujtahid whose ijtihad is accepted. Moreover, if it is from that which is not confused with matters of the Shari’ah like a groom riding on a horse on the day of his marriage, this is not bid’ah although the matter may be futile (laghw); and if it is from that which is confused with matters of the Shari’ah like [specifying] the third and fortieth [day for reciting the Qur’an] after the death of a deceased individual, this is a bid’ah. [Several] works have been compiled on the refutation of bid’ahs. From the works of the Malikis is Ibn al-Hajj’s Madkhal and from the Hanbalis are the works of Ibn Taymiyyah who was the standard bearer in refuting bid’ah and from the Hanafis is [Ahmad al-Rumi’s] Majalis al-Abrar and some of the works of ‘Allamah Qasim ibn Qutlubugha. And the pithiest and greatest [work] to know the foundations of refuting bid’ahs is al-I’tisam bi l-Kitabi wa l-Sunnah by al-Shatibi the Maliki in two volumes.” (Al-’Arf al-Shadhi, vol. 4, pp. 135-6)

Regarding Shaykh Muhammad al-‘Alawi al-Maliki, he clearly says that the mawlid celebration is a “customary” (‘adi) matter, and when it is so, and not taken as part of religion, no one can claim it is innovation in religion. However Mufti Taqi pointed out in his response to him that this is not a distinction the common Muslims make:

‘Alawi al-Maliki wrote:

“Gathering for the purpose of the noble prophetic birth is nothing but a customary practice, and is not at all part of worship, and this is what we believe and take as our religion before Allah Most High.” Then he said: “We announce that specifying one night besides another for this gathering is the greatest estrangement from the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace).”

Mufti Taqi replies:

“There is no doubt that commemorating the noble Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and describing his biography is from the greatest of blessings and the most virtuous of fortunes when it is not restricted to a day or date, nor is the belief of worship associated with it in gathering on a particular day in a particular form.Thus, gathering to commemorate the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with these conditions is in essence permissible, not deserving condemnation or blame.

“However, there is another approach adopted by many verifying and scrupulous scholars, which is that this gathering, although permissible in reality, many people believe it is from the objective acts of worship or from the religious obligations, and they specify for it specific days, along with what some of them mix with it of weak beliefs and illegal practices. Moreover, it is difficult for the general people to observe the subtle differences between custom and worship [i.e. religion]. Hence, if these scholars, by observing these matters, the importance of which cannot be denied, chose to prevent such gatherings, observing the principle of “blocking the means,” and recognising that repelling harms is favoured over attaining benefit, then they are holding firmly to proofs of the Shari‘ah, and thus do not deserve condemnation or blame. The course in these matters is like the course in matters which are open to ijtihadi difference, every man encouraging and giving fatwa according to what he believes to be true, and adopts the religion of Allah according to it, and at the same time not shooting the arrows of criticism at another mujtahid who holds an opposing view.”

(Mufti Taqi and Mufti Rafi’, taqriz of Mafahim)

History and Origin of the Mawlid

Mufti Taqi said:

“It was after many centuries [Albalagh Note: According to Maulana Yusuf Ludhinavi it was in the year 604 A.H.] that some monarchs started observing the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, without a sound religious basis, and the congregations in the name of Maulood or Milad were held where the history of the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to be narrated.”

I will address GF Haddad’s reply in parts, and will highlight more examples of his dishonesty:

“As stated by al-Sayyid Muhammad al-Maliki in his Fatwa _Hawl al-Ihtifal bi Dhikra al-Mawlid al-Nabawi al-Sharif_ (10th ed. p. 15): “The first to observe the celebration of the Mawlid was the Prophet himself by fasting on Mondays because it was the day of his birth as narrated in Sahih Muslim. This is the soundest and most explicit textual proof for the licitness of commemorating the Noble Prophetic Mawlid.”

