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The Birth-Date of the Prophet and the History of the Mawlid – Part I of III

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This article comprises of three parts. In part one, the various opinions regarding the birth-date of the beloved Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam are mentioned. In part two, the history of celebrating this day will be documented.

2206562-5-muhammad-calligraphyIt is a commonly held belief that the birth-date of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is the 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, in the ‘Year of the Elephant’, which is the year that the Abyssinian Emperor Abraha attacked the Kaʿbah with an army of elephants. However, most Muslims are unaware that there has always been great controversy over the precise date of the Prophet’s salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam birth, and it is quite possible that the 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal is not in fact the strongest opinion on the matter.

There is no narration in the famous ‘Six Books’ of ḥadīth that specifies when the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam was born. Rather, the only narration that exists specifies the day he was born, and not the date. Abū Qatāda narrates that a Bedouin came to the Prophet and asked him about fasting on Monday, to which the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam replied, “That is the day I was born on, and the day that the revelation began” [Narrated by Muslim]. Therefore, the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam was born on Monday. But Monday of which month, and which year? For that, we need to turn to other sources. Again, no standard source book of ḥadīth mentions any precise date. However, there is a tradition of disputed authenticity, in the Sunan of al-Bayhaqī [vol. 1, p. 79] states that Suwayd b. Ghafla narrated, “The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam and I were born in the same year, the ‘Year of the Elephant.'” Certain other evidences also indicate that he was born this year. Hence, from the extended books of ḥadīth, two pieces of information can be gleaned: that he was born on a Monday (and this is confirmed), and that he was born in the ‘Year of the Elephant’ (and this is most likely correct).

When we turn to books of history, a number of dates regarding the birth of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallamare found. Ibn Isḥāq (d. 150 AH), the earliest and most authoritative biographer of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), states, without any isnād or other reference, that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was born on Monday, the 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, in the ‘Year of the Elephant’.1 Between Ibn Isḥāq and the birth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) lies almost two centuries, so some more proof is needed before this date is settled on.

Another extremely important early source, Ibn Saʿd (d. 230 AH) in his Ṭabaqāt,2 mentions the opinion of a few early authorities regarding the date of his birth. In order, they are:

1) Monday, 10th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, the ‘Year of the Elephant’.

2) Monday, 2nd of Rabīʿ al-Awwal.

3) Monday, no precise date.

4) The ‘Year of the Elephant’, no precise date.

It is interesting to note that Ibn Saʿd, one of the most respected historians of early Islam, does not even list the date of the 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal as a possible candidate. Of course the last two opinions are correct and do not clash with any specific date, but by quoting earlier authorities who only gave this information, it can be noted that the precise birth date of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam was not known to them, hence they only gave the information they knew.

Ibn Kathīr (d. 774), the famous medieval historian, also lists many opinions in his monumental al-Bidāya wa-l-nihāyah regarding the birth-date of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.3 He states that the majority of scholars believed that the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam was born in the month of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, but differed regarding the precise day of the month. Some of these opinions are:

1. 2nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal. This was the preferred opinion of Abū Maʿshar al-Sindī (d. 171 AH), one of the earliest scholars of sīra, and of the famous Māliki jurist and scholar, Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr (d. 463). It was also listed by al-Wāqidī (d. 207 AH) as a possible opinion. [Al-Wāqidī is one of the most reputable early historians of Islam, despite his weakness as a narrator of ḥadīth].

2. 8th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal. This was the opinion of the Andalusian scholar Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456 AH), and many of the early scholars. Imām Mālik (d. 179 AH) reported this opinion from al-Zuhrī (d. 128 AH) and Muḥammad b. Jubayr b. Muṭʿim (a famous Successor), amongst others. Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, while subscribing to the first opinion, said that this opinion was the opinion of most historians. Ibn Diḥya (d. ~ 610 AH), one of the first to write a treatise on the birth of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, also considered this date to be the strongest opinion.

3. 10th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal. This has been reported by Ibn ʿAsākir (d. 571 AH) from Abū Jaʿfar al-Bāqir (d. 114 AH), a descendant of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam and an alleged Imam of the Shiʾites. It is also the opinion of al-Shaʿbī (d. 100 AH), a famous scholar and student of the Companions, and al-Wāqidī (d. 207 AH) himself.

4. 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal. This is the opinion of Ibn Isḥāq (d. 150), who reported it without any reference. In other sources, it is reported as the opinion of Jābir and Ibn ʿAbbās, but there is no isnād found in any primary source book to them. Ibn Kathīr writes, “…and this is the most common opinion on the matter, and Allah knows best.” I could not find this opinion attributed to any other authorities of the first few generations of Islam.

5. 17th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal. This was the opinion of some Shiʾite scholars, and is rejected by most Sunnī authorities.

6. 22nd of Rabīʿ al-Awwal. This opinion has also been attributed to Ibn Ḥazm.

7. In the month of Ramaḍān, without a specific date, in the ‘Year of the Elephant’. This was the opinion of the famous early historian al-Zubayr b. al-Bakkār (d. 256), who wrote the first and most authoritative history of Makkah, and some early authorities agreed with him.

8. 12th of Ramaḍān, in the ‘Year of the Elephant’. This opinion was reported by Ibn ʿAsākir as being held by some early authorities.

These are the most predominant opinion regarding the date of the Prophet’s salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam birth. However, this is by no means comprehensive – for example, a modern researcher has concluded that the 9th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal is the strongest candidate for the exact date, whereas a few earlier authorities even disputed the very year, claiming that it was ten, or twenty-three, or forty years after the ‘Year of the Elephant’.4

Why is the opinion of the 12th of Rabī al-Awwal so popular?

As can be seen, there are numerous opinions regarding the precise date of the birth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) some of which differ about the month, and others even the year. However, an overwhelming majority of historians and scholars agreed that he was born on a Monday, in Rabīʿ al-Awwal, in the ‘Year of the Elephant’, which corresponds to 570 (or 571) C.E.

Within the month of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, more than half a dozen opinions exist. Out of all of these dates, the two dates of the 8th and the 10th were in fact more popular opinions in the first five centuries of Islam, and in particular the former opinion was given greater credence. Why, then, is the date of the 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal considered the most popular in our times, so much so that most people are unaware of alternate opinions? This question is all the more compelling in light of the fact that Ibn Isḥāq narrates this opinion without any reference. This can be explained, and Allah knows best, by two factors.

Firstly, the popularity of Ibn Isḥāq himself. His book of sīra is a primary source of information regarding the biography of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Since his bookis a standard reference for all later writings, many scholars simply copied and pasted his opinion, disregarding the other opinions (some of which were given more weight by earlier authorities).

Secondly – and this perhaps is a stronger factor – the first time that a group of people decided to take the birthday of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam as a public day of celebration (i.e., the inception of the celebration of the mawlid) , it so happened that they chose this opinion (viz., the 12th of Rabī al-Awwal). Hence, when the practice of the mawlid spread, so did this date. This also explains why Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, writing before the conception of the mawlid in the fifth century of the hijrah, stated that the most common opinion amongst historians was in fact the 8th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, and yet Ibn Kathīr, writing three centuries later, after the mawlid had been introduced as a public festival, stated that the 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal was the most common opinion.

Conclusion

The exact birth-date of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam has always been the subject of dispute amongst classical scholars. Nothing authentic has been reported in the standard source books of tradition, and this fact in itself shows that it was not held in the significance that later authorities did. The 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal is a strong candidate for being the exact birth date of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, but the 2nd, 8th and 10th are also viable and well-respected positions, with the 8th being the weightiest.

As to who was the first to celebrate the mawlid, and how it spread in Muslim lands, that shall form Part II of this article, insha Allah.

Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

118 Comments

118 Comments

  1. Avatar

    SaqibSaab

    March 11, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    Well presented. It was beneficial to see the different sources as references and what they say in an academic manner. JazakAllah khair, Shaykh.

    • Avatar

      Abdullah

      December 16, 2016 at 9:28 PM

      Well today time and day we can tell what’s going on in the world.
      How long ago Quran was revealed and who started to compile and so forth.
      How difficult it is to find the exact date?

  2. Avatar

    Ibn Qays

    March 11, 2009 at 9:30 AM

    MashaaAllah, very interesting. I’m wondering what opinion did Ibn al-Qayyim give in Zaad al-Ma’aad?

  3. Avatar

    MR

    March 11, 2009 at 9:35 AM

    So we can safely say the month of Rabī’ al-Awwal is the month of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) birthday. :-D

  4. Avatar

    Ibn Mikdad

    March 11, 2009 at 9:38 AM

    Esselamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa baraktuhu,

    Just one question. If we know that the Prophet s.a.w.s. was born on one of the monday of Rabīʿ al-Awwal in 570 and 571 C.E., would it not be useful to count back through the calender and see on what dates did mondays fall in Rabīʿ al-Awwal in these two years?

    Wassalaam

    • Avatar

      Shujauddin

      January 14, 2014 at 4:31 AM

      Assalaam U Alaikum Wa Rehmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
      Please find the dates and days as below

      569 AD = -55BH Tuesday
      570 AD = -54BH Sunday
      571 AD = -53 BH Thursday
      572 AD = -52 BH Monday
      Since we have to take -53 BH as the year (Age of Huzoor Muhammad (SAW) at the time of Hijrat), and if we calculate, we will find Monday falling on 9
      571 AD = -53 BH Monday on 9th Rabbi Ul Awwal

      • Avatar

        Shujauddin

        January 14, 2014 at 4:32 AM

        Correponding Gregorian date is 20th April 571 AD

      • Avatar

        Haseeb Ahmad

        December 25, 2015 at 5:22 PM

        You are 100 percent Righy

    • Avatar

      Abdollh Salleh

      December 15, 2016 at 6:07 AM

      The calendar itself had changed a lot.

  5. Avatar

    MR

    March 11, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    Mawlid Mondays:

    Abu Qatadah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on Mondays. He said, “That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I received Revelation.”

    Source: Sahih Muslim

  6. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    March 11, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    Esselamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa baraktuhu,

    Just one question. If we know that the Prophet s.a.w.s. was born on one of the monday of Rabīʿ al-Awwal in 570 and 571 C.E., would it not be useful to count back through the calender and see on what dates did mondays fall in Rabīʿ al-Awwal in these two years?

    Wassalaam

    The problem with this is that the ‘conversion’ between Gregorian and Hijri is not precise. No one kept records back then, and we have at least half a dozen attempts (some of them online, most in print) to provide such conversion tables, but no two tables are completely identical.

    Yasir

    • Avatar

      Munawwar Kavungal

      April 29, 2015 at 8:55 AM

      Muhammad Husayn Haykal in his biography of Prophet SAAWS mentions about even more options of Muharram, Safar & Rajab in addition to Rabee’ al awwal & Ramadaan. Further he also states about the French orientalist mentioning the most probable time being in August 570 CE which corresponds to Rajab.
      Recent archeological findings give weight to the other opinions regarding the “year of elephant” matter. Contrary to the generally held view, year of elephant was some 17~18 years before Prophet SAAWS’ birth. Haykal too mentions the other opinions, mentioned in Seerah texts, in this matter that the incident was 15 years before Prophet SAAWS’ birth or even 30 or 70 years before his birth.
      Personally, I am inclined to believe that Prophet SAAWS’ birth was in 570 CE August, mid-Rajab 15 years after Year of Elephant, on a Monday. I say mid -Rajab because of the commonly held view that the corresponding eve was a full-moon one.
      Wallaahu a’lam

  7. Avatar

    ASC

    March 11, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    Jazak Allah Khairun Shaykh…this is really beneficially for us…as it is “mawlid season”..I think we def need to have some information on this topic, so people can read for themselves…Def looking forward to part 2 very soon!!

    • Avatar

      Firas

      February 14, 2019 at 9:06 AM

      Na’am. We must know the reasons for this practice being a bid’ah.

      Who was the first person to introduce this practice?

      NOT the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) , NOT the companions (may Allaah be pleased with them)

      Then who, if it wasn’t done by the Salaf, the best of generations?

      The milad (celebrating birthday of prophet mohammad(pbuh)) was first introduced by the Shee’ah Faatimids after the three best centuries of Islam. The next person to do this after them and re-introduce it Was King Al-Mudhaffar Abu Sa‘eed Kawkaboori, the king of Irbil, at the end of the sixth century or the beginning of the seventh century AH, as was mentioned by the historians such as Ibn Khalkaan, and others.

      Abu Shaamah said:
      “The first person to do that in Mosul was Shaykh ‘Umar Ibn Muhammad Al-Malaa, one of the well-known righteous people. Then the ruler of Irbil and others followed his example.”

      Ibn Katheer, said in his biography of Abu Sa’eed Kazkaboori:
      “He used to observe the Mawlid in Rabee’ Al-Awwal and hold a huge celebration on that occasion… some of those who were present at the feast of Al-Muzaffar on some occasions of the Mawlid said that he used to offer in the feast five thousand grilled heads of sheep, ten thousand chickens and one hundred thousand large dishes, and thirty trays of sweets… he would let the Sufis sing from Dhuhr until Fajr, and he himself would dance with them.”

      Thus it is not the beloved prophet nor are the rightly guided khalifahs who endorsed eid milad-un-nabi (celebrating birth day of prophet) in to Islam. It is above mentioned persons who did so. And our beloved prophet has guided us regarding these newly invented things in islam:

      Narrated by Ali ibn AbuTalib That the Prophet of Allah (saws) said: “If anyone introduces an innovation (in religion), he will be responsible for it. If anyone introduces an innovation or gives shelter to a man who introduces an innovation (in religion), he is cursed by Allah, by His Angels, and by all the people.” Sunan of Abu-Dawood [Hadith 4515]

      Narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah That the Prophet of Allah (saws) said in a sermon: “The best speech is that which is embodied in the Book of Allah, the Al Quran; and the best guidance is the guidance given by me, Mohamed (saws). The most evil affairs are the innovations, and every innovation is an error.” Sahih Muslim [ 1885]

      Note here what the blessed prophet(pbuh) is saying “ EVERY INNOVATION IS AN ERROR”, thus includes every innovation, no matter how people categories them.

      A’ishah narrated that: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (i.e. Islam) that is not part of it, will have it rejected.” (Sahih) ibn majah [Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 14]

      Thus a believer should fear Allah, and avoid all these celebrations which have no base in Islam. There is absolutely no record, that our beloved prophet ever celebrated birthday of any of the individual, nor did any of the companion ever did so.

  8. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    March 11, 2009 at 11:14 AM

    in one class i took on salah, we learned that some of the variant narrations about different acts such as being able to say tasleem once instead of twice, or reciting basmala out loud – that they are all from the sunnah, and the best way to implement the narrations was to do different things at different times.

    i think the desi tv stations on satellite are trying to deal with the ikhtilaaf in this manner. there is mawlid programming every day during rabi al-awwal.

  9. Avatar

    Amatullah

    March 11, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    Assalamu Alykum Warahmatullah

    JazakAllahu Khair ya Sheikh,

    MashAllah I’m so pleased with the educated discussion.

    The refutations, ‘anti-mawlid approach’ and the fatwa approach never appealed me. Plus I never couldn’t connect to my subjects with regards to giving nasiha on this topic since we didn’t really have a common platform to begin with. Now I understand where to start from and to see the picture as a whole. Instead of getting into arguments, the interesting discussion is bound to attract attention, InshAllah.

    May Allah SWT grant you the best of Dunya and Akhira. Ameen.

  10. Avatar

    NJ

    March 11, 2009 at 1:53 PM

  11. Pingback: The Birth-Date of the Prophet and the History of the Mawlid - Sheikh Yasir Qadhi « Seeker’s Digest

  12. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    March 11, 2009 at 2:45 PM

    Date & Time of Birth

    http://www.livingislam.org/fiqhi/fiqha_e43.html

    Jazak Allah for that. However it appears that the strongest opinion is that the actual birth took place after Fajr, and Allah knows best. Since this was not relevant to the intent of the article I didn’t go into this tangent, but there are some statements to support this (and the opinion that you referenced has its evidence as well).

