Deobandi Controversy on Celebrating the Mawlid

Deobandi Controversy on Celebrating the Mawlid: A Study & Critique to Controversial Deobandi Stances on Celebrating the Mawlid in light of classical Mawlid works

The blog Scholars’ Pen has an excellently?researched piece on the celebration of Mawlid and the objections that the Ulama of Deoband have towards it. It dispels many of the objections with good grace and in the spirit of scholarship that is so often lacking in Barelwi and Deobandi debates.

Here is the article in full:

http://scholarspen.blogspot.com/2006/02/deobandi-controversy-on-celebrating_05.html

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5 thoughts on “Deobandi Controversy on Celebrating the Mawlid”

  1. “It dispels many of the objections with good grace and in the spirit of scholarship that is so often lacking in Barelwi and Deobandi debates.”

    While the texts he quoted were interesting and something I may bring up with a Deobandi alim that I know, I really don’t think your above description is accurate. The post was full of insults both to individual Deobandi ‘ulema and to the movement as a whole (defining it as “heterodox”). If the above were an example of ‘good grace’ in the context of this dispute, it is not surprising that his been going on for so long. As someone (a Maliki from outside the subcontinent) who stands outside the cultural context of this conflict but bears good will to both sides, I must say that I find its continued existence extremely perplexing, especially because it seems to dwell on writings of prominent ulema of the past without considering the evolution in modern times of both schools of thought. The fact that name calling often takes the place of rational criticism is especially disturbing.

  2. Assalamu alaykum

    I agree with Luqman. The article is full of patronising comments and insults. He attempts to prove inconsistencies within the Deobandi maslak (and whoever said they agree on everything?) and thus giving the impression they have no genuine authority or credibility. It’s more a case of attacking the opinator than the opinion.

    Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi did not permit it “in all its forms” (Fatawa Rashidiyya). Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi believed it to be permissible for the elite when it is free of wrong which he believes would be inevitable if opened to the public (Sawaneh Qasimi). Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi initally believed it to be permissible but later changed his view to impermissiblity as he said due to the overpowering effect (tasarruf) of Mawlana Gangohi; and Haji Imdadullah Makki, the Deobandi pir par excellence, would attend the gatherings but urged Muslims to agree to disagree over this issue (Faisla Haft Masala). Mawlana Thanawi and Mufti Shafi’s opinions of impermissiblity appear to be for the reason of sadd al-dhara’i, as explicity said by them (e.g. Imdad al-Fatawa). But this need not represent the view of all Deobandis – some (like Mawlana Gangohi and Allama Kashmiri may believe it to be impermissible in principle).

    This disagreement stretches back to the earliest times – since its inception. Ulama adoted different approaches to the question of bid’ah. The Shafiis generally took a more lenient position while the Malikis took a stricter one (e.g. see Shatibi, al-I’tisam). Malikis would stress the need for a past precedent (mithal sabiq) whereas Shafiis would require only concordance with Shariah (muwafaqah bi l-shariah). Hence on questions such as group dhikr, group du’a, the Qur’anic hizb, Malikis disallowed it because they are bid’ah and Shafiis allowed it as they believed them to be good bid’ahs (see: Sidi Ahmad Zarruq, umdat al-murid al-sadiq). Hence many Malikis and stricter Hanbalis did not allow mawlid. E.g. a fatwa by Allama Fakihani reproduced with approval by al-adawi in his hashiya of mukhtasar khalil (in which he says it is makruh); al-Shatibi in al-I’tisam declares it a bid’ah (in his sense of disapproval) due to ta’yin (specification) of date and ibn al-Hajj in al-Madkhal believes the mere intention of celebration an accretion (ziyada) in the religion hence disliked (makruh); this view is reiterated by the Sufi reformer Uthman ibn al-Fudi in Ihya al-Sunna, and the opinion exerted some influence over many other Maliki Fuqaha. Ibn Taymiyya believed it to be an erroneous bid’ah but said it should be considered good as it means people are indulging in a lesser evil (Iqtida al-Sirat al-Mustaqim). The Hanafis have neither allegiance to Shafiis nor Malikis, hence it is to their discretion how they rule and they ruled variously as said above – this is not to their detriment but to their credit. At least they debate this secondary issue as opposed to making it a closed door to repel other Muslims.

    Shaykh Abd Allah Bin Bayyah said “Indeed, whoever wants to celebrate the Prophet?s (sa) birthday should celebrate it and avoid doing any action contrary to Islamic Law. In addition, this act should be done with an intention that it is not a sunna nor an obligatory act. If these conditions are observed, and one is careful not to contradict Islamic Law, out of sincere love for the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah upon him), then, Allah willing, there is nothing wrong with this action and this person will be rewarded…Likewise, for the one who shuns this celebration, seeking to cling to the sunna out of fear of falling into innovation, then this person will also be rewarded, Allah willing. It is important to note that this is not a big issue. Nor is it necessary to give it more attention then it deserves.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_0tzhfEVI4 – see from 2.10 where he calls it a secondary affair (qadiyyah thanawiyyah) – fa man tarakahu tasannunan fanaqul la ba’s (he who leaves it for obedience to the Sunna we say: there is no harm).

