Celebrating birthdays is a question that many Muslims contemplate. Islam is often associated with strict codes of conduct and practices, and certain cultural traditions are forbidden. Celebrating birthdays is one of them.
According to the Quran, Sunnah, and Islamic scholars, Islam does not permit celebrating birthdays because Jews and Christians started the practice. As the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not celebrate his own birthday, there is one birthday that holds great importance in the Islamic faith.
Throughout this article, we will discuss why Muslims are not allowed to celebrate birthdays and what the Quran and Sunnah say about it.
Do Muslims Celebrate Birthdays: Let’s See What the Quran and Sunnah Say
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Most Muslims don’t celebrate birthdays, as the Quran and Sunnah don’t explicitly mention or promote this practice. In Islam, religious practices are primarily based on the principles of the Quran and the Hadith, which are the authentic sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad.
While the Quran does mention celebrating important events, there’s no specific instruction to celebrate individual birthdays. Also, some scholars argue that celebrating birthdays is a form of bid’ah, an innovation in other religions that the Prophet Muhammad or his companions didn’t practice.
According to the Quran:
أَمْ لَهُمْ شُرَكَـٰٓؤُا۟ شَرَعُوا۟ لَهُم مِّنَ ٱلدِّينِ مَا لَمْ يَأْذَنۢ بِهِ ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةُ ٱلْفَصْلِ لَقُضِىَ بَيْنَهُمْ ۗ وَإِنَّ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌۭ ٢١
“Or do they have associate-gods who have ordained for them some ˹polytheistic˺ beliefs, which Allah has not authorized? Had it not been for ˹prior˺ decree on Judgment, the matter would have certainly been settled between them ˹at once˺. And surely the wrongdoers will suffer a painful punishment.” [Surah: Al-Shura, 21]
Also, the Quran mentions:
ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَـٰكَ عَلَىٰ شَرِيعَةٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْرِ فَٱتَّبِعْهَا وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَآءَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ١٨
“Now We have set you ˹O Prophet˺ on the ˹clear˺ Way of faith. So follow it, and do not follow the desires of those who do not know ˹the truth˺.”
إِنَّهُمْ لَن يُغْنُوا۟ عَنكَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ شَيْـًۭٔا ۚ وَإِنَّ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَآءُ بَعْضٍۢ ۖ وَٱللَّهُ وَلِىُّ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ
“They certainly can be of no benefit to you against Allah whatsoever. Surely the wrongdoers are patrons of each other, whereas Allah is the Patron of the righteous.” [Surah: Al-Jathiyah, 18-19]
Muslims should focus on acts of worship explicitly mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah rather than engaging in practices that may have originated from other cultures or religions.
ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ مِن دُونِهِۦٓ أَوْلِيَآءَ ۗ قَلِيلًۭا مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ
“Follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord, and do not take others as guardians besides Him. How seldom are you mindful!” [Surah: Al-A’raf, 3]
Besides being bid’ah and not based on Islamic Shariah, they also emulate Jewish and Christian birthday celebrations. The Prophet warned us against adopting their practices:
“You would follow the ways of those who came before you step by step, to such an extent that if they were to enter a lizard’s hole, you would enter it too.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said, “Who else?” (Reported by Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Also, according to a popular Islamic scholar, Mufti Menk:
“In Islam, Allah’s commands are more important than worldly practices, even if the whole world is doing something against the faith. Blowing out birthday candles has pagan origins in medieval Europe, and it’s considered contrary to Islamic teachings. Islam follows the Hijri calendar, and the concept of celebrating birthdays is foreign to the faith, rooted in non-Islamic traditions. Celebrating birthdays, even within religious families, is not in line with Islamic teachings and is considered incorrect.”
How to Wish Happy Birthday According to Islam?
When wishing someone a happy birthday, according to Islamic teachings, there are several ways to do it.
1. Encourage to Remember Allah and Express Gratitude
In Islam, birthdays aren’t considered a religious event but rather an opportunity to reflect on the blessings and mercies bestowed upon us by Allah.
You can encourage him/her to take a moment on their birthday to offer prayers of gratitude and thankfulness for another year of life. This act of remembrance and expression of gratitude helps to deepen one’s connection with Allah and reinforces the understanding that life is a precious gift.
2. Offer a Sincere and Respectful Greeting
In accordance with Islamic tradition, to wish someone a blessed birthday, offer a heartfelt and respectful greeting (dua) that reflects your gratitude for the gift of life. When offering a birthday greeting, it’s recommended to express good wishes for the person’s future, emphasizing blessings and happiness.
For example, you can say any of these quotes,
- “May Allah bless you with good health, happiness, and prosperity all year.”
- “Wishing you a birthday filled with happiness, love, and blessings from Allah.”
- “May Allah shower His blessings upon you on your birthday and always.”
- “I pray that Allah blesses you with abundant happiness and showers His blessings upon you.”
- “May Allah bless you with a long and prosperous life.”
- “I pray that Allah grants all your wishes and fills your life with joy and happiness.”
- “May Allah bless you with happiness, good health, and success in all areas of your life.”
- “May Allah bestow His kindness and mercy upon you.”
- “May Allah grant you success in everything you do and fill your life with blessings.”
3. Acts of Kindness and Charity
On someone’s birthday, with him/her, you can donate to a charitable organization, volunteer your time to help those in need, or simply perform acts of kindness towards the community.
Can Muslims Attend Birthday Parties?
Muslims are prohibited from attending birthday parties. Although birthday parties themselves aren’t considered haram, in Islam, Muslims are advised against participating in such celebrations.
This prohibition stems from the belief that Muslims should avoid imitating the practices of non-Muslims, especially when those practices have no religious significance or basis in Islam. Attending birthday parties is seen as partaking in a cultural tradition rather than a religious obligation.
How do you respond to birthday wishes according to Islam?
When receiving birthday wishes, as a Muslim, you are advised to respond with gratitude and humility while keeping in mind the principles of your faith. You can respond to birthday wishes with a simple thank you to non-Muslims and repent to Allah.
However, for Muslims, you can explain that in your Fiqh, it is forbidden to wish for you, and if possible, show them relevant Quranic verses.
Understanding the Islamic Perspective on Celebrating Birthdays According to Islam
Although a birthday is an occasion of joy and celebration in many religions and cultures, it is not a practice that is accepted in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad did not engage in such celebrations himself, and Muslims are discouraged from participating in birthday celebrations.
While the cultural traditions of birthday celebrations may not be a part of Islamic culture, some Muslims continue to hold the Prophet’s birth in high regard. We should suggest to them not to celebrate the birthday.
So, if you were curious about the Islamic perspective on birthday celebrations, we hope that this article provided you with some clarity.