Saturday, 2 February 2013

Birthdays & Islam: a haram celebration?

The argument that birthdays are forbidden in Islam isn't very convincing. So why am I still so ambivalent?

By K. Ahmed

James May, the famous Top Gear presenter recently tweeted: "Muslims: am I right in thinking that you regard birthdays as sad events, and don't really celebrate them? #OrAmIConfused?" 

In short: Yes you probably are a little confused. 

According to the bastion of reliable and accurate information that is Yahoo Answers, some Muslims do consider celebrating a birthday haram, or something that has been forbidden in Islam by God. Yet, I do not find any verse of the Quran which forbids this particular celebration, and neither do the Islamic traditions. Still, my over-imaginative mind paints the caricature of an angry fellow Muslim shouting: "Don’t follow the West! They are all adulterers and their souls are lost in iPads, irresponsible debt and the evil practice of birthdays. Never do anything they do. Haram! Haram!"

Yet, the Quran does not forbid birthdays and it doesn't forbid Western culture either. Instead it instructs Muslims to adopt the good values of all cultures, to travel, to socialise and not to live in isolation. It instructs Muslims to give gifts, to foster a sense of community and to greet new people warmly. 

I must admit though, I still don’t celebrate birthdays and - as the fictional not-quite-Muslim character Don Corleone said in The Godfather - "I’ll give you my reasons" (hopefully without shouting, getting angry or start a mafia). In today’s society, birthday celebrations are very authentic and meaningful - with a slight hint of consumerism. The lavish spending and alcohol-induced annual euphoria aren't values I buy into. I don’t worry about birthdays because if I want to celebrate my life, I do so every moment of it. Not on a particular day. 

Plus, I don’t have the money anyway. @newreligionEU
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