Nobody denies the licitness of commemorating the prophetic birth (i.e. mentioning it, discussing it, remembering it, reading about it etc.) or fasting on Mondays, but Mufti Taqi Usmani’s comment is regarding specifying the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal for a formal celebration, and taking that as part of religion. Haddad continues:

“In the light of such a proof what does it matter that “after many centuries some monarchs started observing the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal” as the Mawlid date, and who can believe such a lie as to claim that such observance was “without a sound religious basis”? Is this what the reliable authorities say, or is it just the opinion of some latecomers unfamiliar with the differences of the Ulema and the principles of the Shari`a?”

Yes, reliable authorities have said observing this date as a formal religious celebration (‘id) is bid’ah, like al-Shatibi, who was quoted above. It certainly matters that a date was specified, and GF Haddad himself demonstrated why this is problematic. He alluded in his comments that this night – the 12th of Rabi’ – is more virtuous in the year than any other night, and therefore is deserving of extra acts of goodness, devotion and celebration. This is precisely what makes it a bid’ah, as it means the Sahabah did not discover this merit, and as Imam Malik said, holding such a view would be to accuse the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) of betraying the risalah as he did not convey to us the blessedness of this particular night in the year and the extra acts that should be done in it. Is this not disrespect towards the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and his noble Sahabah?

Now, for a revealing example of Haddad’s dishonesty:

“When the critics are unable to disprove the lawful on the basis of the foundations of the Religion, they turn to vacuous opinion unaware that in the field of opinion there are plenty of more trusted sources than themselves. Imam al-Dhahabi wrote in his Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ (Arna’ut ed. 22:335-336): He [Muzaffar the King of Irbil] loved charity (sadaqa)… and built four hospices for the poor and sick… and one house for women, one for orphans, one for the homeless, and he himself used to visit the sick… He built a madrasa for the Shafi`is and the Hanafis… HE WOULD FORBID ANY REPREHENSIBLE MATTER TO ENTER INTO HIS COUNTRY”

The ellipses in this paragraph were placed for a very specific purpose: that the reader remains ignorant of exactly what makes these original celebrations problematic. In the last ellipses, al-Dhahabi said: “He would spread table-cloths therein, and he frequently attended Sama’, and he had no pleasure in anything besides it.” Because Sama’ is a controversial practice, GF Haddad decided he would hoodwink his readers by not translating that particular part. But there’s more: Haddad continues his quotation:

“As for his celebration of the Noble Mawlid al-Nabawi, words are too poor to describe it. The people used to come all the way from Iraq and Algeria to attend it. Two wooden dais would be erected and decorated for him and his wife… the celebration would last several days, and a huge quantity of cows and camels would be brought out to be sacrificed and cooked in different ways… Preachers would roam the field exhorting the people. Great sums were spent (as charity). Ibn Dihya compiled a ‘Book of Mawlid’ for him for which he received 1,000 dinars. He [Muzaffar] was modest, a LOVER OF GOOD, AND A TRUE SUNNI who loved scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of hadith, and was generous even to poets. He was killed in battle according to what is reported.””

Firstly, the part in capital in Arabic is “khayyiran sunniyyan” (i.e. generous, Sunni). It does not say “a true Sunni” (sunniyyun haqqan). Al-Dhahabi probably only said “Sunni” to contrast him from the Shi’ah, some of whom also ruled near this period.

Anyhow, Haddad purposefully placed the first ellipses where it is, as al-Dhahabi mentioned here: “In it were musicians and men of play, and he would come down everyday at ‘Asr and stand at every pavilion and watch/take enjoyment from (the music and play).” (wa fiha jawq al-maghani wa al-la’ib, wa yanzilu kulla yawmin al-‘asra fayaqifu ‘ala kulli qubbatin wa yatafarraj)

This is certainly forbidden. Ibn Khallikan mentions other acts of futility that would take place during this mawlid.

