Do you celebrate birthdays?
We all love when people acknowledge us on the day we were born. Did you know that this practice was not known in early Islamic history, however in many parts of the Islamic world, the ‘birthdays’ of pious figures in Islamic history are recognized and celebrated by incorporating innovative traditional practices that have been passed on.
In various parts of the world, some societies will celebrate the birthdays of Prophets or what is believed to be their birthday, various spiritual leaders, or saint-like humans of days past are celebrated as well. We asked Beyond Badr creator Kelvin Ali about this matter and he shared this with us,
“As you get older birthdays don’t hold as much significance as when you were younger in my opinion, but we all loved eating a slice or two of birthday cake at some points in our lives. I still have the little silver hospital baby spoon and a card of congratulations to my mother from my own birth as a reminder that I was brought into this world and it mattered to my parents.
In Islam, a person is deemed to be a youth until the age of 40 and I knew that one day I would not be a young man. In my 20s I would think about the future and what life would be like when I was at various stages of my life. I think we all reflect on our mortality as we age and we begin to see those close to us and the elderly start to pass on.
A long time ago, I used to have a poster of a hadith on the side of my work cubicle. This is before social media existed, it was of the ‘5 before 5’.
A hadith from Prophet Muhammad (saw) that states,
Take advantage of five before five:
Your youth before your old age,
Your health before your illness,
Your riches before your poverty,
Your free time before your work,
and Your life before your death!
Since that time which was early in my professional life, I have always viewed birthdays as a number that will bring me closer to my death. Prophet Muhammad (saw), nor the Sahabah (RA) did not celebrate birthdays, so I don’t dwell on the fact when my birthday is approaching.
That’s my view, but who doesn’t love birthday cake? Everyone’s email addresses are with retailers all over the world and our inboxes become spammed with coupons, freebies, discounts, and all kinds of marketing promotional materials which are supposed to make you feel good on or around your birthday, so that can also add to the psychological stress of your big day.
Feeling good for me starts by looking at myself in the mirror and acknowledging that I have been given another day in this world of toil, and starting with a good intention and very specific daily morning habits, which include prayer, reflection, and gratitude. When my birthday does actually come around, I am not surprised by a bigger number as I am pretty aware that it took 364 days to get to this point and I always feel grateful for that.
Wherever you are in the world and whatever the normal practice of your community and customs are, if you feel like the need be acknowledged on the day you were born then do so, but I recommend you acknowledge yourself in small ways every day and then try to pass on that good vibe to another. We all can be too hard on ourselves at times and we have all been through an incredible ordeal the past few years with the Pandemic. I am sure that when people begin to gather again safely there will be many kinds of celebrations to be had. For many people, it might even be awkward gathering again in social settings, so my advice is, bring a smile and have a good intention to any gathering you go to, especially if others are celebrating you!
We all need to feel appreciated and acknowledged in life and if a piece of cake makes that happen or helps in some way, and if it’s your special day, why not just take a bite or whatever makes you smile, close your eyes and savour the delicious flavours swirling around in your mouth. That’s the way I think you should celebrate a piece of birthday cake. Recognize your breath for a moment or two and realize that whatever is going on, it’s ok right now and if you don’t celebrate yourself in life, who will?”
We wish you a very happy birthday, whatever day of the year it falls upon. Do you have a favorite flavor of cake? Our team voted for strawberry shortcake and super decadent chocolate creations as our favourites for any type of celebration!
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The Beyond Badr Dev Team!