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Do you celebrate birthdays?

Angie Hindy

Posted on October 13 2019

I have a question: do you celebrate birthdays?

My whole life we grew up not celebrating birthdays, except if our relatives were in town we would buy a cake and sing “happy birthday” to appease them.

We were taught that the Prophet (PBUH) never celebrated birthdays, and neither did any of the sahaba. Although celebrating a birthday isn’t evil in itself, it is the act of creating a mandatory event, creating a bid3a (innovation) that is disliked.

So my family didn’t celebrate birthdays. We wouldn’t even say “happy birthday.” And if our friends invited us to birthday parties, we wouldn’t be allowed to attend. It was hard to see our friends hang out and we would be excluded, but we understood the reason why. When my younger siblings came into the picture, my grandmother lived with us and we were “forced” to do something for the little kids’ birthdays, so a cake and some snacks were allowed. And only with immediate family.

When I got married, my husband was raised differently and his family did celebrate birthdays. Of course, I wanted to raise my kids with my own upbringing and this created some conflict. I was able to avoid birthdays for the first few years of my older kids’ lives, but there came a point in time where my husband’s family would call the kids to wish them a happy birthday and he bought them a cake. I still avoided taking my kids to birthday parties they were invited to, especially when they were clearly labelled as birthday parties.

What we do now is that we do celebrate within the family, buy a cake and go out for dinner. But we don’t hold any birthday parties. We do hold random-no-specific reason parties for the kids so that they can have their friends over for some fun.

I’m not denying my feelings that it would be so fun to attend and host birthday parties, I am human. But my conscience would rather host Eid parties than birthday parties, and give more importance to that religious event. I don’t want to create an event where the expectation is to give a specific type of gift. A gift that meets a certain standard or shows a certain level of wealth. And the thought that the more friends you have, the more birthdays you will have to celebrate means you could technically have to attend a birthday every week. What type of budget would that require to sustain or time commitment (which I have very little of)?

And if I attend these birthday parties, would I be required to hold eight different birthday parties for the kids and another two for me and my husband? Not including the Eid parties and Ramadan iftaars. OMG, I can't.

I’m not saying don’t visit people or gift them. I’m just saying there shouldn’t be an expectation attached to these acts. They should come from the heart, not from a society expectation.

Of course there will be different opinions on this matter, but then my stance is why try to solve a problem when the answer is there. Did the Prophet (PBUH) do it?

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