Those who participate in the celebration/ carnival of Mawlid an-Nabawi [Birthday of Prophet Muahmmad (PBUH)] are of different types;
Some simply gather on the occasion and read the story of birth, give speeches and recite poems.
Some prepare food and sweets, and distribute it to the attendees.
Some commemorate the celebration in the mosques while others in the houses.
Some do not limit themselves to the above, they add to it haraam (prohibited) and reprehensible actions of mingling between men and women, dancing, singing, shirkiya (polytheistic) chants, reciting shirkiya (polytheistic) poems, and committing acts of Shirk like invoking and calling upon Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) for help, etc.
With all its various forms and intentions of those who celebrate it, commemoration of Mawlid an-Nabawi is indisputably a prohibited innovation.
This haraam innovation was introduced by the Shi’a Faatimids after the three best centuries, in order to corrupt the religion of the Muslims. The first person to do this after them was the king al-Muzaffar Abu Sa’eed Kawkaboori, the king of Irbil, at the end of the sixth century or the beginning of the seventh century AH, as was mentioned by the historians such as Ibn Khalkaan and others.
1. The celebration of Mawlid [(Birthday of Prophet (PBUH)] is neither from the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger nor his Companions:
Anything that is not from these, cannot be a part of religion. Allah's Messenger (SAS) said: "Stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of my rightly guided Caliphs, cling to it firmly with your molar teeth. Beware of newly invented matters, for every new matter is an innovation and every innovation is misleading." [[Musnad Ahmad (4/126) and at-Tirmidhee (2676)]
Whosoever performs an act with the intention of achieving closeness to Allah while such an act was neither performed or commanded by Allah's Messenger nor by his Caliphs after him - then performing such an act constitutes accusing the Messenger of not (correctly/completely) explaining the Deen to the people.
Performing this act also amounts to belying the statement of Allah, "This day, I have perfected your religion for you." [Soorah al-Maidah (5): 3]
Such is because (by performing an innovated act) one comes up with something supplementary claiming that it is from the religion while Allah's Messenger did not order us with it.
2. Celebrating Mawlid (birthday) of Allah's Messenger is an imitation of the Christians in their celebrating the birthday of Prophet Eesa , whereas imitating them- especially in matters of their religion - is strictly prohibited, and differing from them is prescribed in the Ahadeeth of Allah's Messenger (PBUH).
The Prophet (PBUH) said,
"Whoever imitates/resembles a people is one of them." [Musnad Ahmad (2/05) and Abu Dawood (4/314)]
"Be different from the Mushrikeen (those who associate partners with Allah)." [Saheeh Muslim]
3. Apart from being a Bidah (innovation) and Tashbeeh (imitation) of the Christians - and both of them are prohibited; those who participate in this celebration call upon the Prophet , seek his help and chant poems of Shirk in his praise, like Qasidah al-Burdah, and its like. Allah's Messenger (PBUH) has prohibited all such forms of exaggeration.
The Prophet (PBUH) said,
"Do not exaggerate in me, as the Christians exaggerated about the son of Maryam. I am only a slave, so say 'the slave of Allah and the Messenger of Allah.'" [Saheeh al-Bukharee (4/142 -3445)]
This Hadeeth means, do not exaggerate in praising and honoring me like the Christians, who exaggerated in honoring and praising Eesa - such that they ended up worshiping him. Allah forbade the Christians from worshiping Eesa saying,
"O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah anything but the truth. The Messiah Eesa, son of Maryam, was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and HisWord, ('Be!' - and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him." [Soorah an-Nisa (4): 171]
Allah's Messenger prohibited us from exaggeration fearing that we might be effected by that same Shirk which the Christians were effected with. He said, "Beware of exaggeration for those before were destroyed due to exaggeration.” [Saheeh Sunan an-Nisaee (2863)]. Unfortunately, those sets of people who celebrate Birthday of Prophet (PBUH) have done the same exaggeration as Christians did with Jesus (PBUH) by invoking upon Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for help, instead of ALLAH. Just as Christian says ‘O Jesus, help me’ these sets of people say ‘O Muhammad, help me’, grant me this, grant me that.
Mawlid is also a means of exaggeration in the honor of Allah's Messenger (PBUH).
4. Celebrating the Bidah of Mawlid opens the door to other innovations and diverts people towards it. We thus find those who participate in such innovations active in reviving the Bidah and lazy in performing the Sunnah, and enraged at the people of Sunnah until all their religion revolves around innovated memories and birthdays.
They split up in groups - each group preserving the reminiscences of their scholar's birthdays, like the Mawlid of Badawi, Ibn Arabi, ad-Dasooki and Shazali - in this way, they do not free themselves from one Mawlid and get busy with another celebration/ carnival of birthdays of religious figureheads. They can only think of celebration and get addicted to it to the extent that for them nothing is more meaningful than celebrations. They overlook all their teachings and even overlook all the trials and afflictions that the Muslim Ummah is going through and just enjoy busying themselves with celebrations by anyhow giving it a religious flavor.
