Celebration of Wedding Anniversaries and Birthdays

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The celebration of wedding anniversaries and birthdays is the way of disbelievers.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Salam) stated one who imitates a nation is from them.[1] 

Almighty Allah commands us in His Quran to obey His Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Salam).[2]

 The Difference : 

There are major differences between the thinking of muslims and the non-muslims. The life of a non-muslim is confined to the pleasures and the luxuries of this world. A non-muslim is not concerned regarding the hearafter. Enjoyment, celebration etc. are the absolute objectives of their lives. The true purpose of their life has been forfeited. There remains nothing for the non-muslims in the hearafter.

Contrary to that, while we as muslims mark happy occasions, that is not the end of it. Our greatest concern is the hearafter. True happiness and pleasure can only be achieved in the hearafter.

When one completes a year of his life, that is a great bounty of Allah. It is a moment of happiness. For that, one should thank Allah and ask Allah for a long life span and barakah (blessings) in his life. This is how we should celebrate our birthdays. The happiness during ones birthday should not be expressed like the customary birthday celebrations in which there is only entertainment and merry. The prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam has mentioned in a Hadith:

(مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْسنن أبي داود (4/ 44)

(“Whosoever emulates a nation is amongst them.” (Sunan Abi Dawud 4/4 ” 

Let us examine the origin of birthdays:

 Development of Calendars[i]

Early people had no way of keeping track and marking time except by the moon, sun or by some important event. Little attention was paid to the anniversary of a person’s birth. Everyone realized, of course, that people grew older as time passed; but they didn’t mark any special milestone for it. Only when ancient people began taking notice of the moon’s cycles, did they pay attention to the changing seasons and the pattern that repeated itself over and over and so they began to mark and note time changes. That’s the beginning of birthday in history. Eventually, the first calendars were formulated in order to mark time changes and other special days. From this tracking system, came the ability to celebrate birthdays and other significant anniversaries the same day each year.

 
 Birthday History

History of Birthday observance can be traced back before the rise of Christianity. Birthday celebrations began as a form of protection. In pagan culture, it was believed that evil spirits visited people on their birthdays. To protect the person from the evil effects, friends and family members used to surround him and make merry. Giving gifts brought even more good cheer to ward off the evil spirits. A lot of noise used to be created in such parties to scare away the evil spirits. In those times, there was no tradition of bringing gifts and the guests who attended the birthday parties would bring good wishes for the birthday person. However, if a guest did bring gifts, it was considered to be a good sign. Later, flowers became quite popular as a Birthday gift.

Popular Birthday Celebrations in History
  • Best known birthday in the history is that of Jesus Christ. For nearly 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Christians have been honoring the day as Christmas.
  • About 4,000 years ago King Pharaoh used to celebrate his birthday by giving a feast to his court followers.
  • King Herod is said to have celebrated his birthday by treating lords, high captains and special friends with a special supper party in Galiliee.

Common people and especially children never celebrated their birth when the idea came about. This trend has been explained by a theory that noble ones were the only people wealthy enough to throw such celebrations, and quite possibly were the only ones thought to be important enough to have been written about or remembered. Some historians believe that these early birthday bashes resulted in the custom of wearing birthday “crowns” as time went on.

 

History of Popular Birthday Traditions and Symbols
Many of the popular Birthday traditions and symbols that we see today, originated hundreds of years ago. Some believe that the tradition of “Birthday Cake” was started by early Greeks who used to take a round or a moon shaped cake to the temple of Artemis (the Goddess of Moon). Others believe that the custom of Birthday cake initiated in Germany where people used to make bread in the shape of baby Jesus’s swaddling cloth.

The popular custom of lighting candles on cakes is said to have originated from the Greeks since they used to light candles on the cake taken to Artemis to make it glow like a moon. Some believe that the custom originated from a religious belief that the gods lived in the sky and the lighted candles helped in sending signals or prayers to the god. Germans are said to have placed a big candle in the center of the cake to symbolize ‘the light of life’. Even today people make silent wishes as they blow out candles. It is believed that blowing out all candles in one breath brings good luck.

More in birthday history:

The song “Happy Birthday to You” was composed by two sisters, Mildred and Patty Hill, in 1893, but nobody really paid much attention to it until the original words “Good Morning to You” were changed to “Happy Birthday to You”, words that are sung in virtually every home across the world at least once a the year.[ii]

 
As muslims, we should endeavor to follow the lunar calendar as two tenets of Islam are based on the lunar calendar. Ramadan falls on the 9th month of the lunar calendar. Haj is performed in Zil-Hijjah which is the 12th month of the lunar calendar. Eid-ul-Fitr falls in Shawaal, the beginning of the 10th month of the lunar calendar. The calculation of Zakāt in 1 year will be calculated according to the lunar calendar and not the solar 1 year. The determination of a person’s age is according to the lunar calendar. When a child reaches the age of 15 years, according to the lunar calendar, he will be considered bāligh (mature) and obliged to adhere to the laws of Shari’āh. This is approximately 6 months earlier than the solar calendar since the lunar calendar is about 10-11 days shorter than the solar calendar.
 

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mawlana Abdul Hannan Nizami,
Student Darul Iftaa
USA

 

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
www.daruliftaa.net

 


[1] 4031 – حَدَّثَنَا عُثْمَانُ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو النَّضْرِ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ ثَابِتٍ، حَدَّثَنَا حَسَّانُ بْنُ عَطِيَّةَ، عَنْ أَبِي مُنِيبٍ الْجُرَشِيِّ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ»

 سنن أبي داود (4 / 44):

[2] {يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا (59)} [النساء: 59]

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