NON MUSLIMS FESTIVALS.
The conflict between truth and falsehood is ongoing and will last as long as this world remains. The fact that some groups among the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are following the people of falsehood such as the Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, idol-worshippers and others, whilst a group is remaining steadfast to the truth despite the pressures, is all part of the decreed system of the universe.
Prophet told us that the blessed one is the one who adheres steadfastly to the truth no matter what the distractions, at a time when the one who does righteous deeds will earn the reward of fifty men whose deeds are like those of the Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them) – as was reported in the hadeeth of Abu Tha’labah al-Khushani (may Allah be pleased with him).
Among the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) there will be people who deviated from the truth and went towards falsehood, changing and altering things. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“I will precede you to the Cistern, and men from among you will be brought to me, and when I stretch forth my hand to them, they will be pulled away. I will say, ‘O Lord! My followers!’ and it will be said: ‘You do not know what they innovated after you were gone.’”
According to another report: “I will say: ‘May he be doomed, the one who changed (the religion) after I was gone.’”
One of the most obvious manifestations of this altering of Islam and disdainfully treating the religion of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the way in which people follow the enemies of Allah – may He be exalted – in everything, major or minor, in the name of development, progress and civilization, under the banners of peaceful coexistence, human brotherhood, new world order, globalization and other dazzling but deceitful slogans. Allah says (interpretation of the meanings):
“....and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way....” [Al-Maa’idah 5:48]
“For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow....” [Al-Hajj 22:67] – which means, a festival which is for them alone.
Many Muslims have been led astray by the dazzling attractions of the enemies of Allah, especially the Christians with their major festivals such as the celebration of the birth of the Messiah (peace be upon him) – i.e., Christmas – and the Christian New Year. They attend Christian parties on these occasions in their (Christians’) countries, and some of them have brought these things back to Muslim countries – we seek refuge with Allah.
Why do we need to know about the festivals of the kuffaar?
Muslims need to know about them so that they can avoid them. In recent times this has become more of an issue for the following reasons:
1. More mixing with the kuffaar, because Muslims go to their countries to study, take vacations, do business or for other reasons. Those who go there witness some of their rituals and they may like them, so they follow them. This is especially the case with those who are suffering from an inferiority complex and who look at the kuffaar with strong admiration which robs them of the power to resist, corrupts their hearts and weakens their commitment to religion.
2. The matter is made more serious by the media which can transmit everything with sound and living pictures from the farthest corners of the earth. No doubt the media of the kuffar is stronger and more capable of transmitting their rituals to the Muslims than the other way round. Many satellite channels broadcast the rituals of other religions’ festivals – especially Christian festivals.
3. Throughout their history, the Muslims have suffered from the problem of being influenced by the rituals of others through mixing with them. This prompted the imaams (scholars) of Islam to warn the Muslim masses against imitating others in their festivals and rituals. Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) spoke at length about their festivals and what they do on those occasions, and he described the extent to which the ignorant Muslims were influenced by this. After speaking in detail about them, he said: “Our aims are not limited just to knowing the details of their falsehood, but it is sufficient for us to know what is munkar (evil) in such a way that we can distinguish between it and that which is mubaah (permissible), ma’roof (good), mustahabb (encouraged) and waajib (obligatory), so that by means of this knowledge we will be able to protect ourselves and avoid it.
4. Some of their festivals nowadays revolve around large gatherings, and still bear some of the features of their ancient festivals. Many Muslims take part in these events without realizing that. This is the case with the Olympic Games, whose roots lie in a festival that was celebrated by the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Christians; and with the “Mahrajaans” (“festivals”) which are organized to promote trade, culture etc., even though the Mahrajaan was originally a Persian festival. Most of those who organize these gatherings and call them “Mahrajaan” are unaware of this.
5. Knowing evil is a means of avoiding it and keeping away from it. Hudhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The people used to ask the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about good things, but I used to ask him about bad things, fearing that I may fall into them.”
