Celebrations: A Sunnah, not Bidah – Part I
Love and mastership (Wilayat) and expression of displeasure (Bara’at) are the cornerstones of Islamic teachings. We understand the meaning of empowering goodness and prohibiting evil from them. These were the aims of Imam Husain‘s (a.s.) martyrdom. Who is more unfortunate than a Muslim who neither understands the concepts of wilayat and bara’at nor acts upon them?
In pursuit of this aim, a tradition prevalent among the Muslims through the centuries is the organizing of celebrations and gatherings on special occasions. Be it the birth of the infallible Imams (a.s.) or the appointment of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) (Be’sat) or Ascent to the Heavens (Meraaj). Organizing celebrations and gatherings characterizes the religious feelings of the masses. Their remembrance enlivens the events and their discussion refreshes the details. Thus, such celebrations possess great importance, benefit and blessings. This work is undertaken in conformity with its inherent significance, whether it is the birthday of an Imam (a.s.) or the appointment of the Messenger (s.a.w.a.) or the Ascent, etc.
Muslims attend these celebrations on special occasions with the intention of gaining success and receiving spiritual benefits from the Infallibles (a.s.) and in this way achieve great blessing and rewards by their (a.s.) providence. But since their inception, the Wahhabis are not only bereft of these blessings and rewards, they also want to keep others away from them. Hence, they use a plethora of guile and insinuations to impede these celebrations and thus, actualize the desires of enemies of Islam, perhaps wittingly. For, the enemies of Islam would never want the Muslims to keep their sacred beliefs active and renew their divine pact every year keeping the Islamic spirit within them alive and well.
Keeping the importance of this topic in mind, we present a detailed list of Wahhabi objections and their replies.
The Wahhabi Sedition:
- IbnTaymiyyah says: The second promise ‘of the occasions’. It is that day when certain events occurred. For instance, 18th ZilHijjah, is considered as Eid (feast/ festival) by everyone when it has no base or foundation because the Salaf-e-Saleh (righteous predecessors) and the Ahle Bait (a.s.) have not deemed it so. Eid is defined as that day when the Islamic law, not innovation (bidat), is followed. This is similar to what the Christians practice, celebrating the events of Hazrat Esa’s (a.s.) life as festivals. (Iqteza al-Serat al-Mustaqeem, pp. 392-395)
- Sheikh Abd al-Aziz b. Baaz remarks: It is prohibited to hold commemorations for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and others. This act is an innovation in religion because the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), rightly guided caliphs and the second generation companions (Taabe’een) have not performed this act. (Majmua Qazaayaa wa Maqaalaat Matnuah, vol. 1, p. 183)
- The congregation of Wahhabi Muftis opines: To remember the Prophets (a.s.) and the righteous on their birthdays and their demises, enlivening them, raising the standard (Alam), burning candles or lighting up their graves and organizing commemorations near their graves is not permissible because these are among the innovations introduced in religion and certified as polytheism. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), Prophets (a.s.), the Righteous and the Salaf-e-Saleh have not acted thus. None of the companions, Muslims and the Imams of Muslims have done so in the first three centuries of the Hijrah or better known as golden centuries.(Al-Lijnat al-Daimah min al-Futur, p. 174)
4 Ibn Fauzan postulates: There are numerous innovations in this era. For example, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) on 12th of Rabi al-Awwal and organizing gatherings for it. (Al-Bidat, Ibn Fauzan, pp. 25-27)
5 Ibn Usaimin says: Celebrating the birthdays of children was not the practice of Muslims and bears resemblance to the enemies of God and comes into the Islamic fold through inheritance of external traits. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) advises: The one who resembles a community will be counted among them (on the day of Qiyamat). (Fataavaa Manaar al-Islam, vol. 1, p. 43)
Celebrations are a manifestation of love and enmity
Love and hatred are among the most powerful human emotions. They are a sign of man’s inclination (or the lack of it) towards someone/something.
Love is obligatory
It is clear from rational and traditional evidence that it is necessary and compulsory upon people to love certain individuals:
(1) Allah the High
The foremost duty of man is to love Allah. And that too in the sense that Allah, the High is Unique and Alone in His characteristics and excellence. All creation is dependent on His Lofty Being. Hence, the Almighty announces in the Holy Quran (Sura Tauba(9): verse 24):
Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinfolks and property which you have acquired, and the slackness of trade which you fear and dwellings which you like, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command And Allah does not guide the transgressing people.
(2) The Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.a.)
The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is among the chosen individuals, who should be loved and befriended for the sake of Allah particularly because he is the channel of divine bestowal in both the material and the existential bounty. This is the reason for his inclusion with the Almighty in the verse and love for him is also made compulsory.
Love Allah because he provides you sustenance and love me for the sake of Allah’s love. (Mustadrakal-Hakim, vol. 3, p. 149)
The qualities and excellences of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) are such that it attracts the fair-minded and love for him germinates in their hearts.
(3) Ahle Bait (a.s.)
Among the people whose love is obligatory is the Ahle Bait of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Barring the fact that these individuals are the summation of distinctions and excellence and along with the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) are the channel of divine bestowal for both the material and existential grace and bounty, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has commanded love for them as is clear from the tradition of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.):
Love my Ahle Bait (a.s.) on account of my love.
Reasons for loving the AhleBait (a.s.):
- The relation of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) to the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
- Ahle Bait (a.s.) are loved by Allah and His Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
- Love of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) is the recompense of the Prophetic message.
- People will be questioned regarding the love for Ahle Bait (a.s.) on the Day of Judgment.
- The Holy Quran is companion of Ahle Bait (a.s.).
- The love of Ahle Bait (a.s.) is a prerequisite for belief.
- Ahle Bait (a.s.) are the Ark of Salvation.
- The love of Ahle Bait (a.s.) is a condition for the acceptance of worship and service.
- Ahle Bait (a.s.) are the cause of the earth’s security.
Clearly, organizing celebrations and feasts is an expression of love for the beloved. We know that love varies in intensity from person to person and is not characterized merely through eagerness and enthusiasm of the heart; rather it manifests itself and is reflected in the action and behavior of the person. But the outward evidence need not be limited to obedience and submission (as people maintain), but is expressed in many other ways as will be clear with proofs regarding love. The effects of love can be listed as such:
- Obedience and submission
- Visiting the beloved
- Respect of the loved ones
- Fulfilling the needs of the beloved
- Defending the beloved
- Grief and lament in separation from the loved one as in case of separation of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) from Prophet Yaqub (a.s.)
- Protecting the effects of the beloved
- Respecting the children and lineage of the loved ones
- Kissing the things which are ascribed to the beloved
- To organize celebrations on the birthdays of the loved ones and to mourn them as wellThe concept of festivals and commemoration in the Holy Quran – Continued in part II …..