In response to the edicts, Begum Naseem, a member of the executive committee of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said that
Birthday celebrations are wasteful expenditure especially in a poor country like India. Islam lays great stress on social reform... it strives to counsel people to avoid wasteful expenditure.
Another member of the Board, Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahali, was in agreement with Begum Naseem. In his view, “Instead of spending money on celebrating birthdays, a man should offer food to the poor people."
Meanwhile, Yasoob Abbas, spokesman of the All India Shia Personal Law Board, remarked that “Such fatwas carry no weight... in fact Darul Uloom has made of a mockery of the fatwas" (Deccan Herald).
While being a Sunni, I tend to agree with Abbas. Islam certainly lays a great deal of emphasis on moderation in all spheres of life. However, to say that birthdays are "unlawful" simply based on the fact that they are "a tradition of the West" is slightly silly. Which "tradition of the West" is next? Jeans? Pizza? Living in Britain?
I think what the scholars of Deoband ignored in issuing these edicts is the role of 'urf (custom) in the Shari'ah. As long as a custom does not contradict Islamic principles, there is nothing un-Islamic about it, whatever part of the world it comes from.