ON CELEBRATING THE MAWLID
Q: What is the Mālikī ruling as regards celebrating the Mawlid? I know Imam ash-Shātibī said it was bid'ah, but could you please explain this for me as I am very confused regarding the issue? Jazakallāhu khairan.
A: The position supported by the vast majority of Mālikī scholars across centuries and localities is that celebrating the Mawlid of our beloved Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, is not only permissible but actually highly meritorious.
The proofs corroborating such ruling are an ocean, and the space here does not make room for their examination.
As for ash-Shātibī’s stance, it echoes his similarly rigid position against collective du`ā’ upon the conclusion of a congregational prayer (though in that case the supporting evidences are more cogent).
He advanced his reasons for the view referred to by the questioner, and we respect him as a well-meaning great Islamic savant whose ijtihād was however erroneous on this point, as he was no ma`sūm.
It should be noted, incidentally, that he was a master in the science of usūl al-fiqh or root-principles of jurisprudence (as well as a formidable grammarian), rather than in the science of the derivative rulings of the Law or fiqh as such. He was well-versed in it without excelling therein, as demonstrated by the fact that he never bequeathed to us any major and widely consulted text on the subject, but only scattered legal opinions (fatāwā) quoted by the likes of al-Wansharīsī and only recently gathered as a single book by a contemporary scholar (Muhammad Abu’l-Ajfān), and Allah knows best.