6. There are so many calls made by the strong voices of hypocrisy who want to cut the Ummah off from its roots, destroy its identity and assimilate it into the methodology of the kuffaar, and want people to follow them step by step, under the banners of humanity, globalization, universalism, openness towards others and receptiveness towards other cultures.
Among the Pharaonic festivals is the festival of Shimm al-Naseem (lit. “smelling the breeze”), which involves venerating some days as a good omen or drawing nigh to the gods who were worshipped instead of Allah – may He be exalted. Shaykh Mahfooz – during his own time – mentioned some of the shameful and immoral practices that would make one's hair stand on end, whereby farms and open spaces were filled with groups of immoral people of bad conduct, and groups of young and old, men and women, went to the orchards and rivers to commit zinaa (fornication, adultery) and to drink intoxicating substances, thinking that on that day all evil actions were permissible for them.
Among the superstitions connected to this festival was the placing of onions beneath the head of a sleeping person, or hanging them in doorways, claiming that this would take away laziness and sloth. This event is counted as one of the Pharaonic festivals.
Most of their festivals were connected to the rituals of their pagan religion which was based on polytheism. They had so many festivals which were aimed at reducing the tedium of daily life, and it reached the extent that no month was free of one or more festivals, except for one month which was called Mamkitrion.
Their festivals were characterized by obscenity, promiscuity, drunkenness and giving free rein to their animalistic desires. The most important of their festivals included the following:
The festival of the Olympiad, or the Olympic feast. This was held in Elis every four years. It was first officially recognized in 776 BCE. The Olympiad was one of their most important festivals and seasonal gatherings. From that far-off date, these games were historically called the Olympiad.
These games are still held and supported by the Christian nations under the same ancient name and with the inherited rituals such as lighting the Olympic flame in Athens and bringing it to the country where the Games are being held, and so on. Unfortunately many Muslim countries also take part in these games and boast about doing so. Many of them do not know that their origin lies in the festivals of the kuffaar and the sacred days of their pagan religion.
One of the nations which had the most festivals was the Romans. They had more than one hundred holy days in the year, days which they regarded as festivals, including the first day of each month. Some festivals were devoted to the sanctification of the dead.
As it is known, the Roman Empire prevailed after the Greeks, so they inherited many of the Greek rituals, customs and festivals.
Among the most famous Roman festivals:
The festival of love, celebrated on February 14 each year, as an expression of what they believed, in their pagan religion, to be divine love. This festival was invented more than 1700 years ago, at the time when paganism was still prevalent among the Romans. This festival is still celebrated in America and Europe, to declare feelings of friendship and to renew the covenant of love between spouses and lovers. This festival now has great social and economic significance.
It seems that another practice stemmed from the concept of this feast, which is the anniversary celebrated by spouses or friends who love one another, where the couple celebrate the anniversary of their marriage each year, to confirm the love between them.
1. The festival of Nawrooz. The word ‘Nawrooz’ means new. The festival lasts for six days, when at the time of Chosroes they used to fulfill the needs of other people in the first five days, and the sixth day was devoted to themselves and the people to whom they were closest. This day was called the great Nawrooz, and was the most important of their festivals. The book Ashaab al-Awaa’il mentioned that the first one to celebrate Nawrooz was Jamsheed the king, in whose time Hood (peace be upon him) was sent, after the religion had been changed. When the king Jamsheed renewed the religion and established justice, the day on which he had ascended the throne was named Nawrooz.
Some of the Persians claim that Nawrooz is the day when Allah created light. Nawrooz is considered to be the festival marking the Persian solar New Year. It coincides with the twenty first of March in the Gregorian calendar. The masses used to light fires on this night and sprinkle water in the morning.
Nawrooz is also celebrated by the Baha’is, coming at the end of their fast which lasts for 19 days, on March 21. (3). Nawrooz is also the first day of the year for the Copts, who call it Shimm al-Naseem. For them it lasts for six days, starting on the sixth of June.
