Islam and the Quran

Ruling on Mawlid and Islamic Observance Days Other Than Eids

Question: Are there any fatwas from Imams of Islamic sects about Islamic observance nights other than Eids? I read that the celebration of these "blessed nights" started during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Is there any reason for Ottomans to start these nights?

Imām Abū Ḥanīfah (died. 150 h.), Imām Malik ibn Anas (died. 179 h.), Imām Al-Shafi‘i (died. 204 h.), and Imām Ahmad ibn Hanbal (died. 241 h.) and imams of other Islamic sects gave no fatwa on this issue because when they were alive, nights such as Mawlid (Birth of Prophet Muhammad), Raghaib, Miraj (Ascent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to the heaven), or Baraat (Mid-Sha’ban) were not celebrated.

These nights’ observance did not start during the Ottoman Empire era. They started in Egypt three hundred fifty years after the Hijra (the great Pilgrimage). The celebration of these nights was spread to the State of Shia Fatemi from there.  During the reign of II. Sultan Selim, these celebrations became traditional in the Ottoman Empire.

During those days, minarets of mosques were adorned with candles, and that is why they gave those nights the name “Candle”, or “Kandil” in Turkish. So, these nights were named during the Ottoman Empire as “kandil (candle)”, but they did not start there.

Although the Qur’an does not mention any special days or nights other than the Night of Qadr, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha, nor any other night was celebrated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during his lifetime, Turkey and some other countries still hold these celebrations.

Celebration of these lately-invented nights is not permissible because they are “bid’ah”. “Bid’ah (بدعة)” literally means “innovation”, “creating something from no example”. In Islamic terminology, Bid’ah means some kind of practice that is considered by people as a good deed or relevant with Islam’s teachings and practices of worship, although it came up later than the Messenger Muhammad (PBUH) or has no direct relevance with Islam. It is briefly described as “innovation in Islam” in a negative meaning. Such “innovations” are unacceptable for Allah the Almighty decrees:
“This day, I have perfected for you your religion, and have completed My bounty upon you. I have favored “Islam (full submission to God)” as your religion. ” (al-Mae’dah 5:3)

Any addition to a “perfect structure” would be a transgression. So, any addition to “perfect religion” would be against God’s will about Islam. Right in relevance to this verse, the Messenger of Allah says:
“Every bid’ah is going astray and every going astray will lead to the Fire.” (Muslim, 867; Nasaa’i, 1578)
“The best of matters is the Book of Allah, and the best path is the path of Muhammad. The evilest matters are those that are newly-invented, and every innovation (Bid’ah) is a going astray.” (Ma’jah 1,
Another problem we may face by celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is indeed before our eyes. Isn’t Christmas, the celebration of Prophet Jesus’ Birthday? Was it celebrated during his lifetime? Would Jesus (PBUH) allow Christmas celebrations had he seen them? How come Muslims, who believe in all prophets and do not differentiate between them, start celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) although they condemn Chirstmas celebrations?

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