We all know that January is the first month of the Year – this may be true for the Christians and for all who follow the Gregorian calendar.  Muslims, on the other hand, recognize and use the Gregorian calendar dated from the year, according to some Christians, of the birth of Sayyiduna ‘Isa (as), but do not recognize its validity for any purpose.   Muslims, and others who follow their own calendars use it to avoid any confusion and to remain somewhat ‘convenient’.

It is highly important that Muslims do not forget altogether that we have our very own and very distinct Islamic Calendar based on the lunar cycle – as opposed to the Gregorian calendar which is based on the Solar calendar.  There are many reasons why we should not forget the importance of the Islamic Calendar.  For example, many of the faraa-id (obligations) are tied to the Islamic months – if we do not track the months, therefore, we will not complete these obligations. And our practice of Islam will be under threat.  It is this, with which we measure the Islamic months and our obligations that are derived with certain times throughout the year.

Another example of the importance of the Islamic months comes in the form of the 5th and sanctimonious month of dhu-al-Hajj, which all Muslims recognize as the month in which muslims perform the holy pilgrimage to the House of Allah.   Hajj cannot be performed in any other month.

Similarly, the obligation of the fasts of Ramadan are tied with sighting the waxing crescent of the moon of the month of Sha’ban and the new crescent of the month of Ramadan.  If we miss either, then our Ramadan will be incomplete.  More relevant for our purposes now, is the fact that this month, the month of Rabīʿ al-Awwal, is the month that was written in history as the month of the birth of the Mercy, the Holy Prophet, the Chosen One, that Great Messenger, Muḥammad ibn Abdullāh, al-Muṣṭafā, ṣalla-Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam…

The Islamic Calendar

It should be noted here, for general knowledge, that as the Islamic calendar is based on the cycle of the moon, there are only ever 29 or 30 days in the Islamic month, as is also proven from the ahadith.  It is narrated by Hadrat Ibn ‘Umar (ra) in which the Holy Prophet (saw), speaking of Ramadan, gestured with his blessed hands and said:

“The month(s) are like this, like this, like this, showing both of his blessed hands with fingers extended, thrice [signifying 10 fingers, three times], so fast upon seeing it [the new moon] and break the fast upon seeing it [the new moon] and if it is obscured from you then estimate it as thirty [days]”.[i]

Similarly, in another hadith, our beloved Prophet (saw) stated:

“The month(s) are twenty-nine nights, so do not fast until you have seen them [ie., for the previous month of Sha’ban], but if it [the moon by which you measure the number of nights] is obscured from you, then complete it to thirty.”[ii]

In addition to the above obligations which would be made redundant without an appreciation of the Islamic calendar and its observance, is the fact that Hadrat Khalifatul Masih al-Thani al-Musleh al-Ma’ud (ra) had highlighted the importance of the Islamic calendar and its observance with specific reference to the Sirah (life and history) of the Holy Prophet (saw) and established a calendar during his lifetime whose purpose was to highlight to Muslims, and particularly Ahmadis that we are not bound by the Christian Calendar, and that rather, our Calendar is the lunar calendar which starts from the Hijrah of the blessed Messenger (saw) – that is, from the date of his migration from Makkah-tul-Mukarrama to Madinah-tul-Munawwarah.

The Hijrī-Shamsī Taqwīm

Hadrat Musleh Ma’ud (ra), the Promised reformer, thus established the ‘Hijri-Shamsi Taqwim’ which can be loosely translated as the ‘concordance of the solar/hijri calendar’.   Although ‘concordance’ can be misleading – by this, Hadrat Khalifatul Masih (ra) wanted to establish a parallel calendar which should be used instead of the solar/pagan calendar to highlight the importance and familiarity, for muslims, of the events of the life of the Holy Prophet (saw) but in relation to the months that they use daily – and that these months should also correlate in their minds with the Islamic months in which these events took place.

The reason I say pagan is that the months of the year as we know them in the Gregorian calendar were based on the names of pagan deities[iii] – Hadrat Khalifatul Masih al-Thani (ra) was so averse to the concept of shirk (assocating partners with Allah) and was ever aware of the concept of Tauheed and its spreading amongst the masses that he was averse even to a calendar that is named on pagan deities – such was his love for Tauheed and his constant effort to establish the Tauheed of Allah ta’ala on the earth.

He thus established and replaced each of the names of the months of the Gregorian calendar and renamed them using terms synonymous with the key events that took place in the blessed life of the Holy Prophet (saw).

