Do Muslims Celebrate Birthdays?

+2 votes
asked Jun 23, 2015 by Eden (3,480 points)

1 Answer

+6 votes

Do Muslims Celebrate Birthdays?

Yes and No. There is no specific text or teaching in Islam that says that one must or must not celebrate birthdays. 

But that said the majority of Muslims; especially non-western Muslims tend to not celebrate birthdays. The reasons for this are many, ranging from it not being part of their culture to economics of funding an extra unnecessary occasion/festival.

I as the author of this answer reside in the United Kingdom. Like most Muslim Families we are very close and I have over 150 relatives that I am always in touch with… these are not my friends or colleagues but just family alone.

Now if this culture was prevalent in my family. I would have a birthday party every other day to attend. I would have to take hours out of my time attending these parties. Add to that the hours looking for a suitable unique present that I’ve not already gifted to any of my other 149 relatives over the past years. Then not to forget that even if I was to spend a bare minimum of £10 per gift, per person. That would add to a colossal deficit to my annual expenditure.

On top of that expense, add the financial loss of me being away from my business and Muslim women are no different than any other ladies. In that, they too wouldn’t be seen dead in the same outfit twice. So all us married Muslims would have to arrange 150 dresses per year for our wives. Last but not least I’d have to arrange about 6 parties a year for my own little clan.

Non-Muslim westerners can get away with birthdays due to the unfortunate reality of that they have altogether cut their ties of kinship. Thus often only have 4-7 family members celebrating birthdays. The financial burden is far less because of this and the fact that they use this occasion to bond with the little family members that they do keep in touch with.

Those Muslims that have already begun celebrating birthdays, have started the trend often due to their effort to bridge cultural differences or to relieve pressure of cultural differences. They often start as very little affairs, with the parents celebrating the children’s birthdays only. Dragging into the mix close aunties, grandparents and only the parents giving the gifts. But every year I have seen with these families the whole thing growing and becoming the nightmare I described above.

With the eventual result being that expectation of presents will rise year upon year. Presents from all attendees will be expected and competition amongst parents to out shine the Ahmeds (Joneses) will become the norm. 

answered Jun 24, 2015 by Azad (1,880 points)
"Non-Muslim westerners can get away with birthdays due to the unfortunate reality of that they have altogether cut their ties of kinship."

Love some of this stuff on this site. Very informative. But I must say that this statement is not true, and certainly nothing to do with "small" birthdays!!

Non-Muslim westerners just tend to "agree" to stay within a boundary of their nuclear family, and some exceptionally close friends so as not to cause pressure and embarrass people, especially for those with large families. If they didn't, they would have the same dilemma as you mention that Muslim families may have. From the "outside", I guess it could seem the way you describe it, but it's just to keep things civil. Unless is considered v.special.

My Mums 80th for example had over 400 family and friends, and my parents 60th wedding anniversary, even more!

Also Children in Non-Muslim western families tend to celebrate young birthdays with their own friends, it is not really an extended "family" occasion (as wedding, christenings and funerals are) , so they shouldn't be used as a guide to family ties. Hope that helps with your already excellent answer.
I'm a non-Muslim, so please excuse the intrusion. I recently sent a text message to a Muslim friend to say "Happy Birthday, hope all is well". He didn't reply so the thought occurred to me that I may have said the wrong thing. I googled it and indeed I had said the wrong thing, and here I am learning! He probably feels uncomfortable because he knows my intention was without malice but he can't acknowledge my message because it would betray his values. I'll remember next year not to make the same mistake. But, as for my friends and family, birthdays are not the "big deal" you suggest it is. Only young children get presents and have parties, and really only presents from parents and grandparents. The exception to this might be a significant milestone birthday. Even if you have close ties with hundreds of relatives, it does not mean you are expected to buy presents and throw parties for everyone - that would be unrealistic. A friendly "happy birthday" message is sufficient. It doesn't really mean much but it's an old tradition and it tells that person you are thinking of them.
John, sorry about your friend... it should have been common courtesy to at least thank you for your kind wishes but maybe he didn't see your text or was too busy to reply or just forgot to. Like I said above, there is no specific text addressing Birthdays but many around extravagance, useless things and copying other cultures.

Regarding large families... I understand where you are coming from, the large close knit family issue doesn't really affect many people outside of Islam and often when they do celebrate birthdays it's kids birthdays and outings with limited number of friends for adults.

Still I was mostly highlighting our own concern, as of recently i have seen some birthdays where the planning build up has the same worry as maybe a mini wedding reception. God knows where it will go from here... it's a tradition best left to others.

If you must celebrate, celebrate things that are achievements, one off's, goals reached, barriers broken... jobs, business startups, new baby arrivals etc...

Anyway thanks again for your comment and God bless us all with peace and unity.
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