I humbly differ with the referred to
opinion on the ground that the Ahadīth quoted to prove the notion do not lead to
the conclusion. Let us consider the Ahadīth presented in favour of the opinion.
The words ‘into this matters of ours’ used in the first hadīth
are worth pondering. These words clearly indicate that the Holy Prophet (sws) is
talking about something specific. The same is the case with the second
tradition. Here again you find the words ‘in accordance with our affairs’ which
clearly indicate to it being specific. We will try to determine what that
specific thing is.
We know that the only thing that the Holy Prophet (sws)
brought is the religion of Islam. We also know that all religious matters should
spring from the fountainhead of the Holy Qur’ān and the Sunnah. He should not
have forbidden us from other realms of affairs. If so the religion would be an
impediment in progress. We would not even be able to use all are kitchen
utensils we use today. Therefore, the Hadīth should be interpreted in context
of religious teachings and practices. The Holy Prophet (sws) only forbade
innovation in religion not in all human activities and disciplines.
Now the question arises whether celebrating birthdays is an
act religious in nature. The answer to the question lies with those who
celebrate it. They simply express their joy or express their gratitude towards
the Almighty. The act in its nature is not a religious act rather it is a social
A legitimate objection would be that celebrating the
birthday of the Holy Prophet (sws) very likely is an act that can be easily (not
necessarily) be associated with religion. We regret to say that often it is
deemed a religiously rewarding act. However, celebrating our own birthday could
not and should not be given a religious tint. This is a social act not
religious. Therefore, there may be other faults in the custom but it can no way
be deemed an innovation in religion. Its prohibition must be mentioned
explicitly in the Sharī‘ah. We cannot hold something prohibited for ourselves.
We cannot extend the effect of a ruling issued by the Qur’ān or the Sunnah to
what it has no relevance with.