2. The festival of Mahrajaan. The word Mahrajaan is composed of two words: mahar, meaning loyalty, and jaan meaning authority or power. So the word means, the authority of loyalty. The origin of this festival was the celebration of the victory of Afridoon over al-Dahhaak al-‘Alwaani, who killed Jamsheed, the king who has started Nawrooz. It was also said that it was a celebration of the onset of cooler weather in the fall. It is possible that it originally started for the reason mentioned above, but as that coincided with the onset of cooler weather in the fall, so they continued to celebrate that. It is celebrated on the twenty-sixth of the Syriac month of Tishreen al-Awwal. Like Nawrooz, it lasts for six days, the sixth of which is the Great Mahrajaan. On this occasion and on Nawrooz they used to exchange gifts of musk, amber, Indian ‘ood [a kind of perfume or incense], saffron and camphor. The first person to make this exchange of gifts official in Islamic times was al-Hajjaaj ibn Yoosuf al-Thaqafi, and this continued until it was abolished by the rightly-guided Khaleefah ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez (may Allah have mercy on him).
One of the greatest problems that the Muslims are suffering from is the use of the word Mahrajaan (festival) to describe many social, cultural and economic gatherings, celebrations and events. The word is even used to describe da’wah events. Mahrajaan is the name of the festival of the fire worshippers.
Definition of imitation.
Imitation (tashabbuh in Arabic) means resembling. If we say that someone imitates someone else, we means that he looks like him and acts like him. Likening a things to something else (tashbeeh) means saying that it is like it. The word tashabbuh has many counterparts in Arabic which carry meanings such as being like, imitating, looking like, following, agreeing with, taking as an example, copying, etc.
The ruling on imitating the kuffaar
One of the most important basic principles of our religion is that of al-walaa’ wa’l-baraa’, loyalty (walaa’) to Islam and its people, and diavowal (baraa’) of kufr and its people. One of the essential features of this disavowal of kufr and it’s people is that the Muslim should be distinct from the people of kufr, and he should feel proud of his religion and of being a Muslim, no matter how strong and advanced and civilized the kuffaar may be, and no matter how weak and backward and divided the Muslims may be. It is not permissible under any circumstances to take the strength of the kuffaar and the weakness of the Muslims as an excuse for imitating and resembling them, as some hypocrites and defeatist Muslims claim.
Allah calls us to be proud of Islam, He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And who is better in speech than he who [says: “My Lord is Allah (believes in His Oneness),” and then stands firm (acts upon His Order), and] invites (men) to Allah’s (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: “I am one of the Muslims.” [Fussilat 41:33]
Because it is so important for the Muslim to be distinguished from the kaafir and be guided himself to the Straight Path:
“Guide us to the Straight Way. (6) The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray” [Al-Faatihah 1:6-7].
There are very many texts in the Qur’aan and Sunnah which forbid us to imitate them, and which clearly state that they are misguided; whoever imitates them, imitates them in their misguidance. Allah says :
“Then We have put you (O Muhammad PBUH) on a (plain) way of (Our) commandment [like the one which We commanded Our Messengers before you (i.e. legal ways and laws of the Islâmic Monotheism)]. So follow you that (Islâmic Monotheism and its laws), and follow not the desires of those who know not.” [Al-Jaathiyah 45:18]
“....Were you (O Muhammad PBUH) to follow their (vain) desires after the knowledge which has come to you, then you will not have any Walî (protector) or Wâq (defender) against Allâh” [Ar-Ra’d 13:37]
“And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them....” [Aale- ‘Imraan 3:105]
Allah calls the believers to remember Him with humility:
“....lest they become as those who received the Scripture [the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before (i.e. Jews and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened? And many of them were Fâsiqûn (the rebellious, the disobedient to Allâh)” [Al-Hadeed 57:16]
No doubt imitating them is one of the greatest indications that a person has befriended them and loves them, and this contradicts the idea of disavowal [baraa’] of the kufr and its people. Allah has forbidden the believers to take them as friends, and He has stated that taking them as friends causes a person to become one of them – Allah forbid and says :
“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliyâ’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Auliyâ’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Auliyâ’), then surely, he is one of them....” [Al-Maa’idah 5:51]
“....You (O Muhammad ) will not find any people who believe in Allâh and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad ), even though they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred (people)....” [Al-Mujaadilah 58:22]
Imitation generates friendship and love, and regarding them as allies in the inside.
