“Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) was asked about fasting on Mondays, and he answered: “It is the day on which I was born”.
Islam supports the celebration of birthdays if it is an expression of gratitude to Allah for His bounties, sustenance and blessings in man’s life, as long as that celebration does not include anything that may displease Allah, the Almighty.
In fact, birthdays celebrations fall under the category of customs that are permissible in principle provided that there is nothing haram(unlawful) is associated with it. (If these were forbidden it would be mentioned). Therefore, it is OK for people to celebrate their or their children’s birthdays through permissible means.
People often ask if wishing and/or celebrating birthdays from the Islamic perspective is acceptable. This is such a minor issue, but we have given a rational approach to the issue.
It is a bida’a
This is one of the major objections raised against celebrating or wishing birthdays
Bida’a meaning an innovation in Deen of Islam, a new thing introduced in Islam which was not done by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (RA). Since celebrating birthdays has not been documented in early Islam, therefore it must be a Bida’a
One should NOT imitate the unbelievers
This is second of the major objections raised against celebrating or wishing birthdays. It is said that this is a Christian/pagan custom and therefore according to Islam, we should not be imitating the Non-believers. Cutting of the cake, a lighting of the candles & blowing on them etc are all pagan customs, not allowed in Islam.
Another year of one’s life has decreased
Scholars say that why should one celebrate when another year of one’s life has just decreased; one should be sad rather than being happy or celebrate about it.
It may lead to other Haram/evils
May lead to dance and music
The 3rd major objection about birthdays is that they lead to Haram. Often birthdays are accompanied by such entertainment in which music is turned on and people dance to it. Scholars have a strong objection to this as well.
May lead to a waste of money
Sometimes the extraordinarily huge amount of money is spent on celebrating birthdays, which goes into the category of ‘Israaf’, which Islam has prohibited
May lead to a waste of time; prayers may be forgotten
Sometimes a huge amount of time is wasted on these birthdays and people often even ignore daily prayers.
May involve mixing of sexes
Often birthdays are mixed gatherings, not necessarily within the family, but also involving friends and such gatherings are not permissible per se in Islam.
May lead to idealising personalities and shirk
Some scholars say that highly revering a famous personality, especially on his/her birthday may lead to idol-worship which is Shirk (associating someone with Allah, which is the most dangerous and an unforgivable sin in Islam). Celebrating birthdays-The Favorable Viewpoints Why it may NOT be haram?
Not mentioned in Holy Quran and Sahih Hadith
There is no Quranic verse or saying of the Holy Prophet stating that celebrating birthdays is haram (forbidden). According to a thumb rule by Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah (RA): “In things dealing with worship, what is mentioned in the Quran & Sahih Hadith is Halal, and what is not mentioned is Haram”
But in worldly affairs (Mu’amalaat): “What is mentioned in the Quran and Sahih Hadith as Haram is Haram, but what is not mentioned may fall in the Halal (allowed, permissible), Mubaah (neither forbidden nor recommended), Mustahab (liked; preferred) or Makrooh (disliked) categories”.
Birthdays have argued fall in the Mu’amalaat (worldly fairs) category.
It is not a Bida’a.
Bida’a is an innovation in Deen. Birthday is not considered a part of Deen. It is a culture or custom or worldly affair of Muslims and Christians like watching television is a custom. It may be put into good or bad use.
One can celebrate it differently than non-Muslims
This is a major objection. However, one may celebrate it differently than how the Non-Muslims celebrate it.
See the following Hadith:
“When the Prophet (PBUH) came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Moses (AS) and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Moses (AS) observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. ” – Narrated by Ibn Abbas (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith – 4.609)”
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of Ashura (10th of Muharram) should either be preceded or succeeded by an additional fast. It means one should fast two days, 9th and 10th Muharram, or 10th and 11th of Muharram.
The reason for this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Ashura alone, and he wanted to distinguish the Muslims from the Jews. Thus he advised fasting another day besides the 10th of Muharram.
“Ibn Abbas (RA) used to say that we should fast on two days: 9th and 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Thus likewise, birthdays can be celebrated differently from the Non-Muslims, without the cake, lighting candles & blowing on them etcIt cannot be considered to be unique with the non-Muslims, for celebrating birthdays has become a widespread phenomenon that is carried out in many different parts of the world Besides, there should be no intention of imitating the Non-Muslims in the celebration.
Thankfulness to Allah
People ask as to why then it is celebrated. It may give a person a chance to thank Allah Almighty for granting another year of life. It may offer a person to bring useful resolutions, to ask forgiveness from Allah, to change oneself to a better person etc.
“Make things easy for people and not difficult. Give people good news and bring them joy, and do not turn them away.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
It is not considered an obligation
Birthdays should NOT be considered as Fardh/an obligation, meaning that if one misses it, then it is still okay; no sin or crime has been committed, no remorse or regret over missing it.
Birthdays may NOT lead to evil if celebrated correctly:
Maybe celebrated simply without extravagant spending
Spending time with family and eating together
Birthdays may not necessarily have dance and music
Prayers should be offered on time
Our faith teaches us to spend time with our family and love them
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) “Exchange gifts, you will love one another.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said when someone spends on his family seeking his reward for it from Allah. It is counted as a charity from him.
We can conclude from the above discussion that most of the birthdays being celebrated nowadays could be categorised in the Makruh (disliked) category due to the various unfavourable reasons mentioned above (cakes, candles, music, dance, extravagant spending, etc).
As far as the area of custom is concerned, the general rule is permission as long as while practising them we bear in mind the following criteria:
1- We must avoid all wasteful and extravaganza; for we do so at the expense of depriving the poor of the valuable resources they need for survival. `Ali, the pious caliph, said, “ The poor people starve only because of the overindulgence or extravaganza of the wealthy.”
2- We must stay clear of all practices that are contrary to the principles of the Divine Laws.
If one can avoid all these unfavourable viewpoints, and if one really wants to celebrate (especially for the children/insistence of the children), one can celebrate it, but in a way that is in accordance of our faith, and especially to thank Allah Almighty for everything He has given and to make or refresh resolutions to become a better Muslim from this day onward.
Allah Almighty knows best.