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Ibn Abdillah As-sudaisiy Al-Iloori

It has been very long that I had engaged in argumentation regarding religious matters on this space. I always run from it since I had known its danger, especially to the Ignorant people or people of desire who might be following the discussion. 

It is very easy for people to turn sensitive religious matters to politics, thereby supporting any argument that supports their desire or preconceived notion. Even in matters that are not as serious as eating with the Kuffār in their festivals, some people would only follow the discussion just to pick a position that suits their desires and move on. They hardly learn in order to follow better position. Most people do not evaluate matters of divergent views objectively, and follow that which conforms more with the truth. 

For instance, just because some people had loved taking of pictures from the onset and they are addicted to it, they could begin to look for views that supports that in an open debate and use it to justify what they already love. In a debate on masturbation, what some addicts look for is a view that will suit them, and once they find one, they stick to it whether or not it is erroneously rendered. 

This is why debates on matters of the Deen must be restricted to knowledgeable people and sincere audience who are ready to accept the most truthful position.  I discussed the danger of engaging in public debates on religious matters in my book 50 Common Bid'ah (Religious Innovations) in our contemporary World. The truth is people hardly change their positions on issues when they see superior opinion based on the evidence available. This is why I don't like arguing on matters of the Deen in public. 

Nevertheless, if there is any cause for us to argue in public, we must be civil in our arguments. We don't need to abuse each other. We should not also be quick to ascribe ignorance or arrogance to one another. The focus must be on issues and we must be ready to learn. Some of those you are engaging are sincere in their arguments - their wish is to know the truth. They only want to be convinced. But if you get angry and insult them, it may not yield the desired fruit. Let's avoid being emotional - let's provide proofs.

The rule of exception that the food of the Ahlul Kitab shouldn't be ate during their festivals is drawn from the fact that it has a direct link to their kufr festival, and there are many evidence to buttress this reasonable inference in the sharī'ah. For instance, in verse 2 of the same Suratul Māidah where their food is generally permitted, Allāh says:

وَتَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلۡبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقۡوَىٰۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَٱلۡعُدۡوَ ٰ⁠نِۚ

We can't deliberately rejoice with them or eat the food they are using to celebrate kufr and think we are free from the celebration. Even if a Muslim is doing a festival that is not legislated in the Deen (bid'ah), we can't eat his food for the same reason. Eating Maolid food deliberately is like encouraging people of bid'ah on their evil. We don't eat Fiadu food cooked by Muslims because fidau is bid'ah. How then will food cooked for Christmas and Easter be permissible for us? 

Please note that there is no single text that says we can't eat Fidau or Maolid food, the scholars inferred it from other surrounding texts of Qur'ān and Hadith even though those who offer them remain Muslims. That is the same way it is inferred that we stay away from the food of Ahlul Kitab if it is for the purpose of celebrating their kufr festival. We don't need a specific text on this. The exceptional ruling is gotten from cumulative consideration of several other sharī'ah texts.

With all due respect to those hinging on the view of Sheikh Al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله on the permissibility or otherwise of taking gifts from or feasting with Ahlul Kitab in the course of celebrating their festivals, there are superior opinions from many other scholars with more convincing and compelling arguments based on textual proofs. 

From research, it is discovered thar Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله even gave some limitations in his ruling. Among other things, he said animals the kuffar have slaughtered for the purpose of their festivals should not be taken by Muslims. In the same vein, the reports of Abu Tālib رضي الله عنه and Āishah رضي الله عنها mentioned in support of the view have some defects according to some scholars of Hadith. Then, the view of Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله is strange according Sheikh Sālih Al-'Uthaymeen رحمه الله. The Sheikh said:

This speech of the shaikh (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)

In an emphatic ruling, the Permanent Committee of Scholars (Al-Lajnah ad-Dā’imah), Shaikh Ibn Bāz, Abdur-Razzāq `Afeefee and others رحمهم الله said:

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)

Don't be surprised to note that many people who argue with the view of Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله would reject his view in several other areas because it doesn't appeal to their desires. Many of the Sufis use the view of Ibn Taymiyyah ambiguously to justify Maolid Celebration, does that remove Maolid from being a bid'ah and imitation of the Kuffār? Some of them will use his view to justify their feasting with Kuffār on their kufr festivals because it suits their desire, but the same set of people would not only reject his view condemning many of their kufr practices, but would also abuse him for doing so. If this is not hypocrisy, then what is it?