For instance the treaty of Hudaibiya, known as Sulh al-Hudaibiya (lit. Peace of Hudaibiya) took place in the 5th year of the Holy Prophet’s(saw) migration from Makkah-tul-Mukarramah to Madinah-tul-Munawwarah.  This treaty took place in the month of January. Hadrat Musleh Ma’ud (ra) suggested that the name of January be replaced by the word Sulh, meaning Peace. It is useful for a student of the Sirah (biography) of the Holy Prophet (saw) to be aware of this. It is a well known fact that most of the months of the Gregorian calendar are named after Italian gods, from Italian mythology and pagan religion.

If Muslims were to adopt this proposal of Hadrat Musleh Mauood, then it would also be a way of doing away with the vestiges of pagan idolatry, which permeate all aspects of Western society and which are also finding their way into modern day so-called “enlightened” and “moderate” Muslim society who are looking at more and more ways to do away with the traditions and practices of the early muslims, and making way for innovations, and worse still, idolatrous practices into the pure religion.

After this short introduction to the Islamic and Hijri-Shamsi Taqwim, I will explain a bit about this month – the blessed month we have just entered of Rabīʿ al-Awwal – Rabīʿ I.  It is important that Muslims in general, and Ahmadi Muslims in particular, are aware of the blessings that accompany this month and the specific blessings that one can possibly gain from a full recognition of its accompanying spiritual grace.

Rabīʿ al-Awwal (I): The Month of the Birth of the Prophet (saw)

It is agreed upon by most people that the 12th day of  Rabīʿ al-Awwal was he day of the birth of the Holy Prophet (saw).  Hadrat Khalifatul Masih al-Khamis (ayyadahu-Allahu ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz – may Allah the most high strengthen him with His Mighty Help) commented in his khutba-tul-Jumu’ah of Friday 13th March 2009 that many non-Ahmadi muslims celebrate this day with great jubilation and felicity, and many of our opponents, as well as some Ahmadis question as to why we do not revere this day in the same way.

In response to this accusation and question Hadrat Khalifatul Masih (aba) gave a sermon highlighting the salient points surrounding this discussion and delivered the edicts of Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as) on this issue – and stated that “…it is in fact Ahmadis who truly recognize the significance of this day…”.  Therefore those who, even amongst ahmadis state that the celebration of this day is an innovation should heed this point as well as those below.

Mawlid al-Nabī (saw): Innovation or Recommended?

I would also like to point out here that generally, amongst all muslims, one finds those that consider the celebration of this day to be an innovation and thus disliked, an innovation which has benefits, or outright forbidden.  Hadrat Khalifatul Masih (aba) gave a very reasoned and accurate account of the historical foundation of its celebration andd started by saying that:

“The people [muslims] of the first 3 centuries/generations of Islam, which are eulogized as the best centuries, were people who exhibited the highest standard of love for the Holy Prophet (saw) and were those who had the best knowledge of the Sunnah and were ever mindful that the Shari’ah and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (saw) should be followed, [yet]…we find no mention of the ‘Eid Milaad al-Nabi in the historical accounts from a companion (sahaabi), or follower of the companions (taaba’i).” [iv]

Having laid the historical foundation of the celebration of this day, Hadur stated that this day was initially started by those who concentrated on an outward (baatini) expression of the religion and the way in which they initiated this practice was as an innovation (bid’at).[v]  These people often followed a separatist interpretation of Islamic practice which concentrated an outward expression of the faith as opposed to taking both the outward aspects of the deen along with the inward and spiritual aspects of the deen.   Hadur then elaborated further that:

“There is one group amongst the muslims who do not celebrate this day at all – and they deem the ‘Eid Milad al-Nabi an innovation [bid’at] – this second group has gone to such extremes in this practice of theirs that they have transgressed all bounds.  Nevertheless, we will assess what the Imam of this time, whom Allah ta’ala has appointed and sent as the Hakam [Judge] and ‘Adl [the Arbiter], has stated in regards to this matter.” [vi]

In accordance with what Hadrat Khalifatul Masih al-Khamis (ayyadahu-Allahu ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-‘aziz – may Allah strengthen him with His Mighty Help) stated in his khutbatul Jumu’ah (Friday Sermon) of the 13th March 2009, I shall only relate here the decisions, opinions and instructions of Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as) in relation to his blessed celebration.