  13. Avatar

    Dawud

    March 11, 2009 at 3:51 PM

    mashAllah for the educated and polite discussion:

    I agree with the statement of Shaykh Abullah bin Bayyah on the matter:

    http://binbayyah.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/on-celebrating-the-prophet%e2%80%99s-birthday/
    So in my opinion there is no need to prolong discussion of it, nor to fuel further debate about it. In conclusion: whoever celebrates the Mawlid by relating events from the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, or by recounting his splendid virtues; doing so without mixing this with any act that the Sacred Law deems repugnant; nor with the intention of it being recommended or obligatory – so if it is celebrated with the conditions I have mentioned; without bringing in to it anything that contravenes the Sacred Law; but out of love for the Prophet, peace be upon him – then, Allah willing, there is no problem with it, and he will be rewarded. This was mentioned by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah who said that one will be rewarded for their intention. He states this in Iqti∂å’ al-Íirå† al-Mustaq•m.2 As for those who abstain from the act, also desiring to conform to the prophetic guidance and fearful of falling into bid‘ah, they too shall be rewarded, Allah willing. The issue is not really that big; nor is it necessary to pay it more attention than it actually deserves.

    • Avatar

      Abdullah

      December 16, 2016 at 9:32 PM

      Thanks
      We rather be helping our families, relative, friends and community instead

  14. Avatar

    Kanika A.

    March 11, 2009 at 4:09 PM

    Jazzak Allah khair shaikh for that informative article.

    I dont know if this is within the scope of the next article but could you shed some light on the burda. I have heard from one of your lectures that it contains statements of shirk in them. I am learning Arabic from a student of knowledge and I asked him about it yesterday. He said a lot of people have misunderstood the statement “prophet (saw) has the knowledge of the pen and the tablet”. He said that this knowledge doesnt mean complete knowledge and it simply means more knowledge than any of regular humans. He said the word ‘min’ means a part of knowledge. He also told me that it used to be on the walls of Masjid An-Nabawi at some point etc.

    I personally like to be on the safer side and leave the doubtful for that which is undoubtful but I am just curious about this b/c of its immense popularity (and i have heard it before and honestly it does sound pretty good !) – but I would like to know what the truth is …

    Assalamalaikum

  15. Avatar

    abu Rumay-s.a.

    March 11, 2009 at 4:24 PM

    Masha`Allah nice piece as usual.

    One further point to consider is that had the exact date been of religious or spiritual significance, would it not have been revealed through clear authentic narrations?

    for indeed there is nothing that draws us closer to Allah except that the Prophet (saws) has informed us about it…

  16. Avatar

    abu Rumay-s.a.

    March 11, 2009 at 5:12 PM

    there is one interesting attempt by an egyptian, Mahmud Pasha al Falaki back in 1986 as cited in Dr. Mohar Ali’s book, Siratal Nabi that this person carried out minute astronomical calculations and estimated that the only Monday in Rabi Al Awala between 8-12 (from different narrations) is the 9th.

    Again, as shaikh Yasir pointed out, the problem is with the hijri-miladi conversions which differ and are not precise and the premise is based on certain assumptions which leads further ambiguity when trying to identify the exact date…

  17. Avatar

    AbdelRahman

    March 11, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    If I was born on the 12th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, do you think it’d be cool if we had one of those conjoint birthday parties?

  18. Avatar

    Muslim Investor

    March 11, 2009 at 5:55 PM

    Sh. Yasir,

    Jazak Allah kheir for this attempt. I do however have an elementary question on this topic. Besides the fact that Muhammad (pbuh) is our prophet and we love him and want to celebrate his life and remember his deeds and message. Why is it important to know the date of his birth? If I know Bedouin culture, few if any know the date of their birth. Many know the year based on a major event that took place in that year based on someone, perhaps family, related it to them at an older age. This phenomenon still exists among many in the Gulf where birth certificates did not exist for a long time. As such, birthdays and birthday celebrations have not been a significant part of the culture.

    Thank you and Allah knows best.

    Ahmed

  19. Avatar

    Kanika A.

    March 11, 2009 at 6:04 PM

    wow subhanAllah…looks like I found my answer on Almaghrib forums.

    If there is anybody else interested in “shirk in burda” (written by Sh. Yasir) here’s a link:

    http://forums.almaghrib.org/showpost.php?p=381421&postcount=6

    very interesting how my teacher translated that line as He (saw) has part of knowledge of tablet and pen whereas in the above post Sh. Yasir translated it as … “part of the knowledge of prophet (saw) is the knowledge of tablet and pen”

    … now this comes down to Arabic and I find this issue as a doubtful matter so I choose to stay away from it inshAllah.

    I hope this benefits others who had the same concern as I did.

    Assalamalaikum

    • Avatar

      Ahmad Omar

      January 2, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      It would be beneficial for you if you go and check this link out … Qassida burda explained…. And this video also contain the section of burda which you mentioned … Part of knowledge of lauh mahfooz by (prophet peace be upon him)….
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcYwh9IDjG0
      Wassalaam…..

    • Avatar

      Nacer Amraoui

      December 8, 2016 at 5:42 PM

      Why don’t you read the burda without the doubtful lines. It is beautiful. However, the burdahof Imam Busairi is not the original one. The original Burdah is by Ka,ab Ibn Zuhair, also known as Banat Suad.

  20. Avatar

    AsimG

    March 11, 2009 at 6:27 PM

    Asalaamu Alaykum,

    Jazakullah Khair Shaykh for this very informative article.

    Insha’Allah you will come out with article 2 quickly so many can learn and benefit from it

  21. Avatar

    J

    March 11, 2009 at 7:41 PM

    Anyone who celebrates Mawlid should also celebrate Christmas, the birthday of Prophet Eesa [as].

    • Avatar

      Ahmad

      January 11, 2015 at 2:47 AM

      @J.pls justify your statement with solid evidences.

  22. Avatar

    Kaja Moinudeen

    March 11, 2009 at 10:12 PM

    Assalamulaikum,

    So do we derive that we can celebrate Prophet (SAWS)’s birthday every monday by fasting on that day?

  23. Avatar

    Al-Madrasi

    March 11, 2009 at 10:42 PM

    @ Kaja

    So do we derive that we can celebrate Prophet (SAWS)’s birthday every monday by fasting on that day?

    WaAlaikum Salam wr wb,

    We, as muslims, do not fast on the days that we celebrate. Fasting is forbidden of Eid’s along with Ayyamuthashriq (three days followed by Eid-ul-azh-ha) and Prophet (SAW) and forbade fasting on fridays alone unless with some exceptions…

    Rasool (SAW) encouraged the ummah to fast on monday…. Adding to the fact that exact Birth date of Prophet (SAW) was not explicity revealed to us, should suggest us something….

  24. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 11, 2009 at 11:00 PM

    I don’t see the importance of knowing the exact date of when the prophet salla Allah alyhi wasallam was born. What difference does it make, unless you are looking to celebrate the bid’a of the Mawlid. I don’t see how knowing the exact date will help you please Allah or go to Jannah, or not knowing it will lead you to hell. If no authentic report has reached us about the exact date, it means it is not important, as this deen is complete.
    Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      MUHAMMAD AHMED

      December 22, 2015 at 1:08 PM

      EXCELLENT POINT ON THIS IMPORTANT ISLAMIC ISSUE – TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE DEEN .

  25. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    March 11, 2009 at 11:02 PM

    It would be beneficial to have a disclaimer for adab on this…lest this degenerate into a hate-fest full of arguing and bickering–things that are most definitely NOT in the Sunnah- yet find their way to all Muslims regardless of their understanding of Islam.

  26. Avatar

    Al-Madrasi

    March 11, 2009 at 11:58 PM

    Scientific Calculation about the Year:

    A Lunar month is about 29.5 days, so there are totally 354 days per lunar year, which fall short 11 days per year (Short Days – SD)

    This Gregorian Year (GY): 2009, Hijri Year (HY): 1430. Rasool (SAW) made hirjah after 53 years (well, here one can count as Rasool (SAW) was 53 or 54 years Hijri years old, I am going to count as 54 to make sure about the lower bound of the year).

    HY+54=1430+54=1484 (Total number of lunar years from Rasool SAW birth year)

    Total no of days in difference with Gregorian year: 1484*11= 16324

    Total no of Hijri years accounted for those days: 16324/354=46.113 (approx 46)

    Total number of equivalent gregorian years for 1484 Hirji years = 1484 – 46 = 1438

    Subtracting Total no. of Gregorian Years from this Grogorian Year = 2009 – 1438 = 571

    Scientifically (possibly lowest) year seems like 571 AD, Allah knows the best.

    If I were to count as Rasool (SAW) was 53 when hijri year counted, then it would be 572 AD.

    Since its just the beginning of the year 2009 and other parameters, it seems reasonable to say 571AD.

    Allah knows the best.

    P.S: This is just my opinion, if someone has a different calculations or if I missed anything here, feel free to point it out.

    Barakumullahu Feek.

  27. Avatar

    kaschif

    March 12, 2009 at 12:15 AM

    Asalaamu alaykum,

    Funny we are debating the DATE….
    Whereas the nations before us: Christians also debate the DATE: link

    We are following them EXACTLY…

    salaamu alaykum

  28. Avatar

    Al-Madrasi

    March 12, 2009 at 12:26 AM

    @ kaschif,

    WaAlaikum Salam wr wb,

    I do not think, the point of the article is to debate on the date, its rather, debating on the date is pointless and we do not benefit anything out of it spiritually.

    Allah azzawajal knows best.

    Barakallahu Feek.

  29. Avatar

    J

    March 12, 2009 at 1:31 AM

    I really think that some people need to get a clue. Ustadh Yasir Qadhi is making it clear that we don’t know the exact date the Prophet [s] was born in order to establish a proof against those who celebrate Mawlid. So all of these comments like “why are we even debating this” are really silly, because the point is to establish a proof. And Ustadh Yasir Qadhi is trying to do that in an intellectual way that is probably going to be more convincing than the way us hot-heads debate those who celebrate Mawlid.

  30. Avatar

    J

    March 12, 2009 at 1:40 AM

    Hmm, my above comment seems a bit rude. I apologize. All I mean to say is that give Ustadh Yasir Qadhi the benefit of the doubt, and know that he has always been strongly opposed to such bidah. I could’ve said all of that in a better way (without the “get a clue” comment), and I apologize.

  31. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 12, 2009 at 1:47 AM

    “in order to establish a proof against those who celebrate Mawlid”

    Brother J, I see your point, but this argument that you don’t know the exact date so you can’t celebrate the Mawlid is a very weak one to say the least. However, the fact that the prophet salla Allah alyhi wasallam never celebrated his Mawlid, nor did any of his companions celebrate it, should be enough proof against those who celebrate the Mawlid. If that isn’t sufficient for them then nothing will be.

    I still think that there is no point in debating the exact date, because there are no authentic reports that support any one date specifically, so there will be no end to that debate. But as it was mentioned before, I think the whole point of this article was that there is no exact date that is supported by authentic proof. I think that Sh Qadhi could have summed up his entire article into this statement and moved on to the second part of his article instead.
    Allah knows best.

  32. Avatar

    J

    March 12, 2009 at 2:46 AM

    As-salam Alaykum,

    Dear brother Abd-Allah, I think it just another point to use against them. It’s pretty silly to take out a day of the year to celebrate when you’re not even sure it is the right day, and most probably is not! I think that although it is not a primary argument, it is a solid secondary argument. Wallahu Aalim.

    As for just summarizing arguments instead of talking about them indepth, I have a lot of experience with debating Ahl al-Bidah, and I have found that thorough and comprehensive arguments are necessary, if hearts and minds are to be won. But to each their own! Those who just want a summary can just read the two paragraph conclusion.

    Fi Aman Allah

  33. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 12, 2009 at 3:01 AM

    “I have a lot of experience with debating Ahl al-Bidah”

    You see brother J, there is no point in debating Ahl al-Bidah. They either know the truth but are stubborn and willingly go against following the sunnah, so there is no point in debating them in that case because they will never agree to the truth and they will never be convinced, or they are ignorant about the sunnah and that is why they are falling into innovations, in which case it is enough for you to show them the truth and they will accept it without arguing about it.

    If I have learned anything from debating Ahl al-Bidah is to never debate them, because there is no benefit in it.
    Allah knows best.

  34. Avatar

    J

    March 12, 2009 at 4:24 AM

    As-Salam Alaykum, my dearest brother Abd-Allah.

    I strongly disagree with you.

    It was in fact this same attitude that caused me to launch my website, http://www.ahlelbayt.com . I got so frustrated with Sunni scholars saying “no need to debate the Rawaafidh”. It was this same dismissive attitude of our scholarship and dawah-carriers that caused the fitnah of Shi’ism to go unchecked on the internet in the English language. Sunnis were falling like flies to the Rawaafidh juggernaut. So I strongly disagree with you: we need to produce quality, thorough, and comprehensive refutations of Ahl al-Bidah. It is not so much for their sake, since like you said, most of them are stubborn and obstinate upon their bidah. Rather, it is for the sake of the onlookers, the neutral people on the sidelines who listen to these debates, no matter how much we tell them not to. By not engaging in refutation, we are letting Ahl al-bidah get a free ride.

    Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said:

    “Refuting Ahl al-Bidah is a Jihad, to the extent that Yahya ibn Yahya said: ‘Defense of the Sunnah is more excellent than Jihad in the path of Allah.’” (Naqdul-Mataq wal-Kalam)

    Within a few months of launching the site, we stopped the Shi’ite juggernaut in its tracks, bringing it to a grinding halt. Al-Hamdu Lillah. I cannot take the credit for that, since I had immense help from people who chose to remain behind the scene and anonymous, and without their help it would not have been possible. All praise is due to Allah [swt].

    Back to the point: we need thorough and comprehensive refutations. I agree with you that 1-on-1 debates are useless, and that is why I avoid those. But when Ahl al-Bidah publicly post their articles and doubts, it is incumbent on Ahl as-Sunnah to rise up and slaughter their arguments one by one, in a thorough and comprehensive manner, leaving them no leg to stand upon. Staying silent in the age of information is no longer an option. Those quotes from the salaf about not debating Ahl al-Bidah do not AT ALL apply here, because that was coupled with the issue of isolating them and denying them the platform to speak. Now–thanks to the internet–they have the platform to speak, so simply ignoring them will NOT isolate them; rather, it will allow them to preach unchecked.

    Fi Aman Allah

  35. Avatar

    J

    March 12, 2009 at 4:26 AM

    “If I have learned anything from debating Ahl al-Bidah is to never debate them, because there is no benefit in it.

    Shaykh al-Islam said:

    It is clear that opposing the innovators is of general benefit to the Muslims and is considered one of the types of Jihad in the path of Allah. Since purifying the Religion of Allah, and its Manhaj (methodology), its Shari’ah, and defending it from their attacks and that of their enemies is a collective obligation–a fact which is agreed upon by the scholars. For if Allah did not raise up some people to repel the harms (caused by) others, then the Religion would become corrupted. Indeed, this type of corruption is even greater than the corruption resulting from the disbelievers conquering the Muslims. This is because when the disbelievers conquer the Muslims, they do not corrupt their hearts nor their Religion, except after some time. Whereas the innovators corrupt the hearts from the very outset.

    (Majmoo al-Fatawa, 28/231-232)

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 12, 2009 at 8:40 AM

      salam
      Bros/Sis: I think we are over-extending the purpose of the article. There is room for academic discussions without delving into debates, isn’t there? Don’t be too sure either that the point of this post is to set up for some grand refutation… I actually have no idea what the 2nd post is going to be about, and I won’t speculate either. I think Shaykh Bin Bayyah’s opinion is something we should consider strongly before commenting. Furthermore, let’s at least give a chance for the 2nd part before making our own conclusions :)

  36. Avatar

    midatlantic

    March 12, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    Good info as always Sh Yasir.

    I actually skipped over what Sh. Bin Bayyah said until Amad suggested we consider it. Maybe I am missing something, but if we take his argument, isn’t it possible a Muslim can easily legitimize celebrating Christmas, if done with the same preconditions he stipulates?

    Bottom line: there is nothing that draws us closer to Jannah except that our Rasool sallallahu alaihi wa sallam already told us about it. May Allah unite us with him in Jannah.

