Celebrating Non-Muslim Festivities
© Nida'ul Magazine December - January 1997-1998
Translated By Sayed Kandil
Two festivities of the People of the Book are looming these days,
i.e Christmas and the New Year. We have become used to those festivities
being celebrated in companies, organisations, societies, etc. We
are also used to some Muslims participating, joining, and attending
these gross events of falsehood, behaving in a way not befitting
those who belong to this magnificent religion. It is for this reason
that we want to write these words as a reminder for the Muslims.
The question is: how should the Muslims act during such occassions?
The answer, in Ibn Taymiyah’s words, is that nothing should
be done at all. This means that we, as Muslims, should not do anything
we do not usually do on such days. It should be just another day
with nothing special about it, as if they (People of the Book) are
not celebrating. In this way Muslims make themselves different.
Allah (s.w.t.) has indicated to us the hostility of the infidels
in many verses, including: "Verily, the disbeleivers are ever
unto you open enemies" [4:101]. Allah (s.w.t.) also called
them the party of Satan and Satan’s allies, etc.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘You will follow the ways of those nations
who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch
by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a lizard,
you would follow them.’ We said, ‘O Allah's Apostle!
(Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?’ He said, ‘Whom
Joining the People of the Book in their festivities is more, or
at least as forbidden, as joining idolaters other than the People
of the Book. No one should argue that it is only the idolaters who
are meant and that the People of the Book have common grounds with
Muslims that are not applicable to others.
Shaikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyah has proved the prohibition of celebrating
the Christmas, Persian festivities such as Neyrouz, Jewish festivities
and festivities of others as well, by stating that they all come
under the same ruling. Since we should not imitate them in festivities,
Muslims who do this must be forbidden from doing so, let alone approve
and support them. We should not answer invitations from Muslims
who invite us specifically on such occasions. If a Muslim holds
an unusual celebration that coincides with one of the People of
the Book’s festivities we do not have to answer the invitation
although otherwise a Muslim should answer an invitation from a fellow
Muslim as in the Prophet (peace be upon him) ’s tradition.
Shaikhul Islam states details on issues related to the time and
space dimensions of the festivities. He, for example, says: "And
a Muslim should not sell food, clothes, or other items that encourage
Muslims to be similar to the People of the Book in their festivities."
From this we understand that if selling such items is forbidden,
then selling cards that have a picture of a cross or church for
greeting and congratulation of the festivity is also forbidden,
let alone joining and being involved in this gross falsehood. Prohibition
extends also to everything related to the festivity, eg, congratulating,
offering gifts, food, etc., since the festivity includes those and
many other concepts.
Ibn Taymiyah quoted the evidence on celebrating the infidel’s
festivities. The first evidence is that Allah (s.w.t.) forbade us
to imitate the infidels or be their allies. The issue comes under
loyalty, which is part of the faith itself. Believing and accepting
their feasts would be confirming their faith. Rejecting it is required,
as rejecting any other faith the infidels may adhere to, as Allah
(s.w.t.) indicated: "O you who believe! Take not the Jews and
the Christians as allies" . [5: 51]. Attending their festivities
implies being allies to them, and accepting the festivities as being
Muslim festivities. In this way the festivities of Satan’s
party and associates become festivities for Allah’s party
and associates which contradicts the evidence, let alone the instinctive
rejection of disagreement Allah built in everyone.
The detailed evidence from the Book of Allah includes Allah’s
description of the believers, whom He calls "Worshippers of
the Most Gracious" , saying: "And those who do not witness
falsehood and if they pass by "Laghow" (evil play or evil
talk) they pass by it with dignity" . [25: 72]. The scholars
and interpreters of Al-Quran quoted Mujahed, Ad-Dhahak, Ikrimah
and others that Laghow means festivities of the idolaters, ie, "Worshippers
of the Most Gracious" do not attend festivities of the idolaters.
The Tradition contains numerous Hadiths including; Anas (r.a.a)
said: Rasulullah arrived to Al-Madinah when its citizens had two
days as festivities (The Arabs had two days of festivities in pre-Islamic
time). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "What are those two days?" They
said: "We used to celebrate them in pre-Islamic time."
He said: "Allah has offered you two better alternative days,
viz, Day of Al-Adha and Day of Fitr". [Abu Dawood].
The implication of this Hadith is that Rasulullah did not approve
those two pre-Islamic festivities and did not allow them to celebrate
them and insisted on alternative festivities.
The second Hadith by Thabet Ibn Al-Dhahalah (r.a.a) said: A man
during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) made a vow to God to slaughter camels
at "Bawatah". The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: Was there an idol of
the pre-Islamic idols? He said: No. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Was there
any of their festivities? He said: No. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Then carry
out your vow. There should be no vows implying disobedience to Allah
nor in what one has no power to do it.". [Bukhari and Muslim].
After quoting this Hadith, Shaikhul Islam said: "The implication
in this Hadith is that slaughtering in a place of their festivities
or idols is an act of disobedience to Allah (s.w.t.)".
We also understand from the Hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon
him) ’s prohibition was on account of the place being one
of celebration. When it was not, there was no prohibition. This
indicates the condition on the place remains.