When Was the Prophet of Islaam - SalaLlaahu alayhi wa sallam - Born?

There is hard evidence in the books of hadeeth and history that the Prophet, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), was born on a Monday and that he was born in the Year of the Elephant. As such, no known difference occurs among the people of knowledge on these points. However, that he was born in the month of Rabiu al-Awwal and specifically on its 12th day, although popular, is unreliable! The problem is compounded by the difference in the dates cited in the books of history.

Imam Ibn Katheer (d. 774 AH) – the author of the widely read book of Tafseer – has uniquely compiled the various dates that have been mentioned: Some say he was born on 17th Rabiu al-Awwal, others cite 2nd Rabiu al-Awwal and some others gave 8th Rabiu al-Awwal. 10th Rabiu al-Awwal, 17th Rabiu al-Awwal and 22nd Rabiu al-Awwal were also given in different sources. Other sources even said he was born in the month of Ramadan! Yet, no one of these dates – not any – is transmitted with an authentic chain!

The most deserving of attention is that collected by Ibn Abee Shaybah in his Musannaf from ‘Affan on the authority of Sa’eed bin Meenaa from Jabir bin Abdullah and Abdullah bin Abbass that: “The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was born in the Year of the Elephant on the 12th day of Rabiu al-Awwal...” [al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah 2/260]. Apart from the fact that giving the chain of report includes a declaration that this report is weak and unreliable, Imam Ibn Katheer expressly said, “It has a broken chain.” [al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah 3/109]. And this is clear. ‘Affan bin Muslim as-Saffaar, a 10th category reporter cited the report from Sa’eed bin Meenaa, a tabi’ee in the 3rd category. [See Taqreeb at-Tahdheeb no. 2649 and 5200]. Shaykh Muhammad bin Abdullah al-‘Ushan included this date in his book on Maa shaa’a walam yathbut fee as-Seerat an-Nabawiyyah (Popular But Unreliable Reports Cited in the Prophet’s Biography) pg. 5-10, and Dr. Akram Diyaa al-‘Umaree who stipulated to give only reliable reports in his book about the Prophet’s biography did not even mention any of the dates at all.

So, that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was born on 12th Rabiu al-Awwal lacks evidence. He - sallallaahu alayhi wasallam - had said, “It suffices for a man to prove himself a liar when he goes on narrating whatever he hears”. (Muslim :7).

Dear reader, the fact remains that our religion is based on proven facts and Allah the Mighty and Sublime has promised and actually preserved it from any inclusions and deletions. If the actual date of birth of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has any act of worship consequent upon it, it would have been authentically preserved. The message of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is centred upon rejecting every other deity and giving servitude to Allah Alone, FOLLOWING the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), not upon baseless suppositions and religious innovations.

Allahu al-Musta’an.

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