  37. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 12, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    Brother J, the scholars producing refutations for their innovations and deviations is one thing, but arguing with them on a one to one basis with their average follower, who knows nothing but to follow his own scholar blindly, THAT is which will not be of any benefit. I am not sure about which “Sunni scholars saying “no need to debate the Rawaafidh”. ” that you are talking about here, but the scholars I follow have produced some valuable scholarly works that refute their deviations. However, the scholars refuting them by writing a book is one thing, and us going around and DEBATING the average “innovator” who blindly follows his leader will NOT produce any benefit.
    Allah knows best.

  38. Avatar

    S

    March 12, 2009 at 11:54 AM

    These are statements/opinions of scholars who are highly respected by all scholars Ahle Sunnah wa Jama’ah.

    These should clarify some of the misconceptions around Mawlid both with respect to date and permissibility of its celebration.
    There are many opinions of other scholars(Imam Suyuti, Ibn Hajr, etc) supporting the permissibility of Mawlid but wanted the post to be brief.

    I do not want to fanatically and arrogantly stick to these ipinion and say: “whoever calling Mawlid a reprehensible bidah are commiting a great bidah themselves by calling something reprehensible bidah when it is not, since its proven by statements of the scholars below”.

    Brothers, lets calm down, pleaase. At some point we need to come to terms and agree that there are real and valid diference of opinions on many matters in our religion. Why call each other mubtadia, because at the end of the day every single one of us will become a mubtadia. Lets have hope in Allah(SubhanaHu Wa Ta’la) that he will overlook our differences and accept all of us into jannah together.

    Also, can someone verify the sources if they have access to these books below, to make sure someone is not making this up :). If we do not we should accept our scope of reference is probably limited and give our brothers benefit of doubt.

    Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said in Lata’if al-Ma`arif [p. 185]: “The vast majority hold that he [the Prophet ] was born on the Second Day of the Week (al-Ithnayn = “Monday”) 12 Rabi` al-Awwal… in the Year of the Elephant.”

    Ibn Taymiyya said in his book Iqtida’ Al Sirat Al Mustaqeem (Cairo, al-Fiqqi 1950 edition, pages 294 and 297)

    “What some people innovated, either to emulate the Christians who celebrate the birth of `Isa (as) or out of love for the Prophet and in order to exalt him:
    Allah MAY reward them for such love and effort but not for the innovations […]. So one MAY magnify the birthdate of the Prophet upon him blessings and peace, AND treat it as a festival, perhaps obtaining IMMENSE REWARD for it because of his good intentions in honoring the Messenger of Allah.”
    (ma yuhdithuhu ba`du al-naasi immaa mudaahaatan lil-nasaara fi meelaadi `Isaa `alayhi as-Salam wa’imma mahabbatan lil- Nabiyyi SallAllahu `alayhi wa Sallam wata`zeeman lahu, wAllaahu qad yutheebuhum `ala haadhihi al-mahabbati wal- ijtihaadi laa `ala al-bida`i […]. Fata`zeemu al-mawlidi wattikhaadhuhu mawsiman qad yaf`aluhu ba`du al-naasi wayakunu lahu feehi ajrun `azeemun lihusni qasdihi wata`zeemihi lirasulillaah).

  39. Avatar

    NJ

    March 12, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    Should we celebrate Mawlid
    (The Prophet’s (s) birthday)?
    Dr. `Isa al-Mani` al-Humayri, Department of Awqaaf, Dubai
    Office of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Dubai
    Administration of Ifta’ and Research

    http://sunnah.org/ibadaat/mawlid_dubai.htm

  40. Avatar

    N

    March 12, 2009 at 2:04 PM

    Jazakallahu Khayra Sh. YQ

  41. Avatar

    Shabir Zainudeen

    March 12, 2009 at 2:45 PM

    Jazakallhukhairan,

  42. Avatar

    Mustafa

    March 12, 2009 at 2:57 PM

    To NJ:

    I’ve skimmed through the article, and it seems like the difference is in fundamental issues. It deserves a full refutation, but not here. Very briefly:

    — There is no such thing as “good bid’ah” in Islam. The “bid’ah” in the hadeeth is used in the religious sense, while Umar(R) used it in the normal sense. All the examples given were either 1. not changes in the religion or 2. ijtihaad of companions that does not necessarily have to be correct. Everything that is called “good bid’ah” is either not good or not a bid’ah. The definition given by scholars mentioned is only defining what it is in the linguistic sense, and it refers to all new things that will appear, religious or non-religious.

    — The companions did not see the Milaad as the most blessed day in Islam. They used the year of Hijrah instead to start the calendar. We have deemed important what they did not, and we have aggrandized what they deemed irrelevant in the practice of the religion. The Sahaabah and their students didn’t see fit to do it, as they knew that the only way to “enact a good sunnah” is to revive an act that is already from the sunnah (the context of that hadeeth itself shows that), not to go about adding Eids to Islam. Only the sunnah can tell us what is a good/bad sunnah!

    Conclusion: Is it a religious act that has no precedent, and the best generations that ever lived didn’t see fit, and it is shameful that some still claim they have more understanding of the religion and love for the Prophet(SAW) than they did? Love is to go where one’s beloved goes and to stop where he stops!

  43. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    March 12, 2009 at 3:17 PM

    Amad, I suggest again, that there be a disclaimer on this and the following article to discuss with adab. These comments are far too sectarian in my humble opinion.

    An intellectual discussion is better since it’s open to everyone rather than turning it into a refute-fest. Baraka Allahu feek.

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 12, 2009 at 3:53 PM

      Amad, I suggest again, that there be a disclaimer on this and the following article to discuss with adab. These comments are far too sectarian in my humble opinion.

      Dawud, this is Sh. Yasir’s post, so I am not in a position to make any disclaimers, because he reads all the comments. I will still mention it to him in case he didn’t get a chance to check MM today.

  44. Avatar

    Atif

    March 12, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    When is ibn Taymiyyah’s (r) birthday? Isn’t it also 10th or 12th of Rabi’al Awwal? :)

  45. Avatar

    Faiez

    March 12, 2009 at 8:42 PM

    Question: We often hear great scholars, such as ibn ishaq, taking opinions without any source (i.e. 12th of rabi al-awwal). Sometimes I think, they couldn’t have just pulled a number out of the air, their intelligent individuals. Where do you think he got this date from if no sources are listed?

    JazakAllahu khayr for this excellent article shaykh.

  46. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    March 12, 2009 at 10:34 PM

    Ahh, ok. Jazaka Allahu khayran Amad.

    From what I understand, the majority opinion is that mawlid is permissible (or laudable), so I am wondering in light of that if the Muslims of the past viewed this in a different way then we do today?

    I also know people who have “mawlids” have them on a weekly basis, throughout the year which prompts me to think that there was no connection of a celebration of the birthday of the prophet- but that, they intended to have a celebration of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) and his life, not necessarily his birth. But then arbitrarily chose this day, think it a appropriate to have a celebration of his life on one of the days that may have been his birthday- that is, they didn’t attach importance to the day as much as they did to celebrating our Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s legacy as their main goal.

    The research in this essay makes me think that might be possible, similar to how the fast of Ashura was enjoined by our Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam in memory of Musa alayhi salam.

  47. Avatar

    ALGEBRA

    March 13, 2009 at 12:55 AM

    Aslamu-alaikum:
    What’s the point of this article. REALLY………………….
    salam

  48. Avatar

    Qas

    March 13, 2009 at 1:47 AM

    Aslamu-alaikum:
    What’s the point of this article. REALLY………………….
    salam

    To mention “the various opinions regarding the birth-date of the beloved Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam”.

  49. Avatar

    ALGEBRA

    March 13, 2009 at 1:53 AM

    Aslamu-alaikum:
    I thought we weren’t suppose celebrate birthdays…………….:)

  50. Avatar

    Abu Abdurrahman

    March 13, 2009 at 4:12 AM

    It truely is so sad how any such topic can cause such an uproar among any Muslim crowd. While I do understand why people feel matters such as these are important, I cannot but feel it a pitiful state that we are in that at the same points of each calender year we as an Ummah will always go through the same thoughts and argumenets – sometimes without even knowing the other scholarly opinoins on the matter – and perhaps even more misguidedly, are not ever ready to listen to what any brother who may be of a different position to that of our own has to say. Wallahumusta’an, Allah’s aid is sought indeed.

    Our mannerisms of conversing with one another in general, or the lack thereof – myself perhaps first and foremost, could in the general sense be the single biggest bid’ah that our communities bleed from. I point that out even though I do accept that conflating the lack of adab of discourse with the actual academic material under any given discussion is also not of that much help; but I think you will all understand and appreciate that what is of greatest need perhaps is for the communities to be given furhter tarbiyyah by their leaders and role models wherever possible. Littel knowledge has always proven to be a threat to communal well being – and even with sounder levels of awareness, the need for taqwa along with ‘ilm is always paramount. Allah knows best.

    Notwithstanding the above, I also do feel that reacting to the said lack of adab of differing by throwing the baby out with the bath water is also not of considerable help, in m personal opinion.

    Taking the topic of Milad as an example.

    Simply pointing to the matter as one of difference of opinion and that scholars (Ibn Hajr and so and so… etc.) all opined to it being ok, and that Sh. Bin Bayyah said it is masnoon ( although he has never said that it is sunnah rather said you *cannot* say it sunnah or that nabi sallahu alayhi wa sallam did, but if you do it than inshallah rewarded). This is not a very pragmatic approach for one who believes it to be a case of an almost absolute matter, not practised for over 620 odd years, after the death of the Prophet of Allah, ‘alayhi wa alihis salatu was salam. Could there really be somethign so good left out by all these generations or some need so great tohat need be addressed in tems of people forgetting their love for nabi (alayhi salam) that we need to concede a novel practice? For one holding that position – and that is a very tenitable position no doubt – then why should one then have start going through great lengths to quote a list of Ulema who permitted certain forms of Mawlid, when we can almost say with surety that they would never approve of most of the ways in which it is celebrated and practised today. On the contrary the way it will normally be practised, especially “back home” will entail some close to shirk rituals which all and sundry will understand to be condoned regardless of how clear we try and state that as not being the case.

    I just feel that the rules of fatwa would push us, quite clearly, in the direction of not so needlessly conceding the acceptance of the practice of Mawlid in its current form, as we are almost talking about something totally different to what some of the earlier scholars (arounf the 7th Century) were referring to. It would almost be like the caseof the ‘opinion’ of Music ( going against the overwhelming majority and the official stand point of all 4 madhhabs) – and now you have thousands and thousands saying “oh Sh. Qardawi allows Music, therefore I can listen on to my Hip hop, RNB!!” – Wa laa hawla wa la quwwata illah billah, if they only read the strict guidelines.. But the message can never , and will never reach the masses in that clear form, ever. ANd we should be aware of that.

    Instead, I feel that we should, perhpas be taught more tolerance in our mannerisms of differing even with those who simply hold what we may understand to be a wholly untentitable position (but is being follwed sincerely) – and wherever possible to highlight the ‘correct’ view (!!), but in a beautiful, and gentle, manner – if the circumstances allow it without causing some sort of civil strife. Otherwise leaving it to those who actually know how and when to do this. That I feel, and Allah knows best, is a far more amicable and prudent approach, and perhaps to simply point out that it isn’t out of respect of love for the Prophet (alayhi wa alihis salatu was salam), that we hol this position – on the conrary we accept the validity/acceptability of even making sending salutations and benediction of him a Rukn, or Essential Element/Pillar of our Prayers (which a view within the madhhabs – Hanbali to be precise)…..

    And with this, we are not in need of allowing mixed messages to reach the masses from the same indivual. Please forgive us if we’ve spoken out of turn. And Allah is the Source of all Strength.

    Wassalamu alaykum

    Abu Abdurrahman

  51. Avatar

    S

    March 13, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    Shukran Br. Abu Abdurrahman for the balanced approach to this issue, may Allah(SubhanaHu Wa Ta’la) reward you. If you follow the post above in chronological order, you would see that the world “Ahl al bidah” was being used synonymously for people celebrating mawlid and were being compared to rawafidh!! People who posted the opinions of scholars would not have posted those opinions, If your post had come condemning such posts in the first place. I give you benefit of doubt and not consider you biased.

    Btw, about the opinions of scholars ya akhi, the difference is in principle.

    The people who follow a madhab/school of rightly guided imams and follow scholars who have carried their school forward at different points in history and amended based on the situations of their times, like Imam Nawawi, Imam Rafii, Imam Ibn Hajar Haythami, Imam Ramli, etc for Shafii school, the opinion of the scholar is final for such people. Since they understand the scholars are more qualified than them, have vast scope of reference and they are carrying forward the great legacy of scholarship of 1000+ years, an unbroken chain going back to Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. If the great scholars who are carrying forward this legacy to this day, permit a certain act(like Mawlid) and they very well know the current times, the story just ends here. People’s heart are convinced that they are following our Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam in best possible manner. The bottomline is, most people take our religion not from books but sitting at the feet of scholars carrying forward the legacy of 1000+ years of scholarship and unbroken chain going back to our Prophet and Messenger Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. Thats what i learned from my teachers.

    For people, who are proponents of “Do it yourself islam” directly deriving ruling from the Athar of Sahaba and Sayings of our Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam after 1400 years or only following the opinion of minority scholars of this ummah who are far apart scattered in the history, the story is different for them. They will certainly come up with different opinions opposing the scholarship of 1000+ years.

    I do not want to get into debate on following a madhab and issue of not following one. I would suggest a book that recently got published translated in English called Al-La Madhhabiyya: by Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan al-Buti(Scholar of eminence who taught at Al-Azhar University in 1960s).
    http://www.islamopedia.co.uk/shop/article_ASunniPubs%2520001/Al-La-Madhabiyya—Abandoning-the-Madhabs.html?shop_param=cid%3D1%26aid%3DASunniPubs%2520001%26

    I consider all the brothers whether they follow mawlid or not, follow madhab or not, my brother and i hope Allah(SubhanaHu Wa Ta’la) will forgive all of us for our shortcomings and make us enter jannah together.

  52. Avatar

    S

    March 13, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    I saw there was an excellent article tittled Misunderstanding about Ibn Taymiyyah and Mawlid. Why was it just deleted after a couple of brothers asked questions ? The questions were certainly not with bad adab by any standard coz i read them…Censorship ??

  53. Avatar

    Faisal

    March 13, 2009 at 11:46 AM

    @NJ

    “sunnah.org” is a deviant website so we should be careful before reading or posting their articles.

    Below is a description of the site from http://www.bilalphilips.com

    http://www.sunnah.org

    This is a site to beware of. It is full of deviant Sufism. It has a page in praise of Qasidat -ul Burdaa. It claims that Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al Qayyim, Ibn Hazm, Al-Jazai’ri, Al Abanee and bin Baz are all Innovators!!

    Among other false claims on the website are the following statements about Kashf:

    Kashf (Unveiling) is a reality which refers to the miraculous knowledge of the awliya (Friends of Allah). Such knowledge attains higher levels than that of any other knowledge of humankind and jinn including in certain cases the knowledge of Prophets…

    Thus it is related by one of the Imams of hadith whose word lies beyond suspicion, that “it is well-known that he (Imam Nawawi) used to meet with al-Khidr (as)” and converse with him among many other mukaashafaat

  54. Avatar

    MUA

    March 13, 2009 at 11:49 AM

    S – concerning your statement: “Since they understand the scholars are more qualified than them, have vast scope of reference and they are carrying forward the great legacy of scholarship of 1000+ years, an unbroken chain going back to Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. If the great scholars who are carrying forward this legacy to this day, permit a certain act(like Mawlid) and they very well know the current times, the story just ends here.”