The Imam al-Mahdi’s (as) Judgement

It has been narrated in the discourses of Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as), known as the Malfoozaat, that someone had asked Hadur (as) about commemoration of the birth of the Prophet (saw), upon which Hadur (as) stated:

The remembrance of our beloved [Prophet – saw] is highly commendable [vii]in fact it is proven by the hadith that mercy descends with the remembrance of the Prophets and the saints [auliyaa’] – and Allah has Himself admonished the remembrance of the Prophets – but if this is accompanied by such innovations which involve anything that cause a breach of Tauheed [unity of Allah] then that thing is impermissible.  Eulogize Allah as He should be eulogized and eulogize the Prophet [saw] as he should be eulogized.  The clerics of today employ more innovations [in their sermons] and these innovations are contrary to the Will of Allah…the commemoration of the advent, birth and demise of our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is deserving of rewards – I am not one who would create my own Shari’ah or Holy book. [viii]  Some clerics exaggerate this and say that to celebrate the Mawlud/Mawlid is haram – if it is haram then who will you follow?  Because whosoever’s remembrance you increase, it is with that person that your love develops and increases.” [ix]

Regarding the above-mentioned point of some clerics referring to the Mawlid as ‘haram’ (forbidden), Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as) is reported to have stated:

“To refer to the commemoration of our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as ‘haram’ is sheer ignorance – especially as the true following of our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is the essential means and way of becoming a beloved of Allah, the High – and the passion and drive for following the Prophet (saw) emanates from the remembrance [of the Prophet (saw)].  One who loves someone, performs much remembrance of that person.” [x]

Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as) then goes on to discuss the innovations that are found in some Mawlid gatherings, and then declares the true purposes, objectives and results that should be achieved through such commemorations:

“Standing at the time of the Mawlud is impermissible – these blind ones are wholly unaware of the presence of the soul [ruh] of our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, rather in such gatherings one finds various types of innovations and people of ill-repute – so how would his [saw] soul  appear in such places – and where is it written that his [saw] soul would appear?  ‘And follow not that of which thou hast no knowledge.’ (Bani Israel, 17:37). 

Both extremes should be borne in mind – and reconciled – until the Wahabbi does not fathom the greatness of our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, he, too, is far from Allah.  They, too, have ruined the religion [of Islam].  Whenever any Prophet or Saint is commemorated, they cry out, ‘What superiority do they have over us?’  They have decided that they do not wish to benefit from the miracles of the Prophets.  The other sect has adopted the ways of Shirk [taking others as equal to Allah], so much so that they prostrated at graves and thus ruined their faith.  I do not say that you should worship the Prophets – rather think and understand [about them]: Allah sends the rain – we have no control over this – but we see that rain is always followed by agricultural flourishing and plentitude of healthy crop.  In this way, the Prophets function like rain.” [xi]

It should be noted here that related to the above excerpts from Malfoozaat, the paper Al-Hakam includes an additional clarification:

“However, in speaking of such commemorations, sometimes innovations are introduced, and it is these that are haram…you should remember that the real objective of Islam is Tauheed.  In Mawlud gatherings these days it is observed that many innovations are introduced, which has meant that an action which is permissible and deserving of mercy, is ruinedThe remembrance of our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, brings mercy, but impermissible actions and innovations are contrary to the Will of Allah.  It is not within my remit that we should lay down the foundations of a new law (Shari’ah) and this is what is happening today: every person tries to interpret the Shari’ah in line with their own opinions – thereby making their own Shari’ah.” [xii]

Hadrat Khalifatul Masih (aba) states that according to his opinion,

“…the remembrance of Our Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is not, as the Wahhabis claim, haram – but it is appropriate to encourage following [of the Prophet (saw)] – some people introduce innovations that lead to ‘Shirk’ and it is these that are forbidden.” [xiii]

And Hadur (aba) further mentions that a person once asked a similar question to Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as), who responded in a letter stating that in his opinion as long as there are no innovations, and there is a gathering, in which there are speeches, and mention of the Sirah (life and history) of our Holy Prophet (saw), and poems and hymns are sung in praise of our Holy Prophet (saw) in a pleasant manner, then such gatherings are commendable and should take place.[xiv]

Concluding one section of this sermon, Hadrat Khalifatul Masih (aba) stated:

“In any case, in summary, to hold a gathering or a function of remembrance on the day of the Mawlud (birth of the Prophet (saw)) is not forbidden, on the condition that there are absolutely no innovations performed.  The life and history of our Holy Prophet (saw) should be told – and this type of programmes should not only be held on one day throughout the year.  When you intend to propagate the life and history of the beloved (saw) then various gatherings can be held throughout the whole yearand they should be thus held – and this has been the way of the Ahmadiyya jama’at.  This is why it is not performed on one specific day, but even if a certain day is specified and gatherings are held on that day and the life and history of our Holy Prophet (saw) is spoken about – in fact there is always the mention of the Sirah (of the Prophet (saw) – if this is practiced in every Country, and even throughout the world, then there is nothing wrong in this but there should never be any innovations.  Such thoughts should not be entertained to the effect that as we have obtained many blessings from this gathering, thus there is no need for any further good actions – as some people think – so there should be neither underestimation, nor over-exaggeration.” [xv]

Hadur then completed the sermon by narrating certain aspects of the blessed life of our Noble Prophet (saw).

