BLOG POST: In This Month Rabi al-Awwal
AbdulWahid Stephenson has over 15 years teaching experience and has studied Islamic Jurisprudence at the prestigious Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia. He is the founder of Madinah College and Insight into Islam. He has also given a number of lectures on a variety of islamic topics at top Universities in London.
A number of significant events took place in Rabi al-Awwal. In this month the final messenger to mankind, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was born. In this month he (ﷺ) migrated to Madinah and also it is the month that he (ﷺ) passed away. Sadly, some muslims have fallen into the innovation of celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (ﷺ). They mistakenly believe it is more significant than the migration to Madinah, which marked the beginning of the establishment and the spread of Islam.
The Prophet was born on Monday, as is authentically narrated in the hadith of Abu Qatadah al-Ansari that the Prophet (ﷺ) was asked about fasting on Monday to which he replied: “On that day I was born, and on it the Revelation came to me” (Muslim). The scholars differ regarding the exact date, with the majority of scholars of the view that it was the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal. Likewise, there is general agreement that he was born in the year of the elephant. When his mother Amina gave birth to him, already orphaned from his father Abdullah, she sent him to his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib who took him inside the Ka’bah, supplicated and thanked Allah and named him Muhammad.
The Hijrah (Migration)
The migration from Makkah was on the 1st of Rabi’ul-Awwal and the Prophet (ﷺ) arrived in Madinah on the 12th of the same month, at the age of 53 years old. The migration was a significant turning point for the spread of Islam, more significant to the Prophet’s companions than the birth of the Prophet (ﷺ). When deciding the beginning of the Islamic calendar, Umar ibn Al-Khattāb gave the sahabah selected for this task two options, the beginning of Prophethood or the beginning of migration. They did not consider the birth of the Prophet from the significant events that would be the historical starting point of the Islamic Calendar, also known as the Hijri calendar.
The death of the Prophet (ﷺ) was a huge event in history. There is no difference of opinion amongst the scholars of Islam that the death of the Prophet (ﷺ) was on Monday in the month of Rabi’ul Awwal, with the majority view placing it on the 12th of that month. The impact of Prophet’s death on the companions was bigger than any devastation and individual loss that they had previously experienced. It marked the end of the Revelation, which had continued from the first Prophet Adam was on the earth all the way up until the death of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).
Anas reported that after the death of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) Abu Bakr said to ‘Umar, “Let us visit Umm Aiman as Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to visit her.” When we came to her, she was weeping. They (Abu Bakr and Umar) said to her, “What makes you weep? What is with Allah is better for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ).” She said, “I weep not because I do not know of the fact that what is with Allah is better for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), but I weep because the revelation which came from the Heaven has ceased to come. This moved both of them to tears and they began to weep along with her. (Saheeh Muslim)
‘Anas said: “I have never witnessed a day better or brighter than that day on which the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came to us; and I have never witnessed a more awful or darker day than that one on which the Messenger of Allah died on” (at-Tirmithi). How can muslims celebrate on the day of the greatest tragedy; the death of the final Prophet (ﷺ) and the end of revelation?
Innovation Alert: Celebrating the Prophet’s birthday is a Bid’ah (innovation) in the religion. The Deen of Allah is complete and perfect. Allah says: This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed my favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion. Qur’an, (5:3). Imam Malik said: What was the deen on that day is the deen, and what was not the deen on that day, is not the deen. The first time in history that the Prophet’s birthday was celebrated was during the Fatimid Dynasty, which was after the first three generations. This means that it was unknown to the Sahabah, their students, the followers and the four Imams, Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi’ee and Ahmed. So beware of any practices that are singled out on the 12th of Rabi’ul Awwal (which falls on Tuesday 20th November this year 2018) in the name of loving the Prophet (ﷺ) and celebrating his birth, even if it is just a gathering to celebrate his life through reading his biography!