Listening to a speech delivered by one Sheikh through one of Sheikh Dawood Bojang’s Video clips, totally denying the very idea of celebrating the Maulid “Birth day of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), describing it as” Bida’h” [innovation] and an illusion which never existed in the Sunnah. The Sheikh went on to say that what people are today celebrating is, in fact, the death of the Prophet S.A.W. and not his birth. However, the Sheikh did not provide any concrete evidence to back his claim any way. The Sheikh alleged that the prophet S.A.W. was not born on 12 Rabiuul Awwal contrary to what is generally believed and that his date of birth was unknown. He further emphasized that this celebration was started only in the fifth century of Hijrah by a Fatimi ruler of Egypt. I suggest that he was simply, expressing his opinion based on his own reading and interpretation of history. For certain, his opinion cannot represent that of well over a billion Muslims around the world who celebrate the event.
The Sheikh claimed that none of the companions of the prophet (S.A.W.) ever celebrated his birth day, even though we could not have been more loving for him than them. Of course, we could not claim to have loved him more than his companions. But we are aware, as may be the Shiekh, that the companions were not limited only to our masters Abubakr Siddiq, Omar Bun Khattab, Othman Bun Affan and Ali Bun Abitalib, May Allah be pleased with them all, or the top ten of the companions, promised by the prophet S.A.W. of the” Jannatul Firdaws”.
According to, “Riyadhul Salihina” (In the Gardens of the Pious), there were about 124,000 companions by the time the Prophet S.A.W passed away. Who, on earth, would be able to gather the minute detailed information about how and what each and every one of them had done throughout their lifetimes. These companions, according to the “Seerah” (Biographical) historians dispersed to different regions and continents to convey “Da’wa” (Preaching) to the nations of those regions. Each of these companions carried the message in accordance with his own understanding or interpretation of the Prophetic “Sunnah”. The Prophet (S.A.W) continued to deliver his message to the world for 23 years: 13 years in Makkah and 10 years in Madinah. To make things easier for his “Ummah”, the Prophet S.A.W directed that his companions shall be followed when he himself would no longer be around: “My companions (In terms of the guidance are like the shinning stars. For each of whom you may follow, you will be sure of guidance”.
We continue to learn these facts through the historical sources and the Prophetic biography which is the most important authority to draw on. The Sheikh may also note that, the birthday of the Prophet (S.A.W) as it is the case in the rest of the Muslim World, was deservingly celebrated this year in Madinah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Indeed, this event is not only celebrated on 12th Rabiuul Awwal but also throughout the year in the Muslim World. The Sheikh, I guess, maybe well-learned and highly godly but in the same vein, I am inclined to believe that there are also amongst more than a billion Muslims in our today’s world, many of whom are prominently versed in the Islamic Scholarship and equally pious. Yet, this category of the Islamic Scholars also deservingly celebrates the birthday of the Prophet (S.A.W.) We, of course love the Prophet Muhammad, by way of adhering as much as possible to the Qur’an and the Sunnah which every Muslim is required to comply with.
However, when that great companion of the Prophet S.A.W, Abu Aubaidatah Bun-Al-Jarrah said to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) “Are there any other people better than us? For we have seen you, lived with you and fought the Jihad wars with you? Yes: The Prophet (S.A.W) replied. “Those who believed in me and did not see me”!
In addition, as previously noted, more than a billion Muslims around the world are celebrating this all-important event, because the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) was the one who brought mankind out of the darkness of ignorance, indignity and injustice to the light of knowledge, guidance and justice. If nations around the world, would celebrate their national days, including the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Muslim Ummah, which, we believe would not encourage an evil Bida’h [innovation], more so, celebrating the Birth Day of the greatest Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.)
If we believe that whatever, done by the companions of the Messenger of Allah S.A.W. shall be regarded as the right path for us to follow and shall not be seen as “Bida’h”[an innovation] in any sense, Omar Bunl Khattab R. A., seeing Ubayye Bun Kaa’b, leading the Muslims, lining up in resplendent rows, performing the “Tarawih” (supererogatory prayers) in Ramadan, said: “Ne’ematil Bida’htu Hazihi” (What a gracious innovation this is). Therefore, I should think that the Sheikh would be able to note that Omar Bunl Khattab used the word “Bida’h which may lead to a conclusion that there are permissible and impermissible innovations. In this regard, it should also be noted that the Holy Qur’an itself was not compiled in the manner in which we are seeing it today during the lifetime of the Prophet (S.A.W.), the Islamic calendar known as the “Hijra” alo, was proposed by Omar Bunl Khattab, and not during the lifetime of the Prophet S.A.W. Would the Sheikh describe any of the above mentioned actions not commanded by the Prophet (S.A.W) during his lifetime, as Bida’h (an innovation)?