Allah says in Soorat al-Mujaadilah: There is no (true) believer who takes a kaafir as a friend, for whoever takes a kaafir as friend is not a believer. Imitation on the outside implies that a person loves (the one whom he imitates), and so it is forbidden.
It was reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
Shaykh al-Islam said: “This hadeeth at the very least implies that it is haraam to imitate them, even if it is only in external appearance, and it implies that the one who imitates them is a kaafir, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘....And if any amongst you takes them (as Auliyâ’), then surely, he is one of them....’ [Al-Maa’idah 5:51].”
Al-San’aani said: “If a person imitates the kaafir in his dress, and believes that by doing so he will be like him, then he is a kaafir. If he does not believe this, then there is a difference of opinion among the fuqahaa’ in this case. Some of them say that he is a kaafir, which is the apparent meaning of the hadeeth; others say that he is not a kaafir, but he should be disciplined.” (Subul al-Salaam, 8/842).
Shaykh al-Islam said: “The reason why the religion of Allah and its rituals is vanishing, and kufr and sin are prevailing, is because of imitation of the kaafireen, just as the means of preserving all good is by following the ways and laws of the Prophets. “ (al-Iqtidaa’, 1/413).
There is much that could be said about imitation of the kuffaar, but what we have said above is sufficient.
The various sects and groups of the kuffaar have many kinds of festivals, some of them have a religious basis whilst others have been newly invented. Some of their festivals are like customs and events for which they have invented festivals, such as national holidays and the like. Their festivals may be grouped into different categories as follows:
Religious festivals by means of which they seek to draw nearer to Allah, such as the Epiphany, Easter, Passover, Christmas, etc. The ways in which the Muslims imitate them in these festivals are two:
1. Joining in with them in these festivals, such as when some non-Islamic groups or minorities in Muslim countries celebrate their festivals, and some Muslims join in with them. This happened at the time of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah and al-Haafiz al-Dhahabi, and it is what is happening now in many of the Muslim countries. What is even worse than that is what some Muslims do by travelling to the kaafir countries for the express purpose of attending these festivals and joining in the celebrations, whether the motive is to fulfil their physical desires or in response to the invitation of some of the kuffaar – as some Muslims do who live in kaafir countries and are invited to join the celebrations, or some other who have capital to invest or are owners of large companies, so they accept these invitations for the sake of being friendly to the person who invited them, or for a worldly interest such as winning a contract, and so on. All of this is haraam, and there is the fear that it may lead to kufr, because of the hadeeth, “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
2. Bringing the celebration to the Muslim countries. Those who attend the festivals of the kuffaar in their countries and who like them because they are ignorant and have weak faith and little knowledge, as is happening now in many Muslim countries, where the Gregorian New year, Valentine Day, Mother & Father Days are beings celebrated. These categories are worse for one or other reasons.
Festivals whose origins lie in the rituals of the kuffaar, and they have now become international customs and celebrations. This is like the Olympic festivals (the Olympiad) in Greece, which nowadays appears to be no more than an international sporting event in which participation takes two forms:
1. Taking part in the games with their rituals in the kaafir countries, as many of the Muslim states do by sending athletes to participate in the different games.
2. Bringing these festivals to the Muslim countries, such as some of the Muslim countries asking to host the Olympic Games in their countries.