    This is not accurate at all nor true. As far as the unbroken chain, the burden of proof is on you to show that there exists unbroken chains in regards to ilm outside of ilm al-hadith. I know for a a fact that for example, the Naqshabandi tariqa (mujadidi & haqqani branches included) have a broken chain at the very begining of their silsila – study it closely from Jafar as-Sadiq to Bistami to Kharqani. Huge gaps. In fact, in order to make it “unbroken” they invented the concept of “uwaysi silsila” in which the dead sh. will transmit to the living. This would never be permittied in ilm ul hadith studies. Imam Shatibi also scrutinized the silsilat of several of those who claimed to have received knowledge in an unbroken manner all the way to the Prophet saaws (actually to Allah). I even brought this to the attention of one of their murids who didn’t do his due diligence before buying into the idea that you’re peddling. And he took it to his sh. who in front of a public gathering used it as a credential for his knowledge (and soem how an irrefutable proof just like you’re doing), and when he was asked my question in private he said, “well if the light bulb is so bright who cares where the electrcity is coming from.” That’s so disengenous. Also many researchers who have studied silsilat of the various tariqat have noted that not a single one is “unbroken.” It’s sickening that people use this as a credential for their ilm. LIkewise, as for ijaza, this is a huge field on pedagogy that needs to be studied closes. But remember that even the classical and medieval scholars who received ijazat to transmit and/or teach knowledge or books from their shuyukh never used this “unbroken chain” argument to stymie any criticism of their ijtihad and opinions. Rather they had to prove their ijtihad was correct based on legal devices, hermenutics, evidence, and reasoning. None of them said this knowledge goes back all the way to the Prophet saaws, they were much more humble and said this is the best we can do and we think it is rigth with the possibility of being wrong. Their approach was exoteric not esoteric.

    In light of this your argument of “do it yourself Islam” falls apart too. Even scholars who received ijaza from their shuyukh differed in areas of knowledge, the ijaza did not eliminate that fact. So please don’t make it seem that the reason why there are differences is because you have some people who studied from books of ahadith and athar. Btw, those who did had usool too, they didn’t just haphazardly come up with fatawa. In fact, there is a hadith of the Prophet in Fath al-Bari that there will be people who get knowledge from waraqat and they will have a high level of Iman equal to the early generations.

  55. Avatar

    NJ

    March 13, 2009 at 12:09 PM

    Faisal,

    I just happened to provide a link to an article that is also found on other websites. I don’t want to enter into an argument about sufism. The point was only to provide the other side of the argument relating to mawlid. I do not follow Hisham Kabbani, and definitely not Bilal Philips.

  56. Avatar

    S

    March 13, 2009 at 3:12 PM

    Br. MUA,

    You are going too far akhi, i never mentioned anything about Tariqa. Perhaps you imagined me as one of the whirling devishes, didn’t you :)?

    Its no difficult task if you are a student of knowledge of any calibre to find, not just the regular scholars following one of the four schools but great luminaries who themselves were at the level of being mujtahids but still followed one of the four madhhabs, in every century since the time of those great Imams. Infact the reason why only four schools survived is because only the knowledge/principles of these schools was propogated in huge numbers to this day. There were other scholars who were considered mujtahid mutlaq like Imam al-Awzai, Imam Layth bin Saad(contemporary of imam Malik), Imam Tabari, etc their schools died down due to lack of transmission of their knowledge and principles in huge numbers. You don’t have to go too far, take example of Hanbali fiqh scholars, is it so difficult to find a more than a couple of scholars in each islamic century from the time of Imam Ahmad ? To name a few very famous Hanbali scolars:

    Al-Khallal (d. 311)
    Ghulam al-Khallal (d. 363)
    Ibn Hamid (d. 403)
    al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la (d. 458)
    Abu al-Khattab (d. 510)
    Abu Isma’il al-Harawi (d. 481)
    Abul-Wafa ‘Ali ibn ‘Aqil (d. 488)
    Abdul-Qadir Gilani (d. 561)
    Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597)
    Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi (d. 620)
    Majd al-Din Ibn Taymiyah (d. 653)
    Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728)
    Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziya(d. 751)
    and so on to this day.

    Everyone of them followed Hanbali fiqh.
    If we can so easily find these luminaries, its easy to see the great numbers of regular scholars who just followed them and trasmitted the knowledge to next generation.

    The chain of knowledge from Imam Ahmad(RahimuHullah) to our Beloved Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) is not too long ya Akhi. Its so well known that i’m not even mentioning it.

    So what makes us think that people who follow one of the four madahib, do not have a UNBROKEN chain in science of Fiqh ?

    Same thing with other sciences like Tajweed, i know scholars whose chain of Ijazah in Tajweed goes back to our Prophet SallalahuAlayhi Wasallam.

    Anyways, i did not get into this discussion. Please forgive me if i have said something wrong. Insha’Allah i’m going to end my postings on this thread here. And i want to remind myself and everyone, argumentation is not part of our deen and is bad Akhlaq to argue.

  57. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 13, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    “directly deriving ruling from the Athar of Sahaba and Sayings of our Prophet Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam”

    Brother S, obviously there is a problem here! You are calling on people to take what the scholars say while disregarding what the authentic sayings of our prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam. ALL scholars make mistakes and wrong rulings on some issues, so the only way to ensure that what you are practicing is what the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam and his companions were practicing is to go back to his sayings and to the athar. Of course you take knowledge from scholars, but you do not take it blindly. You accept what the scholars say if it is in accordance with the prophet’s sayings, but if it clearly opposes them, then you do not take it, as scholars could make wrong rulings, but the sayings of the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam are all true.

    Everyone would agree that the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam and his companions never celebrated the Mawlid, so if you are one of those who celebrate the Mawlid, then ask yourself, are you on a better guidance than what the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam was upon? If you think there is good in celebrating the Mawlid, then don’t you think that the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam would have told us about it and ordered us to do it?
    {…This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…} (5:3)

    The prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam said: “Verily, the best words are those of Allah; the best guidance is that of Muhammad (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam), the worst matters [in creed or worship] are those innovated [by people], for every such innovated matter is a bid’ah, and every bid’ah is a misguidance which deserves the Fire.”

    The prophet sallalahu alyhi wasallam said: “Whoever introduces to our matter (religion) that which is not a part of it, will have it (his innovation) rejected.” [al-bukhari & Muslim]

  58. Avatar

    S

    March 13, 2009 at 5:47 PM

    Br. Abd Allah,
    Your argument is nothing but a good example of sophistry my brother. Its more complicated than what you explain. You mean to say Ibn taymiyyah, Imam Nawawi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani, Imam Suyuti, etc who were not from the same time and age , errored together by their outright or silent acceptance of mawlid and suddenly in 13th century or 14th century it dawned upon someone to correct them !
    We got to be a little less arrogant than that habibi.

    You cannot be a Judge, Accuser and Executioner together at the same time.

    This is the principle, someone who is accused is considered, innocent unless proven guilty. Thats how law works, accused is not considered guilty by default unless proven innocent. Have mercy on your brother ya akhi, pleasee, don’t be unjust to them.

    If you accuse someone of going against th sunnah, you need to come up with a hadith which explicitly says its haram or makruh to celebrate the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam)’ s birthday, specifically. If that was the case and if there existed a sahih hadith that its haram to celebrate the Prophet(Sallalahu Alayhi wa Sallam)’ s birthday and Prophet(Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) had mentioned it explicitly, then i’m sure all the scholars mentioned above would not have kept quite and would have called it haram. Our Prophet(Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) also said my ummah will not agree upon an error. So came the principle of Ijma(Consensus).

    The mubah(permissible) action/means take the ruling of their end goals. If the action/means are mubah(not haram) and end goals one is trying to acheive with it is mustahabb or mandub, then the actions/means are considered mustahab/mandub. End goal here is effort to increase love of our Prophet(Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), rejoicing on his birth, etc. Thats what Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah was mentioning up there, since he was a great A’lim and understood this basic principle.

    For those who deny principle, please go ahead with whatever please you ya Akhi. I’m done. Wasalam.

    • Avatar

      Nadime

      December 23, 2016 at 6:26 PM

      Our beloved prophet did say do not immitate the Jews or the Christians. None of the Sahaba following the death of SAW ever practiced the mawlid. To celebrate a date of which has no authenticity is slightly contradictory. To celebrate our beloved prophet and give Salawat on any day I believe is righteous but to associate it with a specific day is basically celebrating a ‘birthday ‘ as the pagans and Christians do as the prophet told us not to immiate. Jazakallah

  59. Avatar

    MUA

    March 13, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    fyi – the discussion and my responses to S has carried on to the second article on this topic.

  60. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    March 14, 2009 at 11:43 PM

    bismillah was salamu alaykum. i found this article after reading part II. :) mashaAllah, shaykh, you do a good job of “incompletion” — we finish the article and just want more. :)

    @Amad/Omar — links to part II?

  61. Avatar

    lubna

    March 17, 2009 at 5:43 AM

    JazakAllah for the information

  62. Avatar

    MA

    March 23, 2009 at 7:21 PM

    Assalam-alaikum,
    As pointed by other brothers what the point of this article. Is that to educate that the day Mohammaed salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam is born isn’t know to anyone or is that refute the celeberation of Mawlid as Bida( mostly liberal and generously)means to undermine a cause. I wish not the same case with the author insha-allah.

    > “when Abu Lahab died, someone from his household saw him in a dream, they asked him what happened in the grave he said ‘I am being punished severely, but on Mondays, I get water from my finger with which I am freed Thuwayba.’” (Sahih Bukhari in the book of Nikah, and Ibn Kathir mentions it in his books Sirat al-Nabi Vol.1, p. 124, Mawlid al-Nabi p. 21, and al-Bidaya p. 272-273.)

    > Ibn Kathir writes that Abu Lahab freed Thuwayba on the day that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was born. (Ibn Kathir in his Sirat al-Nabee).

    Jazakallah
    MA

  63. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 23, 2009 at 8:30 PM

    Brother MA,
    if you closely examine that hadith in bukhari that abu lahab’s punishment was less, then you would have known that this was not part of the hadith itself but was what ‘arwa, one of the narrators of the hadith, had said based on a dream of abu lahab’s family who saw him in the dream, so this is in no way clear cut proof that abu lahab’s punishment is less.

    Imam nawawi gave an example that if it was the night of the 30th of sha’ban and no one has sighted the moon yet, but one man saw the prophet in his dream telling him that tomorrow is the first day of ramadan, then that would not be used as proof for that man or anyone else to start fasting only based on that dream. This is if the man saw the prophet in the dream, so how about if the person in the dream was abu lahab, and we both know the difference between the two, then what abu lahab says in a dream could not be taken as proof that what he is saying is true as it was only a dream, not to mention it was abu lahab who said that and not some one reliable, which wouldn’t have made a difference anyways, because it was only a dream.

  64. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 23, 2009 at 8:41 PM

    Brother MA,
    here is clear proof from the Quran that neither abu lahab nor any other disbeliever who is being punished in hell will have his/her punishment lessened:
    [But as for those who disbelieve, for them is fire of hell; it taketh not complete effect upon them so that they can die, nor is its torment lightened for them. Thus We punish every ingrate.] (35:36)

    and if you want more specific reference to abu lahab, then please read surah # 111, it will clear things up for you whether abu lahab will have his punishment lessened or not for any reason..

  65. Avatar

    MA

    March 23, 2009 at 10:08 PM

    Jazakallah Br.Abd-Allah for the reply. One just can’t be-little a means of Vahiee – by saying its just a Dream(s). If you recollect Surah- Yosuf when Yousuf alayhi wa sallam describe the very dreams to His father. I can’t imagine reason of that Auhors has inscribing those words (“….I am being punished severely, but on Mondays, I get water from my finger with which I am freed Thuwayba…”) in Sahih al Bukhari it just a dreams or words are trustworthy..~~.

    IBN Muhammad bin Abdul Wahab Najdi’s book – Mukhtassar Sirat-ur-rasool, Milaad-un-nabi:

    Thuwaiba, who was the freed slave of Abu Lahab fed Rasolallah Sallalalhu ?alaihi wa sallam milk. Abu Lahab freed Suwaiba at the time when she informed him that a son has been born at your brother?s house. After the death of Abu Lahab he was seen in a dream, in which he said ?I am in severe punishment but this is lessened on Mondays, he showed his forefinger, and said that he would suck from it. This is so because it was with this finger that I freed Suwaiba when she informed of the birth of the Prophet, and she also fed the Prophet Sallalalhu ?alaihi wa sallam .. Ibn Jawzi states: Abu Lahab is that kaafir who has been specially referred to, in the Qur?an. If such a person can be rewarded for celebrating the Milaad of the Prophet Sallalalhu ?alaihi wa Sallam, then imagine how great the reward would be for a Muslim when he celebrates it.”

    Jazakallah
    MA

  66. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 24, 2009 at 8:33 AM

    Brother MA,
    are you asking us to follow the sunnah of abu lahab? I’d rather follow the sunnah of the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasalam…

    You say dreams are a means of “Vahay” and are true, so would you accept if i tell you that i had a dream that says we should not celebrate the Mawlid because it is an innovation?

  67. Pingback: The Birth-Date of the Prophet and the History of the Mawlid - Part II of III | MuslimMatters.org

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  69. Avatar

    MA

    March 24, 2009 at 3:37 PM

    Brother Abd-Allah , all I am saying to recognized the meaning of “Rahmatul-lil-Allamin” and it is NOT “Rahmatul-lil-Momeneen” or NOT “Rahmatual-lil-Muslimeen”

    To the second point there are numerous hadith been talken valid (though) been or seen Him-salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam when they haven’t accepted islam. So once they accepted Islam its accepted as it and not been refuted as wrong. by saying you were not muslim at that time.

    Are you saying the Sh. al Bhukari did a mistake by mentioning (”….I am being punished severely, but on Mondays, I get water from my finger with which I am freed Thuwayba…”) and should be deleted…

  70. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 24, 2009 at 8:13 PM

    “Are you saying the Sh. al Bhukari did a mistake by mentioning (”….I am being punished severely, but on Mondays, I get water from my finger with which I am freed Thuwayba…”) and should be deleted…”

    No brother MA, sheikh Bukhari did NOT do a mistake by including this part, because this is part of being a good scholar, he included everything that he was told in his book, because it is part of being honest and reporting everything that reaches you, so along with some hadeeths, the scholars sometimes report what other people have said about the hadeeth or what one of the sub-narrators said before or after relating the hadeeth, but that does not make what they say part of that hadeeth and does NOT make it a form of legislation. It is not sheikh bukhari’s fault if some people are misunderstanding what he included in his book which was NOT part of a hadeeth but a dream that one of the family members of abu lahab had.

    Just like Imam Malik ibn Anas said “he who innovates an innovation in Islam, while regarding it as something good, has claimed that Muhammad has betrayed his trust to deliver the message, as Allah says, ‘this day have I perfected for you your religion’. And whatsoever was not part of the religion then, is not part of the religion today.”

    Mawlid was not part of our complete religion back then at the time of the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasalam and his companions, and nor is it part of our complete religion today!

  71. Avatar

    MA

    March 25, 2009 at 2:04 AM

    Brother Abd-Allah , I am not sure what or whom you are refering to by “other scholars”. any-how to complete the argument…
    …. its hard for me to find a reason when a person is reluctant to accept the very wording of the hadith..(just coz it undermine the very argument in context) … that too from a most Authentic book – Sahih al-Bukhari. Moreover I don’t think the basis of scholarship (sorry for typo…–>>..shouldn’t be that if a scholar is support Mawlid is considered to be so called “black listed scholars.” and the one doesn’t is pristine and righteous scholar. Well I leave it to an individual to decide …. as no soul will bear the burden of other …~.

    Imam al-Bukhari writes that:

    ” When Abu Lahab died, someone from his household saw him in a dream and asked him what happened in the grave. He said, ‘I am being punished severely, but on Mondays I get water from the finger with which I am freed Thuwayba [Abu Lahab’s slave] ‘”

    Jazakallah
    MA

  72. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 25, 2009 at 8:03 AM

    Brother MA,
    I will put what I am trying to say as simple as possible maybe this way you understand what I am trying to say:

    What Imam bukhari wrote about abu lahab, that was a DREAM that one of his FAMILY MEMBERS had about him, so it is NOT A HADEETH, and it is NOT WHAT THE PROPHET SAID, it is only what THAT FAMILY MEMBER of abu lahab had said about a dream that he had, so just because it is in Sahih Bukhari does NOT make it true.

