Holidays and Celebrations in Islam (part2)
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on April 13,1990)
In this series about the legitimated holidays in Islam, we discuss today some of those holidays that have been introduced to our lives as religious holidays with religious acts of ebadah (worship), when indeed they were invented by some people long after the death of prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). We know that they were invented because none of the companions of the prophet celebrated them, these companions, as we know, were the most sincere when it comes to following the example of the prophet (S.A.W.). They were with the prophet, and they witnessed the revelation, and still, they didn’t do what some of us do nowadays.
Three of these invented holidays are:
- Celebrating the birth of the prophet (S.A.W.).
- Celebrating the journey of the prophet, at night, from Mecca to the "Aqsa Mosque" in Jerusalem, and then his ascendance to the 7th heaven.
- Celebrating the night of the middle of "sha’ban", (which is the month that proceeds month of "Ramadan").
We have learned, from previous Jumu’ah speech, that it is Allah (S.W.A) and His messenger Muhammad (S.A.W.) who have the right to specify for us what holiday we need to observe. We have seen that from the several verses in the Qur’an and a number of sayings of the prophet when we started last speech. We have seen that singling out certain days or nights for religious observance, in addition to the worshipping acts associated with them is actually a part of the divine legislation. No one individual, nor a group, regardless of their prominence in the society, have the right to legislate for us in our religious matters. If we did accept invented matters related to the religious matters related to the deen, we would be violating our own firm belief that Allah (S.W.T) has completed His deen for us. Let us remember the Ayah from surat Alma’edah (verse 3) which could be translated as, "This day have I perfected your deen (religion) for you."
Let us also remember that the prophet (S.A.W.) did not die until he conveyed to us the whole message from Allah (S.W.A) through his sayings and actions. We firmly believe that he did not leave out (purposely, or unpurposely) one word of Allah’s message to mankind. The prophet (S.A.W.) himself assured us about this fact when he said: "Everyone of the prophets who were sent by Allah was obligated to guide his nation to the good, to the best of his ability, and to warn them of the evil, to the best of his ability." (Reported by Imam Muslim)
Form all of this we see that inventing in the religious matters is not allowed in Islam. That’s why Islam flatly rejects such inventions.
The prophet (S.A.W.) warned us in an authentic hadith reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, "He who innovates something in our deen that is not part of it, will have it rejected." And in another narration by Imam Muslim, "He who dose an act which is not in agreement with our deen, will have it rejected."
Also Imam Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) used to say in his speeches, "The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best of the guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. And the most evil affairs are their innovations; and every innovation is straying away from the guidance." Imam An-Nisa’i added in a good narration, "And every (Dalalah) astray is in the Hell-Fire."
Also reported by (As-Hab ussu nan) collectors that one time, the prophet (S.A.W.) was sitting among his companions preaching, and apparently, the speech was emotional. The companions stared to cry and said to the prophet: "It sounds like a farewell speech, please give us advice." He started giving them advice of which he mentioned: "He who will stay alive among you after me will see a lot of misinterpretation, so stick to my tradition and the tradition of the guided Caliphs after me, hold them tight, and beware of the inventions in the religion, because every such invention is a misguidance."
After all of these facts heard we know the three holidays that we mentioned were not specified for us as such neither by the Almighty Allah, nor by His messenger (S.A.W.). Therefore, they are innovations in the religious practices. And by being innovations, they are considered misguidance.
But let’s ask ourselves a simple question: Is celebrating the messenger’s birthday a proof of our love for him? If the answer is "yes" then how come that none of the companions of the prophet or even the guided Caliphs after him celebrated his birthday? They were the most loving and respected to the prophet (S.A.W.) They loved him more than themselves, their wealth, and their families. They showed their love and respect, however, in a different way. They followed his example in every aspect of their lives. They were sincere through the revelation; This is the true celebration. We can show our love and respect the same way those good companions did.
The same thing can be said about celebrating the journey of the prophet, at night to the Aqsa Mosque.
Yes, it is a great miracle that has been authentically transmitted to us as a miracle that indeed took place. But it is only one of many miracles that happened at the time of the prophet (S.A.W.). Why should we single it out of all the others? It is because we want to show our great respect to the prophet? We can do that by carefully following his tradition (Sunnah). Or it is because it reminds us about "Al-Aqsa Mosque"? We can do that by returning to the forgotten "obligation" which is "Jihad" or fighting in the cause of Allah (S.W.A) to liberate the imprisoned mosque from the hand of the enemies. "Al-Aqsa mosque" is a very deer place for all Muslims; it was the first Qeblah for the prayer. It was conquered by Omar (R.A.), then later when it was occupied, Salahu-deen liberated it. Now, once again, it is under occupation, awaiting rescue from the Muslims who, for a long time, have given up Jihad in the midst of the absence of true Islamic ruling from the face of this Earth.
And what about the night of the middle of Sha’ban?
Some Muslims observe that night and perform special prayers to celebrate it. We should be aware of two things:
- Importance of that night is based on weak, unauthenticated narration of the prophet.
- The significance of the special prayer on that night is not even based on a weak "ahadith" it is a fabrication attributed to the prophet (S.A.W.). Imam Al-Hafiz Al-Iraqi and Imam An-Naway are two of the many scalars who made it clear in their research that this observations and the special prayer associated with it are fabrications and have no basis in the tradition of the prophet (S.A.W.).
In the end I ask Allah (S.W.T.) to make us of those who listen to the guidance to follow it and see the misguidance and avoid it.