Bashing the Birthdays : weaning little Muslims off the tradition

Birthday: another fitnah of our times! Before one may start to contest the argument, I have a disclaimer- this is neither an argument nor my personal opinion. This is the opinion of the respected scholars which should be a directive to live by for the ummah. I am not a scholar or student of knowledge. Just a mom who is struggling with keeping the children away from these widespread traditions which have no basis in Islam. So, here I only intend to share a few practical tips to help little Muslims understand and confidently stay away from such commonplace impermissible celebrations.

  1. Know it and then teach it

Before anything, we must educate ourselves with the scholarly opinion regarding the matter at hand.

There are no celebrations in Islaam except Friday the weekly ‘Eid, the first day of Shawwal – ’Eidal-Adha. The day of ’Arafah might be called an ‘Eid for those who are at ’Arafah on that day, and the days of Tashreeq, following ’Eidul-Adha.

As for birthday celebrations for a person or his children, or wedding anniversaries or the like, none of them are legislated and they are closer to being innovations than to being allowed.

 

Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-`Uthaymeen

It is not permissible to have a birthday party for anyone, as it constitutes a Bid`ah (innovation in religion). It is authentically reported that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected. This is also done in imitation of the Kafirs, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Anyone who imitates a people is one of them.

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions.

The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’

When explaining to little kids, always mention they whys. Do not shy away from teaching them the fatawa, naming the scholars and the reasons they have cited. Children absorb so much MashaAllah! And its always a good idea to teach them the ahadith relating to it in an age appropriate way. This serves a dual purpose of teaching them the deen and also tarbiyyah at the same time. So help them understand the severity of being like the Kuffaar and being raised along with them on the day of judgement and the evil of bid’ah as these are the hadith the scholars have cited. If they are very young, remind them that we always try to do what Allah is pleased with and this celebration He does not like.

2) Time for a History lesson

So where did it all come from? A little research on Google would tell you all. Birthdays are a pagan tradition coming from Egyptians who celebrated it for the Pharoah.

birthday in islam
So are you next in line to follow these people?

Greeks adopted it and started offering cake as a tribute to the moon goddess along with candles to match her radiance. Hence came along the matching number of candles to the age. Even the early Christians didn’t celebrate birthdays for a few hundred years because of its link to paganism. Do we copy the pagans? Our children should be again and again reminded that we do not copy anyone but the Prophet SAW and his noble companions. They are our heroes, our role models and truly worthy of our admiration. Try to make them feel proud in that ‘islamic identity’

3) Make the permissible alternative appealing

Celebration in Islam is a minor weekly Eid on the Fridays and the major Eidain twice an year. While Friday is acknowledged by many ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ and we all ritually do the celebration of Eid, but honestly we are still far behind. I live in an Islamic country yet sometimes all I felt was Eid is only about sleeping and visiting a lot of people. Gifts, festivities, cookies and little silly things that truly make kids happy were often missing. Why are we missing out on this opportunity?

As a fellow sister recently pointed out, a single child getting all the gifts and attention on his/her birthday – such a centred celebration can leave the other kids jealous and wanting for a day of their own – not a psychologically healthy situation at all and a good reason to give up birthdays. Why don’t we stick to what Allah has enjoined upon us – and make the Eidain a grand celebration for all our little ones in our own ways – such that all the children feel blessed and look forward to it and at the same time feel happy in their Muslim identity as an ummah and not as individuals.

For more on this and some cool ways to make Eid more fun for the little ones, check out this post I wrote from Muslimah Bloggers.

4) It’s all in the greeting

As a little girl, before I knew about the ruling, I somehow found the birthday concept quite dotish. “Happy Birthday” So what do I care if you turned an year older? I instead resorted to wishing “Happy today, tomorrow and every day” only to realize later that we Muslims have the best of greetings, the greeting of heaven – May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you – every single time we meet and depart. The greeting of Salaam itself embodies all our good wishes that we have for every member of our ummah, every day and every opportunity we meet them. Emphasize and contrast these little things for your kids so that they see the wisdom and beauty of our deen.

And lastly, don’t forget to be steadfast in your supplications asking Allah to guide you to raise them well and grant you their righteousness. Ameen!

How do you respond to your kids if they question you regarding celebrating birthdays like their friends? Share your ideas and tips in the comments below.

 

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