    Now even if what you are claiming that what is mentioned in bukhari is true, then that would still NOT legislate the Mawlid, because it is not something that the PROPHET legislated. If you don’t agree that the Mawlid is bad, then answer me this, why do you think that NONE of the COMPANIONS celebrated Mawlid if it was something good once they knew about this family member of abu lahab who had the dream about him?

  73. Avatar

    dawud

    March 25, 2009 at 3:59 PM

    the debate above seems to be getting nasty – and if the person critizing the hadith quoted from Bukhari was a recognized hadith scholar, that might be one thing, but neither of you are. Leave it at that.

    It was recognized that fasting on Monday was done because the Prophet was born on that day, and it’s not a strange thing. Being grateful for the Prophet’s birth is natural.

    Stop making big issues out of what is not, and leave argumentation to scholars. Sh. Abdullah bin Bayyah spoke better than you both above.

  74. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 25, 2009 at 7:47 PM

    “and if the person critizing the hadith quoted from Bukhari ”

    Brother dawud,
    what you and many other people don’t seem to understand that this “hadith” quoted in bukhari is NOT a hadith. That is all what i was saying, and it doesn’t take a hadith scholar to know that. Go read that “hadith” yourself and you will know right away that this is NOT something that the prophet peace be upon him said. In addition, most of the arguments that i make are not mine, and i only say what i hear other credible scholars say. As for that “hadith” in bukhari, it is NOT a hadith, go ask any sheikh and he will tell you that it is NOT a hadith eventhough it is in bukhari. Not everything in bukhari is a hadith you know.

  75. Avatar

    dawud

    March 27, 2009 at 10:29 PM

    the question about ‘following the Sunnah of abu Lahab’ was snarky and rude, and I should avoid answering in that mode – just consider the thought: freeing a slave is a confirmed Sunnah, fasting on Monday is a confirmed Sunnah with the scholars affirming that it is a special day due to it being the day of the Prophet’s birth – so which part of this is ‘following the Sunnah of abu Lahab’ ???!?

    Freeing a slave?

    being grateful for the birth of a child?

    The scholars who wrote before you didn’t feel like mocking the Sunnah of fasting on Monday or freeing a slave, so please keep up your superior speech, arrogance in dealing with your brethren is why most muslims ignore ideologues of your ilk.

    in general, I would think Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah put it best:
    http://binbayyah.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/on-celebrating-the-prophet%e2%80%99s-birthday/
    So in my opinion there is no need to prolong discussion of it, nor to fuel further debate about it. In conclusion: whoever celebrates the Mawlid by relating events from the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, or by recounting his splendid virtues; doing so without mixing this with any act that the Sacred Law deems repugnant; nor with the intention of it being recommended or obligatory – so if it is celebrated with the conditions I have mentioned; without bringing in to it anything that contravenes the Sacred Law; but out of love for the Prophet, peace be upon him – then, Allah willing, there is no problem with it, and he will be rewarded. This was mentioned by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah who said that one will be rewarded for their intention. He states this in Iqti∂å’ al-Íirå† al-Mustaq•m.2 As for those who abstain from the act, also desiring to conform to the prophetic guidance and fearful of falling into bid‘ah, they too shall be rewarded, Allah willing. The issue is not really that big; nor is it necessary to pay it more attention than it actually deserves.

    and Ustadh Yasir Qadhi affirmed the same by quoting the same statement from ibn Taymiyyah’s ‘Iqtida as-Sirat ul-Mustaqim’ – those who continue to argue may pretend they know better than these two contemporary scholars, or think that their opinion should outweigh what those scholars have to say, but they should bring a dalil better than ‘what other credible scholars say’

  76. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

    “so which part of this is ‘following the Sunnah of abu Lahab’ ???!?”

    Brother dawud, the people who celebrate Mawlid say that if abu lahab got his punishment decreased because he freed a slave on Mawlid, and they use that as an excuse to celebrate the Mawlid. So celebrating the Mawlid is the sunnah of abu lahab, because it is definitely NOT the sunnah of the prophet peace be upon him nor that of his companions may Allah be pleased with them.

    Imam Malik ibn Anas said “he who innovates an innovation in Islam, while regarding it as something good, has claimed that Muhammad has betrayed his trust to deliver the message, as Allah says, ‘this day have I perfected for you your religion’. And whatsoever was not part of the religion then, is not part of the religion today.”

    Mawlid was not part of our complete religion back then at the time of the prophet sallalahu alyhi wasalam and his companions, and nor is it part of our complete religion today!

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  79. Avatar

    Salahuddin

    December 30, 2009 at 4:56 AM

    Salaam u aleykum wa rahmatallah

    Whether the Prophet saw was born on the 2nd, 8th, 10th or 12th of Rabbi ul-Awwal, doesnt really matter. We NEVER limit the Mawlid celebration to be for just one day. People celebrate Mawlid un-Nabi all year round… Many people label the Mawlid as beeing biddah, saying that we shouldnt limit the dhikr of RasoolAllah saw to be just one day, and be forgetfull rest of the year. This is NOT the fact..as I said…the date is irrelevant as people celebrate the Mawlid of RasoolAllah all year round.

  80. Avatar

    atasha umar

    February 28, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    SALAM ALL, WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT IS TO FOLLOW WHT THE NABEE SAW SAID 4 US ALL TO FOLLOW.IF V R TRYING TO FOLLOW IT ,GOOD ENOUGH,IF V R NOT,THN TRY TO DO IT .THT IS ALL THT MATTERS.WASSALM

  81. Avatar

    Ayesh ziyad

    February 28, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    Assalumu alkium!
    Every muslim love Hazrat muhammad (s.a.w.w).but here the celebrattion of birth is a conflit between muslims.But if we fallow the sahi hadith conflit will surely solve. And when we look at sahi hadith we find that Hazrat Muhammad (S.a.w.w) and Sahaba (R.A) did not celebrate this day. Can v Question who celebrate dis day frm where they have invented this day???????????????.Its a bidat .And every bidat is GUMRAHI……………………..KIndly leave ur firqa and only be a momin muslim……………………
    Wassalm………………

  82. Avatar

    Rahmad

    February 9, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    asalamu alykum. What Muslim doing when the time of birth of prohet muhammad.

  83. Avatar

    Younus Khan

    February 9, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    Abraha was Yemeni not Abyssinian

  84. Avatar

    Fazlur Rehman Shaikh

    March 22, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    2nd Rabi’ul Awwal in the year of the Elephant was a Monday and corresponded to 23rd June 570 AC. This could be the real date of the birth of our Prophet (SAW).

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  87. Pingback: Dr Yasir Qadhi on the birth date of Prophet Muhammad and the history of Mawlid

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  89. Avatar

    Farid Hasan Sezli

    January 4, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    As Salam Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh to my dear honorable knowledgeable in Islam brother Dr, Yasir Qadhi.

    May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) reward you for sharing your knowledge and your work in this very informational article.

    I hope you would help me to clarify to me on whom did you refer in part I, paragraph 2, under the heading “The Date of the Prophet’s Birth”: “… Hence, from the extended books of ḥadīth, two pieces of information can be gleaned: that he was born on a Monday (and this is confirmed), and that he was born in the ‘Year of the Elephant’ …”. By “he” in that quotation did you meant Suwayd b. Ghafla or the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam)? Is it safe for me to assume that by “he” you meant Suwayd b. Ghafla or any other people beside the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) that you did not refer with “the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam”? Jazak Allah Khairan.

  90. Avatar

    Haseeb

    January 4, 2015 at 3:45 PM

    Every one should visit this link for the calarification of date of birth of Prophet saw
    http://islamandpsychology.blogspot.com/2011/02/date-of-birth-and-date-of-death-of.html

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  93. Avatar

    Tajudeen Abdulahad Adeniyi

    April 1, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    its really awesome being part of this grea
    t forum of learnin

  94. Avatar

    EMad

    December 15, 2015 at 12:32 PM

    1. Ibn-e-Ishaq (85-151 H):

    Messenger of Allah (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was born on 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal in ‘Aam al-Feel. [Ibn Jawzi in al-Wafa, Page 87]

    2. Allama Ibn Hisham (213 H):

    Messenger of Allah (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was born on Monday 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal in ‘Aam al-Feel. [Ibn Hisham in As-Sirat-un-Nabawiya, Vol. 1, Page 158]

    3. Imam Ibn Jarir Tabari (224-310 H):

    Messenger of Allah (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was born on Monday 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal in ‘Aam al-Feel. [Tarikh al-Umam wa al-Muluk, Vol. 2, Page 125]

    4. Allama Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Muhammad Al-Mawardi (370-480 H):

    Messenger of Allah (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was born 50 days after the event of Ashab-ul-Feel and after the death of His father on Monday 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal. [Ailam-un-Nabuwwa, Page 192]

    5. Imam Al-Hafiz Abu-ul-Fatah Al-Undalasi (671-734 H):

    Our leader and our Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam), the Messenger of Allah, was born on Monday 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal in ‘Aam al-Feel. [Aayun al-Asr, Vol. 1, Page 33]

    6. Allama Ibn Khaldun (732-808 H):

    Messenger of Allah (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was born on 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal in ‘Aam al-Feel. It was the 40th year of Emperor Kasra Noshairwan. [Ibn Khaldun in At-Tarikh Vol. 2, Page 394]

    7. Muhammad As-Sadiq Ibrahim Arjoon:

    From various turaq (chains) it has been established as true that the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was born on Monday 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal in ‘Aam al-Feel in the reign of Kisra Noshayrwan. [Muhammad Rasoolullah, Vol. 1, Page 102]

    8. Shaykh Abdul-Haq Muhadath Dehlvi (950-1052 H):

    Know it well, that over-whelming majority of the experts of sayar and tarikh (i.e. biographers and historians) hold the opinion that the Beloved (i.e. the Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was born in ‘Aam al-Feel … It is well known that the month was of Rabi’ al-Awwal and its date was 12. Various scholars have shown their agreement with this (date). [Madarij-un-Nabuwwah, Vol. 2, Page 14]

    9. Imam Qustallani (Alaihir RaHma) said:

    Rasoolullah (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) was born on 12th Rabi ul Awwal and People of Makkah follow it, on this same day they visit (your place of birth).. It is famous that you were born on 12th Rabi ul Awwal, the day was of Monday, Ibn Ishaq and others have narrated this too. [Al Muwahib al Laduniya, Vol. 1, Page 88]

    Now we will prove from scholars whom even Wahabi/Salafis consider the top most scholar in Tafsir and Tarikh and they not only say 12th is the mainstream opinion but also rely with exact hadith for it:

    10. Ibn Kathir writes in his Seerat un-Nabi:

    ورواه ابن أبى شيبة في مصنفه عن عفان ، عن سعيد بن ميناء ، عن جابر وابن عباس أنهما قالا : ولد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عام الفيل يوم الاثنين الثانى عشر من شهر ربيع الاول
    Ibn Abi Shaybah in his Musannaf narrates from Affan, Sa’id, Jabir and Ibn Abbas (Ridwanullahi Ta’ala Alaihim Ajma’een) who said: Rasoolullah (SallAllaho Alaihi wa Sallam) was born in the year of elephant on Monday, the 12th Rabi al-Awwal [Seerat un-Nabi, Volume 1, Page No. 199]

    Then he said:

    وهذا هو المشهور عند الجمهور والله أعلم
    This is what is famous amongst Majority and Allah knows the best

    11. Nawab Muhammad Sadiq Hasan Khan Bohapali:

    The birth (of the Prophet SallAllaho Alaihi wa Aalihi wa Sallam) was happened in Mecca at the time of Fajar on Monday 12 Rabi’ al-Awwal in ‘Aam al-Feel. Majority of scholars holds this opinion. Ibn-e-Jawzi has narrated a consensus (of scholars) on it. [Ash-Shumamat al-Anbariya fi Mawlid Khair al-Bariyyah, Page 7]

    You can see that the historians / scholars from the first / second century of Hijri, as well as the scholars of later times, had been authenticating it. The list also includes the well known leader of Salafis, i.e. Nawab Sadiq Hasan Bohapalvi.

  95. Avatar

    Abdullah

    December 21, 2015 at 2:44 AM

    Whether it is 9th 10th or 12th… Hardly matters because none of the companions(RA) of Prophet pbuh celebrated Milad so why should we follow this Innovation, which is a Biddah

  96. Avatar

    Abdul Kareem Adedeji Hakeem

    January 1, 2016 at 2:37 AM

    Alhamdu lillah this is beneficial presentations and explanatory jazakumu play khayra jazaain

  97. Avatar

    Zia-e-Taiba

    October 18, 2016 at 7:12 AM

    Nice to see an article about Milad-un-Nabi per Ulama-e-Kiram k Taasurat

  98. Avatar

    Md Ashrafuddin

    December 2, 2016 at 8:48 PM

    55 days after the incident of the People of Elephants, on 12th Rabee Al Awwal, on Monday, which corresponds to April 20, 571 AD, at the crack of dawn, the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) illuminated the earthly worlds with His presence. There was surge of happiness in the whole world.

    • Avatar

      Saquib

      December 11, 2016 at 11:13 PM

      Just want 2 know whether hazrat Ali ra celebrate birthday of our beloved Prophet or Fatima ra or hazrat Hassan hussain ra or there sons or there sons after 4 generation. If not then wat r we doing is not this innovation which is not granted in Islam. Bsd dat bcoz of d date ppl of Islam has divided in today’s era. Are we all not disturbing d Islam main concepts. Think it. Thanks 2 all

    • Avatar

      Nadime

      December 23, 2016 at 6:27 PM

      Please state the Hadith this information is from. Jazakallah

  99. Avatar

    john nielsen

    December 13, 2016 at 1:12 AM

    This is an excellent read; thank you for your efforts!
    In Friendship,
    John

  100. Avatar

    Fazlur Rehman Shaikh

    June 25, 2018 at 7:46 AM

    Much controversies exist on the date of birth of the Prophet in the classical biographies themselves. The various dates reported were – the 2nd, the 8th, 10th and the 12th of the month. And over the years these had been worked out to as many as 12 different dates in the Julian calendar. This is because nobody properly knows the model of the Arab calendar operating during those days and its correct relation to the Julian calendar.

    Now we have solved this problem and the precise date when the Prophet was born is clearly known and is no more a mystery. He was was born on a Monday, on the 10th of Rabi’ al-Awwal in the year of the Elephant and this truly corresponded to June 30, 570 CE.

    If one desires to know the model of the Arab calendar of that time and its precise relation to the Julian calendar, he may refer to my book THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE PROPHETIC EVENTS (Ta Ha PUBLISHERS LTD, LONDON).

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#Current Affairs

The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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#Society

Obituary of (Mawlana) Yusuf Sulayman Motala (1366/1946 – 1441/2019)

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier.

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

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Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala

A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address

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#Islam

Reflections on Muslim Approaches to the Abortion Debate: The Problem of Narrow Conceptualization

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question.

Shaykh Salman Younas

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Abortion

“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes’ is what certain Muslims would assert… This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth.”

Shaykh Abdullah Hamid Ali in A Word on Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

“The golden mean is kind of a summit, and it is a struggle to get there. The ego does not want balance because you have to think and make sacrifices.”

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in Paradigms of Leadership (6)

A few months ago, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law House Bill 134, or the Human Life Protection Act, which prohibited all abortion in the state of Alabama except in cases where it was deemed necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the mother. The bill additionally criminalized abortion or any attempt to carry it out in situations deemed non-necessary. A motion to exempt rape and incest victims from this law was defeated in the Alabama state senate, which give the state the (dubious) distinction of possessing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in America. This move by Alabama to place extreme restrictions on abortion followed a spate of similar legislative moves by other states, such as Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

This escalation in anti-abortion legislation occasioned intense debate within the Muslim community.[1] Muslims who self-identify as progressives chanted the familiar mantra of “my body, my choice” to affirm a notion of personal rights and bodily autonomy in defending a woman’s right to choose. The ideological underpinnings of this view are extremely problematic from a theological perspective, and the practical policies arising from it that sanction even late-term abortions contravene the near-consensus position of classical jurists and is rightly seen as an assault on inviolable human life. For this reason, this essay will not pay any particular attention to this view.

