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Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

Many Muslims do not understand the shari'ah properly. That is why they get confused on many issues of the deen. That is why there are so many false ideologies being promoted by defiant sects in the name of Islaam. Even though Islaam address wise minds, it is premised on knowledge (evidence) and not common-sense. One must seek for the true knowledge first before using his intellect. And if he must use his intellect, it must not contradict any principle of Islamic law as enshrined in the Quran, Sunnah and ways of the earliest and reputable scholars of the deen.

It is wrong for Muslims to wish the non-Muslims "Merry Christmas" or "Happy New Year". Their religion is their's, our's is our's (This is clear in Suratul Kaafiruun). The parameter for determining whether it is right or wrong to congratulate the non-Muslims during their festive seasons is premised on whether or not the celebration in contention is related to their religion. If it relates to their religious practices, we are not allowed to wish them. But if it is an event that is unconnected with their religious practices, Muslims are permitted and encouraged to show kindness towards them and let them see the beauty of Islaam and the virtues of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in us.

For instance, if the act in question has anything to do with Christmas, Easter etc., Muslims shouldn't wish them or congratulate them by any form because doing so is against the foundation of Islaam. Any Muslim who wish them in this instance would have breached the fundamental principle laid down in Suratul Kaafiruun (Q 109). It must be noted that the principle established in Suratul Kaafirun is not applicable to the Christians alone, it includes all festivals of other non-Muslims (Jews, traditional worshippers etc.)

On the other hand, if the act in question is not related to their religious practices, Allaah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم want us to show kindness towards every human being regardless of religion, tribe or race. Even animals are to be treated well, talk more of human beings. Allaah says in Suratul Mumtahinah (Q60:8):

(لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِكُمْ أَنْ تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ)

"Allah does not forbid you (Muslims) to deal justly and kindly with those who have not fought against you on account of your religion and who do not drive you out of your homes. Verily Allah loves those who deal with equity"  

The above verse clarifies what is likely to be the insinuations of the non-Muslims and some Muslims about the status of Islaam as a peaceful and accommodating religion. Muslims are enjoined to relate peacefully with non-Muslims in as much as they do not fight or drive us out of our homes. Therefore, if a non-Muslim delivers a new baby or gets office promotion, Muslims can congratulate them as these are strict worldly matters. Muslims can also sympathize with non-Muslims who has an accident or any misfortune that can happen to anybody regardless of religion. Muslims can visit non-Muslims who are sick or those who are in prison or in any hardship. Muslim can pay condolence visits to non-Muslims who are bereaved. The only exception here is that we can't pray for the dead non-Muslims or attend their funerals.

It is very important for us to note that the reason for the above is not far-fetched. As Muslims, while we must not compromise our religion in whatever form, the shari'ah want Muslims to show mercy, courtesy and kindness to all manner of people. Muslims can visit non-Muslims, eat their food and joke with them in a proper manner. However, scholars strictly forbid us from visiting them during their festivals. The scholars have ruled that even though their food is ordinarily lawful to us, we cannot eat same during their festive period. This is an exception to the general rule that "their food is lawful to you and your food is lawful to them". [See Q5:5]

Some of us may come up with the question; why should we not eat their food during Christmas and Easter etc. when they eat our's during Eid el Kabir and Eid el Fitr? The answer to this is simple. Many of the things they practice in their religion are not sanctioned in their Books. They are fond of innovations. Even Christmas celebration has no bearing in the Bible. It was a product of innovation. Unlike our own religion where everything is treated without exception, their religion might not have prohibited them from eating our foods. Islaam is distinct from other people's faith. Unlike the Christians, Muslims cannot do anything except in accordance with the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Brothers and Sisters in Islaam, even if you don't know Arabic, you can easily pick your translated Qur'an and read that Suratul Kafirun. Ask any scholar close to you what was the genesis of the Chapter. You will know that wishing the non-Muslims on any occasion of their unislamic festival can lead to anger of Allaah if proper care is not taken. May Allah save us from this. 

If you wish them on their kufr festivals, by all implication, it means that you support what they are doing and that you believe there is nothing wrong in it. This is not acceptable in Islaam. It is just like you meeting people committing zina in public and you greet them by saying "well done". It is just like you meeting people celebrating their masquerade festivals and you greet them by saying "eku odun oo". This is wrong and unreasonable. 

In a very straightforward verdict, the Scholars of Al-Lajnah ad-Dā’imah, including Sheikh Ibn Bāz and Sheikh Abdur-Razzāq `Afeefee and others رحمهم الله stated:

“It is not permitted for the Muslim to eat that which was prepared by the Jews and Christians or idol-worshippers [specifically] for their days of festivities. And it is not permitted for the Muslims to accept a gift from them in celebration of those festivities due to what that contains of honouring and cooperating with them in making apparent their religious symbols and furthering and promoting their innovations and partaking in the happiness of their festivals. And this may ultimately lead to taking on their festivals as our own festivals…” (22/398-399, Fatwa no. 2882)

This verdict shows that eating with the Kuffaar during their festivals is like cooperating with them upon their shirk. This action runs contrary to the provision of Q5:2. It is however important to note that Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله hold a divergent opinion to this based on the fact that some of the Companions رضي الله عنهم accepted gifts from some disbelievers during their festivals. But Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Sālih Al-`Uthaymeen رحمه الله while explaining this opinion of Shaikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said:

“This speech of the sheikh رحمه الله is strange!! This is because accepting their gifts on their days of celebration is a sign that one is pleased with their festivals. Nevertheless, there are narrations from the Companions (radiyallahu `anhum) regarding this affair. Perhaps the Companions accepted these gifts because it was a time when Islam was strong and the people would not be beguiled/deceived by such gifts – and also the unbelievers knew then that the Muslims were higher than them. However in our times today, if you were to accept gifts from them on their days of festivities they become joyous, and they say: ‘These Muslims agree with us that this day is a day of celebration.’ So for this reason it is necessary for us to explain this matter – and it is to be said: If it is feared that it will elevate and raise the unbelievers such that they will think that [accepting of gifts] is our showing pleasure at their annual festivities then the gift is not to be accepted regardless of whether it is from what zakāh is conditional upon or not.” (Tape 18, time stamp: 1:13:31; “Sharh Iqtidā Sirātil-Mustaqīm” Egyptian print, pp. 348-349)

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