Birthday – Happy or Not?

Birthday-party-candlesSalim was over joyous; he had just reached home after submitting the application form for one of the most difficult exams, the ACCA. “Wow! I am going to be a certified professional this year!” and then a brilliant idea struck him. “Why don’t I call all my friends over for an exam party?” After doing all the planning in his head he made the calls. Everyone was so eager to have another day to celebrate. While he spent the next two days going in and out preparing for a grand get-together his mother watched worriedly.

“Salim! Are you OK? You should be calling them over to study; your exam is just a month away! I have never ever heard of anything as absurd as an exam party!” She pleaded anxiously. “You are supposed to celebrate after you succeed in the exam, are you sure you are going to clear it when you haven’t even touched your books?!”

Salim ignored his mother, “Mom, it’s the trend these days, everyone does it! Please don’t be so backward! Besides it’s a good thing to make others happy and we are celebrating to thank for this blessing.”

His mother felt like crying. What can I do?


What do YOU think? Have you ever heard of such a pre exam party? No?

Well… I have! Read on…

“Afnan is turning 15 tomorrow! Masha Allah she is growing up so fast! I’ll call all her friends and aunts for a surprise party.”

The next day when Afnan opened her facebook account she was shocked to see so many notifications. “Happy Birthday Afnan” they had all wished. ‘Oh’ she remembered.

On her arrival at home she was even more surprised to find that her relatives and friends had come over to celebrate her birthday. It was a day full of wishes, hugs, gifts and a grand cake. To celebrate the day she entered this world…

Can you relate between the first and the second scenario? No? Well…Read on…

We all live according to our views and perspective about life. The non-believers regard this life as everything; enjoy it to the utmost, enjoy it while it ends. For them this is the time to gain all that they can; to them there is no hereafter.

For a Muslim on the other hand life is a serious matter, it is a responsibility that they shall be accountable for. Life is a tough exam; based on the curriculum of Quran, Seerah and Sunnah. It is a journey on a thorny road to Hell-fire or Paradise. A Muslim is not free to do anything and everything that they desire. They willingly bind themselves in the boundaries set by Allah, so that they can be free in the eternal life; in the gardens of Paradise, near their Lord who is pleased with them. When a Muslim enters this world, their assessment begins.

Prophet Muhammad SAWS explained the reality of this world in a beautiful parable. He said: “The world is a prison-house for a believer and Paradise for a non-believer.” (Sahih Muslim)

With this in mind, does celebrating birthday really make sense? Does it make sense to rejoice on the commencement day of your examination each year? Have you ever seen a prisoner partying the day he entered his prison cell? No! The reason to celebrate will only come afterwards…

This is why we see the best generations of Muslims far from such celebrations. We never hear the Sahaba, the tabi’en or later scholars celebrating various days; Badar day, Fatah Makkah (conquest of Makkah) day or Ahzaab day. Instead we read about them being hasty in racing after good deeds, seeking forgiveness and wishing they were birds and trees from the fear of accountability before Allah.

The History

One of the gifts of colonialism and media is the rising tide of western values and culture which has brought with itself their futile celebrations. It is the nature of human beings that they copy those who overpower them with a sense of inferiority. Same is the case with Muslims today, having forgotten their own glorious civilization they are ready to accept everything being handed down to them by the west.

A little research will show that birthdays were originally celebrated by the pagans, the pharaohs and the ancient Greeks to honour their ‘gods’. Even the Christians believed it to be a pagan celebration and admonished it at first, until in the 4th century they themselves started celebrating the birthday of Isa AS. It is a celebration rooted deeply in shirk (polytheism).

“Lighting candles on a birthday cake originates from pagan beliefs in gods. People had believed that their gods lived in the sky among the stars. Lighting candles or torches during ceremonies were a way for people to send messages and prayers to the gods. Making a wish and blowing out the candles on the cake personified the idea of sending prayers up to the gods. Germans were recorded putting candles on birthday cakes over 100 years ago. The number of candles on the cake represented the age of the birthday honoree. Blowing out all the candles in one breath would give your wish a better chance at coming true.” (

Stand Apart – From those who Disbelieve

The Prophet SAWS warned us about imitating the non believers. He said: “He who imitates any people (in their actions) is considered to be one of them.” (Abu Dawud; Sahih).” In every sphere of life he wanted us to be distinguished from the non-believers. He once said: “Act against the polytheists, trim the mustache closely and grow the beard.” (Sahih Muslim) At another point he said: “Act differently from the Jews, for they do not pray in their sandals or their shoes.” (Abu Dawud; Sahih)

These are some of the many examples from ahadith that instruct us about not imitating the non-believers in their customs, traditions and celebrations. We the Ummah of Muhammad SAWS are a distinct nation.

The irony is that the non- believers, as a whole, continue to oppress and support the oppression of Muslims throughout the world. Countless children, women and men are their victims each day. Whereas, turning a blind eye to this, Muslims are busy in celebrating the days and events borrowed from them.

So, the next time we wish someone on their birthday, or think of celebrating it let us review the purpose of life in our minds. Let us take pride in our exclusive 1400 year old Muslim identity and culture given to us from the Lord of the worlds. Let us be the trendsetters for the world and not let the tides set our course. Let us distribute to the world the true perspective of life. Let us stand apart – from those who disbelieve.

May Allah make our best day the day we meet Him. Ameen!


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