Regarding ‘Umar ibn al-Hasan Abu al-Khattab ibn Dihyah (542 – 633), who was the major scholarly figure behind the Sunni institutionalisation of the annual mawlid celebration, al-‘Asqalani said: “he was accused [of lying] in his transmission, although from the vessels of knowledge. He entered into what did not concern him.” Then al-‘Asqalani shows an example of him reporting a false lineage for himself. “Al-Hafiz al-Diya’ [al-Maqdisi] said: ‘His condition does not appeal to me. He frequently criticised the Imams.’ Then he said: ‘Ibrahim al-Sanhuri reported to me that the mashayikh of the West wrote criticism and weakening of him.’ He said: ‘And I saw from him many things which proves that.’” Al-‘Asqalani then showed he gave false information regarding the narrators from whom he took the Muwatta’. Ibn al-Najjar said: “I found the people in agreement on his lying , his weakness and his false claim to have heard what he did not hear.” It also says: “He was Zahiri in madhhab, and insulted the Imams and Salaf a lot, and had a revolting tongue, an idiot, very arrogant, with little insight in matters of religion, lax.” Al-‘Asqalani also reported other criticism. (Lisan al-Mizan, Abu Ghuddah ed. 6:80-8)

All this in fact proves the contention of the Majlisul ‘Ulama quoted by GF Haddad:

“From the above excerpts one can judge the shameless audacity of the statement of Majlis al-`Ulama or rather al-Juhala’ which said:

“MAINTAINING A CUSTOM WHICH WAS ORIGINATED BY IRRELIGIOUS PERSONS. It has already been explained elsewhere in this article that the originators of Meelad custom were irreligious persons. Six hundred years after our Nabi (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), the irreligious ruler of Irbal, assisted by irreligious learned men, invented and established this custom. Thus, those who organize Meelad functions and those who participate in them are in reality assisting to establish a practise introduced by evil men. They are aiding and abetting in the fostering of a custom which is in total conflict with the Shari’ah of Islam. It is a great crime to maintain and encourage customs and practices which were brought into being by those who had no connection with the Deen, more so, when these customs and practices are a conglomeration of un-Islamic elements”.

Observe how they begin with a lie and end with a greater lie, progressing from calling King Muzaffar and the Ulema of the Umma as “irreligious” until they end up saying they “had no connection with the Deen”! Is not the curse of Allah on the heads of the liars?”

Note Haddad’s insults: “shameless audacity,” “Juhala,” “begin with a lie and end with a greater lie”… He bases all this on “the above excerpts” which were neatly edited to remove the singing, music, futile play, and according to Ibn Khallikan, even acting. And he also makes no mention of the proofs mentioned before in the very same booklet by the Majlusul ‘Ulama, proving their contention:

“Six centuries after our Nabi ( صلى الله عايه وسالم) an irreligious ruler initiated this custom in the city of Mosul. Imaam Ahmad Bin Muhammad Bin Bisri Maaliki (rahmatullah alayh) writes in his Kitaab, AL-QOULUL MU’TAMAD:

“Allaamah Muizzuddin Hasan Khwaarzimi (rahmatullah alayh) states in his Kitaab: ‘The Ruler of Irbal, King Muzaffar Abu Saeed Kaukari, was an irreligious king. He ordered the Ulama of his time to act according to their opinions and discard the practice of following any of the Math- habs. A group among the learned men inclined towards him. He (this king) organized Moulood sessions during the month of Rabiul Awwal. He was the first of the kings to have innovated this practice.’ (AL-QOULUL MU’TAMAD)

“This irreligious ruler squandered vast sums of public funds in the organization and upkeep of these celebrations which had no sanction in Islamic Law. Allaamah Zahbi (rahmatullah alayh) – died 748 Hijri- says: “Every year this ruler spent three hundred thousand (from the Baitul Maal) on Moulood celebrations.” (DOULUL ISLAM)