In both cases, taking part or hosting the games in a Muslim country is haraam, for the following reasons:
1. The origin of these Olympic Games is one of the pagan festivals of the Greeks, as mentioned above. This was the most important festival for the Greek nation, then it was inherited by the Romans and, in turn, the Christians.
2. It bears the same name as it was known by when it was a Greek festival.
The fact that it is now no more than a sporting event, does not cancel out the fact that it is a pagan festival, because of its origin and name. The evidence (daleel) for that is the hadeeth narrated by Thaabit ibn al-Dahhaak (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), a man vowed to sacrifice some camels in Bawwaanah. He came to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, ‘I have vowed to sacrifice some camels in Bawwaanah.’ The Prophet Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Were there any idols there that were worshipped during the Jaahiliyyah?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Did they hold any of their festivals there?’ He said, ‘No.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘Then fulfil your vow, for there is no fulfilment of any vow which involves disobeying Allah, or with regard to something that the son of Adam does not own.’” (Narrated by Abu Dawood ). It was classed as saheeh by al-Haafiz in al-Buloogh, 5041).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) paid attention to the origins of things, and the origin of this sporting event is a (pagan) festival.
Shaykh al-Islam said: “This implies that the fact that that spot was the place where their festival was held would have been a reason to forbid him to sacrifice there, as would also have been the case if had been the place of their idols. Otherwise, how else can we interpret the hadeeth, of course it would only have been to venerate the spot which the venerated, by holding the festival there or by joining them in there celebrations there, or reviving the symbols of their festival and other things that can only be related to that action in that place or at that time.”
Our issue concerning the Olympic games does not have to do with the time or the place, but with the event itself and its original name, and the things that are done during the event, such as the lighting of the Olympic torch, which is one of the rituals of the games. There is also the timing of the event, because among the Greeks the games were held every four years, and nowadays too they are held every four years. This is a festival with regard to its origins, its name, the things that are done and the timing, so taking part in these games means taking part in a festival which was pagan and then Christian, and asking to hold these games in a Muslim country means bringing this pagan festival into a Muslim land.
The days and weeks that have been invented by the kuffaar. These may be divided into two types:
1. Those which have a religious origin and have now become customs connected to some worldly purpose, such as the workers’ festival (May Day) which was invented by those who worshipped trees, then it became a pagan festival of the Romans, then it was adopted by the French who connected it to the church, until socialism came and propagated it, and it became an international and official holiday even in many Muslim countries. Undoubtedly it is haraam to adopt this day as a holiday and let workers take this day off, for the following reasons:
a) Because in its origins and development it is a pagan festival
b) Because it occurs on a fixed day each year, which is May 1.
c) Because it involves imitating the kuffaar with regard to something that belongs exclusively tot hem.
2. Even if an event does not have a religious basis, such as World health Day, or days for fighting drugs and eradicating illiteracy, and other invented days and weeks, one of the two following things will still apply:
Either it occurs on a fixed day each year and is repeated on the same day each year, like Bank Holidays and other fixed days. There are two things wrong with this:
a) It is a fixed day which recurs on the same date each year
b) It entails imitating the kuffaar because this is something that they have invented.
These international days, such as World Health Day and a day for fighting drugs, contain some benefit for humanity as a whole, which the Muslims cannot avoid taking part in because they may miss out on some benefits otherwise; they have nothing to do with religion and only resemble festivals in that they come every year and they are events that are celebrated and taken notice of – so can they be tolerated on these grounds? It seems to me that this matter needs research and ijtihaad to weigh up the pros and cons, because the Muslims are not consulted concerning these days and their opinion carries no weight, on the contrary, these things are forced on the entire world and the Muslins are in a weak and humiliated position as is well known.