Several people pushed back against this permissive attitude by arguing that abortion is essentially prohibited in Islam in all but the direst of situations, such as when the life of the mother is at genuine risk. This opinion has a sound precedent in the legal tradition and is the mainstream view of some of the legal schools, but it has often been presented in a manner that fails to acknowledge the normative pluralism that exists on the matter in the shariah and rather perniciously presents these alternative opinions as ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. Similarly, those who favour the more lenient view found in other legal schools are often seen characterizing the stricter opinion as ‘right-wing’ or reflective of the Christianization of Islamic law. Despite having legal precedent on their side, both groups engaged the abortion question in a manner that was rather superficial and fundamentally problematic.

Abortion

Did Jurists Only Permit Abortion in ‘Dire’ Circumstances?

I will begin this essay by offering a corrective to the mistaken notion that classical jurists only permitted abortions in cases of necessity, an assertion that has become very common in current Muslim discourse on abortion in America. One need not look much further than the Ḥanafī school to realize that this claim is incorrect. Though there are opinions within the school that only permit abortion before 120 days with the existence of a valid excuse, the view of several early leading authorities was that abortion was unconditionally permissible (mubāḥ) before this period and/or prior to the physical form and features of a fetus becoming clearly discernible.[2] In his encyclopaedic work al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, Burhān al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 616/1219) presents two main opinions on abortion in the school:

(i) It is permitted “as long as some physical human features are not clearly discernible because if these features are not discernible, the fetus is not a child (walad)” as per Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand. Some scholars asserted that this occurs at 120 days,[3] while others stated that this assertion, though incorrect, indicated that by discernibility jurists intended ensoulment.[4]

(ii) It is disliked because once conception occurs, the natural prognostication is life and so the fetus is granted this ruling at the moment of conception itself. This was the view of ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Qummī (d. 305/917-18).[5]

The first opinion of unconditional permissibility was not a solitary one in the school. It was forwarded by many of the foremost Ḥanafī authorities, such as Ḥussām al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 536/1141),[6] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī (d. 575/1175),[7] Jamāl al-Dīn al-Ghaznawī (d. 593/1196),[8] Zayn al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 666/1267),[9] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī (d. 683/1284),[10] Fakhr al-Dīn al-Zaylaʿī (d. 743/1343),[11] Qiwām al-Dīn al-Kākī (749/1348),[12] Jalāl al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī (d. 767/1365),[13] Kamāl ibn al-Humām (d. 861/1457),[14] Muḥyī al-Dīn Jawīzāda (d. 954/1547),[15] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī (d. 1088/1677),[16] and several others.[17] The reasoning underlying this view was that prior to a specific period (whether defined by days or by fetal development), a fetus is not a ‘child’ or ‘person’.[18] Therefore, no ruling is attached to it at this stage.[19]

Another opinion in the school, and one that has gained wide acceptance amongst contemporary Ḥanafī jurists, argued that abortion prior to 120 days was disliked and sinful unless carried out with a valid excuse. This view was most famously expressed by Fakhr al-Dīn Qāḍīkhān (d. 592/1196) in his Fatāwā and subsequently supported by the likes of Ibn Wahbān (d. 768/1367),[20] Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563),[21] and Ibn ʿĀbidīn (d. 1252/1836).[22] These sources, however, do not define or fully flesh out what constitutes an excuse, sufficing mainly with a single example as illustrative of a case where abortion would be permitted, namely when a woman ceases to produce milk on account of pregnancy and her husband is unable to provide an alternative source of sustenance for their child and fears his or her perishing. Cases of rape, incest, adultery, and other possible excuses are not discussed by most of these authors, and it is not clear whether they would have deemed these valid excuses or not.[23]

The Ḥanafī school, therefore, had three main opinions on the issue: unconditionally permissible prior to a specific time period; unconditionally disliked; and conditionally permissible prior to a specific time period. Of the three, the first view seems to have been the dominant one in the school and held by multiple authorities in virtually every century. The view of conditional permissibility was also a strong one and notably adopted by several later jurists. It is also the view that has gained currency among modern Ḥanafī scholars who are generally not seen forwarding the view of unconditional permissibility.

Some Contemporary Views on Abortion

A wide range of opinions is also found in the discourse of contemporary jurists. Shaykh Muṣṭafā Zarqā (d. 1999) presented a gradated scheme where abortion prior to 40 days was permitted without a “severe excuse”, which included “undertaking necessary travel where pregnancy and giving birth would prove a hindrance, such as for education or for work that requires a couple to move.”[24] He also considered financial strain arising from a child as a valid excuse during this limited time period. According to him, the threshold for a valid excuse would become higher as the pregnancy proceeded beyond 40 days.

Muftī Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī (d. 1996), one of the foremost scholars of the Deobandī school, permitted abortions when conception occurred out of wedlock (zinā).[25]

Muftī Salmān Manṣurpūrī states emphatically that the basis is that abortion is impermissible unless there is a valid excuse before 120 days, such as the life of the mother being at risk, serious consequences to her general health, an actual inability to bear pregnancy, clear harm or danger to one’s current children, and adultery, but not fear of economic difficulty nor the decision not to have children.[26]

In Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya, Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq states that a fetus diagnosed by medical professionals with an incurable and serious disorder that will prove to be an extreme burden on the child and its family is permitted to abort prior to 120 days as per the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Mecca.[27] Elsewhere, he divides pregnancy into three stages. The first stage is when the general form and facial features of the fetus take shape but prior to the formation of its limbs. At this stage, it is permitted to carry out on abortion with a valid and established excuse, such as the fetus suffering from a “dangerous hereditary disease”, “physical abnormality/deformity”, the life of the mother being at risk, or reasonably-established fear of the mother’s “physical and mental health” being impacted. The second stage is when the limbs of the fetus are clearly formed and discernible, and the third stage is after 120 days. In both these stages, the respected Muftī rules that abortion is not permitted except in cases of necessity, such as saving the life of the mother.[28] The permission to abort the fetus is also extended to cases of rape.[29]

Mawlānā Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī (d. 2019), a founding member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, India, argued that the permission to carry out an abortion before ensoulment (even after discernibility) is not simply restricted to cases of necessity (ḍarūra) but includes cases of need (ḥāja), which broadly includes “any situation that entails bodily or psychological harm for the parents or the child and is a cause for continual distress.”[30] Examples of valid excuses include “danger to the general health, mental health, or life of the mother”, pregnancy resulting from rape or fornication (so long as it is not someone who has engaged in the latter habitually), the strong possibility that the child will be born with serious physical abnormalities or defects as determined by a medical professional, and the genuine inability of the parents to raise and maintain/sustain more than one child without it negatively impacting their current children.[31]

Mawlānā Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī states, “Essentially, abortion is impermissible in Islam, and there is no time period in which it is acceptable to abort a fetus. However, this impermissibly has degrees. In the first scenario (i.e. post-ensoulment) it is a grievous sin and categorically prohibited; in the second scenario (i.e. pre-ensoulment but post-discernment of limbs) it is lesser than this; in the third scenario (i.e. before features/limbs become discernible) it is relatively less severe than the previous two.” He then goes on to rule that abortion is not permitted for the following reasons: not desiring more children; conception out of wedlock; or being physically or mentally unable to care for a child, since others may be able to do so. Excuses that permit abortion before ensoulment include a doctor concluding with reasonable-surety that the child will suffer from a dangerous hereditary disease, physical abnormalities, and deformities, and the life of the mother is at serious risk.[32]

There are stricter views than some of those mentioned above, especially from non-Ḥanafī scholars. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, taking the Mālikī school as his basis,[33] has argued that abortion before 40 days is prohibited “with rare exception.”[34] This view of impermissibility is also held by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī although he allows for a dispensation to be given to victims of rape.[35]

Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya also deems abortion at all stages of pregnancy to be sinful to varying degrees except in situations where the life of the mother is at risk.[36]

Shaykh Wahba al-Zuhaylī (d. 2015) ruled that abortion was impermissible from the moment of conception “except in cases of necessity” such as being afflicted with cancer or an incurable disease.[37]

Framing the Problem: Basic Levels of Engaging the Law

The discussion so far makes one point quite evident: there are an array of opinions on the issue of abortion ranging from the extremely restrictive to the more permissive. Though ‘difference of opinion’ (ikhtilāf) has generally been viewed as one of the outstanding and unique features of Islamic legal discourse, it is precisely the range of views that exist in the tradition on abortion that partly plays a role in the problematic approaches to the issue seen amongst certain Muslims. It is not so much the differences themselves that are the issue, but the manner in which particular opinions are selected by individuals who subsequently propagate them to the community as binding doctrine.

To better understand this, one can broadly identify four basic levels of engagement with religious law applicable to Muslim leaders and scholars in the West in the context of the abortion issue,[38] which often overlap with one another: (a) personal, (b) academic, (c) fatwā, public preaching, and irshād, and (d) political.

(a) The Personal

The ‘personal’ level concerns an individual’s own practice where he or she can follow the legal school (or trusted scholar) of their choosing or decide on the rulings that govern their lives when possessing the ability to do so. This level does not directly concern anyone but the individual himself.

(b) The Academic

The ‘academic’ level in the current context refers primarily to a process of study, reflection and deduction, and research to arrive at a personal conclusion regarding some aspect of the law that is undertaken in conversation with a guild of peers and not the general population. Such academic activity is often theoretical, abstract, and conceptual, and even when it addresses more practical concerns, it constitutes a general articulation of an opinion, not an individualized responsa, that others engage with as members of a scholarly class. This scholarly class includes the ʿulamā’ and others whose input is relevant to a particular issue.

(c) Fatwā, Irshād, and Public Preaching

The realm of fatwā is exclusively for a qualified scholar. Here, the scholar enters most directly into the practical implementation of a legal ruling. Fatwā does involve an academic process, and it is often conveyed by a jurist as a universal ruling in accordance with his academic conclusions. However, the practice of fatwā is commonly understood as an answer directed by a qualified jurisconsult (muftī) to an individual (mustaftī) who requires guidance on a particular religious matter. The jurisconsult providing said individual with an answer is now tasked with translating the abstract, theoretical, and academic into a practical solution, which requires taking into account the circumstances of the questioner.[39]

The delicateness of this matter has led some scholars to compare the relationship of a jurisconsult with the questioner to that of a doctor and his patient.[40] Indeed, the answer that a scholar provides a questioner may not be fully in accordance with the theoretical and abstract conclusions the former has reached in an academic setting, it may disregard an opinion that the jurisconsult otherwise deems a valid legal interpretation because its application is not appropriate in the specific case at hand, it may be strict or lenient, in accordance with the legal school of the scholar or a dispensation from another, and it may be inapplicable to anyone but the questioner. Further, a fatwā is non-binding (unlike a judicial court ruling) and does not negate other valid opinions or peoples’ choice to follow them. This is important to note in contexts where a fatwā is issued to communicate a universal rule.

In many cases, the answer that is provided to a person is not presented as a fatwā but merely a form of religious advice or irshād. Though there is presumably a difference between these two concepts, they are sometimes indistinguishable in a Western context. Irshād has a seemingly less formal quality to it, and it can be offered by a non-scholar though the prerequisite of sound knowledge still remains. Like fatwā, the proffering of religious advice and guidance can assume a more public form and have an academic flavour to it. The articles written by non-scholars on the blogosphere, lectures and speeches delivered by speakers, and religious counsel extended to others falls within this general category of irshād. For those in leadership roles, the public nature of their work means that high standards are required even here when it comes to addressing and conveying religious issues of a complex or delicate nature.

(d) The Political

If the issuance of a fatwā and providing religious advice is a delicate matter, the process of forming, advocating for, and/or enacting laws on the political level is far greater in this regard. Such laws are made in the context of human societies and affect large swaths of people who objectively vary in their circumstances – individual, social, religious/ideological, and economic. Unlike a fatwā or irshād, once a law has been settled upon by the state, it becomes binding upon an entire population and any reasonable alternative ceases to hold validity in practice at least until the law is reviewed and amended. Exemptions are only tolerated when affirmed by the law itself. Further, law interacts with and influences society in complex ways. This is true for all forms of law, not just ones that are state-enacted.

A core question in legal philosophy is what the law ought to be or what makes a law good. The ‘good’ is a moral concept and might be described as one that is essentially contested in so far as people differ over its conception and the criteria for its application. Some emphasize the consequences of a rule (consequentialism), while others favour a deontological moral ethic or one that is virtue-centred. Each of these families of theories subsume within them further particular theories that differ with one another. There are also considerations of fairness, equity, distributive justice, enforceability, practicality, and/or efficiency that those evaluating the law might assign significant value to. These notions of morality and the good influence policy-making and legal systems.

How do Muslims approach this issue? Islam is viewed by Muslims as a comprehensive moral and philosophical system where the moral value of an act is determined by the divine will. It is the commands and prohibitions of God that render an action good or evil, and under this divine command theory, revelation is the primary source for moral knowledge.[41] However, this legal notion of moral value is not as straightforward as it sounds since a significant number of legal rulings are probabilistic in nature and differed upon. Consequently, the moral value attached to these rulings lack a decisive character, which engenders a plurality of moral outlooks. This pluralism is an indelible feature of the tradition itself creating a paradox whereby Muslims can affirm that good and evil are known through revelation, while recognizing that differences concerning moral judgments are part of the moral vision of revelation itself.

This raises important questions regarding the political approach a minority Muslim population in the West might take regarding the abortion issue. Should Muslims seek to accommodate a pluralism justified by tradition and avoid commandeering the state to coercively impose laws that negate the right of people to follow an acceptable and mainstream Islamic legal opinion?

Should Muslims simply support restrictions on abortion practices that contravene the consensus position of Islam? Or should Muslims seek to promote an opinion, or some combination of opinions, among those found in the legal schools on the basis of a reasonably defined criteria that assesses the issue holistically from the perspective of the theological, legal, ethical, and the public good?

Indeed, there are many classical opinions whose validity scholars did not accept, others that were prima facie valid but not put into practice, and classical jurists themselves erected systems to keep a check on legal chaos resulting from people being allowed to arbitrarily follow any opinion with a basis in precedent. Yet, Muslim societies always tolerated differences of opinion, and for most of its history, people living in these societies had recourse to various scholars from multiple legal schools. Unlike the centralizing and homogenizing tendencies of the modern nation-state, Islamic law was centrifugal and operated on a grass-roots level to produce self-governing societies. In many periods, this diversity was even found in judicial settings where courts were established for each of the legal schools. This was extended to non-Muslim populations living under Islamic governments as well who were accorded a high degree of autonomy. While this might strike some as a thing of the past, a nostalgic yearning for a bygone era, there are many lessons the community can draw from the attitudes and approaches of past societies.

In a political context, the notion of the ‘public good’ (maṣlaha) is particularly relevant given the scope and consequences of legislative actions, but it is a notoriously complicated one to pin down and, like the ‘good’, might be described as essentially contested. Even the basic question “who will this law or opinion impact, and in what manner” takes one into a complex maze of considerations and perspectives that demand careful attention and thought. It is hard to imagine any informed answer to this question without the input of a variety of experts. While Muslims are not quite in a position to craft legislation, influential religious activists and scholars who advocate for specific legislation and/or discourse on it to the wider community should keep the above points in made for any advocacy that proceeds in the name of religion is one that must be approached with care and seriousness.

Abortion

Identifying the Problem: Beyond Personal Preferences, Emotions, and Selective Madhhab Picking

With this framework in mind, it is now possible to identify a major problem in current American Muslim discourse on abortion, which is that it does not meaningfully engage any of the levels described above save the personal. The distinction between these various engagement contexts is hardly recognized. Most public discourse on abortion promotes one traditional opinion over another based not on a rigorous standard that is grounded in revelation, theology, legal theory, ethics, the public good, and a keen awareness of human nature, the individual, political, social, and ideological currents and factors, historical trends, and the challenges of the contemporary world, but seemingly on personal opinions based on little more than a reaction to a perceived ideological threat, individual proclivities, or pure taqlīd. The mainstream opinions of the legal school simply act as tools of legitimation for one’s personal view.