“So, this practice of Moulood was originated by irreligious people. In the year 604 Hijri this king, Muzaffaruddin Koukari, introduced this custom with the aid of some learned people whose purpose was to gain the wealth and honour of this world. A notable and a prime instigator in the origination of this custom wasone Molvi Amr Bin Dahya Abul Khattab who died in the year 633 Hijri. He was a great supporter of the worldly and irreligious king of Irbal who introduced this custom. The evil character of this irreligious learned man is a fact upon which there exists unanimity among the great and pious learned men of Islam. Hafiz Ibn Hajar Askalaani (rahmatullah alayh) says about this Molvi who was responsible to a great extent for the innovation of Moulood customs: “He was a person who insulted the Jurists of Islam and the pious learned men of former times. He had a filthy tongue. He was ignorant, excessively proud, possessed no insight in matters pertaining to the Deen and he was extremely negligent as far as the Deen was concerned.” (LISAANUL MIZAAN)

“Hafiz Ibn Hajar Askalaani (rahmatullah alayh) further adds: “Allaamah Ibn Najjaar (rahmatullah alayh) said: ‘I have witnessed unanimity of opinion among the people as to him (this irreligious Molvi), being a liar and an unreliable person.’ ” (LISAANUL MIZAAN)”

Thus the Majlisul ‘Ulama booklet shows there were irreligious elements to Kukuburi (al-Malik al-Muzaffar) and the scholar ‘Umar ibn Dihyah, quoting Lisan al-Mizan of Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani. It is clear from this that Haddad had no real intent to address the actual arguments and proofs presented by these scholars, but instead to deceive readers into believing they in fact had no proofs at all.

Mufti Taqi said:

“The narration of his pious biography (the Seerah) in itself is a pious act, which invites the divine blessings, but the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah have not prescribed a particular time or method for it. This pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times.”

GF Haddad replies:

“According to Usmani’s own criterion, the above advice is an invitation to bid`a because conferences and talks about the Sira have no precedent in the Sunna nor in the practice of the pious early centuries!”

Surely, even a layman can see the absurdity in this? Of course talks/narrations of the Sirah have precedent in the Sahabah. If it was said that this is all they did, and this was their sole mission, it would not be far off. How else was the Maghazi/Sira/Hadith literature transmitted to us, if it were not for the Sahabah sitting down with students, teaching them and narrating to them these things? Sirah and Maghazi, including events around the prophetic birth, are found in books of Sirah and books of Hadith, with chains back to the Sahabah themselves. It appears Haddad was so blinded in his defence of “mawlid” that he only saw from the actions of the Sahabah what he wished to see. Haddad continues:

“As for the assertion that “this pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times” its absurdity is evident for all to see in light of the prohibition of the same act in the month of Rabi` al-Awwal and specifically the 12th of that month, although these two times fall within the time frame of “all the months and at all the times”!”
Its absurdity is not evident, as Mufti Taqi condemns the specification and restriction of the formal mawlid celebration to this date when it is done religiously, as the date is not established in the Qur’an and Sunnah or practice of Sahabah.

Mufti Taqi said:

“This difference of opinion [on the exact date in Rabi’ al-Awwal of the prophetic birth] is another evidence to prove that the observance of the birthday is not a part of the religion, otherwise its exact date would have been preserved with accuracy.”

Haddad replies:

“Comment: Another wholly original and innovative speculative analogy leading to a false proof without firm basis in the Religion…”

Note, he says this is “wholly original” and “innovative.” Yet, we find in the 8th (or early 9th) century, Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Haffar (d. 811) saying exactly the same:

وليلة المولد لم يكن السلف الصالح وهم أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والتابعون لهم يجتمعون فيها للعبادة، ولا يفعلون فيها زيادة على سائر ليالي السنة، لأن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يعظم إلا بالوجه الذي شرع فيه تعظيمه، وتعظيمه من أعظم القرب إلى الله، لكن يتقرب إلى الله جل جلاله بما شرع، والدليل على أن السلف الصالح لم يكونوا يزيدون فيها زيادة على سائر الليالي أنهم اختلفوا فيها، فقيل إنه صلى الله عليه وسلم ولد في رمضان وقيل في ربيع، واختلف في أي يوم ولد فيه على أربعة أقوال، فلو كانت تلك الليلة التي ولد في صبيحتها تحدث فيها عبادة بولادة خير الخلق صلى الله عليه وسلم، لكانت معلومة مشهورة لا يقع فيها اختلاف ولكن لم تشرع زيادة تعظيم…ولو فتح هذا الباب لجاء قوم فقالوا يوم هجرته إلى المدينة يوم أعز الله فيه الإسلام فيجتمع فيه ويتعبد، ويقول آخرون الليلة التي أسري به فيها حصل له من الشرف ما لا يقدر قدره، فتحدث فيها عبادة، فلا يقف ذلك عند حد، والخير كله في إتباع السلف الصالح الذين اختارهم الله له، فما فعلوا فعلناه وما تركوا تركناه، فإذا تقرر هذا ظهر أن الاجتماع في تلك الليلة ليس بمطلوب شرعا، بل يؤمر بتركه