Another form of imitation of the kuffaar is turning the Eids of the Muslims into something resembling the festivals of the kuffaar. The Eids of the Muslims are distinguished by the fact that their rituals point to the expression of gratitude to Allah, may He be exalted, and glorifying, praising and worshipping Him, whilst expressing joy for the blessings of Allah, and not using these blessings for sinful purposes. This is in contrast to the festivals of the kuffaar, which are distinguished by the veneration of their false rituals and idols which they worship instead of Allah, whilst indulging in their forbidden desires. It is most unfortunate that Muslims in many places are imitating the kuffaar in this way, and they have changed their Eid from an occasion of worship and thanksgiving into an occasion on sin and ingratitude for the blessings, by spending the night of Eid listening to musical instruments and singing, indulging in immoral actions, organizing mixed parties and doing other things which they think express the celebration of Eid.
Ways in which we must avoid the festivals of the kuffaar
1. Avoid attending them:
The scholars have agreed that it is haraam to attend the festivals of the kuffaar and to imitate them in their festivals. All of the evidence which states that it is forbidden to imitate them, some of which has been quoted above.The consensus of the Sahaabah and Taabi’een is that Muslims should not attend their festivals.
1. The Jews, Christians and Magians (Zoroastrians) who lived in the Muslim lands and paid Jizyah were still observing their own festivals, so the motive for some Muslims to imitate them was present. No one among the early generations of Muslims would have refrained from joining them in any part of that, If there had not been something to stop them from doing so, such as it being either makrooh (disliked) or prohibited, many of them would have fallen into that, for if the action and the motive are present and there is nothing to stop them, people will undoubtedly do the thing. Therefore we understand that there was something stopping them from doing that, and what was stopping them was the religion of Islam.
2. The conditions set out by ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), which the Sahaabah and all the fuqahaa’ after them agreed upon, that the Ahl al-Dhimmah (Jews and Christians living under the protection of Islamic rule in return for paying a poll tax) should not celebrate their festivals openly in the Muslim lands. If the Muslims have agreed that they should not celebrate their festivals openly, then how can it be OK for Muslims to celebrate them? Is it not worse for a Muslim to do this at all than for a kaafir to do it openly? ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Do not learn the language of the Persians, and do not enter upon the mushrikeen in their churches on the day of their festival, for the Divine warth is descending upon them.” ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “Whoever settles in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their Nawrooz and their Mahrajaan, and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” (al-Sunan al-Kubra, 9/432; classed as saheeh by Ibn Taymiyah in al-Iqtidaa’, 1/754).
Shaykh al-Islam said: Here we see ‘Umar forbidding people to learn their language and to merely enter their church on the festivals, so what about actually doing some of the things they do, or doing some of the rituals of their religion? Is not doing the things they do more serious than speaking the same language? Or is not doing some of the things they do in the festival more serious than merely entering upon them on the occasion of their festival?
And he commented on the words of ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr – “will be gathered with them” by saying: This implies that this makes him a kaafir by his joining in what they do, or else it means that this is one of the major sins that doom a person to Hell, although the former is more apparent from the wording.
2. Avoiding doing the same things that they do.
Some Muslims may not be able to be present at the festivals of the kuffaar, but they do the same things as they do. This is also a part of the imitation which blameworthy and forbidden. Shaykh al-Islam said: “It is not permissible for the Muslims to imitate them in any part of the things that are exclusively part of their festivals, whether it be food, dress, bathing, lighting fires or changing their habits with regard to daily living, acts of worship, etc. It is not permissible to give a feast or give gifts or sell items that will help them to do that for that purpose, or to allow children and others to do any of that, whether it is playing, wearing new clothes etc.
1. Avoiding using the means of transportation that they use to go to their festivals
Maalik said: “It is makrooh to travel with them in the boats which they use to go to their festivals, because the Divine wrath and curse is descending upon them.” (al-Hawaadith wa’l-Bida’, 1/492).
2. Not giving them gifts or helping them to celebrate their festvials by either selling or buying.
Abu Hafs al-Hanafi said: “Whoever gives an egg to a kaafir out of respect for that day has disbelieved in Allah, may He be exalted.” (Fath al-Baari li Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqallaani, 2/315).
