Question and Answer Details
Name of Questioner
Muhammad - United Kingdom
Celebrating Birthdays: Why All the Fuss?
Respected scholar, as-salmau `alaykum.
Recently, a heated scholarly debate sparked in Saudi Arabia over a fatwa given by a Saudi scholar that says that it is allowed to celebrate birthdays.
Some scholars disagreed and stressed on the prohibition of birthday celebrations. Others said that it is OK to celebrate birthdays if the celebration does not include non-Muslim rituals such as candles and the like.
Could you please elaborate on Islam's stance on birthdays?
Jazakum Allahu khayran.
Name of Mufti
`Abdel Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef
Wa `alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother, thank you for your important question that shows a keen desire to acquire Islamic knowledge andfor the trust you place in us. May Almighty Allah guide all of us to what He wants and show us the right path.
Regarding your question, it is clear that the issue of celebrating birthdays is subject to debate among Muslim scholars. However, it is not a big issue that deserves such a big fuss in some Muslim media outlets. If some people incline to celebrate their birthdays, it is OK for them as long as there is no violation to the teachings of the Shari`ah in the celebration; if others incline not to celebrate it, it is OK, too.
Let's focus on major Muslim issues that deserve much of our time and efforts.
In response to your question, the eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh `Abdel Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef, a renowned scholar and d a`iyah, stated,
In fact, Prophet Muhammad's (peace and blessings be upon him) hadith in which he said that Allah Almighty replaced the pre-Islamic celebrations with `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adha for Muslims means that in the pre-Islamic era people used to worship their gods in their celebrations, but Muslims should adhere to their two `Eids and worship Allah therein.
Also, the Prophet's (peace and blessings be upon him) hadith that asserts that whoever imitates others (non-Muslims) will be with them in the Hereafter applies to imitating them in what constitutes disbelief.
Given the above, I see that celebrating birthdays are social, not religious occasions. This issue does not deserve such a big fuss. If children or parents wish to celebrate specific occasions (such as birthdays and weddings), it is OK.
All in all, I do recommend that parents make use of such occasions to implant Islamic ethics in the hearts of their young ones. For example, in the occasion of birthdays, they could remind their kids of Allah's favors and how we should be grateful to Him.
As for the issue of candles and the like, they are not big issues to make Shari`ah ruling on them. So, let's not build Shari`ah rulings on such minor issues.
Allah Almighty knows best.