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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Eid Milad un Nabi

The celebration of Eid Milad un Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, is a subject of controversy among Muslims.

There are two Eids which are celebrated with joy by all Muslims viz Eid ul Fitr, which is celebrated at the end of the Holy Month of Ramzan, and Eid al Adha (also called Bakrid in India) in which an animal is sacrificed, in memory of the sacrifice of a lamb by Prophet Abraham.

However, there is a third Eid called Eid Milad un Nabi, which is the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, and which is falling on 28th September 2023.About this third Eid there is a controversy among Muslims.

The orthodox Muslims known as Salafi or Wahabi are against celebrating it, as they say that this is ‘shirk’ i.e. giving a companion to God, or deification or worship of someone other than God. According to such Muslims, celebrating the birthday of the Prophet implies treating the Prophet as a God, and thus there will be two Gods viz Allah and the Prophet, whereas Islam recognises only one God. Others opposing this Eid say that it is ‘biddat’ or innovation in religious matters ( and therefore prohibited ), since the Prophet himself never celebrated his birthday.

On the other hand, the more liberal and tolerant Muslims ( Barelvis or Sufis ) say that celebrating the birthday of the Prophet is only giving him respect, and not elevating him as a God.

In this connection I may relate a case which came before my court when I was a Judge in the Allahabad High Court. A petition was filed before me by some Salafi Muslims, and their prayer was that I should prohibit the taking out of a procession in Saharanpur district in UP on the occasion of Eid Milad un Nabi, which was on the next day. I asked the learned counsel for the ;petitioners why I should pass such an order ? He replied that celebrating Ed Milad un Nabi was unislamic and offends the religious feelings of the petitioners.

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I said that if the petitioners did not wish to celebrate Eid Milad un Nabi they need not participate in the procession or look at it. But this was a free country, and there was no law prohibiting such processions. I would only enforce the law, not religious feelings.

Saying this I dismissed the petition.

I may relate another incident.

When I was a Judge in the Supreme Court a petition was filed before a bench presided over by me by some orthodox Muslims who prayed that an order should be passed prohibiting any Muslim from saying ” Ya Ali ” or ” Ya Gharib Nawaz ” ( Ali was the son-in-law of the Prophet, and Gharib Nawaz is the appellation often attributed to the saint of Ajmer dargah, Moinuddin Chishti ).

I asked why we should pass such an order ? The counsel replied that saying ” Ya Ali ” or ” Ya Gharib Nawaz ” was shirk, as it treated Ali or Moinuddin Chishti as Gods.
I said that saying it does not violate any law, and the petition was frivolous and without any merit. If the petitioners did not want to say ” Ya Ali ” or ” Ya Gharib Nawaz ” they need not say it, but how can they stop others from saying it in a free country ?
Saying this, we dismissed the petition.

Before concluding I would like to say that  I am an admirer of the Prophet, for two reasons:

(1) He preached the great message of equality ( it is a pity that most Indian Muslims don’t follow it, by still practising the caste system )

(2) He advised people to seek knowledge wherever it may be found, by saying for knowledge go even to China.

Eid Milad un Nabi mubarak to all.

Markandey Katju is an Indian jurist and former Supreme Court judge of India who served as chairman for the Press Council of India. He has also worked as Standing Counsel for the Income Tax Department. 

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not represent the editorial policy or views of Global Village Space.