Islamic scholars have conflicting opinions about the permissibility of birthdays in Islam. While some scholars consider celebrating them haram, others do not, provided no haram activities take place.
We’ll explore the different perspectives in this article to help you make an informed decision.
Is Celebrating Birthdays Haram?
Some Islamic scholars consider celebrating birthdays haram, while others consider it halal.
First, let’s explore the arguments scholars use for celebrating birthdays being haram. We will explain the arguments presented by scholars and Islamic authority figures from Islam Q&A, IslamWeb.net, Dar-ul-Ifta, and TorntoDawah.
These scholars argue that celebrating birthdays is haram because:
- It is a Western tradition and is not from Islam.
- It is bid’ah (or innovation) in Islam, which is not permitted because it has no sharee’ah basis.
Scholars argue that Eid is the only celebration or festivity that is permitted in Islam. They cite evidences from the Quran and Hadith to support their opinions, including:
The Prophet (SAW) said:
“Whoever does something that is a not part of this matter of ours (i.e., Islam) will have it rejected”[reported by Muslim in his Saheeh[ (source)
“Then We have put you (O Muhammad) on a plain way of (Our) commandment. So follow that, and follow not the desires of those who know not. Verily, they can avail you nothing against Allaah (if He wants to puish you). Verily, the zaalimoon (wrongdoers) are awliyaa’ (protectors, helpers, etc.) to one another, but Allaah is the Wali (Protector, Helper) of the muttaqoon (pious).”[al-Jaathiyah 45:18-19] (source)
So, given this viewpoint and the supporting evidence, you might wonder why some scholars have different opinions.
Well, the divide comes from a difference in interpretation and opinions – some scholars argue that birthdays are not considered customs or festivals, and thus consider them permissible. (source)
An Islamic studies researcher, Ikram Hawramani, compiled references of scholars who consider celebrating birthdays as halal. (source)
Is It Haram To Go To a Birthday Party?
If you follow the opinion that celebrating birthdays is haram, then it is haram for you to attend a birthday party, according to Islamic scholars.
However, if you follow the opinion that celebrating birthdays is halal, then attending them is permissible.
In Islam Q&A’s response to a question about attending birthday parties, the authority site first clarified that celebrating birthdays is haram (as per their opinion). They further elaborated that attending one
“is approval of the evil deed and helping in it”.(source)
So, according to this understanding, it is haram to go to a birthday party.
However, Shaykh Yusuf Badat, Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, explained his understanding that birthday parties are halal provided certain conditions are met (source).
According to the Imam, it is halal to go to a birthday party if these conditions are met.
The conditions outlined by the Imam are:
- We can’t consider the celebration to be an Islamic practice.
- We can’t consider it as a necessary or binding event.
- We can’t look down on those that do not celebrate birthdays.
- We can’t have any intention of imitating non-believers.
- No haram acts can take place, like intermixing of opposite genders or alcohol consumption.
Why Don’t We Celebrate Birthdays in Islam?
Many Muslims do not celebrate their birthdays because they consider it haram. However, some muslims consider celebrating birthdays halal, and so they do.
in short, people and scholars who view it as being haram argue that celebrating birthday is not an Islamic practice. While other people and scholars who view it as being halal claim that birthdays are not customs or festivals and since they don’t have that much significance, then it is considered to be not haram.
We’ve shared the different viewpoints, and their evidences in the previous and following sections.
Is Wishing Someone a Birthday Haram in Islam?
Islamic scholars that consider celebrating birthdays haram also consider wishing someone “happy birthday” to be haram.
To confirm this, we investigated what scholars had to say about wishing someone a happy birthday in Islam. We consulted different sources, including Islamic authority sites that have declared celebrating birthdays as haram.
Here is a snippet of a response from Darul Ifta, Darul Uloom Deoband, India:
The tradition of celebrating ‘Happy Birthday’ is an invention of the West. Whose birthday is more blessed than that of the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم), but the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) was not alsked to celebrate his birthday; so how common people will be allowed to celebrate their birthdays. Therefore, a Muslim should not say ‘Happy Birthday’ to others; he should clearly say that it is not allowed in Islam.(source)
Allah (Subhana Wa Ta’ala) knows Best
But we also found a different opinion, similar to the understanding of scholars who consider celebrating birthdays to be halal. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad said (source):
“It is permissible in the religion of Islam to acknowledge someone’s birthday by way of greeting, prayer for them, celebration, wishing joy and happiness, gratefulness, gatherings, expressions of love, expressions of remembrance, giving gifts, eating cake and ice cream, going to dinner, taking a day off from work, congratulations, or any other activity that in of itself is deemed permissible according to the laws of Islam.(source)
It is prohibited o celebrate or acknowledging one’s birthday by participating in prohibited acts, just like those acts are prohibited during the rest of the year.“
This opinion supports some other scholarly opinions about celebrating birthdays being halal.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad also explicitly stated that it is permissible to acknowledge someone’s birthday by wishing joy and happiness, which includes wishing them a “Happy Birthday”.
Is Giving Birthday Gifts Haram?
Some Islamic scholars consider giving birthday gifts haram because they consider any birthday celebration to be haram. Other scholars consider giving birthday gifts to be halal.
Some scholars argue that, since birthday celebrations are haram as per their understanding, giving birthday gifts is haram. They also shared guidelines for accepting birthday gifts (source 1) (source 2), in which they clarified that:
- It is preferable not to accept the gifts.
- If not accepting the gift will spoil your relationship with the gift giver, then it is permissible to accept it. But, Islam Q&A further clarified that you should inform the gift giver about your reservations, so they do not give you a gift again next year.
However, scholars have differing opinions on this matter too. For example, Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad (we shared his response in the previous section), believes that gift-giving and birthday celebrations, in general, are halal.
Islamic scholars have drastically different opinions on whether celebrating birthdays is haram or halal. We have shared information, viewpoints, and supporting evidence for both sides to help you make an informed decision.
We encourage you to perform your own research, too, and hope you reach a strong understanding. May Allah (SWT) keep us all on the right path.