Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- If you mean to say whether it is permissible to commemorate this most momentous event in the Islamic history and celebrate it without establishing any new religious rituals, the answer is most affirmative.
2- Since it is not allowable to institute rituals of worship, we must never do so as a religious act; rather as a custom, albeit a good one.
In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Hijrah: To Celebrate or Not To Celebrate
It all depends on what we mean by celebration. If you mean to say whether it is permissible to commemorate this most momentous event in the Islamic history and celebrate it without establishing any new religious rituals, the answer is most affirmative.
Allah tells us in the Quran to rejoice in God’s blessings and favors. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is ordered to remind them of the Days of Allah. And the believers also celebrated the arrival of the Prophet in Madinah with fanfare and music (i.e., songs).
Anas ibn Malik – a young boy at the time – fondly remembered it as the Prophet’s arrival in Madinah as the greatest moment of joy and celebration the like of which he never experienced in his life.
So, how could fail to celebrate this great event?
Therefore, we ought to continue this tradition while at the same time purging such celebrations of innovations.
We ought to use the occasion for education, instruction, and inspiration.
How Should We Celebrate Hijrah?
Here are three ways to do so:
1- Hold seminars and symposium on the Hijrah and its lessons
2- Keep celebratory events with nasheeds, and competitions in poetry, speeches, and essays involving children, youth, and adults.
3- Hold public programs in the model of the campaign launched by some British Muslim artists labeled as “Inspired by the Prophet’ to let the world know of the Prophet who is a Mercy to the worlds.
4- Let our preachers and khateebs chose themes from Hijrah to educate and inspire the community.
Since it is not allowable for us to institute rituals of worship, we must never do so as a religious act; rather as a custom, albeit a good one.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.