The date of the Prophets Birth

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Taking the age of the Prophet and the year in which he died into consideration, it can be discerned that his birth took place between 569-570AD. Sunni and Shi’i historians agree that he was born in the month of Rabi al-Awwal. Looking at what the historians – whom are mostly Sunni – have related, the day of the Prophets birth was on Monday the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal and based on the reports from the Ahl al-Bayt, it was on Friday the 17th of Rabi al-Awwal.

The Beginning of Arab Calendar

The Arabs of the age of ignorance did not have a fixed and structured beginning to go by when recording historical events. They would use important events such as the death of the heads of tribes and important and influential individuals, or bloody wars between tribes, as the beginning of their calendar. [1] In fact the beginning of the calendar differed between Arab tribes, each tribe would pick a specific date as the start of their calendar. [2] The tribe of Quraysh had picked the death of Qusay as the beginning of their calendar, as he was the individual who made Quraysh reach power for the first time. [3]. After the attack of Abraha and his army of elephants against Makka, their plan was rendered null through Allahs army of birds [4], thus Quraysh changed the start of their calendar. The importance of the Ka‘ba for the people of the peninsula and Hijaz, and the destruction of the army of elephants, caused this incident to become the most important incident for Quraysh, or perhaps for all of the people of Hijaz. The importance and uniqueness of this event caused the heads of Quraysh to decide on changing the start of their calendar from the death of Qusay to the year of the attack of the elephants, which is also called “The Year of the Elephants”. [5]

The Year of His Birth

The Prophet was born in the “Year of the Elephant”. [6] Considering the above introduction, we know that we do not know the exact year of the Year of the Elephant; therefore the exact year in which the Prophet was born is not known. We therefore have to use historical events whose dates have been accurately recorded in history. For this, we can use the year in which the Prophet died, the year in which he migrated, and his age. The death of the Prophet was in 632AD and his migration was in 622AD. The time between his migration and death was 10 years and at the time of his death he was 63 years old. Thus with simple addition and subtraction, we can come to know that the year in which he was born was roughly 569-570AD. [7]

The Month of His Birth

Regarding the month in which he was born, 6 different views have been reported. Through researching their sources, it is understood that the month of his birth was Rabi al-Awwal. [8] This is because firstly Shi‘i and Sunni historians agree on this [9] and secondly, the other reports have been mentioned in later historical sources. [10] It should be mentioned that Yaqubi has reported a view from the early Shi’i historians, that the birth of the Prophet was in the month of Ramadan, however he has not relied on this report. [11] Also, after Abu Rayhan Birunis transmission and acceptance of the view that the month of Rabi al-Awwal is the month of the Prophets birth, he transmits a report from Kitab al-Tarikh of Salami on the birth having taken place in the month of Ramadan however he has not accepted this view. [12]

The Day of His Birth

Most of the differences that occur regarding the date of the Prophets birth – be it from Shi’i or Sunni historians – is related to the day in which the Prophet was born. Here we will present research into the different views. The general Sunni historians have mentioned Monday the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal as being the day in which the Prophet was born, [13] however some Shi’i historians such as Kulayni and Saduq also hold this same view. [14] Most of the prominent Shia such as Mufid and Shaykh Tusi have transmitted the day of the Prophets birth as being Friday the 17th of Rabi al-Awwal. [15] Regarding this issue, what is most appropriate to be relied on are the reports which go back to the Ahl al-Bayt, because with taking into consideration the fact that they have close kinship with the Prophet, they are more reliable on personal issues related to the Prophets life [16] and all of the documentations regarding the 17th of Rabi al-Awwal which has reached the Muslims – and specifically the Shia – go back to the Ahl al-Bayt, therefore the view of the Prophets birthday being on the 17th of Rabi al-Awwal is stronger than the other views. Specifically, there is a narration on the birth of the Prophet being on a Friday, this narration has a reliable chain, [17] which goes back to Imam Musa ibn Ja’far (The 7th Imam of the Shia and the great-great-great-great grandson of the Prophet). In this narration, in response to a question posed on this matter, the Imam says that the view of the Prophets birth being on a Monday is incorrect, in the narration he says: “The Prophet was born on a Friday and he died on a Monday.” [18]


  1. Al-Tanbīh wa al-Ishrāf, Pp.172-181
  2. Ibid, p.27
  3. Tārīkh Ya‘qūbī, v.2, p.4
  4. The event of Abraha’s loss has been mentioned by Allah in Surah al-Fil
  5. Dalā’il al-Nubuwwah, Pp.94-97; Al-Munammaq fī Akhbār al-Quraysh, Pp.70-77
  6. Tārīkh Ya’qūbī, v.2; Murūj al-Dhahab, v.2, p.274; Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, v.1, p.201; Al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrā, v.1, p.101; Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, v.1, p.167; Asad al-Ghābah, v.1, p.14
  7. Tārīkh Islām (Pīshwā’ī), v.1, p.104
  8. Other reports say: Muharram, Safar, Rabi al-Thani, Rajab, Ramadan
  9. Tārīkh, v.2, p.7; Ithbāt al-Waṣiyyah, p.97; Murūj al-Dhahab, v.2, p.298; Al-Kāfī, v.1, p.439; Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, v.1, p.167; Al-Ṭabaqāt, v.1, p.101; Tārīkh al-Umam wa al-Mulūk, v.1, p.571
  10. Imtā‘ al-Asmā‘, v.1, Pp.6-7; Al-Mawāhib al-Ladunniyyah, v.1, p.25; Al-Sīrah al-Ḥalabiyyah, v.1, p.57
  11. Tārīkh Ya‘qūbī, v.2, p.7
  12. Tarjumah al-Āthār al-Bāqiyah, p.529
  13. Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, v.1, p.167; Tārīkh al-Umam wa al-Mulūk, v.1, p.571; Dalā’il al-Nubuwwah, v.1, p.74
  14. Al-Kāfī, v.1, p.439; Kamāl al-Dīn, v.1, p.196
  15. Al-Muqni‘ah, p.456; Kanz al-Fawā’id, Pp.71-72; Rawḍah al-Wā‘iẓīn, p.70; I‘lām al-Warā, v.1, p.42; Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, v.1, p.172; Iqbāl al-A‘māl, v.3, p.121
  16. Majlisi, Biḥār al-Anwār, v.81, p.274
  17. The reliability of this chain is mentioned in: Man lā Yaḥḍuruhu al-Faqīh, v.4, Pp.474-475
  18. Wasā’il al-Shī‘a, v.11, p.352