Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh sometime back issued a new controversial fatwa suggesting that celebrating the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is “sinful.”
Muslims around the world are celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). In many countries, including Morocco, Muslims honored the birth of their Prophet in a ritual called the Mawlid.
These popular practices are festive occasions that are often celebrated by remembering episodes from the life of the Prophet or by reciting devotional poetry..
It is also an opportunity for parents to take their children with them to the mosque and teach them about the Prophet’s teachings, bravery, and forgiving character. Some families also make sure to donate to charity in honor of the Prophet’s birthday.
However, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti and the General President for Scientific Researches and Fatwa Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh objects to such celebrations, according to Arab News.
In his Friday congregational sermon at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque in Riyadh, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh reportedly said that celebrating the Prophet’s birthday is a bidaa- sinful religious innovation-that “crept into Islam after the first three centuries, when the companions and successors of the companions lived.”
He also claimed that those who urge others to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet are “evil and corrupt.”
The Grand Mufti clarified that love of the prophet should be expressed by following the Prophet’s teachings detailed in the Sunnah, rather than celebrating his birthday.
In an attempt to support his claims, he quoted a verse from the holy Quran, in which Allah says: “If you do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive your sins.”
On the other hand, Omid Safi, Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center, says that Muslims who honor Muhammad’s birthday do it out of a deep love for Muhammad that brings them closer to God. He explained saying:
“For those who identify as Salafi, and wish to abide only by practices that they believe originate in the Qur’an and the example of Muhammad, it is a way of honoring the desire to practice Islam as Muhammad would have wanted us to do, without what is deemed to be later accretions and potentially dubious practices.”
“As the Prophet himself is to have said, disagreement among the scholars is a mercy,” Omid Safi concluded.
This is not the first time Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh has released a controversial fatwa.
Last year, while several demonstrations were being organized in Arab and non-Arab countries in solidarity with the Gaza Strip, he said that these demonstrations “are just useless demagogic actions.”