A recent publication, in its enthusiasm to label the celebration of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) birthday as bida or innovation in religion, asserts that we are to “make no distinction between (sic) any of the Prophets”.
The topic of celebrating the birthday of the Prophet has been the subject of debate in this country (Trinidad and Tobago) as early as the 1920’s. It was also manifested in the public debates between Haji Ruknudeen and Maulana Nazir Ahmad Semab. Today, the matter is still being debated, with both sides believing that they, only are right, and the other side is misguided. Unfortunately this has become an instrument for disunity and division within the Muslim community as a whole, and even within families in the community.
Of particular note, in this most recent context is the relative status of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and there is need to establish some key points of reference from the Qur’an and Hadith regarding this assertion, which can by some interpretations border on blasphemy.
Firstly it is important to note that Allah has established rank and relative status among the Messengers that were sent to humankind. He says: “Those Messengers We endowed (with status) some above others.” (2:253). In the case of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah has singled him out and presented him as someone truly superior and honored above all of creation. The Qur’an is replete with references to this point, and for example tells us explicitly
· It is those who believe in him and honor him… (7:157);
· Verily, Allah and his Angels are sending blessing on the Prophet. O You who believe, send blessings on him and salute him with great respect. (33:56)
· And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah (49:7)
· We have exalted thy name (status). (94:4)
· Verily you are on an exalted standard of character. (68:4)
· And we have not send you (O Muhammad) but as a universal model for mankind. (34:28)
· We have not sent thee but as a mercy to the worlds” (21:107)
· Verily those who took the oath of allegiance to you, were indeed swearing allegiance to Allah… (48:10)
These references, and many like them, clearly establish the status of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ above all other Prophets and all of creation. It is to be noted that this is unique to the Prophet, and the followers of other Messengers were never ordered to observe such to the Messengers whom they were sent. To honor him with love and devotion is to do what has been ordained by Allah, and is not sinful as has been insinuated.
[This scenario also serves to establish the critical need for scholarship in Islamic Theology (in addition to functional literacy) by persons within the Muslim community who are so inclined. We must be mindful of the fact that an opinion is not a truth until it has been verified, and the Qur’an advocates research and inquiry, and our brethren may do well by themselves; and the community as a whole to heed this call.]
May Almighty Allah create in our hearts undying love for His Beloved as the Prophet (s.a.w.s) is reported to have said “Those who will love me from among my followers will be the people after me, of whom everyone will like that, he could see me, at the expense of his family and property.” (Sahih Muslim)