Determining the Birth Date of the Prophet

 

It is the consensus of the Muslim scholars that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was born in the ‘Year of the Elephant’ as Khaleefah Ibn Khayyaat, may Allaah have mercy upon him, mentioned in famous book of history.

 

The scholars are agreed that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was born during the month of Rabee’ Al-Awwal and that it was definitely on a Monday. This is because the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, as narrated by Abu Qataadah, may Allaah be pleased with him, when asked why he fasted on Mondays: “That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I received the message (i.e., the day on which his prophethood began).” (Muslim).

 

The controversy is regarding the exact date of that Monday in the month of Rabee’ Al-Awwal. The various different opinions are as follows:

 

1)     Two nights before the end of Rabee’ Al-Awwal, as adopted by Ibn ‘Abdul- Barr as well as Abu Mash’ar, may Allaah have mercy upon them both, who were from the second generation after the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

 

2)     The eighth of Rabee’ Al-Awwal, as adopted by Muhammad Ibn Jubayr and Ibn Hazm, may Allaah have mercy upon them both.

 

3)     The tenth of Rabee’ Al-Awwal, as adopted by Ash-Shu’bi and Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Abu Taalib may Allaah have mercy upon them both, who were from the generation which came directly after the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

 

4)     The twelfth of Rabee’ Al-Awwal, as adopted by Ibn Ishaaq, may Allaah have mercy upon him, who was a famous scholar from the second generation after the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

 

Anybody familiar with the situation of the Arabs at the time of the Prophet’s birth will comprehend that such an illiterate nation did not and could not date events by the exact day on which they occurred. In fact, they would record events according to the year in which they took place. Therefore, when referring to a specific event, they would say for example that it took place in ‘The year of the elephant’, or ‘The year the Ka’bah was re-built’, or ‘The year of the pledge of Hudaybiyah’ or ‘The year of the Farewell Hajj’ and so on. Therefore, determining the exact date the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was born without having an authentic Hadeeth to establish it is an impossible task and any claim of an exact date is merely fictitious.  

 

The Arabs of that era did not have records to register the names and dates of their newborns, and such matters did not concern them. Moreover, it is ridiculous to imagine that anybody would have such insight as to expect and predict the birth of such an eminent person and therefore record the day, month and year of his birth.

 

The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was born under very normal circumstances, his delivery was just like any other. All of the stories about the miracles which took place during his birth are inauthentic except that which states: "His mother Aaminah saw a dream when she became pregnant with the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam that light shot out of Makkah and filled the whole sky as far as the castles of Busraa (Currently in Ammaan, Jordan)." (Al-Haakim).