Dates of the blessed birth and demise of Prophet Muhammad (English)

What is the date of birth and the date of demise of our beloved Prophet Muḥammad ?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

This issue has been addressed in my Arabic article Matā Wulida al-Rasūl Ṣallāllāhu ʿAlayhi wa Sallam wa Matā Tuwuffiya.[1] A summary is outlined below.

(1) Blessed birth of the Prophet

According to the majority of scholars, the Prophet ﷺ was born in Rabīʿ al-Awwal in the Year of the Elephant, which corresponds to 571 CE. This was 53 years before the migration of the Prophet ﷺ to the blessed city of Madīnah. There is general agreement among scholars that the Prophet ﷺ was born on Monday, as affirmed by a Prophetic statement transmitted in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (1162). However, there is a difference of opinion regarding the precise date of birth. The following are some of the views:

  1. The precise date of birth is unknown.
  2. The blessed birth occurred on a Monday in Rabīʿ al-Awwal and the date is unknown.
  3. 1st Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This view is attributed to ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAbbās (d. 68/687-8) (may Allah be pleased with him).
  4. 2nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of Imam Abū Maʿshar Najīḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān (d. 170/787) and Ḥāfiẓ ʿAbd al-Ganī al-Maqdisī al-Ḥanbalī (d. 600/1203). Ḥāfiẓ Mugalṭāya al-Ḥanafī (d. 762/1361) is inclined towards this.
  5. 3rd Rabīʿ al-Awwal.
  6. 8th Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of most experts including Imam Muḥammad ibn Jubayr ibn Muṭʿim (d. circa 100/719), Ḥāfiẓ Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khuwārizmī al-Ḥanafī (d. 403/1012), Imam Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064), Ḥāfiẓ Abū al-Khaṭṭāb ibn Diḥyah (d. 633/1235), Shaykh Idrīs Kāndhelwī (d. 1394/1974) and Mufti Rashīd Aḥmad Ludyānwī (d. 1422/2002). This view is also attributed to ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAbbās (d. 68/687-8) (may Allah be pleased with him).
  7. 9th Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of the famous Muslim astronomer Maḥmūd Pashā (d. 1302/1885) who conducted detailed research on this subject and concluded that the Prophet ﷺ was born on the morning of 9 Rabīʿ al-Awwal, which corresponds to 20 April 571 CE. This view has been endorsed by Mawlānā Shiblī Nuʿmānī (d. 1332/1914), Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ʿAfifī al-Bājūrī (d. 1345/1927), Qāḍī Sulaymān Manṣūrpūrī (d. 1349/1930), Sayyid Sulaymān Nadwī (d. 1373/1953) and Mawlānā Ṣafī al-Raḥmān Mubārakpūrī (d. 1427/2006).
  8. 10th Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of Imam ʿĀmir ibn Sharāḥīl al-Shaʿbī (d. circa 104/722), Imam Abū Jaʿfar al-Bāqir (d. 114/732-3) and Ḥāfiẓ Dimyāṭī al-Shāfiʿ ī (d. 705/1306).
  9. 12th Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of Imam Ibn Isḥāq (d. 150/767-8), Imam Ibn Ḥibbān (d. 354/965), Imam Abū al-Ḥasan al-Māwardī (d. 450/1058), Imam Ibn Khaldūn (d. 808/1406) and others. Although this is a commonly held view, it is worth noting that from an astronomical perspective, this date in the Year of the Elephant does not coincide with a Monday in any way. This is why many experts have questioned this view and deemed it incorrect.
  10. Friday 17th Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This has been refuted by Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373).
  11. 22nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal.

Thus, the preferred view is that the Prophet ﷺ was born on 8th or 9th Rabīʿ al-Awwal (19 or 20 April 571 CE)[2] although 1st or 2nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal (12 or 13 April 571 CE) are possible dates. The difference of opinion clearly suggests that, contrary to popular belief, there is no unanimous or fixed position regarding the precise date of the blessed birth of our beloved Prophet ﷺ.