Ibn al-Turkmaani said: “The Muslim is sinning if he sits with them or helps them to slaughter animals or cook food, or he lends them a riding-beast to take them to their celebrations or festivals.” (al-Lama’ fi’l-Hawaadith, 1/492)
3. Not helping the Muslim who wants to imitate them in their festivals to do so
Shaykh al-Islam said: “Just as we should not imitate them in their festivals, so too we should not help the Muslim who wants to imitate them to do so. A Muslim should not sell anything that could help Muslims to imitate them in their celebrations, such as food, clothing and so on, because be doing so he is helping them in sin. (al-Iqtidaa’, 2/915-025).
4. Not congratulating them on the occasion of their festivals
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “As for congratulating them for the symbols of kufr that belong exclusively to them, this is haraam according to scholarly consensus, such as congratulating them for their festivals and fasts, and saying, ‘A blessed festival to you’ and the like. It is the same as congratulating them for prostrating to the cross. Whoever congratulates a person for his sin, bid’ah (innovation) or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allah.
Congratulating the kuffaar on the occasion of their religious festivals is haraam as Ibn al-Qayyim stated, because this implies approval of their rituals and beliefs of kufr, because Allah does not approve of this. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“If you disbelieve, then verily, Allah is not in need of you; He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you....” [Az-Zumar 39:7]
“....This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion....” [Al-Maa’idah 5:3]
If they congratulate us on the occasion of their festival, we should not respond, because it is not our festival and because these are festivals with which Allah is not pleased, because they are either innovated in their religions, or they are prescribed.
And Allah says concerning Islam (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islâm, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers” [Aale ‘Imraan 3:85].
It is haraam for a Muslim to accept an invitation on these occasions, because this is worse than merely congratulating them, since it involves joining in with them. Anyone who does any of these things is a sinner whether he does it just to be friendly, or because he likes them.
What if a Muslim wants to celebrate like they do, but he does it a few days before or after their festival so that he is not imitating them?
This is a kind of imitation and to is haraam, because the prohibition of a thing , and the prohibition of celebrating their festivals also covers the days before and after the festival itself, when they do things that have to do with it.
1. Avoiding using their words and religious terminology
If it is forbidden to learn their languages unnecessarily for fear of resembling them, then using the names they give to their festivals and rituals is even more forbidden. This is like using the word “mahrajaan” (festival) to describe any large gathering, because this is the name of a religious festival of the Persians.
Al-Bayhaqi narrated that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was given a gift for Nawrooz and he said, What is this?” They said, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, this is the day of Nawrooz.” He said, “Then make every day Fayrooz!” Abu Usaamah said: “He, may Allah be pleased with him, did not even want to say ‘Nawrooz.’” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubraa, 9/532).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “ ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) did not even want to say the same name as they gave to their own festival, so how abut doing the same things?” (See: al-Iqtidaa’, 1/954).
The ruling on accepting gifts on their festivals:
We have already stated above that it is not permissive to give gifts on their festivals because this is helping them in their falsehood. It is also not permissible to accept a gift from a Muslim who is imitating them, because by accepting it one is helping him to imitate them and this implies that one approves of what he is doing and that one is not rebuking him for doing this haraam action.
With regard to accepting a gift from a kaafir if he gives something to a Muslim at the time of the kaafir’s festival, this is like being given a gift at other times, because it does not involve helping them in their kufr.
There is some difference of opinion with regard to this matter, based on whether one should accept a gift from a kaafir who is at war with the Muslims as opposed to a kaafir who is living under the protection of Islamic rule.