The Sheikh ought to admit that whether the Prophet S.A.W was born on a Monday, 12th Rabiul Awwal [ 570?], or on any of the days and months of Allah does not really matter. We are not saying celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (S.A.W) was a Sunnah. In this respect, what matters, in my view, is the significance of the message he brought to the world. Since the Prophet (S.A.W), the best of creation, sent to the entire mankind says that “the Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” and since the gathering of the Muslims to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet (S.A.W) or for any number of reasons, provides an opportunity for the Islamic Scholars to disseminate, dilate and convey the message of the Prophet (S.A.W), should it be regarded as “Bida’h? The occasion also furnishes a platform for “Al-Amru-Bilmaaruf Wa-Nahyu Anil-Munkar” (Order to do good and prohibit evil), being the main purpose of holding the Maulid celebration. As far as the date of starting the Maulid celebration, my source indicates that it started in the third century of the Hijrah by the order of a Fatimi ruler of Egypt and not in the fifth century as suggested by the Sheikh?
It is also reported that the prophet (S.A.W) used to fast on every Monday. When asked why? I was born on Monday, he replied.
After all, going by the nomenclature, names and titles of things, does not matter much in my view, but what really matters is the message embodied in those names and titles. By the way, Sheikh Dawood Bojang organizes an annual conference and calls it, “An Islamic Conference in the Gambia”. To this conference, notable Gambian Scholars, are invited to address the audience on Islam. This and its likes, Would the Sheikh, under reference, call Dawood’s conference, a “Bida’h” (an innovation), because they are not mentioned in the Qur’an or in the “Sunnah”. Therefore, should that conferance be condemned as a “Bida’h” (an innovation)?
It seems to me that there might be a sort of an orientalist conspiracy regarding the matter, designed to discredit the most important event in the annals of history, not only to the Muslims, but also to humanity at large. Therefore, any attempt to tamper with the existence of our master Muhammad, (S.A.W.) said to have been born, on 12th Rabiuul Awwal, is in fact an attempt to cast a doubt about his prophet hood itself. Because if his date of birth was unknown and his mother, according to the Seerah sources, died when he was 6 years old, it follows that, his date of marriage said to have taken place at the age 25 and his prophet hood when he turned 40, as stated in history books, shall also be unknown. Likewise, his age believed to be 63 at the time of his death (S.A.W.) shall it be contested too? However, the Shiekh did not explain how,when and why the dates, indicated above, were arrived at? I should think that such allegations shall have no place or value in our Islamic faith and history. Indeed, they shall totally be disregarded as absurd.
As a matter of fact, a similar conspiracy had been hatched out by the orientalists to challenge the credibility of the Sunnah. for the y alleged that the Sunnah had been abandoned and neglected for a century, before being collected and compiled under the khilafate [succession] of the just and reformist Calif, Omar bun Abdul Aziz. Such an allegation also, cannot hold water.
From the historical point of view, during his lifetime the prophet (S.A.W.) had, generally, forbidden the companions from writing down the “Hadith” as the revelations continued to be received by him. The reason for this was a fear of possibly, the Hadith being confused with the Qur’an. To avoid that, the prophet (S.A.W.) said; “Do not write down any of my words other than the Qur’an, whoever wrote something other than the Qur’an let him delete it”.
However, despite this restriction imposed by him, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) permitted a selected few of his companions to write down and keep records of his Sunnah. They included Abdullah Bun Omar, Amru bun Aas and a few others who were believed to be most trusted and well versed in keeping the records of his ” Hadith”. Therefore, the permission granted by the Messenger of Allah, (S.A.W.) to some companions to write and keep the records of his own words, has clearly refuted and laid to rest the orientalists’ allegations, to the contrary.
Baba Abubakar Drammeh