Except we want to be deceiving ourselves, the main point that knocks off any other argument from anyone, no matter how knowledgeable on feasting with people of bid'ah and Kuffār (whether Ahlul Kitab or Mushrikeen) on their festivals is that the act clearly amounts to encouraging them on their kufr, and there are plethora of proofs for the in the Qur'ān, Sunnah and the way of the Salaf. These proofs on the need to refrain from aiding evils are enormous and they need not be specific. This is a very clear exception to the general rule that we can eat or take gifts from the Kuffār as stated in Q5:5. 

After all, there are proofs that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ate their food outside their festivals. Why are there no proofs that he ate their food cooked for their festivals? The fact that he didn't take such gifts or eat from them during any of their festivals itself is a clear proof against doing such. The fact that some Salaf did it is not a convincing proof that we can do it because they weren't perfect too. The only person we can follow blindly are the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, then the companions on their unanimous stands. If they are not unanimous in their positions on a particular matter, then we can only follow the correct view after evaluating the proofs presented and surrounding circumstances.

Ordinarily, we are permitted to give them gifts and receive gifts from them to soften their heart to be able to accept the truth. But in the course of celebrating a kufr festival, we can't give them gifts and we can accept their gifts because of its clear implications - aiding them on their illegality. If they bring us food on those occasions, the food is to be rejected politely. They will not bring it next time. They will respect your stand. I have Christian friends who don't eat Sallah meat and I can't fight them on it. As for those who request for it, I give them. This is quite different.

Going by the Hadith, of 'Ali ibn Abi Tālib رضي الله عنه, Allāh's curse is upon anyone who aids the people of bid'ah in whatever way. One of the ways some people aid people of bid'ah in our days is to be defending them when they are refuted. Apart from this, some people aid people of bid'ah by giving them donations in the course of doing their bid'ah events. The one who donates towards Maolid Nabiyy celebration clearly falls under this evil, even if he doesn't attend it. Some people would put money in printed envelopes for people of bid'ah while doing Maolid Nabiyy or Laylatul Qadr events. This is not proper because it amounts to aiding their evil. There is no way it can be removed from it.

Some people don't attend Fidau, but they contribute money to buy food and slaughter Cow in respect of it. They have aided the evil. Some people do not support Fidau, but they sit with those doing it or eat the Fidau food with them. This is from aiding bid'ah. If you reject the Fidau food from them, they will know that you are serious in your opposition to what they are doing. And perhaps, they can begin to turn a new leaf. But if you accept their food, you have compromised the Sunnah and they will be deceived. They can even use you as evidence for their evils. They may say, you are hypocrite. "You said Fidau is not good, but you are eating the food cooked in respect of it". Allāh's aid is sought.

If the above illustration is to be considered, how bad is it to feast with disbelievers in their course of their festivals? If the woe of Allāh is on the one who aids bid'ah by deliberately eating from Fidau or Maolid food, what would be on the one who aid the Kuffār on their evil festivals by dinning and whining with them? Every Muslim should know that it is not every time that an act of kufr will be very clear, it can be as dark as a black  Ant in a black rock. That is why any matter relating to kufr should never be joked with. 

Lastly, if this matter is to be viewed from the perspective of the principle of "Saddu Dharee'ah" (blocking the means to evil), we would all agree that the best thing is not to feast with the people of bid'ah and Kuffār during their festivals. There is no way feasting with people of bid'ah and Kuffār in the course of their festivals will not lead to many evils. Many Muslims are ignorant. They will go beyond bounds. We are just recovering from the evil of Muslims visiting "Father Christmas". If feasting with them on their festival is permitted, many Muslims would go beyond it and they are already doing that. These days, some Muslims celebrate the festivals of the Kuffār even more than the Islamic one.

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