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Sufis reject Deoband fatwa against Prophet’s birthday celebration

Rakhi Chakrabarty,TNN | Nov 10, 2011, 02.26 AM IST NEW DELHI: The All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), a leading body of Sunni Sufi Muslims, r

,TNN | Nov 10, 2011, 02.26 AM ISTTOI

NEW DELHI: The All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), a leading body of Sunni Sufi Muslims, rejected the fatwa issued by Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband against celebration of birthdays, including that of Prophet Muhammad.

AIUMB General Secretary Maulana Syed Ashraf Kichhouchhvi said, “The birth of the Prophet is the greatest favour of Allah on humanity. So, Muslims celebrate the Prophet’s birth anniversary with traditional zeal on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal.” He said some “mischievous elements devoid of spiritualism” are trying to impose a foreign ideology on Indian Muslims.

Earlier, Deoband vice-chancellor Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani had said celebrating birthdays is part of the Western culture and against Sharia. He also said the Islamic seminary does not celebrate the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammed either.

Prof S Irfan Habib, who holds the Maulana Azad Chair at Delhi’s National University of Educational Planning and Administration, said, “Why should we take such fatwas seriously? These dos and don’ts are Wahabi innovations. Vested interests are attempting to infuse such consciousness to spread Wahabism.”

The Prophet’s birthday is a public holiday in 54 countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. “Israel and Saudi Arabia are the only countries in the Middle East who do not recognize Mawlid an-Nabi (the Prophet’s birthday) as a national holiday,” said Maulana Kichhouchhvi.

There are historical accounts of celebration of Mawlid in Mecca and Madina before the Wahabis took over Saudi Arabia, he said.

Jamia Millia Islamia University’s assistant professor Arshad Alam said, “What gives the Darul Uloom Deoband monopoly to define Islam? Various sects, including Barelvis and Ahl-e-Hadees, contest the Deobandi position on Islam.”

There is no authoritative source to tell what happened during the Prophet’s time. “There is no consensus among scholars on interpretations of the Quran and Hadees (traditions and sayings of the Prophet),” said Alam.

If there are no instances of celebrating birthdays in the Prophetic tradition, there aren’t instances against it either, added Prof Habib.