Islam is a religion that has laid down a clear set of rules and regulations to guide its followers. The things that are prohibited in Islam have been declared Haraam by the Quran and Sunnah in one form or another. Then, are birthdays to be considered Haraam?
According to a Hadith: “He, who looks like them, belongs to them.” (Reference: Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Birthdays: Motive and Methods:
The problem that arises here is whether birthdays fall under the Hadith mentioned above or not. To be clear, birthdays have not been made compulsory for all those who can afford, like the Eid events in Islam. However, the Quran does say the following: “There is verily the best example for you in your Prophet (SAW) for every such person who looks forward to Allah and remembers Allah much.” (Reference: Al-Quran; 33:31)
Looking into the life of the Holy Prophet (SAW), it is evident that he did not celebrate birthdays. There is no documentation of him celebrating his own birthday, his daughter’s birthday or his grandsons’ birthdays. A prayer of thanks to Allah sufficed. Thus, the confusion here gets thicker regarding whether Muslims should celebrate birthdays or not.
Two schools of thought stem from above.
The other one, however, perceives things in a different manner, saying that birthdays must be allowed, but in a different manner. According to this school of thought: “Actions are judged by intentions.” (Reference: Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Al-Muslim, Al-Tirmidhi)
Therefore, if one intends to celebrate the happiness of receiving a child, or the happiness of living a successful life, there must be no harm in celebrating birthdays. This school of thought and its followers, nevertheless, stress on one very important fact: do not celebrate your birthdays as the people of the other religions do. Islam advocates simplicity and modesty in each and every celebration. The motive should be to spread happiness and be happy, not to put up a show of money and social status in front of everyone, nor to drain oneself of one’s resources.
Having met these conditions, there should be no harm in celebrating birthdays.
What should be the Verdict?
As far as most of the Ulema scholars see it, more research and thought need to be given to this topic. Both schools of thought have clutched at fairly reasonable logic. The first one, however, seems to be highly popular because it follows a direct rule. The second one, on the contrary, has formulated logic by means of reasoning and evaluation. Should the second school of thought be rejected entirely? Should it be considered Haraam to reason in Islam? The answer is NO! Islam allows Ijma and Qiyas for those problems that may not have been explained in a specific manner in the Quran and a Hadith and might only be hinted at. Haraam things tend to have a Haraam-like effect like alcohol leads to poor manners and a desire of sex. Birthdays do not have any such effect, provided they remain within limits. Thus, this topic should be dissected more to reach a definitive solution.