  3. You wrote:

    ” This disagreement stretches back to the earliest times – since its inception. Ulama adoted different approaches to the question of bid’ah. The Shafiis generally took a more lenient position while the Malikis took a stricter one (e.g. see Shatibi, al-I’tisam). Malikis would stress the need for a past precedent (mithal sabiq) whereas Shafiis would require only concordance with Shariah (muwafaqah bi l-shariah). Hence on questions such as group dhikr, group du’a, the Qur’anic hizb, Malikis disallowed it because they are bid’ah and Shafiis allowed it as they believed them to be good bid’ahs (see: Sidi Ahmad Zarruq, umdat al-murid al-sadiq). Hence many Malikis and stricter Hanbalis did not allow mawlid. E.g. a fatwa by Allama Fakihani reproduced with approval by al-adawi in his hashiya of mukhtasar khalil (in which he says it is makruh); al-Shatibi in al-I’tisam declares it a bid’ah (in his sense of disapproval) due to ta’yin (specification) of date and ibn al-Hajj in al-Madkhal believes the mere intention of celebration an accretion (ziyada) in the religion hence disliked (makruh); this view is reiterated by the Sufi reformer Uthman ibn al-Fudi in Ihya al-Sunna, and the opinion exerted some influence over many other Maliki Fuqaha. Ibn Taymiyya believed it to be an erroneous bid’ah but said it should be considered good as it means people are indulging in a lesser evil (Iqtida al-Sirat al-Mustaqim). The Hanafis have neither allegiance to Shafiis nor Malikis, hence it is to their discretion how they rule and they ruled variously as said above – this is not to their detriment but to their credit. At least they debate this secondary issue as opposed to making it a closed door to repel other Muslims.”

    The above chunk paragraph is a true example of what we call peddling lies and stupidity under the guise of intelligence.

    Firstly, Sidi Ahmad Zarruq allowed the Mawlid especially since the following quote comes up from the Sharh of al-Mukhtasar Khalil by Imam al-Hattab al-Maliki:

    ” Shaykh Zarruq said: Fasting on the (day of) the Mawlid was disliked by some…He said: It is from from the Eids of the Muslims and fasting should not take place on it. Our Shaykh Abu Abdullah al-Quri would mention this often and regarded it as good.
    I say: Perhaps he means Ibn Abbad, as he said in his ‘Rasail al-Kubra’: As for the Mawlid, what is apparent to me is that it is an Eid from the Eids of the Muslims, and a season from its seasons. All that is done in it which results from the presence of joy and happiness regarding the blessed Mawlid such as the lighting of lamps, the gratification of the sight and hearing, adorning by wearing of beautiful clothing and mounting on fine riding animals is a permissible matter which no one can be condemned for, being analogous/similar to other than it of times of happiness.
    The ruling that these things are an innovation (bidah) at this time in which the secret of existence manifested, the banner of witnessing was raised, the darkness of disbelief and rejection was driven away in it. And the claim that this time is not from the legislated seasons for the people of belief, and its comparison to the Nayruz/Mahrajan is a disturbing matter which sounds hearts and intellects find repulsive.
    In the past I had gone out on the day of the Mawlid to the sea coast, I happened to meet there Sayyidi al-Hajj [`Abd al-Wahid] Ibn Ashir (Allah have mercy on him) along with a group of his companions. Some of them had brought different types of food to eat there, as they had brought it for this they wished for me to join them in eating. I was at that time fasting, so I said to them: I am fasting. Sayyidi al-Hajj [`Sidi Abd al-Wahib ibn `Ashir rahimahullah] looked and gazed towards me with a reprimanding look, and said to me, the meaning of which was: This day is one of joy and happiness in which fasting is disliked, and is at the level of the Eid. I reflected on his words and found them to be true, it was as if I had been asleep and he had awoken me.”

    As for the lie you mentioned about Ibn al-Hajj al-`Abdari, that was answered by Imam al-Suyuti in his Husn al-Maqasid in which he proves beyond a doubt that Ibn al-Hajj indeed permitted `Id Mawlid.

    Ibn Taymiyya says:

    fa ta’aDhim al-mawlid wa’t tikhadhihi mawsiman: qad yaf`aluhu ba’ad an-nas wa yakunu lahu fihi ajrun `aDHim li Husni qaSdihi wa ta`aDHimihi li Rasulillah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam.

    ‘as for respecting the mawlid and taking it as a festival [season] – which some people do, they may receive a great reward because of their good intention and respecting the prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam.

    As for al-Fawkhani’s opinion, it is invalid (batil) and shadh (abberant).

    Wa ma `alayna ila al-balagh al-mubin

  4. You know the problem exists when arrogant Muslims wish to cling on to the Mawlid as if declaring it as a great sunnah and an act of ibadah. With this mentality they slander the Muslims who don’t practise it as kafirs and transgressors.

    This is the reason why many Muslim in the sub continent think of these Muslim as Jahil, arrogant and not worth reasoning with. The scholars just shout at each other.

    Mas’ud says: No, the problem exists because of the arrogant Muslims wish to admonish those who celebrate the Mawlid as if declaring it as a reprehensible bidah, when the majority of the ulama and the awwam, through the major part of Islam’s history have accepted the Mawlid as permissible and recommended. With this mentality they slander the Muslims who celebrate it as innovators, polytheists and transgressors.

    Mawlid is celebrated right across the Muslims world almost without exception, even in Saudi Arabia it is widely celebrated despite the Wahhabi attitude against it.

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