The Ultimate Spiritual Objective

So the remembrance of the Prophets and the chosen auliyaa’ of Allah is absolutely permissible according to Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as), provided there is no element which breaches the foundational notion of Tauheed – of the absolute and unequivocal unity of Allah (swt) – and if there is such a thing that threatens to do this then that certain thing is the impermissible element – and would of course contaminate the sanctity of the celebration – but the celebration of the Prophets and the saints do not thereby become impermissible. Rather, such celebrations should remain free of anything that causes any ambiguity as to the Tauheed and Unity of Allah (swt).

Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as) further states:

“Know that weed and pearls come from the same river – the rock and diamond also come from the same mountain, but each has its relative worth…” [xvi]

This sentiment is echoed in a well-known couplet in Arabic in praise of the Holy Prophet (saw):

مُحَمَّدٌ (ص) بَشَرٌ لا كَالبَشَرِ

قَد يَاقُوتِ بَينَ الحَجَرِ

Muhammadun basharun laa kal-Bashari

Qad yaaquti bayna al-Hajari


Muhammad is a man, unlike other men

Verily, he is a jewel, amongst rocks

This comparison – between jewels or gems, and rocks – is something which is often used to describe the status of the Noble Prophet (saw) as compared to other Human beings.   Undoubtedly, the Holy Prophet (saw) is a human being – as stated in the Holy Qur’an – but to equate him to other human beings is to denigrate his (saw) blessed and pure status.   Similarly, to levate his status to something divine is equally as denigrating – as it is a gross misunderstanding of his (saw) blessed status vis-à-vis Allah (swt).  Some from amongst his latter group claim that the Noble Prophet (saw) is above other humans and that he is therefore quasi-divine – or they give him attributes which are only for Allah whereas, conversely, others denigrate his status so as to make him just like other human beings.

This is what I believe Hadrat Masih-e-Ma’ud (as) is clarifying in this excerpt – that our Noble Prophet (saw) is a diamond amongst rocks – and we are the rocks in this simile – although we are all rocks, he (saw) is of the quality of a diamond whereas all others are mere rocks in comparison – which, when polished and cut through the process of following the Holy Prophet (saw) and being purified by his (saw) sunnah, can achieve a shine and cut so pure that turns those rocks into jewels.

Rabi’ al-Awwal (Rabi’ the first) is the month in which the blessed liege-lord of the two worlds (this world and the Hereafter), our leader (saw), and beloved (saw), the Final law-bearing Prophet (Saw) and the Saviour of all mankind (saw) was brought into this world and was sent to mankind by the Gracious God as a Mercy for mankind (saw).

Let us celebrate

[i] Sahih al-Muslim, Book of Fasting, Chapter 2 – Hadith No. 2551.

It should be noted that Hadith No. 2553, and some other ahadith do not mention the words ‘thirty days’, but rather end with, ‘…then estimate it.’.

[ii] Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Fasting, Chapter 11, Hadith No. 1941.

[iii] See generally, David Ewing Duncan , ‘Calendar: Humanity’s Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year’, (New York: Avon, 1998); and William Matthew O’Neil, ‘Time and the Calendars’, Sydney University Press, 1975; and http://design.caltech.edu/Misc/month_names.html; and http://www.crowl.org/Lawrence/time/months.html.

[iv] Transcript of the Khutbatul Jumu’ah – Friday 13th March 2009, p.2: http://www.alislam.org/urdu/sermon/FST20090313-UR.pdf, last accessed on 07/03/2010

[v] Ibid.,

[vi] Ibid.,

[vii] Malfoozaat, Vol.3 (New 5-volume edition), p.159, Footnote No.2, states: “With this, love [of the Prophet (saw)] increases and results in renewed passion and drive in obedience to following him (saw)”.

[viii] Malfoozaat, Vol.3 (New 5-volume edition), p.159.

[ix] Ibid., p.159 – 160.

[x] Footnote 2, Malfoozaat, Vol.3 (New 5-volume edition), p.160.

[xi] Malfoozaat, Vol.3 (New 5-volume edition), p.160.

[xii] Footnote 1, Malfoozaat, Vol.3 (New 5-volume edition), p.160.

[xiii] Transcript of the Khutbatul Jumu’ah – Friday 13th March 2009, p.5: http://www.alislam.org/urdu/sermon/FST20090313-UR.pdf, last accessed on 07/03/2010

[xiv] Transcript of the Khutbatul Jumu’ah – Friday 13th March 2009, p.6: http://www.alislam.org/urdu/sermon/FST20090313-UR.pdf, last accessed on 07/03/2010

[xv] Ibid., p.7.

[xvi] Malfoozaat, Vol.3 (New 5-volume edition), p.160.