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Ibn Taymiyyah
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The Stance of Ibn Taymiyyah
"because the Eeds are legislated laws from amongst
the laws, so it is necessary to follow them, and not to innovate them,
and the Prophet had many lectures, treaties, and great events that
happened on a number of (documented) days such as the Day of Badr,
Hunain, al-Khandaq, the Conquest of Mecca, the occurrence of his
hijrah, his entry to Madeenah and none of this necessitated that these
days be taken as days of Eed. Rather this sort of thing was done by
the Christians who took the days in which great events happened to
Jesus as Eeds, or by the Jews. Indeed the Eed is a legislated law, so
what Allaah legislates is followed, otherwise do not innovate in this
religion that which is not part of it. And like this is what some of
the people have innovated, either in opposition to the Christian
celebration of the birthday of Jesus, or out of love for the Prophet
and in honour of him. And Allaah will reward them for this love and
ijtihaad, but NOT FOR THE BID'AH of taking the day of the birth of the
Prophet as an Eed - this along with the difference of the people as to
when he was born. For indeed this (celebration) was not done by the
salaf, despite the existence of factors that would necessitate it and
the lack of any factors that would prevent them from doing so if it
were indeed good. And if this was genuinely good or preferable then
the salaf, may Allaah be pleased with them, would have more right to
doing so then us, for they had more severe love and honour of the
Prophet in following him, obeying him, and following his command, and
reviving his sunnah inwardly and outwardly, and spreading that which
he was sent with, and performing jihaad for this in the heart, with
the hand and upon the tongue. So indeed this was the way of the
Saabiqeen al-Awwaleen from the Muhajiroon and the Ansaar, and those
that followed them in good.

And you will find the majority of these (who celebrate the birthday)
in ardent desire of these sort of innovations - along with what they
have of good intention and ijtihaad for which reward is hoped for -
but you would find them feeble in following the command of the
Messenger, that which they have been commanded to be eager and
vigorous in, indeed they are of the position of one who adorns the
Mushaf but does not read what is in it or reads what is in it but does
not follow it. Or the position of one who decorates the mosques but
does not pray in them, or prays in them rarely...

And know that from the actions are those that have some good in them,
due to their including types of good actions and including evil
actions such as innovation etc. So this action would be good with
respect to what it includes of good and evil with respect to what it
contains of turning away from the religion in it's totality, as is the
state of the hypocrites and faasiqeen. This has what has afflicted the
majority of the ummah in the later times. So upon you is two manners
(of rectification):

•That your desire be to follow the sunnah inwardly and outwardly, with
respect to yourself specifically and those that follow you, and you
enjoin the good and forbid the evil.

•That you call the people to the sunnah in accordance to ability, so
if you were to see someone doing this (celebration) and he were to not
leave it except for an evil greater than it, then do not call him to
leaving the evil so that he may perform something more evil than this
[a page omitted in which he explains this well established principle
of Shariah]

So honouring the mawlid, and taking it as a festive season (mawsam)
which some of the people have done, there is a great reward in it due
to the good intention and the honouring of the Messenger because of
what I have previously stated to you - that it is possible that
something be good for some of the people and be denounced/considered
to be ugly by the strict believer. This is why it was said to Imaam
Ahmad about some of the leaders, that he spent 1000 dirhams upon the
mushaf or similar to this. So he replied, "leave them, for this is
better than them spending it on gold (jewelry)." This despite the fact
that the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad was that it is abhorrent to decorate
the mushafs, and some of the companions (of Ahmad) interpreted this to
mean that the money was spent in renewing the pages and writing. But
this is not the intent of Ahmad here, his intention here was that this
action had a benefit in it, and it also contained corruption due to
which it became abhorrent. But these people, if they did not do this,
would have substituted this for a corruption that contained no good
whatsoever, for example spending upon one of the books of evil"
[Iqtidaa Siraat al-Mustaqeem 2/618+ with the tahqeeq of Shaykh Naasir
al-Aql]

He says in another place of the same book, "there is no doubt that the
one who practices these - i.e. the innovated festive seasons - either
the mujtahid or muqallid will have the reward for his good intention
and the what the action contains of legislated actions, and will be
forgiven for what it contains of innovation if his ijtihaad or taqleed
contains one of the excuses (that would lift this sin from him)."

He continues:" But this does not prevent one from detesting and
prohibiting it and to replace it with a legislated action containing
no bid'ah.... Just as the Jews and Christians may find benefit in
their worship because it is possible that their worship includes an
aspect of what is legislated but this does not necessitate that you
perform their actions of worship or you report their words because all
of the innovations contain evil that outweighs their good, this due to
the fact that if their good outweighed the evil then why would the
Sharee'ah have disregarded it? So we depend upon the fact that it's
sin is greater than it's benefit and this necessitates forbiddance."

He continues:" And I say: it's sin is removed from some of the people
due to the reason of ijtihaad or other than it, as the sin of usury
and alcohol (from dates) which has been differed about (by the salaf)
is removed from the salaf (who allowed it), then despite this it is
necessary to explain it's condition and not to follow those that
considered it permissible.... So this is sufficient evidence in
explaining that these innovations include corruptions of belief or
condition contradicting what the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa
sallam) came with, and that what benefit they contain is marjooh (not
to be relied upon) and it not correct to use for objection"

He continues:" As for what they contain - i.e. these innovated festive
seasons such as the Mawlid - of benefit then they are opposed by what
they contain of the corruption of innovations that outweigh the
benefit, alongwith with what has preceded of the corruptions of belief
and state - that the hearts become content with it at the expense of a
large number of Sunnahs to the extent that you find that the elite and
the general masses preserve this in a way that they do not preserve
the Taraaweeh's or the five prayers...." mentioning many more cases
[al-Qawl al-Fasl (pg. 102) of Shaykh Ismaa'eel al-Ansaaree]

A number of points can be seen here:

1.ibn Taymiyyah regards the mawlid as a bid'ah which the strict
believer is not allowed to follow.

2.he allows it only for those who would leave this bid'ah for a greater
bid'ah.

3.he states that those practicing this, either out of taqleed or
ijtihaad, will get reward for their good intentions, but they will get
no reward for their practicing it.

4.that they will not get the burden of the sin of the innovation if
their taqleed of ijtihaad contains the excuses that would life this
from them.

[al-Qawl al-Fasl (pg. 102) of Shaykh Ismaa'eel al-Ansaaree]