“The pious predocessors, that is the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and the Successors, did not congregate for worship on the night of the mawlid, and they would not increase therein over the rest of the nights of the year, because the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) is not glorified except in the manner in which his glorification has been established in the Shari’ah; and his glorification is from the greatest acts of nearness to Allah, but one should seek proximity to Allah with what has been legislated in the Shari’ah. The proof that the Salaf did not increase on that [night] more than the rest of the nights is that they differed over it; so it has been said he (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was born in Ramadan and it has been said in Rabi, and the day on which he was born has been disputed according to four different views. So if it was the case that on the night in the morning of which he was was born acts of worship were invented in it due to the birth of the best of creation (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), it would have been specified and well-known containing no controversy. But increased glorification has not been legislated…If this door is opened, some people will say the day of Hijra is a day in which Allah honoured Islam so they would gather therein and increase in worship, and others will say in the night of Isra he attained immeasurable honour so they invent worship therein, and this will have no boundary. And all good is in following the Pious Salaf for which Allah has selected them; so whatever they do, we do and whatever they left we leave. When this is realised, it becomes clear gathering on this night is not legally required, rather one is ordered to leave it.” (Al-Mi’yar al-Mu’rib 7:99-100)

Mufti Taqi wrote:

“It is often observed, especially in the Western countries, that the people hold the Seerah meetings where men and women sit together without observing the rules of hijab prescribed by the Shariah. The teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are obviously against such mixed gatherings. How can a Seerah meeting bring fruits where such fundamental teachings of the Shariah are openly violated?”

Haddad replied:

“This never invalidates the ruling of desirability that applies to the principle.”

This is a pointless statement as Mufti Taqi did not deny the desirability of the principle of commemorating the Prophetic biography through talks/speeches.

Regarding the comment posted by Haddad:

Allama Shaami (radi Allahu anhu) states: “One must not leave visiting the graves just because some illegal activities are taking place, for example, inter-mingling of sexes. Mustahabbaat (recommended acts) should not be left out because of this type of illegal activities. It is necessary for the people to visit the graves *and* stop the Bid`a”. (Fatawa Shaami: Kitabul Jana’iz – Discussion on visiting the graves)

Allama Shaami (radi Allahu anhu) has stated categorically that inter-mingling of sexes will not make any Mustahab act Haraam or avoided. There were idols in the Kaaba before Makkah was conquered, but Muslims did not leave out performing the Tawaaf (circumbulation) or Umrah because of the idols. Yes,when Almighty Allah gave them the power, they eventually destroyed the idols.

When people go for Haj, there is inter-mingling of sexes at the airport, in the plane, during Tawaaf,at Mina and at Muzdalifah, yet no one puts a stop to Hajj. In Meelad gatherings, at least men and women sit separately and women are with Hijab. In the Nikah assembly, inter-mingling of sexes occurs and most of the women do not come with Shar`i Hijab. Will the Majlisul Ulama issue Fatwas condemning Nikah gathering to be Haraam? If not, why then is your entire effort spent to make Meelaad functions Haraam?”

