Celebrating birthdays - why such a commotion about it?

Different sects of Muslims have come up with some confusing rulings against the celebration of birthdays. Many of them, daft as ever, say it's "Haram."

The fact of the matter is, the Glorious Quran says nothing, directly nor indirectly, from which we are to presume that celebrating birthdays is Haram. Celebration of simple birthday parties with food, gifts and games are very innocent pleasures of life. There's nothing 'Haram' about them. The only thing we need keep in mind (as with all celebrations) is that they must be in accordance with Quranic rules and values, which means, no obscenity and no consumption of alcohol or any other intoxicants.

The concept of stamping a 'Haram' ruling on birthdays in the Muslim culture originates from the Christian ideology.

During the first 200 years of Christian history, no mention is made of the calendar birthdate of Jesus, son of Virgin Mary. Not until the year 336 does one find the first mention of a celebration of his birth. So, why this omission? The reason is that according to the rules of the Church uptil three centuries after Jesus, the event considered most worthy of commemoration was the date of his 'death.' In comparison, the date of his birth was considered insignificant. As the Encyclopedia Americana mentions, "Christmas... was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian Church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth..." (1944 edition, "Christmas").

Origen, a Christian theologian in the early days of the Christian church (185-254) strongly recommended against birthday celebrations. Quoting the Catholic Encyclopedia, "In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world" (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition, Vol. 3, p. 724, "Natal Day").

Finally the decision to 'okay' birthday celebrations came after hundreds of years from the Church. The idea of selecting a suitable date of birth for Jesus, son of Virgin Mary, came about between the 3rd and 4th centuries. Quite a controversy arose among the church leaders. Some of them were still opposed to such a celebration. During this period, eight specific dates in six different months were proposed by various groups. December 25, although one of the last dates to be proposed, was the one finally selected and accepted by the leadership of the Western church. Apart from confirming that December 25 is NOT the actual birthdate of Jesus, these are the roots from where the so-called Muslim medieval imams picked up the notion on birthday celebrations being "Haram." And these are the origins of the belief of many ignorant Muslims at present (particularly the Wahabi / Salafi sect) who are wary about birthday celebrations.


  1. Thank you very much for discussing on this matter and I think this is the first time I have come across this type of information. Thank you again. Salam.

  2. While birthday celebrations (and new year celebrations etc) are not "haram", I think they display people's ignorance and heedlessness of the fact that every new year actually brings them closer to the day of their Hisaab/Accountability before God.

    >>The Quran 21/1: "Ever closer comes to mankind their Accountability, while they are turning away in their heedlessness."

    More a time to reflect than to celebrate.

  3. @ jon pour - u r welcomed ..

    @ Fahad, sure each birthday brings us one step closer to quitting earthly life. However, as I've discussed in my blog entry, the clerics complain on the birthday issue for a very different reason. Besides, celebration of New Year's eve is quite another matter and yes, it is HARAM. Haven't you read of the origins of New Year's eve? It arises from downright pagan traditions.


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