Q. What are the opinions on Mawlid of those whom the “Salafis” consider their authorities?
A. We have already touched upon the subject above. Following are some additional remarks with reference to Hafiz al-Dhahabi and Ibn Kathir.
Dhahabi’s and Ibn Kathir’s favorable views on Mawlid can be ascertained by their remarks on Muzaffar the King of Irbil, who was famous for his sumptuous celebration of the Prophet’s birthday. Dhahabi writes in his Siyar a`lam al-nubala’:
He [Muzaffar] loved charity (sadaqa)… and built four hospices for the poor and sick… and one house for women, one for orphans, one for the homeless, and he himself used to visit the sick… He built a madrasa for the Shafi`is and the Hanafis… He would forbid any reprehensible matter entry into his country… As for his celebration of the Noble Mawlid al-Nabawi, words are too poor to describe it. The people used to come all the way from Iraq and Algeria to attend it. Two wooden dais would be erected and decorated for him and his wife… the celebration would last several days, and a huge quantity of cows and camels would be brought out to be sacrificed and cooked in different ways… Preachers would roam the field exhorting the people. Great sums were spent (as charity). Ibn Dihya compiled a “Book of Mawlid” for him for which he received 1,000 dinars. He [Muzaffar] was modest, a lover of good, and a true Sunni who loved scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of hadith, and was generous even to poets. He was killed in battle according to what is reported.
Source: al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-nubala’, ed. Shu`ayb Arna’ut (Beirut: Mu’assasat al-Risalah, 1981) 22:335-336.
Ibn Kathir said in al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya:
He [Muzaffar] used to celebrate the noble Mawlid in Rabi` al-Awwal and organize huge festivities for it. He was a wise king, brave, a fierce fighter, intelligent, learned, and just. May Allah have mercy on him and ennoble his grave. Shaykh Abu al-Khattab ibn Dihya compiled for him a book on the Mawlid of the Prophet and named it al-Tanwir fi mawlid al-bashir al-nadhir (The illumination concerning the birthday of the Bringer of glad tidings and Warner) and the king rewarded him with 1,000 dinars for it. His rule lasted until he died in the year 630 [Hijri] as he was besieging the French in the city of Acca [Acre, Palestine] after a glorious and blameless life.
Source: Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wa al-nihaya (Beirut and Riyad: Maktabat al-ma`arif & Maktabat al-Nasr, 1966) 13:136-137.
More importantly, Ibn Kathir himself composed a text on Mawlid, made of hadiths, invocations of blessings on the Prophet, and poetry in praise of him. It is entitled Mawlid Rasulillah sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, and was edited and published by Salah al-Din al-Munajjad (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Jadid, 1961).
Note: Among other similar works of Mawlid by the authorities is that by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami entitled Mawlid al-Nabi (Damascus: `Ala dhimmat Muhammad Hashim al-Kutubi, [1900?]), and that by the Hanbali hafiz Abu al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzi entitled Mawlid al-`Arus(Cairo: al-Matba`a al-Bahiyya al-Misriyya, [1850?]). The latter received a commentary entitled Fath al-samad al-`alim `ala Mawlid al-Shaykh ibn al-Qasim also known as al-Bulugh al-fawzi li-bayan alfaz Mawlid Ibn al-Jawzi by Muhammad Nawawi ibn `Umar ibn `Arabi (Cairo: Tubi`a bi nafaqat Fada Muhammad al-Kashmiri al-Kutubi, 1328/1910).