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The Prophet (pbuh) was a Human Being
by Asif Iqbal [Wideminds list moderator]
A fairly balanced & readable exposition of the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad was published on our forum by Dr. Kaukab Siddique:

To the reformational facet of his writing, I need not add anything else. In this post, I would just like to draw attention towards a theoretical point:

It’s well known that the Qur’an (17:93-94) and various hadîth have always maintained the human nature of the Prophet. Yet there has been a tendency in (popular) Islam, almost from the very beginning, to stress on the adoration of his personality.

The roots of such exalting attempts are to be found in the Sufi circles. Thus in the kitab at-Tawasîn of the great Muslim mystic al-Hallâj (d. 922 CE) (edited and translated by the great French Islamic scholar L. Massignon), the greatness of Muhammad (PBUH) is described and his "pre-existance" affirmed.

This trend reached its culmination in the works of (perhaps the most well-known mystic) Ibn `Arabi (d. 1240 CE), where we find the ideas of: [2]

* al-Haqiqat al-Muhammadiya (i.e., Muhammad is the creative principle of the universe),

* Nűr-e-Muhammadi (i.e., Muhammad is the source of light from which the light of all the prophets derive),

* al-Insân al-Kâmil (i.e., Muhammad is the "Perfect Man").

How come these Sűfi ideas made their way into the lower echelons of popular Islam piety and devotion? The reason is none other than al-Ghazali (d. 1111 CE), who managed to make Sufism "orthodox."

Thus from the 12th century onwards, the exaltation of the Prophet (and obviously, his family as well) became as much Islamic as the exaltation of Jesus and Mary are Christian.

The only difference was the remarkably thin footing which the Islamic phenomenon had on the Qur’an.

Yet we see a changed perspective among the Sufis of today: Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (d. 20 July 1943) rejects the special celebration of the Prophet’s birthday during the Islamic month of Rabi` al-Awwal.

He illustrates his point with the well known Arabian love-story of Laila Majnun (the Arabian counterparts of William Shakespeare's eternal drama of Romeo & Juliet).

Hazrat Thanwi notes during the course of the Arabian tale how Majnun kept on writing Laila’s name in the sand of the desert, and asks ironically whether Majnun only celebrated Laila’s birthday. The point is that true love does not depend on remembering your beloved on any specific day.

Hazrat Thanwi clearly notes as well that this festival of the Prophet’s birthday is merely an invention of a Muslim ruler to imitate the Christian fancy parties and pomp and show, which they exhibit on the Christmas. [3]

But condemning such festivals with a Hitlerite zeal in undesirable as well. Annemarie Schimmel quotes [4] the famous Arabic scholar Tâhâ Hussain, who said that the people should not be deprived of ideas which do not contradict religion and do not contaminate their faith in any way.

And which brings us back to the reformational suggestions of Dr. Siddique.
With due respect, please look up the birth of the prophet (saw) in seerat un nabi by Shibli Nomani/Syed Suleman Nadawi. Nobody knows exacltly when he (saw) was born ( date); some narrations state the 8, some 9th 10,11 and 12th. His (saw)death is well recorded on the 12th rabi ul awal. An authentic hadith states that he was born on monday.

A prominent astronomer M. Pasha in earlier part of this century looked back at the year of the prophet's birth(saw) and the month of rabi ul awal: 12th does not fall on a monday ( this he calaculated backwards from the year that Prophet (saw) son ibrahim (RA) died and there was an eclipse.) So the most trustworthy evidence points to 9th rabi-ul awal: this is the opinion of the above two authors of the seerah and also if I am not wrong Abul kalam Azad, sheikh qardawi and others.

Secondly the prophet's birthday was not celebrated by the sahaba. the tabieen, even for many centuries till the time of salahuddin his cousin who was the ruler over Mosul was the first to celebrate this. Also the Fatmid rulers ( read ismali) in egypt celebrated this because the christians celebrated christmas.

What then is the difference between us and them. They celebrate the death/birth of Jesus, we do it for Mohammad(saw). The prophet also told us we only have two celebration (eids). Why does the rememberence of the prophet have to be on a specific day? if we can decide what days to celebrate on our own then it is ok to celebrate independence days also.

If we start celebrating the prophet's birhday then what about Omar? Abu Bakr and every righteous person ( Ghous e azam!). Also then it means it is ok for us to celebrate our birthdays or our childrens.

I hope I have not offended you, this is just naseehah ( ad Den u naseehah) in matters of celebrations, ibadat we only follow what the prophet has allowed. It is not a matter of Saudi said this so we must oppose it ( I myself disagree with them on a lot of issues). we should look to the facts.

Nauman Siddiqi
[Ref: to brother who gave khutba on love of the Prophet, pbuh,]
If Brother Muhammad Noor was a student of Prof. Fazlur Rahman then kindly send me his contact information and pass on this email, the attached file, and my email address to him. While I fully agree with Brother Muhammad Noor's position, we all need to work hard to fully resolve this issue for the community.

I have developed the attached file, as a start, as an expanded response on the same question that I sent in an earlier email, that I would like you, Brother Muhammed Nur, and others to review, add to it or subtract from it, with the interest to make a complete article on the subject. At that point we want to pass on to all brothers and sisters who have a different opinion and who may also join to improve the document.

Respectfully, your thoughts should be addressed to help each other and not to criticize each other in the interest of acting as "one Ummah" required by the Qur'an.

Many of us have different colors, different nationalities, different races, differing views, but, fortunately have a united faith. It is Allah's "Nur" in our hearts that makes us tolerant, patient, and peaceful with each other. Inshallah, with Allah's help, your help and other's, we will find a way to solve this and many other issues.

Jazakallah Khayran

Habib Ahmed
[Editorial response: The date of 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal is from a primary source, Ibn Ishaq, in the first century of Islam. So, we'll accept that over secondary sources, be it Shibli or anyone else.
Also, we agree with Br. Asif Iqbal that the other side has gone too far as well. Without the Prophet's (pbuh) humanity, we can't have a Sunnah to follow but only a star to look at and adore.
I listed those aspects of the Prophet's (pbuh) life which relate to the world we live in. We should memorialize and celebrate him and other greats from our history for THEIR RELEVANCE, not just for their holiness. We don't become Christians by doing that, if we do not change it into worship.
The Saudis are a problem for us because they have made religion into a dead bunch of rituals. [Their 'jihad' is against improper posture in prayer rather than against Israel.]

2003-05-17 Sat 13:52ct