(2) Demise of our beloved Prophet

There is general agreement among scholars that the Prophet ﷺ passed away on a Monday in Rabīʿ al-Awwal in the 11th year after migration. However, there is a difference of opinion regarding the precise date in Rabīʿ al-Awwal. The following are the principal views:

  1. 12th Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the most famous opinion and is the view of Imam Ibn Isḥāq (d. 150/767-8), Imam Wāqidī (d. 207/823), Imam Ṭaḥāwī (d. 321/933), Imam Ibn Ḥibbān (d. 354/965), Imam Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064), Ḥafiẓ Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr (d. 463/1071), Imam Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1201), Imam Nawawī (d. 676/1277), Ḥāfiẓ Dhahabī (d. 748/1348), Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Dimishqī (d. 842/1438), Imam Ibn Ḥajar al-Makkī (d. 974/1567), Qāḍī Sulaymān Manṣūrpūrī (d. 1349/1930), Mawlānā Ṣafī al-Raḥmān Mubārakpūrī (d. 1427/2006) and many others. This view is also attributed to ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (d. 40/661), ʿĀʾishah (d. 58/678) and ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAbbās (d. 68/687-8) (may Allah be pleased with them) and Ḥāfiẓ Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ (d. 643/1245). However, many experts such as Imam Suhaylī (d. 581/1185) have questioned this view based on the fact that 9th Dhū al-Ḥijjah (the day of ʿArafah) in the 10th year after migration was a Friday. Accordingly, it is impossible for 12th Rabīʿ al-Awwal, three months later, to have fallen on a Monday even after considering all the possible variations in the number of days of Dhū al-Ḥijjah, Muḥarram and Ṣafar. The only possible way of reconciling 12th Rabīʿ al-Awwal with Monday is to assume that Dhū al-Ḥijjah started a day later in the blessed city of Madīnah. However, this reconciliation is only valid if all four months, Dhū al-Qaʿdah, Dhū al-Ḥijjah, Muḥarram and Ṣafar, were all complete months of 30 days. This is extremely rare, especially if Makkah was already a day ahead in Dhū al-Ḥijjah. For this reason, experts such as Ḥafiẓ Ibn Ḥajar ʿAsqalānī (d. 852/1449), Mufti Rashīd Aḥmad Ludyānwī (d. 1422/2002) and others argue that this view is wrong and is based on a transcribing error of 2nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal becoming 12th Rabīʿ al-Awwal.
  2. 2nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of Imam Abū Isḥāq Saʿd ibn Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAwf al-Zuhrī (d. 125/742-3), Imam Muḥammad ibn Qays (d. circa 126/743-4), Imam Sulayman al-Taymī (d. 143/761), Imam Khalifah ibn Khayyāṭ (d. 240/854-5), Imam Ṭabarānī (d. 360/971). Scholars who are inclined to this view include Imam Abū al-Yumn ibn ʿAsākir (d. 686/1287), Imam ʿIzz al-Dīn ibn Jamāʿah (d. 767/1366), Imam Ibn Khaldūn (d. 808/1406), Ḥafiẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 852/1449), Imam Qasṭalānī (d. 923/1517), Mufti Rashīd Aḥmad Ludyānwī (d. 1422/2002) and others.
  3. 1st Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of Imam ʿUrwah ibn al-Zubayr (d. 94/712-3), Imam Ibn Shihāb al-Zuhrī (d. 124/742), Imam Musā ibn ʿUqbah (d. 141/758-9), and Ḥāfiẓ Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khuwārizmī al-Ḥanafī (d. 403/1012). Imam Suhaylī (d. 581/1185) is inclined towards this view although he suggests that the second view is also plausible. Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Sayyid al-Nās (d. 734/1334) suggests that both this and the previous view are possibilities. It is worth noting that both views are substantiated via a narration transmitted by Imam Ibn Jarīr (d. 310/923) from ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAbbās (d. 68/687-8) who suggests that the Prophet ﷺ remained alive for 81 days after the verse “Today, I have completed for you your faith” was revealed. The majority of the scholars are of the view that this verse was revealed on 9th Dhū al-Ḥijjah, as explicitly mentioned in the narration of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (45, 4407, 4606, and 7268).
  4. 13th Rabīʿ al-Awwal – This is the view of Ḥafiẓ Badr al-Dīn ibn Jamāʿah (d. 733/1333) and Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ʿAfifī al-Bājūrī (d. 1345/1927). The latter adopted this view based on the research of the Muslim astronomer Maḥmūd Pashā (d. 1302/1885), who also appears inclined towards this view. Apart from the astronomical possibility of this date coinciding with a Monday, there is no evidence to substantiate this position.

Thus, similar to the date of birth, there is no scholarly consensus on the precise date of the demise of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. The strongest view, however, appears to be that the Prophet ﷺ passed away on Monday 1st or 2nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal 11 AH, which corresponds to 27 or 28 May 632 CE.

Allah knows best

Yusuf Shabbir

Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmed Sahib

19 Ṣafar 1438 / 19 November 2016

www.nawadir.org

Footnotes  

[1] The article is accessible on the following link: https://nawadir.org/2016/11/20/dates-of-the-blessed-birth-and-demise-of-prophet-muhammad-arabic/

[2] This is in accordance with the old Gregorian calendar. The equivalent in the new Gregorian calendar is 21 or 22 April.