It should also be noted that their gifts may be of two types:
a) Gifts other than meat that has been slaughtered for the occasion of their festival – such as sweets, fruits and so on. There is a difference of opinion based on the question of accepting gifts from the kaafirs in general. It seems that it is permissible because it was reported that ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) accepted their gifts, and it was reported that a woman asked ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), “We have some birds [?][ from the Magians which they had during their festival and they gave them to us.” She said, “If they were slaughtered for that occasion, do not eat them, but eat from their trees [i.e. fruits etc.].” (Reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah in Kitaab al-At’imah in his Musannaf, 5/521, no. 16342. In al-Iqtidaa’ it says ‘We have some wet-nurses.’ The editor of al-Iqtidaa’ said: perhaps what is meant by this is relatives through radaa’ah (breastfeeding)).
Abu Barzah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that he had Magian tenants [?] who used to give him gifts on Nawrooz and mahrajaan, and he used to tell his family: ‘If it is, eat it, but if it is anything else, reject it.’ (ibid., no. 26346).
Shaykh al-Islam said: “All of this indicates that refusing to accept their gifts has no effect on their festival. The ruling on accepting their gifts at the time of their festival and at other times is the same, because this does not entail helping them in the rituals of their kufr.” (al-Iqtidaa’, 2/455-555).
b) Or their gift may be of meat that was slaughtered for the occasion of their festival. This should not be eaten, because of the reports of ‘Aaishah and Abu Barzah narrated above, and because it has been slaughtered according to the rituals of kufr.
2. Singling out the festivals of the kuffaar for fasting so as to be different from them
The scholars differed with regard to this:
1. It was said that it is not makrooh to fast on their festivals for the purpose of being different from them. This view is da’eef (weak).
2. The correct view is that it is not permissible to single out the days of their festivals for fasting, because their festivals are occasions which they venerate, and fasting on these days and not others coincides with them in their veneration.
Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Our companions said: it is makrooh to single out the day of Nawrooz and the day of Mahrajaan to fast, because these are two days which are venerated by the kuffaarm so fasting only on these days and not on others is agreeing with them in their veneration of those days. This is like the case of Saturday, so by analogy this ruling applies to every festival of the kuffaar and every day which they venerate.” (al-Mughni, 4/924; see also al-Iqtidaa’, 2/975).
This ruling applies in cases where one singles out that day to fast because it is their festival. But if it happens to coincide with a vow or a voluntary fast, without intending to fast because it is their festival, then there is nothing wrong with that.” (See Haashiyat Ibn Qaasim ‘ala al-Rawd al-Murabba’, 3/064). The guideline in being different from them with regard to their festivals is that one should not innovate anything at all; one should treat the days of their festivals as being like any other day. (See al-Iqtidaa’, 2/815). So one should not take the day off work, or rejoice on that occasion, of single that day out for fasting, expressing grief, etc.
Shaykh al-Islam mentioned something which may be taken as guidelines with regard to the matter of imitation. He said: “tashabbuh (imitation) includes those who do something because they do it, which is rare; and those who follow others inwhat they do for some purpose of his own even though the action is originally taken from those others. As for the one who does something that happens to be done by others as well, but neither of them took it from the other, it is open to debate as to whether this is is imitation or not. But the person who does this may be rebuked so that there will be no excuse for imitation, and because this will reinforce the idea of differing from them.” (al-Iqtidaa’, 1/242).
On the basis of what Shaykh al-Islam has said, actions that happen to coincide with what they do may be divided into two types:
1. Imitation of them, which is where the person who imitates them wants to be like them ,for whatever reason. This is haraam.
2. Resembling them, which is when a person is not deliberately aiming to be like them. In this case it should be pointed out to him, then if he stops, all well and good; otherwise he is guilty of the kind of imitation that is haraam. ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw me wearing two garments that had been dyed with safflower. He said, ‘This is the clothing of the kuffaar, do not wear them.’” According to another report: “He said, ‘Did you mother tell you to wear this?’ I said, ‘Should I wash them?’ He said, ‘No, burn them.’” (The two reports were narrated by Muslim in al-Libaas wa’l-Zeenah, 2077)
Al-Qurtubi said: “This indicates that the reason he told him not to wear them was that by wearing them he was imitating the kuffaar.” (book title?? 5/399).