Firstly, in Radd al-Muhtar ‘ Allamah Shami was quoting Ibn Hajar al-Haythami and did not make that statement from himself. Examples of Hajj, Nikah etc. are invalid analogies, as these are prescribed elements of Shari’ah, whereas the formal annual religious celebration of the prophetic birth on a specific night of Rabi’ al-Awwal finds no basis. Anyhow, there is proof from the Hanafi Imams that when even a desirable act is mixed up with haraam elements, the desirable act itself should be altogether avoided – a principle known as sadd al-dhara’i.

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5 thoughts on “Critical Review of Gibril Haddad’s refutation of Mufti Taqi Usmani regarding Mawlid”

  1. Although I am a Deobandi, Sorry to say! I am not happy to see that you refuted Imam al-Akbar Ja’far al-Kattani. You said:

    “Haddad quotes a recent scholar who encourages inventing two new Eids in the year:

    “The two nights of the distinguished noble birth and the magnificent Prophetic Ascension appear to be the very best of the nights of the world without hesitation nor doubt… and if this is the case then such as these two nights [MAWLID and MI`RAJ] deserve to be taken henceforth each as a recurring festival among other recurring festivals (`Eid min al-A`yad) and as a seasonal celebration (mawsim) among other seasonal celebrations devoted to good deeds and striving. Therefore those dates should be respected and venerated, the Book of Allah should be recited in them, and in their honor deeds should be performed that indicate joy and happiness at their immense merit as well as thankfulness to Allah Most High for His blessings and favors in them. This the Law in no way denies nor condemns, and no reprimand nor prohibition can be directed at those who perform this whatsoever””

    Brother, the person whom you are defending is ALSO A RECENT SCHOLAR (MUFTI TAQI USMANI HAFIZA ULLAH). Imam Jaf’ar al Kattani never invented two more eids. But, Instead, he just asked to do zikr of Allah on the two days. He considered it as a custom not as a religious festival as Shaykh al-Allama Muhammad bin al-Alawi al-Maliki said. Please respect the scholars of Deen. If you believe that Mawlid is permissible (If no wrong things are added to it), then please avoid disrespecting scholars who allowed Mawlid. You should accuse Imam Suyuti and Haji Imdadullah too for supporting Mawlid. No one believes that Mawlid is a RELIGIOUS ISLAMIC FESTIVAL but it is a custom practiced by Scholars such as al-Qari, as-Suyuti, an-Nawawi etc. Secondly, no one considers Mawlid a EXTRA Ibadat. Infact, it is only a custom in which Qur’an is read and the Prophet’s attributes are discussed. The Scholars of Deoband applied the concept of “Blocking the means” only to the INDIAN MUSLIMS not to the WHOLE WORLD like you peaple are doing. Even the students of Rashid Ahmed Gangohi attended Mawlid in Makkah. Jameel Ahmed Thanawi said that the people living in Makkah may celebrate Mawlid (see Sharah Faysala Haft Mas’ala). Secondly, fixing a date of Mawlid for a valid reason is permissible. Haji Imdad al-Allah Muhajir al-Makki in Faysala Haft MAs’ala said:

    “If one considers Mawlid an-Nabi to be Mustahsan (Praisworthy) for at all times but fixes 12th of Rabi al-Awwal for the ease of continuity from one year to the next, then it is Mubah (Permissible)”

    Jameel Ahmed Thanawi in its Sharah said:

    “Yes it is permissible for this Maslihat (reason) only if it is not given more importance then it deserves”

    So, fixing a date in some cases is permissible.

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  2. Khalil Ahmed Saharanpuri said in al-Muhannad:

    “Commemorating the states which have the least connection with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is from the MOST DESIRABLE OF RECOMMENDED TASKS (ahabb al-mandubat) and THE GREATEST OF PREFERABLE TASKS (a‘la l-mustahabbat) according to us, whether it is the commemoration of his noble birth or commemoration of his urine, faeces, standing, sitting, sleeping and waking as is stated clearly in our treatise called Al-Barahin al-Qati‘ah at various junctures therein.”

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    1. Asalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah Brother.

