According to my research, no celebration of Muhammad’s birthday was established in the Qur-aan, his Sunna, or even the lives of the (exemplar) generations of Muslims. (Which is why nobody started celebrating it until after that time.)
What is it that made his life substantial anyway?
Why is it that we have cause to celebrate it?
What makes him the greatest man in history?
It was the REVELATION. And it is that that we do- and in fact must- celebrate.
“The month of Ramadan in which was sent down the Recitation (Qur-aan): a guidance for mankind, clear proofs for the guidance, and a criterion. So whoever amongst you sees the month, then let him fast it…. Allaah wants ease for you- he does not want difficulty for you- and that you complete the number (of days) and that you magnify Allaah for his having guided you so that you will be grateful.” (2.185)
So the only celebration connected with Muhammad’s person and life is the revelation of the Qur-aan to him. What we celebrate about Muhammad’s life is the Nubuwwa (Prophethood), i.e. the guidance, proofs that re-assure us that it is indeed guidance, and knowledge or right and wrong. This is unusual, though: how do you celebrate things like guidance and knowledge? By following them!
What is the correct way to commemorate Muhammad?
1) Ramadaan. As mentioned above, this is the time we commemorate the revelation, and Muhammad’s dutiful conveyance of it, by abstaining from food, drink and sex from dawn to sunset. Stop eating all night and sleeping half the day, with the other half reserved for preparations of feasts and parties. Read the Qur-aan and reflect on it more. Increase your takbeeraat (utterances of “Allaahu akbar!”). Do I’tikaaf (seclusion in the masjid). Pray taraaweeh every night so that you can hear the entire Qur-aan, the only revelation that was ever preserved. Learn Fussha ‘Arabic so that you can understand it.
2) Follow his guidance. He him self said, “Whoever guides [another] to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it.” [Saheeh Muslim]. So every single good deed you perform according to his guidance will add to his reward with Allaah, and yours, with no decrease in either.
2) Pray over him:
“Verily Allaah and his angels pray over the prophet. O you who have believed!: Pray over him and greet him with a greeting” (Qur-aan 33.59)
So if you love him, celebrate what you love about him- that he was a guide and a mercy-by Allah’s leave- by following the guidance.
Do good deeds and command others to them.
Stop your evil deeds and forbid others from them.
Learn and implement your knowledge.
Be a mercy to the world.
Suppress your anger.
Speak good or keep silent.
Give openly and in secret.
Marry the widows, divorcees and orphans.
Open your hearts, homes, and wealth to the refugees.
Don’t pollute the same mouth with which you recite the Qur-aan with profanity, lies, backbiting, slander, haraam food and smoke.
Leave ribaa (usury, interest, etc.).
Shun establishments and gatherings where alcohol is present, and tell them why.
Stop overeating- save 1/3 for food, 1/3 for water, and 1/3 for air.
Increase the romance in your marriage, for indeed Muhammad and his wives were tender and loving to each other.
Pray more Salaa, wherein you can say the Salaatu-lIbraaheem over Muhammad and his family.
Say your Salaa over him whenever you hear or read his names or titles.
Strive, in every way possible, to establish Allaah’s word as uppermost in every sphere- the internet, the laboratory, the classroom, the workplace, the market, the battlefield, the debates, the magazines, everywhere.
True enough, people sang odes and recited poems of praise in Muhammad’s very presence. But read those ahaadeeth (narrations) again. Look at the context. These were celebrations of military victories, not his birthday. So go and strive to save the Muslims from slaughter, ethnic cleansing, displacement, genocide, marginalization and humiliation and rape and illegal imprisonment. Go and liberate other lands from economic slavery, from the oppression and dehumanization of other ways to the freedom of Islam.
Love Muhammad. Love him with all your heart. Love him more than you love your self. I love him with you.
But know that love is often blind…
“Stop where the people [i.e., the Companions] stopped, for they stopped based on knowledge and restrained themselves due to deep insight. They were better able to uncover it, and if there was virtue in it they were most suitable to gain it. If you say: ‘Somethin…g new happened after them,’ [know that] those who disagreed with their guidance …and preferred another sunnah beside theirs innovated regarding it. They [i.e., the Companions] described what fulfilled the need and what they spoke about was sufficient. No one expended more effort than them and those following them. Some people fell short of [following] them and went astray, while others passed them and became extremists. They were between that onstraight guidance.”
– reported from ‘Umar bin ‘Abdu-l’Azeez, known as the 5th Khaleefa Raashid, whose deeds and merits are beyond question.
Abu Said Alkhudri reported Allah’s messenger (May peace be upon him)
“You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also.”
We said. “Allah’s messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians(by your words)”those before you”?”
He said, “Who else?”
– Saheeh Muslim, Chapter MCXII, # 6448
What is the Meelaadu-nNabi, if not following the Christians, who started to celebrate Jesus’ birth, forgetting that they were not obeying him?