Such birthday celebration of religious personalities results in exaggeration (in the honor and praise) of the deceased and gradually cause them to invoke their religious personalities besides Allah by manufacturing the polytheistic belief that they too can benefit and harm from ghaib (unseen world) – until these people depart from the pale of Islam and return to the Deen of the people of Jahiliyah (ignorance) concerning whom Allah said,
"They worship besides Allah things, that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say, 'These are our intercessors with Allah.'" [Soorah Yunus (10): 18]
"Those who take Awliya (protectors and helpers) besides Him (say), 'We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allah.'" [Soorah az-Zumar (39): 3]
Clarification Of Doubts
Doubt 1: Celebration of Mawlid is honoring the Prophet (PBUH).
Reply: Honoring the Prophet (PBUH) is in his Ittiba (following); acting upon his commands, refraining from that which he has prohibited and loving him.
The adulation of the Prophet (PBUH) is not by innovation, corruption, sin and commemoration of celebrations in memory of his birthday. As it is an innovation in the religion of Islam, which is 100% complete.
The Sahabah were the ones, who honored Allah's Messenger (PBUH) the most as Urwaibn Mas'ood said to the Quraish, "O people, by Allah I have visited kings. I went to Caesar, Chosroes and the Negus, but by Allah I have never seen a king whose companions respected him as much as the companions of Muhammad respected Muhammad( PBUH)... If he instructed them to do something, they would hasten to do as he commanded. When he performed wudhu, they would almost fight over his water. When he spoke they would lower their voices in his presence; and they did not look him in the eye out of respect for him." [Saheeh al-Bukharee]
Even with this enormous amount of respect and honor for Allah's Messenger (PBUH) , the Sahabah did not commemorate a celebration or had carnival on his birthday. If it was a prescribed matter, they would not have missed it.
Doubt 2: Commemorating Mawlid renews the memories of Allah's Messenger (PBUH)
Reply: The memories of Allah's Messenger is renewed (everyday) by the Muslim;
• he remembers the Prophet (PBUH) whenever his name is pronounced in the Adhan (the call to prayer), Iqamah and Khutbah (Friday sermon),
• every time he pronounces the Shahadatain (the two testimonies) after ablution,
• every time he sends Salaat (salutations) upon the Prophet in his prayer and upon his mention,
• every time he performs a good deed – an obligatory or a recommended deed which Allah's Messenger has prescribed.
In this way, a Muslim always revives the memories of Allah's Messenger (PBUH) and is tied to it night and day - throughout his life by performing that which Allah has prescribed in the Sharee'ah - not only on the day of Mawlid.
As far as Bidah and contradiction to the Sunnah is concerned, it only distances and disassociates him from the Prophet. As the Prophet (PBUH) said: "I have not left anything that would bring you closer to Allah, except that I have commanded you to do it." [Silsilah Sahiha 1803]
Moreover, Allah's Messenger (SAS) is way above such innovative celebration. Allah has (rightly) praised and honored him in His Saying, "(We have) Raised high your fame." [Soorah ash-Sharh (94): 4]
Doubt 3: Mawleed is a Bidah Husna (good innovation) because it is a means of showing gratitude towards Allah for sending the Prophet (SAS) .
Reply: There is nothing like good Bidah in Islaam.
Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said, "Whosoever innovates in our religion that is not from it, will have it rejected."[Bukhari and Muslim]
And "Every innovation in religion is a misguidance." [Muslim; Musnad Ahmad(4/126), Tirmidhee (2676)]
The Prophet (SAS) thus declared all forms of Bidah as misguidance so how can one argue that not all forms of Bidah are misguidance.
Hafidh Ibn Rajab writes in Sharh al-Arba'een, "The saying of Allah's Messenger , 'Every Bidah is
misguidance’ is a comprehensive statement, which does not exclude anything (i.e. any innovation). This Hadeeth is a great fundamental of the Deen, like his saying, "Whosoever innovates in our religion, which is not from it will have it rejected."
Those who uphold this argument (that there is Bidah Husna in Islam) have no proof to withstand their claim except the saying of Umar (radhiallahu anhu) concerning Salaat at-Taraweeh, "What a good Bidah this is!"
They also claim that there existed innovations which were not disliked by the Salaf like, gathering all the Qur'aan in one book, writing and documentation of the Hadeeth.
Reply: All these actions have an origin in the religion and thus are not innovations (explanation ahead).
The saying of Umar (RA), ‘What a good Bidah is this?’
The intention of Umar(RA) by this statement was innovation in the linguistic form and not innovation in the religion because if it is said, "It is a Bidah." - concerning an act which has an origin in the Sharee'ah then it means Bidah in the linguistic form and not a Bidah in the Sharee'ah because Bidah in the Sharee'ah is something that has no origin in the Sharee'ah.
Gathering the Qur'aan in one book has basis in the Sharee'ah because the Prophet (SAS) approved and ordered writing of the Qur'aan, though it was inscribed in parts. The Sahabah collected it in one book in order to preserve it.
Documentation of Ahadeeth also has roots in the Sharee'ah. Allah's Messenger (SAS) ordered that Ahadeeth be written for some Sahabah who requested it.
The only thing was that documentation was prohibited in general at the time of Allah's Messenger (SAS) fearing that something might be added to the Qur'aan which was not from it.
After the death of Allah's Messenger (PBUH), the cause (behind this prohibition) ended because the Qur'aan had been completed and arrangement of the verses were also determined. So, the Muslims wrote down the Sunnah in order to preserve it from being lost. May Allah grant them good returns for their efforts in safeguarding the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (PBUH).