      First of all thanks for your comment, generally I never reply to anybody’s comment due to lack of time, but since you have put up some crucial points, I’d better clarify my stance on it for you.

      To begin with…

      You said: //Although I am a Deobandi, Sorry to say! I am not happy to see that you refuted Imam al-Akbar Ja’far al-Kattani….//

      Reply: We are not refuting any  specific scholar on this issue, we have rebutted the claim of the one, Shaykh Haddad and his citations, you can clearly notice that.

      Ja’far al-Kattani’s view isn’t a proof of Shariah or hujjat to be made taqleed of in subtantiating Mawlid, as far as reciting Qur’an or Zikr is concerned; then no issues on it. But substantiating Ja’far al-Kattani’s view to justify present-day Mawlid functions is what we are concerned of.

      You said: // Brother, the person whom you are defending is ALSO A RECENT SCHOLAR (MUFTI TAQI USMANI HAFIZA ULLAH//

      Reply: Brother, the term ‘recent’ is used in the context of the citation of a view of the scholar of 18th century by Shaykh Haddad to substantiate present-day Mawlid. Which is as you termed it elsewhere as a ‘Custom’ of scholars but which cannot be imposed on common laymen. The proof should always be from the Aimmah-e-mujtahideen (i.e from the practices of the early Muslims).

      I agree with you that Mufti Taqi is also a present scholar, we will only defend any present-day scholars only if their view is in conformation by the Madhabs of 4 Imam’s, we have refuted Mufti Taqi elsehwere too. We won’t practice on the errors of present-day scholars just on the merit of popularity, they too are human who can err and certainly they aren’t mujtahid-mutlaq.

      You said:  //You should accuse Imam Suyuti and Haji Imdadullah too for supporting Mawlid. No one believes that Mawlid is a RELIGIOUS ISLAMIC FESTIVAL but it is a custom practiced by Scholars such as al-Qari, as-Suyuti, an-Nawawi etc..//

      Reply: Customs practiced by 8th, 9th century hijri scholars are again never a proof for justification for the present-day ‘type’ of ‘Mawlid’ whatsoever, their observation of Mawlid was totally different to mass Mawlid functions of the present day. There cannot be even a slight resemblance of the Mawlid observed by those pious Sufis like Shaykh Imdadullah (rahimahullah) or the one which was practiced in Makkah and the ‘Mawlid’ observed by present-day people. If time permits, we will post a detailed article on this issue, Insha Allah.

      The type of ‘meelaad’ for which permissibility is accorded in Haft-e-Maslah or Barahin al-Qati’ah which is attributed to Haaji Imdaadullah & Maulana Khalil Ambethwi (rahmatullah alayhim),  which was their private practice and totally devoid of the slightest act of haraam, is also banned by the Akaabir Ulama.

      In short; If substantiating personal isolated opinions of later era scholars like al-Nawawi, al-Suyuti, (rahmatullah alayhim) etc for one practice then even Salafis should be spared for the their citations of the personal opinions of Ibn Taymiyyah & Ibn Qayyim (rahmatullah alayhim) in other matters which Salafis cite. Ijma’i view is the key and that Ijma’i view should be from the usuls of the 4 Madhabs.

      We follow the advices of Mujaddid alf-Thani (rahmatullah alayh) closely in the matters of Bid’ah and I will quote him briefly on the issue of Mawlid or Meelaad:

      “Regarding the issue of observing maulid: What is wrong in reciting the Qur’aan and reciting qaseedas (na’ts) and praises with a beautiful voice? Why is the prohibition in this case?”

      Hadhrat Mujaddid responded: “It has generated in the heart of this Faqeer that as long as this avenue (of moulood) is not closed totally, the maniacs (of the nafs) will not desist from it. If we grant a little leeway, it will lead to considerable (indulgence).”

      The fears of the Mujaddid has become manifest in our times, and this is not restricted to India.

      For more clarity on the Shariah view on Mawlid you can read this post in the following link: Moulood and the Shariah – http://wp.me/p6igBr-mE

      Muhammad

      Wasalaama

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