Is 12th Rabi Ul Awwal Really the Birthday of Prophet Muhammad?

12 rabi ul awwal night
Photo via Nathan Anderson

Muslims around the world commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad through Maulid Un Nabi every 12 Rabiul Awal in the Hijri calendar.

Mawlid Nabi is usually held lively with the recitation of dhikr, and poems of praise to the Prophet Muhammad. However, in his homeland, Saudi Arabia, Mawlid Nabi is actually forbidden.

Outside of the context regarding whether or not it is permissible to hold the celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday, there is another disagreement that has not yet reached a common ground, namely regarding when the Prophet Muhammad was born because many people doubt that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was born on the 12th of Rabiul Awal.

It turns out that many scholars have different opinions about the exact date of birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. Since the beginning, there are several points agreed upon by Muslim historians about the fact the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. The facts are as follows:

  • He was born in the year of the elephant.
  • He was born in the month of Rabiul Awwal.
  • He was born on Monday. The narration of Imam Muslim explains that when the Prophet SAWW was asked about why he fasted on Mondays, he replied that that was the day he was born. (Muslim No. 1162)

Only three points regarding the fact of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad SAW are agreed upon by Muslim historians. As for the date and month of the birth of our Prophet -sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam-, this is still in dispute. This is because there is no clear text from the Prophet regarding the date he was born, so the door of difference of opinion is open in front of scholars who want to research even to this day. Historians summarize many opinions that say the date he was born. However, three opinions were discussed: on the 9th, 10th or 12th of Rabiul Awwal.

The popular opinion according to the jumhur (majority) of scholars states that the Prophet SAW was born on the 12th of Rabiul Awwal. This opinion is based on a narration of Imam Ibn Ishaq from Sayyidina Ibn Abbas.

While the opinion of the 10th was put forward by Ibn Sa’ad in his Tabaqat book from Imam Al-Baqir. But in Ibn Sa’ad’s sanad there are three rijal sanad which are doubted and discussed by scholars.

Imam Ibn Abdil Bar in his book al-Isti’ab, stated that the Prophet was born 8 days past the month of Rabiul Awwal (entered the 9th night). This opinion has also been confirmed by Abu Bakr bin Musa Al-Khwarizmi (Guardian of Dar Al-Hikmah Caliph Ma’mun) previously. Even Al-Hafizh Umar bin Dihyah in the book “Tanwir fi Maulid Sirajil Munir” dared to decide by saying: “That opinion is correct, nothing else, it has become an agreement of historians”.

The dispute regarding the truth of the Prophet’s Birthday which occurred on 12 Rabiul Awal is still very long, and until now a mutually agreed meeting point has not been reached. Therefore, the celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday should only be seen as one of the good traditions aimed at voicing the symbols of Islam.

Verdict

  • The birth date of Prophet Muhammad PBUH is disputed among scholars in Islam.

Reference:

  • Dr. Yasir Qadhi
  • As-Seerah an-Nabawiyyah by Ibn Kathir, 4:509.
  • Ar-Rawd al-Unuf by as-Suhayli, 4:439-440.
  • Fath al-Bari by Ibn Hajar, 8:130.

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