RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, has issued a surprise fatwa, urging Muslims to stop ceremonies marking the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“Showing our love for our Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) should not be through staging a ceremony on one night, during which they recite poems and verses that are prohibited,” Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al Shaikh, the Gulf kingdom’s Grand Mufti and head of the seven-man Islamic Scholars Authority, was quoted by Emirates 24/7.
“If we want to show our sincere love for our Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him), then we should back our words with deeds all the time rather than in one night.”
Saying such celebrations amount to heresy, Al Shaikh said Muslims had acquired the habit of organizing ceremonies on the eve of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) over the past three centuries.
The habit, which has no base in Islam, had spread to most Arab and Islamic nations.
The Mufti’s opinion was expressed in a sermon during Friday’s open air prayers in the Saudi capital Riyadh, according to the official Saudi press agency (SPA).
“Unfortunately, some Muslims believe that our sincere love for our Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) should be demonstrated at one night of the year during which they make psalms, poems and other recitations that are considered blasphemy,” he said
“This habit is a heresy and superstition, which must stop.”
The Prophet’s birth falls on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awwal (the third month in the Islamic calendar).
Many Muslims see the prophet’s birthday as an important time to learn about and reflect on Muhammad’s life.
Lectures and speeches are often recorded and published as podcasts.
Around the world, celebrations of the prophet’s birthday include stalls selling Islamic books, leaflets, clothing, prayer mats and other materials.