Many Muslim parents and children have misunderstood the concept of birthday in Islaam and different people have had different opinions regarding this issue.
To begin with, it’s imperative to ask ourselves the origin of this famous and common event called birthday.
Historically, the Romans were among the first people to celebrate birthdays many years before the birth of Isa alaihi salaam (B.C).
To them birthdays meant celebrating the start of things, called a dies natalis (birth day). Temples, cities, and people were often remembered for their days of birth. All this in a society where a baby living past a year old was quite an accomplishment.
As Kathryn Argetsinger has written
The birthday in the Roman mindset was much closer to a cultic religious celebration predominantly because each person had a genius (a tutelary spirit) that they sacrificed to on their day of birth. This deity (spirit) protected an individual for the year, and thus there was a re-up of that protection annually through the performance of a sacrifice.
Birthday parties were a key mix of religion and friendship, where sacrifices were made, incense was burned, ritual cakes were made and eaten, and white robes were worn.
This is what history confirms to us about origin of birthday parties.
It is now more than clear where this event came from and for this reason there is very close similarity between the Romans’ birthday parties and ours today:-
– lighting candles
– exchanging gifts
– cutting cakes
– wearing special dresses.
What many people do not realize while celebrating birthdays is that as per the Romans who are the teachers and inventors of birthday, it is done to please the spirit of a person for that particular year so as not to harm him or to be in good terms with him.
Where is this and the teachings of Islaam in Aqeedah.
In summary therefore, celebrating birthdays is a blind way of following people of distorted civilizations and belief and this is the main reason why there is no text that urges Muslims to celebrate the days they were born.
One may argue that the Prophet (sall-Allahu alaihi wasallam) used to fast on Mondays because it was the day he was born. And the answer is this hadith is saheeh but does not support the argument made in the sense that the Prophet never said those words so that we also fast or celebrate the days WE were born, but to teach us that if we want to follow his Sunnah then we fast as he did – the day he was born. Furthermore, he never mentioned that it was a celebration to him, but it is understood that it was a way of him thanking Allah.
In addition to the above, celebration of birthdays contain many other habits that are condemned in Islaam. For example:
– Playing music, singing and dancing.
– Free mixing of boys and girls.
– Wearing of shameful dresses among girls.
– Honouring the Roman and Greek calendars in which the birthdays are found.
May Allah give us hidaayah and thabaat fil Deen.