The Problem of Imposition

On a personal level, this is not a problem per se, and people have their reasons to select certain views as opposed to others and even vociferously promote them in some limited capacity to friends, colleagues, or family over a session of tea or a short-lived social media feud with random individuals. However, for those in positions of leadership and influence, this cannot be the basis for a fatwā, general communal irshād, or public advocacy impacting millions of people. The imposition of the personal onto these areas in this manner is both ill-advised and potentially harmful. Even the conclusions reached by a scholar on the basis of sound academic research may be put aside in these contexts, i.e. fatwā and political activism/legislation, when the scholar feels that competing considerations and interests demand so. Thus, a scholar may believe in a reading of revelation that is extremely restrictive on abortion but recognizing the probabilistic nature of his interpretation and the variety of individual circumstances, the ethical norms of ease and warding off hardship, profound societal and economic changes, complex and strained community and family structures, the advice of other experts, and the general public good chooses not to advocate for this view as a matter of policy to be implemented as law or provided to a specific individual as a legal edict.

The Sunna Imperative for Leniency, The Lack of Depth of the Lenient

It is often forgotten that a peculiar response by some classical jurists to the degenerated state of society was not in toughening up legal prescriptions but relaxing them: “Our time is not one of avoiding the doubtful (shubuhāt), meaning if a person only avoids the impermissible, it is sufficient.”[42] This was an ethical consideration influencing the judgment of the jurist who saw it not as compromising religion nor a dereliction of his duty but part of the guidance of the sunna itself where facilitating the affairs of people was deemed important.[43] As Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad states commenting on the instruction of al-Birgivī (d. 981/1573) not to give the laity the more difficult opinion on an issue validly differed upon:

This, of course, is a Prophetic counsel. The ego doesn’t always like giving people easy options because we assume it is because of our laziness or some kind of liberal Islam. For al-Birgivī it is taqwā to give the ordinary Muslims the easier interpretations… but nowadays, we tend to assume that the narrower you are, the less compromises you make, the more the West will be angry and, therefore, the better the Muslim you must be.[44]

The Prophetic counsel that Shaykh Abdal Hakim refers to is known to many: “Make things easy and do not make them difficult.” This attitude of facilitating matters for people, granting them leniency, and not repulsing them with harshness and difficulty is a part of Islam. As Imām al-Shāṭibī stated, the removal of hardship (rafʿ al-ḥaraj) is a decisively established foundational principle in the shariah.[45] From this foundational principle arises some of the most important legal and ethical principles in the Islamic tradition, such as hardship necessitates ease, there is no harm nor reciprocating harm, harm is lifted, the lesser of two evils, taking into account the consequences of an act, custom as a source of law, and more. In fact, some jurists opined that when the evidence for an issue was contradictory or conflicting, the more lenient opinion was to be given preference due to the generality of revelatory texts affirming ease in the shariah.[46]

But there is a problem. Many of those who promote and relay the lenient Ḥanafī opinion of unconditional permissibility approach it in a manner that lacks substance. On the academic plane, even basic questions regarding this position are not addressed or understood, much less entertained. Take, for example, the difference between the statement of Ḥanafī jurists that abortion is impermissible after the physical features of the fetus become discernible and the statement of others in the school that this impermissibility comes into effect after a 120-day period. Are these the same? Who in the madhhab held these positions? Is there a clear preference for one or the other? How was discernibility understood? What features needed to be discernible? Did discernibility refer to what is normally observable by humans or to what is discernible by modern embryogenesis? How have contemporary jurists addressed this issue? Then there is the matter that one is hard-pressed to find a single contemporary Ḥanafī jurist who favours the view of unconditional permissibility. What does this reveal about this opinion and the possibility of critically evaluating past opinions that fall within the scope of differences of opinion?[47]

These questions largely fall within the parameters of an intra-school discussion and do not even begin to address the broader social and political considerations mentioned earlier.

Here, the sheer fact that there were over six-hundred thousand abortions reported in America in 2015, the latest year for which statistics exist from the CDC, should be alarming to people and cannot be callously dismissed.

Though the overwhelming majority of these occurred well within a 120-day period (≤13 weeks’ gestation, which is measured from the first day of the woman’s last menstruation and not from the day of conception), most of those who obtained these abortions were unmarried women who did so in non-dire circumstances.[48] The culture of sexual freedom out of which the abortion movement emerged and its ideological grounding in notions of bodily autonomy and personal choice cannot be ignored in this discussion.[49] Nor can the devaluing of family and motherhood,[50] the practice of female foeticide, the increasingly materialistic outlook of society, and its mechanistic view of human beings.

Additionally, some Muslims seem largely oblivious to the fact that abortion politics link to many other issues that have little do with abortion itself, such as assisted suicide or end-of-life care. In a famous district court case on assisted suicide, Compassion in Dying vs. Washington, it was Planned Parenthood vs. Casey that was cited as an important precedent to rule that a ban on physician-aided suicide was unconstitutional.[51] Clearly, it is not sufficient to make simplistic appeals to leniency to justify promulgating an opinion that leads to such wider consequences. Abortion, in other words, cannot be treated as a ‘stand-alone’ issue with little or no relation to a broader philosophical outlook that downplays a sanctity of life ethic.[52]

Thou Shalt Make No Exceptions, But Should We?

Many of the issues highlighted in the previous paragraph raise serious theological and ethical concerns for Muslims and should push them to reflect on the type of society they wish to create and sustain in America. Is the abortion movement today in line with the moral vision envisioned for society by God and His Prophet (blessings upon him)? Clearly not. But while the seriousness of this crisis cannot be understated, a core question, at least in the context of this debate, is often missed: if it is misplaced and dangerous to forward the most lenient opinion in this context, in what way does the strictest possible position on abortion where exemptions are not even extended to victims of rape and incest ameliorate the current situation? Or to put it differently, how do these social and ideological problems make the strictest possible opinion on abortion the most appropriate one to adopt for the individual and society?

The answer to this question is not usually satisfactorily provided. Generally, such a view returns to a genuine moral belief one holds regarding a fetus being an inviolable living person. This moral belief may be grounded in a preferred reading of revelation, simple adherence to a specific legal school, a reaction to a perceived ideological battle framed in the language of pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal inclinations, or, as is usually the case, some combination of these factors. But the no-exception view is at least initially a personal view one holds, which is then forwarded as a broad religious and political solution. One may wonder why this is an issue. After all, why shouldn’t a person forward what he or she personally believes to be the Islamic ruling on an issue?

Certainly, this is expected especially when it concerns human life, but as stated earlier, it is problematic when that personal view, which it should be noted in this case lacks a decisive legal/moral character from a religious perspective, moves into the realm of fatwā and public advocacy without taking into account the many considerations required to make an informed decision in these areas. This is in addition to the fact that those who hold this view feel perfectly within their rights to tell others to set aside their personal moral views permitting abortions precisely in view to a broader context.

Here, it is worth sharing the response given by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī when he was asked about abortions for Bosnian Muslim women who were raped during war. After mentioning that his basic view is that abortions are impermissible “from the moment of conception” and “this is what we give preference to”, he states:

However, in cases of need, there is no harm in taking one of the two alternative views (i.e. permissibility before 40 or 120 days), and whenever the excuse is more severe, the dispensation will be more established and manifest, and whenever it is before the first 40 days, it is closer to dispensation.

We know that there are jurists who are very strict on this matter and do not permit abortion even a day after conception… but what is most preferable is a middle path between those who are expansive in granting permission and those who are excessively strict in prohibition.[53]

This is, of course, how knowledge and fiqh operate. They do not merely float around in the world of the abstract but address a complex world of real people, which in the context of fatwā, irshād, and politics often requires setting aside individual feelings and personal adherences to particular legal opinions: “Know that this ikhtilāf [between scholars] may be a reason to provide facilitation and ease, which is one of the higher aims of the shariah affirmed by the unequivocal text of the Qur’an and sunna.”[54]

Too often, many of those who vociferously promote the strictest view on abortion address the issue on the level of the abstract and then transfer it to the practical realm with little further thought. Take, for example, the argument that Muslims should oppose the legalization of abortion because a majority of abortions are due to economic anxiety or a feeling of unreadiness, which in turn return to the increasingly materialistic outlook of society and crumbling family structures.

This materialistic outlook and erosion of the family must be remedied. However, no justification is ever furnished as to why a no-exception abortion stance is the best method to address this social problem, and there is almost no focus on the individual. It never crosses the mind of the proponents of this view that it is the very fact that society is materialistic to its core and the family lay in ruins that causes economic anxiety and feelings of unreadiness to be felt much more palpably and intensely by young, unmarried, pregnant women.

Web MD

By largely confining their analysis and presentation of the issue to ‘materialism’, ‘decay of family’, ‘feminism’, etc., proponents of the restrictive view (inadvertently) divert attention away from the lived realities of people. This leads to neglecting the more concrete conditions and circumstances people are subject to, such as poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, poor health, psychological issues, sexual abuse, incarceration, social inequality and stratification, and the varying abilities of people to cope with life pressures and struggles. This focus away from the individual produces an unsympathetic, even antagonistic attitude, where the solution favoured is uncompromising and rigid. The ethical is erroneously conflated with strictness even though it might entail leniency in recognition of individual and social conditions.

To take one example where these broader considerations come into play, take the issue of pregnancy resulting from rape. Though statistics regarding rape are inconsistent because the crime is so underreported, it is safe to say that hundreds of thousands of women are victims of rape every year with tens of thousands of these rapes resulting in pregnancy (approximately five percent).[55] A significantly high number of rape victims are under eighteen with many actually being under the age of twelve.[56] Victims of rape spend many weeks simply recovering from physical injuries and managing mental health symptoms, which can remain with them for years. Beyond the physical and psychological symptoms common after rape, if a rape victim decides to carry her child to term, she is forced to go through a lengthy and exhausting process to prosecute her rapist in a criminal court and contest custody in a family or dependency court.

The political and legislative context makes matters even more difficult. Not every state has legislation in place allowing for parental rights to be terminated for a rapist. Most states that do have such legislation in place require a criminal conviction of rape beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of evidence possible, with several also requiring a civil court conviction by clear and convincing evidence that conception resulted from rape.

Some states require the rape to be of the first-degree, which is varyingly defined.[57] Generally, the chances of obtaining a conviction of first-degree rape are slim. Not only do rape crimes go unreported in a majority of cases,[58] there are numerous hurdles in the criminal justice system that disadvantage rape victims at every stage of the process, such as ‘rape myths’ that influence police, investigative officers, jurors, and judges.[59]

In most cases, a rapist will plead guilty to lesser crimes in order to avoid prolonged jail time, which would potentially allow him to gain parental rights in states requiring first or second-degree rape convictions for such rights to be terminated.[60] In view of this, one can state that the suggestion by some Muslims that abortion should not be permitted even in such contexts because a woman can simply put her child up for adoption is seriously misinformed and potentially harmful.[61] Is the correct solution in this context to support the most restrictive view on abortion?

Conclusion: Refining our Conceptualization & The Bigger Picture

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question. This issue, like many others, cannot be properly addressed through a narrowly defined law, politics, or clash of ideologies narrative, especially at the level of individual fatwā, communal irshād, or political activism, advocacy, and legislation.

Nor can the wider community be shown direction on this issue, or have a course charted for them, merely on the basis of narrowly-informed personal opinions and proclivities neatly presented in the classical opinions of our choosing. Our approach must address the issue through real fiqh, namely deep understanding, where the question of abortion is tackled with an academic rigor that is cognizant of lived realities and is grounded in the ethics and guidance of revelation.

Today in America, a crisis we face is of an activism not based in, or guided by, real scholarship, and a scholarship that is wanting, uninspiring, and disconnected from those it seeks to guide. The first step scholars must take on this issue is to gain a proper and thorough conceptualization of the issue. No sound and effective conclusion can arise without such a conceptualization. This is true for any issue we find ourselves dealing with.

On the level of addressing the broader community, this is not an issue to be decided by an individual but a collectivity of minds coming together to exchange ideas and opinions. The laity should understand that American Muslims will not reach an agreement on this matter, and nor should we demand that they do. People will continue to forward different opinions and solutions. The progression of time will likely result in a plurality of acceptable views emerging within our context. This should not be met with confusion.

Muslims once lived in an age of ambiguity where opinions were confidently held but differences embraced. Today, we live in an age of anxiety, people with confused identities, threatened by modernity and various ideologies, so much so that “the only form of Islam [we] can regard as legitimate is a totalitarian, monolithic one” as Shaykh Abdal Hakim once remarked. Let us avoid this, allow for different perspectives, but demand higher standards from those who seek to guide us and speak on our behalf especially when the matter veers into a space that impacts people and communities in a very real way.

Finally, and most importantly, Muslims must break out of the mindset that social problems can simply be legislated away or solved through polemical battles waged on the internet against pernicious ideologies. The political and social are intimately intertwined, but it is all too common to see many Muslims neglecting the latter while imagining that the activities they are engaged in to address the political are actually meaningful and impactful. In fact, it is often detached from the real world, a mouthing of clichés and idle moralizing on social media platforms that elicits rage and fails to yield actual solutions on the ground. If television altered the meaning of being informed as Neil Postmann asserted, social media has undoubtedly taken things a step further by altering the meaning of ‘taking action’.

The erosion of family, the decay of morality, the rise of materialistic outlooks, the loss of higher purpose and meaning, and the devaluing of life must be addressed more directly through education, the creation of a real community, the nurturing and training of leaders who embody knowledge and wisdom, and the erection of structures that support peoples’ faith and anchor them in times of crisis. It should not be forgotten that these non-legal institutions play an important role in shaping behaviours and promoting social mores.

Muslims should learn from the many conservative Christian activists who, contrary to popular stereotypes, demonstrate an acute awareness of the struggles and anguish that many women contemplating abortion experience. As the prominent pro-life activist Frederica Mathewes-Green states:

This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child.

If you were in charge of a nature preserve and you noticed that the pregnant female mammals were trying to miscarry their pregnancies, eating poisonous plants or injuring themselves, what would you do? Would you think of it as a battle between the pregnant female and her unborn and find ways to help those pregnant animals miscarry? No, of course not. You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.” Something is creating intolerable stress, so much so that animals would rather destroy their own offspring than bring them into the world. You would strive to identify and correct whatever factors were causing this stress in the animals.[62]

It is this realization, which arises from a perspective that looks beyond abortion as simply an ideological battle between ‘the feminist’ or ‘the liberal’, that generates a sense of empathy within many conservative Christian activists who are then motivated to assist women in concrete ways.

Take the example of Embrace Grace, a Texas-based non-profit organization, which describes its purpose as “providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women and their families who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy” and to “empower churches across the nation to be a safe and non-judging place for the girls to run to when they find out they are pregnant, instead of the last place they are welcomed because of shame and guilt.” Christians have set up hundreds of pregnancy care centers across the United States, which, despite issues of concern, provide resources and services to pregnant women. Various churches have set up support groups for single mothers and mothers-to-be, while the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) has set out to confront systemic injustices in society that lead women to seek out abortions, such as poverty.[63]

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad said reaching the golden mean requires that we think and make sacrifices. It is time for leaders, thinkers, and scholars in our community to begin thinking more deeply and contemplatively about the issue of abortion in its various contexts, and it is time for our community to sacrifice their time, wealth, and energies in providing concrete solutions and remedies that demonstrate a true concern for both the unborn and the women who carry them.

God alone is our sufficiency.

[1] References to Muslims in this article should be primarily understood as referring to people in positions of leadership and influence. In this article, I discuss some of the technical aspects surrounding the legal debate over abortion, but my intent is to simply provide a brief overview of this aspect of the debate in order for a general audience to appreciate some of the complexities of the topic.

[2] Though the term fetus technically refers to the unborn after 8 weeks of gestation, many use it to refer to the unborn throughout the period of pregnancy. I will be using the latter convention for the sake of simplicity.

[3] al-Ḥasan ibn Manṣūr al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, on the margins of Fatāwā Hindiyya (Bulāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Amīriyya, 1310 A.H.), 3:410.

