To celebrate our birthdays, we arrange parties, blow candles, enjoy cakes, etc. Does Islam permit such practices? In this write-up, we shall discuss whether celebrating a birthday is halal or haram in Islam in the light of opinions and fatwas by various Islamic Muftis and scholars.
Mufti Menk’s pov on Birthday Celebrations in Islam
According to Mufti Menk, celebrating a birthday is completely haram in Islam. According to him, the ritual of blowing candles on birthdays is traced back to ancient Europe when people used to go into hibernation to save themselves from the intense cold in winter.
So, those who would survive the winters used to blow candles to celebrate the fact that they defied and resisted nature that came to kill them in the form of winters.
Moreover, he highlights the fact that blowing out candles is a satanic ritual and an act of worship of the pagans that we Muslims do unknowingly at birthday parties.
Mufti Menk also pointed out the fact that it is ridiculous to celebrate when you have lost one complete year of your limited life and now you are one year closer to your grave.
Dr. Zakir Naik on Celebrating Birthday in Islam
When Zakir Naik was asked about the Birthday celebrations in Islam, he called it haram by giving the following explanation.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that there are only two festivals in Islam; two annual festivals. These are the two Eids; Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. So, any celebration that we celebrate annually (every year) is against the religion of Islam except for these two.
Moreover, according to him, birthday is more of western culture. It is not an Islamic culture and it is against the teachings of Islam. Therefore, it is not permissible. Any celebration which is done on an annual basis whether it be a wedding anniversary, valentine’s day, mother’s day, or whether it be teacher’s day; all these types of days or annual celebrations except for the two eid are not permissible in Islam.
Tracing back the origin of blowing candles on the cake, he said; if you go back to the history of this birthday cake, we come to know it is from the time of the Greeks. They used to make a honey cake that was round in shape and that resembled a moon for worshipping Moon God. They would put candles on it and this was in reverence to the moon god.
Dr. Zakir Naik pointed out why we should avoid blowing candles on the cake ritual. He mentioned research that when we blow on the cake, the cake has 14 times more germs. And we serve that cake to everyone.
Furthermore, he highlighted that many activities are associated with birthdays which may be haram. For example, today most birthday parties involve music, which is haram. They may involve dancing which is haram. There may be obscenity which is haram. In short, so many activities involved are against the teaching of the Quran and Sunnah.
Shaykh Assim Al-Hakeem’s Views
According to Shaykh Assim Al-Hakeem, we as Muslims are denied from following the cultures of non-muslims. So, let’s look at the origin of celebrating birthdays. If the Companions of the Prophet (SAWW) celebrated it, then it’s okay for us to celebrate. But, if they didn’t, then it’s forbidden for us to imitate the non-Muslims in carrying these celebrations into our own life.
Muslims have their identity. We have our own personalities. We cannot imitate people. Therefore, birthday celebrations are not acceptable in Islam and this is the verdict of scholars of Islam.
In light of the viewpoints of Islamic scholars on celebrating birthdays in Islam, we can conclude that following unIslamic practices in celebration is forbidden.
However, one can celebrate one’s birthday by thanking the Almighty for providing him a longer life so that one would do more good deeds. Moreover, we can celebrate by feeding the poor on our birthday.
In short, whatever we do whether it is a party or celebration, it must not contradict the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. If it doesn’t contradict, it is completely halal.