WHAT IS TAHLIL AND MAWLID?
“Tahlil” literally means making the “la ilah ha illalah” while “Mawlid” means “birth” being more specifically used for the beautiful recitations that depict and honour the Birth of our Nabi, the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him
The recital of the Tahlil and Mawlid are common practices among many Cape Muslims. The recital takes place at various occasions. Besides the actual Mawlid un Nabi celebrations, its is also recited on the 3rd ,7th and 40th nights after a person’s passing away and often at name-giving ceremonies, birthdays and other social occasions.
Tahlil: Tahlil (La ilaha illallah) was the thikr of all the prophets (alaihim salaam). Rasoolullah salAllahu alaihi wasallam said that whoever last words were tahlil… will enter Jannah. It is not enough just to recite Tahlil 10 or 100 or 1000 times; we must recite it as much as possible; and all the problems you have will be solved. Other thikrs can be made limited, but tahlil is countless. Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani r.a addressed the tahlil saying “You, the most beautifull in repeating, do not forget me at the last moment”; meaning that he wishes Tahlil to be his last words in this world. Rasoolullah salAllahu alaihi wasallam recommended one fidya = 70,000 times to be recited and all your sins will be forgiven. Recite it quickly and constantly and it will send away all bad thoughts and the effect of shaitain and jinn will not affect you.
Rasoolullah salAllahu alaihi wasallam said shaitan puts his mouth on the heart of man; and when a man makes thikr, shaitan will be shut off; but whoever man is forgetful, shaitan will seize him, and devour his heart
WHY ARE THEY RECITED
The tahlil and Mawlid are essentially forms of dhikr and salawat. Remembering Allah [dhikr] and honouring the Nabi, the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him are acts which have great merit in Islam and they are not restricted to specific times or places. When recited for the deceased, the “Tahlil” and “Mawlid” are also forms of “Isali Thawab”. “Isali Thawab” literally means “Conveyance [Isal] of Reward [Thawab]”. By this is meant that the reward that accrues from reciting the “Tahlil” and “Mawlid” is conveyed to the soul of the dearly departed one.
IS SUCH RECITING JUSTIFIED BY QURAN AND SUNNAH?
Yes, without a doubt.
As mentioned, the Tahlil and Mawlid are really forms of making dhikr of Allah and honouring the Prophet, the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him.
Dhikr and salawat are acts that have been commanded by the Almighty. With regard to dhikr the Almighty says: “Remember Allah frequently” [Surah 8 Verse 45] and “Oh you who believe! Let not your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah.” [Surah 63 Verse 9]. With regard to honouring the Nabi, the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him ,the Almighty commands us: “Verily Allah and His Angels send Salutations upon the Prophet. Oh you who believe! Send Salutations and abundant greetings of Peace upon him.”
As was said, the Tahlil and Mawlid are forms of “Isali Thawab”. They are acts of sadaqah [voluntary offerings] whose rewards are conveyed to the deceased. The effect is to lighten any punishment the deceased may be undergoing or to further raise the darajah [station] of the deceased in the hereafter. In fact, any act of sadaqah no matter how small, such as a smile can be presented to the deceased as an “Isali Thawab”. “Isali Thawab” has its basis in the Quran when Allah says: “And of the dwellers of the desert is one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and takes that which he offers as an approach to Allah and the blessings of His Messenger. Lo! Verily theses are an approach for them. Allah will enter them into His mercy. Verily Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah 9 Verse 99]. Thus the Tahlil and the Mawlid are our “offerings” to gain the Mercy of the Almighty and the blessings of the Holy Prophet for both the one who recites and the deceased for whom the recitation is intended.
It is also founded in the Sunnah as the Prophet, the peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him said: “When a human being dies his work comes to an end except for three things: ongoing charity, knowledge benefited from, or a pious son who prays for him.” [Sahih Muslim]. The hadith demonstrates that the deceased can continue to benefit in the afterlife due to both their own actions as well as those who pray for them.
It is therefore quite clear that the recitation of the Tahlil and Mawlid, together with their purpose as acts of “Isali Thawab” are in conformity with the teachings of the Quran and Sunaah.
It may be objected that the Sahabah did not recite tahlil and mawlid. Such an objection is misplaced because tahlil and mawlid is nothing but dhikr of Allah and salawat and in theses activities of the Sahabah were constantly engaged. Further, the Shari’ah does not restrict us to specific forms of dhikr or salawat. In fact, we are allowed to praise Allah and honour the Nabi, the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him, in our own words as well. This is clear, for example, from the fact the Companion Sayyidina Hasan ibn Thabit, Allah be pleased with him, used to compose poetry in honour of the Nabi, the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him, in the presence and with the approval, of Allah’s Beloved and Chosen One.
WHERE DOES THE RECITATIONS ORIGINATE FROM?
The Mawlid that is recited is actually composed of extracts from two books,namely, the Mawlis al-Barzanji and the Mawlid Sharf ul Anam. These books are very well-known and continue to be recited at Mawlid gatherings and other occasions in many parts of the Islamic world. The Mawlid al-Barzanji was composed by Imam Sayyid J’afar bin I-Iasan al-Barzanji of Iraq who lived from 1530 to 1591. The Mawlid Sharf ul Anam was written by Allamah Shaykh Ahmad bin Qasim although it appears that other ‘ulama also partook in its composition. May Allah be pleased with all of them and grant them the highest of rewards in the Hereafter.
While the two works are in Arabic, they have acquired the local flavours and rhythms of the various Muslim regions worldwide. Thus in India, for example, the rendering of these mawlid works are interspersed with some Urdu and Persian “salaami” culture and language. Undoubtedly, these local flavours and rhythms add to the richness of Islam’s cultural heritage.
The recitations are generally kept alive by the elders of a community who instruct the younger ones in the manner of recitation. Gathering for these recitations are an excellent way to keep the sense of community and belonging intact-something that is encouraged by Islam.
May Allah grant the highest reward to all the elders of this community, both living and deceased, who through establishing and encouraging these recitations, have maintained the love of Islam in the hearts of its participants.