[4] Ibn Māza himself framed the ruling in terms of ensoulment. He stated that jurists differed on the permissibility of abortion pre-ensoulment with some permitting it. He then cited the text of Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand, which only speaks of discernibility. Qāḍīkhān mentioned how the discernibility of physical features and limbs was “determined” by some as occurring at 120 days. Kamāl ibn al-Humām and others correctly pointed out that observation proves otherwise but proceed to state that the connection made between discernibility and ensoulment shows that scholars intended the latter when expressing the former. Ibn ʿĀbidīn, however, questioned this. I agree for several reasons: firstly, many jurists make no reference to 120 days or ensoulment when presenting this ruling; secondly, discernibility and ensoulment are clearly different stages during the pregnancy, a fact that was known to classical scholars who sometimes applied different terms to these two stages, such as taṣwīr/ṣūra and takhlīq/khalq; and, thirdly, most Ḥanafī rulings premised on determining personhood rely on the discernibility criterion. Given this, there are two possible views in the Ḥanafī school regarding the period before which abortion is permissible: before some of the physical features of the fetus become discernible or prior to ensoulment at 120 days. Additionally, there was discussion in the Ḥanafī school on the features that were to be given consideration when assessing whether a fetus was a ‘person’. These discussions are highly significant in modern debates for if the criterion for personhood is discerning a particular physical form on the basis of observation, this potentially broadens the scope for modern Ḥanafī understandings of the concept of personhood and how/when it is established. I hope to address these issues in a separate paper. See Maḥmūd ibn Aḥmad ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī fī al-fiqh al-Nuʿmānī, ed. Nuʿaym Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 2004), 8:83-84; al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, 3:410; Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 1:201.

[5] Ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 8:83-84. It is worth noting that al-Qummī did not say fetus is a life at conception but that it has begun a process that concludes with life.

[6] Ḥussām al-Dīn ʿUmar ibn Māza, al-Fatāwā al-Kubrā (Istanbul: Rāghib Bāshā #619), ff. 96b.

[7] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī, al-Wajīz (Istanbul: Koprulu #684), ff. 116a.

[8] Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, al-Ḥāwī al-Qudsī, ed. Ṣāliḥ al-ʿAlī (Lebanon: Dār al-Nawādir, 2011), 2:326.

[9] Zayn al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al-Rāzī, Tuḥfat al-Mulūk, ed. Ṣalāḥ Abū al-Ḥajj (Amman: Dār al-Fārūq, 2006), 290.

[10] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī, al-Ikthiyār, ed. Shuʿayb Arna’ūṭ (Damascus: Dār al-Risāla 2009), 4:153.

[11] ʿUthmān ibn ʿAlī al-Zaylaʿī, Tabyīn al-Ḥaqā’iq Sharḥ Kanz al-Daqā’iq (Multan: Maktaba Imdādiyya, n.d.), 2:166.

[12] Amīr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Kākī, Miʿrāj al-Dirāya (Istanbul: Koprulu #619), ff. 395b.

[13] Jalāl al-Dīn ibn Shams al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī, al-Kifāya Sharḥ al-Hidāya, on the margins of Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:373.

[14] Kamāl ibn al-Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:372-73.

[15] Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn Ilyās Jawīzāda, al-Īthār li-Ḥall al-Mukhtār, ed. Ilyās Qablān (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Irshād, 2016), 4:98.

[16] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī, al-Durr al-Mukhtār (Lebanon: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2002) 197.

[17] I am usually disinclined to list names of jurists in this manner when relating who held a specific legal opinion. One reason for this is that it creates the mistaken illusion that every one of these jurists came to this conclusion on the basis of their individual ijtihād when it may in fact simply be an exercise in taqlīd. Thus, one finds that most of these authors merely relate verbatim those who preceded them without any additional comments. However, it still indicates that these jurists accepted the ruling in question as the position of the school without qualms.

[18] When does a fetus qualify as a ‘person’ or a ‘human’? What are the necessary and sufficient features for personhood? Does personhood correspond to the beginning of life? If not, when does life begin? How is this connected to ensoulment? When does ensoulment occur? When does a fetus have moral standing? What is the nature of this moral standing over the course of a pregnancy? These are central questions in classical and modern debates on abortion. Sometimes, one finds that ‘person’, ‘human’, ‘life’, and related terms, are not properly defined, which is a problem given that conclusions regarding abortion are often premised on their proper conceptualization. Further, when attempts at proper definition are undertaken, people naturally come to different conclusions. For example, some modern pro-life philosophers argue that ‘persons’ are individuals of a rational nature and a fetus has no capacity for sentience, at least not until mid-gestation. Conception, therefore, cannot mark the beginning of a person. Yet even here, some scholars note that the fetus is a potential person. Therefore, it has some moral value and standing, but others counter with a “person-affecting restriction” that argues that merely potential people possess no moral claims. Some people work under material assumptions regarding the nature of the mind and opine that a moral person must be a ‘self’ and a necessary condition for something to be a self is some form of electrical brain activity. The bioethicist, Baruch Brody (d. 2018), also relied on this criterion of brain waves in his conception of personhood. Jane English presents a range of features or ‘factors’ that she views as being found in typical conceptions of a person: biological, psychological, rationality, social, and legal. There are religious conservative thinkers who define being human on the basis of genetics. John T. Noonan stated, “The positive argument for conception as the decisive moment of humanization is that at conception the new being receives the genetic code. It is this genetic information which determines his characteristics, which is the biological carrier of the possibility of human wisdom, which makes him a self-evolving being. A being with a human genetic code is man.” Many religious conservatives also maintain that there is no moment during pregnancy that can be identified as conferring moral significance on the unborn, i.e. it possesses moral standing before birth and after. Thus, brain waves, sentience, quickening, viability, physical human form, etc., are given no consideration as points at which moral standing is affirmed for the fetus and prior to which it is denied. For important early works on this topic see John T. Noonan, The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970); Jane English, “Abortion and the Concept of a Person,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5, no. 2 (1975): 233-43; Baruch Brody, Abortion and the Sanctity of Life (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1975); Stephen Buckle, “Arguing From Potential,” Bioethics 2, no. 3 (1988): 226–253; Mary Anne Warren, Moral Status: Obligations to Persons and Other Living Things (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); Richard Warner, “Abortion: The Ontological and Moral Status of the Unborn,” Social Theory and Practice 3 (1974). The literature on this is vast.

Classical jurists of Islam were guided fundamentally by revelation in their answers to these questions, but they still had substantial disagreements. Some identified a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, others as potentially so, yet others as a person only when its physical features became discernible, while some seemingly assigned no status to it at any fetal stage prior to ensoulment. When it came to ensoulment, the majority said this occurred at 120 days, while others said 40 days. Some equated ensoulment with personhood, while others distinguished between them. There were other conceptual frames utilized in discussions concerning the fetus as well, such as dhimma and ḥuqūq, being ‘animate’ or ‘inanimate’, a constituent part (juz’) of the mother or a separate self (nafs), and so forth. This occasioned a degree of ambiguity regarding the moral standing of the fetus at various stages of pregnancy. For example, Imām al-Ghazālī prohibited abortion at all stages of pregnancy but stated that the sin of doing so is less severe in earlier stages than later ones. Some jurists deemed it permissible to undergo an abortion due to a minor excuse in the first 40 days, requiring a more serious excuse from that point up until 120 days, and impermissible in all but the direst of situations following ensoulment. The fetus, therefore, seems to have a diminished moral standing at the beginning of the pregnancy and full moral standing post-ensoulment even in the eyes of jurists who affirmed personhood from conception. This is also reflected in rulings concerning financial compensation (ghurra) and expiation (kaffāra) owed by someone who causes a woman to miscarry. Meanwhile, many Ḥanafīs seemed to have assigned no moral status to the fetus before it had a discernible human form. The moral standing of the fetus was also influenced by the manner of conception with some jurists suggesting that a fetus conceived out of wedlock was not similar to a fetus that was conceived through a religiously sanctioned relationship. Besides revelation, observation played an important role in these determinations, as did the specific legal traditions jurists operated within. Today, science and embryology have guided the conclusions of many scholars, which has raised questions regarding the epistemological and interpretive value of the former. There is arguably a need to go beyond limited legal conceptions of personhood and life and engage in deeper theological and philosophical discussions on this matter.

[19] This ruling was consistent with several others in the school regarding whether a miscarried fetus is named, shrouded, and washed, whether a miscarriage concludes the waiting-period of a pregnant woman, and even whether a fetus is resurrected in the next-life. These rulings, among others, returned to whether the miscarried or stillborn fetus was actually considered a child/person, which in turn related to the formation and discernibility of its physical features. I believe this strengthens the view that discernibility of physical features was the main criterion for personhood in the Ḥanafī school. For some of these rulings see Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī, al-Aṣl, ed. Mehmet Boynūkālin (Beirut: Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 2012), 1:296, 4:415, 481, 5:144. This interconnectedness of legal doctrine, or its organic unity, is expressed in a famous aphorism, “The law is a seamless web.” These discussions are also present in the other three legal schools.

[20] Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Wahbān, ʿIqd al-Qalā’id wa-Qayd al-Sharā’id, ed. ʿAbd al-Jalīl al-ʿAṭā (Damascus: Maktabat al-Fajr, 2000), 195.

[21] Zayn al-Dīn ibn Nujaym, al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq (Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-ʿIlmiyya, 1893; reprint by H.M. Saeed, n.d.), 3:215.

[22] Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 2:388-89.

[23] The Hidāya mentions that a child conceived out of wedlock is still muḥtaram and so cannot be aborted. Imām ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī mentions that this only applies to a fetus that has reached the stage of post-discernibility. He then goes onto state that the fatwā position in his time is that it would be permissible pre-discernibility and post-discernibility. See Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghinānī, al-Hidāya Sharḥ Bidāyat al-Mubtadī maʿa Sharḥ al-ʿAllāma ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī, ed. Naʿīm Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 1417 A.H.), 3:25.

[24] Muṣṭafā Zarqā, Fatāwā (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 2010), 285.

[25] Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī, Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyya (Karachi: Idārat al-Fārūq, 2009), 18:321.

[26] Sayyid Muḥammad Salmān Manṣurpūrī, Kitāb al-Nawāzil (Muradabad: al-Markaz al-ʿIlmī lil-Nashr wa’l-Taḥqīq, 2016), 16:248-81.

[27] Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq, Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2015), 6:756.

[28] Ibid., 6:755.

[29] Ibid., 6:763.

[30] Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī, “Khāndānī Manṣūbabandī,” in Jadīd Fiqhī Mabāḥith (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān, 2009), 1:332.

[31] Ibid., 1:331-32.

[32] Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī, Kitāb al-Fatāwā (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2008), 6:218-226

[33] The relied-upon position in the Mālikī school prohibits abortions almost entirely even if done prior to ensoulment, which Mālikī jurists opine as occurring at 40 days.

[34] https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/article/when-does-a-human-fetus-become-human

[35] Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara (Cairo: Dār al-Qalam, 2005), 2:541-50.

[36] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā wa-Fiqh al-Aqaliyyāt (UAE: Masār lil-Tibāʿa wa’l-Nashr, 2018), 577-78.

[37] Wahba al-Zuhaylī, al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa-Adillatuhu (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1985), 3:557.

[38] The delineation and explanation I have presented here should not be seen as a comprehensive exposition of the concepts being discussed. Rather, it should be seen as a basic explanatory framework to understand the problem I wish to highlight in the next section. I have intentionally left out many details surrounding fatwā, siyāsa, taqlīd, etc., for the sake of the average reader.

[39] Muḥammad Kamāl al-Dīn al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ fī Rasm al-Muftī wa-Manāhij al-Iftā’ (Deoband: Ittiḥād Book Depot, n.d.), 61-62 in the Takmila; Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 28-29, 230.

[40] al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ, 28.

[41] ʿ Abd al-Malik ibn Yūsuf al-Juwaynī, Kitāb al-Irshād ilā Qawāṭiʿ al-Adilla fī Uṣūl al-Iʿtiqād, ed. Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqāfa al-Dīniyya, 2009), 210-11. This is admittedly a simplification of a very complex debate on the role of reason, its meaning and limitations, its relationship to revelation, deontological vs teleological theories of Islamic normative ethics, and more. These were issues of fundamental debate between the great theological schools, namely the Ashʿarīs, Māturīdis, and the Muʿtazila.

[42] Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥusayn Bīrīzāda, ʿUmdat Dhawī al-Baṣā’ir li-Ḥall Muhimmāt al-Ashbāh wa’l-Naẓā’ir, ed. Ilyās Qablān & Ṣafwat Kawsa (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2016), 2:415.

[43] This is also seen in the tradition of rukhas, or dispensations, and ḥiyal, or legal stratagems/loopholes.

[44] From his Paradigms of Leadership (6) lecture series.

[45] Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā al-Shāṭibī, al-Muwāfaqāt, ed. Mashhūr Ḥasan (Cairo: Dār Ibn ʿ Affān, 1997), 1:520.

[46] For reference to this see Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273-75.

[47] One might state that these people are simply engaging in a form of taqlid. This is fair, but there is still a level of diligence and rigor expected from anyone who wishes to publicly opine on a matter of such nature.

[48] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm

[49] Take the following statements made by Judith Thomson in her well-known defence of abortion, which continues to be loudly echoed by the pro-choice movement: “My own view is that if a human being has any just, prior claim to anything at all, he has a just, prior claim to his own body” and “No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body.” The violinist analogy she forwards, among others, expresses this point quite clearly. See Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1, no. 1 (1971): 48, 54.

[50] The sociologist Kristen Luker noted over three decades ago that pro-life and pro-choice activists were mainly divided due to their differing views on the meaning of sexuality, motherhood, and the role of women. See Kristin Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood. Berkeley (California: University of California Press, 1984), especially Ch 7.

[51] Compassion in Dying v. Washington, 850 F. Supp. 1454 (WD Wash. 1994). This was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997.

[52] The phrase ‘sanctity-of-life’ has featured prominently in theological, political, and biomedical ethical discussions related to abortion and end-of-life questions. Some members of congress, for example, have tried repeatedly to introduce a ‘Sanctity-of-Life Act’ to protect the unborn. However, the origins, meaning, and application of the phrase remain unclear and heavily debated. For a basic overview see the edited volume Sanctity of Life and Human Dignity (Boston: Springer Dordrecht, 1996).

[53] al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara, 2:609-13.

[54] Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273.

[55] The Federal House Bill 1257 that passed in 2015 as the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act cites between 25,000 and 32,000 pregnancies from rape annually but this is almost certainly an underestimate.

[56] For details on these and other related statistics see https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf.

[57] For detailed information regarding state statutes and provisions on the termination of pregnancy in contexts of children born as a result of sexual assault see http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/parental-rights-and-sexual-assault.aspx

[58] For statistics on this see the Department of Justice Criminal Victimization analysis (revised, 2018) at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv16.pdf. There are several reasons why women choose not to report such crimes, which include fear of retaliation, shame and guilt, and a belief that police will not be able to help them.

[59] For a brief discussion on existing research around rape myths see Olivia Smith & Tina Skinner, “How Rape Myths Are Used and Challenged in Rape and Sexual Assault Trials,” Social & Legal Studies 26, no. 4 (2017): 442-45.

[60] Rachael Kessler, “Due Process and Legislation Designed to Restrict the Rights of Rapist Fathers,” Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, no. 10, vol 1 (2015): 199-229.

[61] There is a sensitive discussion surrounding the definition of rape in Islamic law specifically as it relates to intimate married partners. I have ignored this issue because it would distract from the main purpose of this article.

[62] https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/01/abortion-roe-v-wade-unborn-children-women-feminism-march-life/

[63] There have been initiatives in the Muslim community directed at addressing these pressing issues, such as the work of Dr. Aasim Padela of the University of Chicago and his Initiative on Islam and Medicine, Dr. Rafaqat Rashid and the work of al-Balagh Academy, Dr. Mansur Ali of Cardiff University and his research on bioethics, and several others. This is not to mention the many individuals who have tried to create practical spaces to assist people who may find themselves in difficult life circumstances. While there is much more to do, the efforts of these people should not go unnoticed.

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