Celebration of jalsah and moulood

Q. I am confused because of a question asked by a person who believes in Moulood. He says that if jalsah and celebration of moulood every year is not proved from sunnah, then the annual jalsa of Darul Uloom is also a biddah and such jalsah cannot be proved from the Prophet (sas) or sahabahs.

A. There is no need to be confused about this matter. The issue is a simple one, but the brother has simply expressed the extent of his ignorance to you. One of the things I have seen in some of these brothers is that they are very ignorant in deeni matters. Many of them do not have the knowledge of Islam and they are also not inclined to Islamic Eduction. They simply sit back with the limited understanding, thinking that they have a lot of knowledge, and try to argue with every one who does not share their opinions.

The statement of the brother shows that he is very ignorant of ‘Bidah’ in Islam. He must first know that ‘Bidah’ is a term used for matters, practices, teachings and deeds that are introduced as religious practices which are not evident in the teachings of Islam. Bidah is not a term that is used for non- religious actions and practices. If Bidah was used for that, as the brother wishes to imply, then it means that his house, his car and his job etc. will all be Bidah, since these cannot be proved from the Sunnah. Similarly, going to school, university etc. for higher education would also be ‘Bidah’ for him, since these things are not evident from the sahabahs and the Prophet (SAS).

The great scholars however, have not taken and adopted this understanding from the ‘term’ Bidah. Instead, they have used the term Bidah for matters which are connected to religious practices and teachings. This understanding is clearly established from the words of the Prophet (SAS) in which he said ‘whoever introduces in our affair of this (that is, in Islam) that which is not from it, then it is rejected’. (Bukhari)

It means that any action/teaching that is introduced in Islam, (as an act/teaching connected to Islam), when in reality it is not present in Islam, then it is rejected. It is based on this understanding, we find that scholars from the earliest generations until today have not used the term Bidah to refer to things that are connected to the worldly matters. For example, in today’s world, there are thousands of jobs and professions that exist which were not present at the time of the Prophet (SAS) and the Sahabahs, however, the scholars have never used bidah for these. In a similar manner, the manner of the dress of the people, their modes of transport, their eats/drinks, their homes, forms of education etc, etc. are all different from the time of the Prophet (SAS) and the Sahabahs, however no scholar refers to these as ‘Bidah’. The reason for this, is that it is well established and accepted by scholars that the term ‘Bidah’ is used for teachings/practices which are of a religious significance or have a religious outlook. Matters that are worldly and are not religious are not described with the term Bidah. In this regard, the great scholars of the past have written extensively on this topic which I have explained. Those who wish to be more enlightened, can read Imam Shatibi’s book, Al Itisaam. Some of the statements of the scholars which show that Bidah is a term used for some thing that is religious are:

  • Allama Jurjani writes, ‘the term Bidah refers to an action/practice which opposes the Sunnah’. (Mafhoomul Bidah pg. 25).

  • Qazi Abu Bakr Ibn Al Arabi states, ‘And certainly Bidah has been condemned because it opposes the Sunnah’. (Aridhatul Ahwazi)- Mafhoomul Bidah pg.25)

  • Imam Ash Shatibi states, ‘Bidah is a path in religion (in religious matters, Islam) which has been invented and innovated, to resemble (practices of) the Shariah’ (Kitabul Itisaam- Mafhoomul Bidah pg.25).

  • Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani states, ‘Bidah is used in the Shariah for that which opposes the Sunnah. Hence, it is blameworthy’.(Fathul Baari, Mafhoomul Bidah pg.25)

From these authentic and sound statements, it can be clearly seen that the term Bidah is not used for matters that are not done on a religious basis.

Having said this, I wish to make it abundantly clear that the Jalsa of the Darul Uloom is the graduation of students who have completed their studies in different fields. This graduation has no religious significance and it is common to all schools. All other schools, religious or non religious, Muslim or non Muslims, host their graduations at the end of the school year. As such, a graduation/Jalsa has no religious significance. It cannot be called an ‘Islamic thing’, nor can one apply an Islamic, ruling to it saying that it is ‘Sunnah’ or “Mustahab’. Whether the Jalsa/Graduation is hosted or not, it does not make a difference, since it is not a practice that brings rewards or punishment, and no one looks towards it with the understanding that it is an Islamic requirement that must be fulfilled. Similarly if it is not hosted, no one looks at this with the understanding that we have neglected an Islamic duty or we have done a wrong deed. The Darul Uloom Jalsa/graduation therefore, does not hold a religious significance and it is not understood to be an Islamic practice. It is simply a graduation ceremony which is connected to the achievement of the students, which is a permissible act in Islam.

In contrast to this, let us look at the Moulood functions. First of all, this is held with the understanding that it is an Islamic (religious practice). In fact, the votaries of the act have gone so far to coin an Islamic ruling for it, saying that it is a Mustahab act. This is indeed a grave error on their path to use the word Mustahab for a practice which the Prophet (SAS) never did. From this, it can be seen that those who practice this act, do so by considering it to be a part of the Islamic practices. Further to this, they vehemently oppose those who are not in favour of their practices. Their opposition goes to the limit where they concoct names for innocent Muslims, and they go about trying to ban Muslims from attending the Masjid. If the Imam is not in favour of their Moulood, they plot to ‘kick him’ out. If a masjid is not in favour of having the Moulood, they go on trying to dismiss the entire executive of the masjid. Their actions show that the significance they attribute to this practice is even more than what they attribute to the five times compulsory Salaah. Some of them are not alarmed if they hear that Muslims are not observing their five daily Salaah, but they become filled with disgust and fury if they hear that some Muslims are not upholding the Moulood Shareef. Their attitude shows that they have actually given the moulood such a high religious status, which they have not even given to the performance of salaah or attending the masjid regularly.

It is therefore clear, that for those who uphold these practices, Moulood is some thing that has a special religious significance. It is repeatedly emphasized to them and they are told not to give it up. Further to this, is that they have fabricated the belief that the Prophet (SAS) attends all their moulood gatherings. From their conduct, it can be stated that without doubt, they have introduced practices and teachings in Islam which the messenger of Allah (SAS) himself did not give. They have started to practice deeds considering them to be Islamic, when in reality, it did not come from Islam. Their actions are done with the understanding that if they practice these actions, they would be fulfilling a requirement of Islam, and if they neglect them, they would be leaving out a requirement of Islam. They have thus, considered all their innovated and invented practices to be Islamic, having deep significance, when, in reality, these have no connection with the religion of Islam which was perfected and completed by Allah in the lifetime of the Prophet (SAS).

When we look at these actions, we see that all that which is done by those who uphold and propagate these practices, are all within the definitions of Bidah which have been given at the beginning. Their practices definitely opposes the Sunnah, they do these practices, understanding them to be Islamic (having religious significance) and through their firmness upon these inventions, they wish to make it resemble the practices of the Shariah by applying their own rulings to them.

It is therefore, out of sheer ignorance and obstinacy that one can consider a graduation/Jalsa to be on the level of the Moulood function.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan