Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui is one of the most well renowned scholars in North America and is a foundation scholar for Al-Madina. Originally from Algeria, he is thoroughly versed in the Islamic sciences and holds a doctorate joined between the fields of physics and engineering. His expertise includes the disciplines of Tazkiyah and Fiqh, and he is best known for his enlightening retreats and seminars empowering Muslims on their spiritual quest.
Celebrating the Prophet’s (SAW) Birthday
Celebrating his birth (SAW) is matter of difference between the ulama [scholars]. Some will say it is not Sunnah [the practice of the Prophet], some will say it is bidah [a reprehensible innovation in religion], and some will say it is a very beautiful thing to do. Looking at the Qur’anic, hadith-based, textual, historical, psychological and spiritual evidence the ulama use, I have come to the conclusion that celebrating the birth of Rasulallah(SAW) is something very beautiful to do. It is an expression of our happiness that God brought him to this world, to take us from darkness to light, to show us the way to him (Glorified and Exalted is He), and we are thankful to Allah (Glorified and Sublime be He) for this gift. And there is no text that says not to do that. There is no text that says it is haram [forbidden] to do that. All praise be to Allah, the scholars have their ways of analysis, and the most prevalent of analyses amongst the scholars, and the one to which I subscribe, is that it is khayr [good] and beautiful to do. All praise is to Allah. It’s a show of happiness that he was brought to this world, in addition to how much it can help many of us reconnect with Rasulallah(SAW).
Having said that, as the ulama have mentioned, perhaps we read the Qur’an and remember him through the Qur’an, for he is the recipient of the Qur’an. We ponder those meanings. We read some of the biography of the Messenger, and ponder on some of that. And we read even some poems that celebrate his beauty, his characteristics, his life, and ponder that. We implore Allah that He makes us of those who live their lives in pursuit of that Prophetic beauty. And we implore Allah by the love and the status that He granted to Rasulallah(SAW) to answer our pleas and our prayers— that is all khayr. As long as we do not do anything there that is haram, makruh [detested] or improper as some unfortunately who are ignorant or for some emotional reason sometimes do that which is improper and sometimes even forbidden. We should not do that.
If that happened, celebrating his birthday is not wrong because of itself, but because of what some people do. That is what is wrong. It’s not wrong to be happy that the Messenger was brought to this world. That is never wrong. And simply to be very brief, I say these things, but there are much more details, textual and analytical, that the ulama use to give this answer. May Allah instill in our hearts his love(SAW).
One of the most instrumental means to develop his mahabba [love], first of all, is to ask Allah for mahabba. Mahabba is a gift that Allah throws into the heart of someone. And this love is not intellectual or academic, it is emotional and experiential. If you have that type of love for Allah, or love for the Messenger, which has signs and evidence, know that is a gift from Allah to you. Be thankful to Him. Pray and implore Allah to give you and us that special mahabba for the Messenger. Never stop, and do that every day. Never give up.
Second, dhikr [remembrance and invocation] of Allah generates mahabba for the Messengerﷺ. Why? Because frequent and abundant dhikr of Allah (Glorified and Sublime be He), as God and His Messenger teach us, cleanses the heart. When the hearts are cleansed from impurity, misconceptions, arrogance, delusion, ostentation, worldliness, selfishness, and all of that, they become able to see. What does the qalb [heart] see? The spiritual eye of the qalb sees meanings. The eyes of the head see physical objects, and if your eye is clouded, you won’t see the physical objects the way they really are. When the heart is cleansed through dhikr of Allah, it can see in the spiritual realm and the moral realm. And then it can see—again see is just a word—of whom? Of Rasulallah(SAW). And when we see that transcendent beauty (not the physical, because he is not with you physically to see) then naturally you will love him. By God, it is true.
I don’t want to say more than this in this brief time, but it is true. There are many who have experienced this, when through years of dhikr of Allah, when they are ready for it, this is exactly what they experience. Suddenly their heart is so enamored with the Messenger(SAW). In an instant, they are given that gift, which they only had a glimpse of before. And their hearts are overwhelmed with a mahabba for Rasulallah(SAW) and in that instant they just want to go out of this world and be with him.
Do a lot of dhikr of Allah (Glorified and Sublime be He) and never desist, and make a lot of dua for Allah to give us that mahabba for Rasulallah, the mahabba that He (Glorified and Exalted be He) loves that we have for His Messenger. And the excess in that is to consider him anything close to God (I seek refuge in God and may God protect us). He is not and he never claimed to be, and those of us who say that don’t know God. Sometimes when we see supernatural things at the hand of somebody, we say, “O that’s God.” [Laughs]. You do not know God. It’s just a gift of God to someone. It’s a creation of God at the hands of someone. Whatever status anyone reaches or whatever status you, in the future reach, intellectually or spiritually, all of that is a gift from Allah to you. It is an act of creation of Allah in you, for which now you have to be even more grateful than ever before to Him.