Celebrating a Non-Muslim Holiday? An Essay by

Have you ever wondered about the issue of celebrating or partaking in Non-Muslim holidays, festivals and celebrations? What is the Islamic ruling regarding this? Is it permissible,  is it disliked, is it impermissible? Is there a difference of opinion on this matter?  Insha’Allah, in this short article, I hope that all of these (and related) questions will be clearly answered.

1. Greeting the Kuffaar on Christmas and other similar holidays of theirs is Haraam by Ittifaaq (consensus of the scholars), as Shaykh-ul-Islaam Ibn al-Qayyim said in Ahkaam Ahl adh-Dhimmah:

Congratulating the Kuffaar on the rituals that belong to them is prohibited by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on…”

2. It is prohibited for a Muslim to accept invitations on such occasions, because this is worse than congratulating them, as it implies taking part in their celebrations.

3. Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the Kuffaar by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc. because the Prophet Muhammad said:

مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَومٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ
“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”

This hadeeth was authenticated by a great deal of scholars including Abu Dawood, Ibn Hibbaan, Ibn Hajar, Az-Zarqaani, Adh-Dhahabi, Al-Haythami, Al-‘Iraaqi, As-Sakhaawi, As-San’aani, Muhammad Jaarullaah As-Sa’di, Ahmad Shaakir, Ibn Baaz, Al-Albaani, Ibn `Uthaymeen, and others.

Ibn Taymiyyah, in his beautiful and monumental book Iqtidaa’ as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem Mukhaalafatu Ashaab’il-Jaheem (In Pursuit of the Straight Path by Contradicting the People of the Hellfire), said:

“Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to mislead the weak.”

Therefore, whoever does anything of this sort is a sinner, even if he does it out of politeness, friendliness, shyness, or for whatever other reason, because this is hypocrisy in Islam and it makes the Kuffaar feel proud of their ways and festivals.

Please also take note of the following:

1. Remember the hadith of ‘Aa’ishah in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim where she narrated that on the Day of Eid , two young girls were doing a special performance for her (singing some songs). When Abu Bakr came to visit the Prophet and found these girls with ‘Aa’ishah, he rebuked them harshly. So the Prophet (who had been facing the wall), said:

يَا أَبَا بَكْر, إنَّ لِكُلِّ قَومٍ عِيدًا, وهَذَا عِيْدُنَا

Abu Bakr, (know that) every group of people has its Eid  (festival). And this is our Eid.”

Eid عيد is the name given to something which returns (Ya’ood), and is used to describe gatherings which happens repeatedly on a regular basis. Therefore, the Prophet clearly stated that the Eid of the people of Islam is the Eid (celebration) after Ramadaan and Eid at the end of the Hajj season. In addition to this, Friday is also considered a Eid for the Muslims, because it is a weekly gathering and is the best day of the week.

2.  The Prophet also explicitly expressed his desire to contradict the ways, celebrations, and festivities of the non-Muslims. In this hadith that has a good chain of narration, as stated by Abu Bakr Al-Athram, Umm Salamah Hind Bint Abi Umayyah said that,

أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يصوم السبت والأحد ، ويقول : هما عيدان للمشركين فأنا أحب أن أخالفهما
The Prophet used to fast on Saturdays and on Sundays, and he would say: “These are two days of Eid for the Mushrikoon. So I love to oppose them (contradict them, differ from them) in these two.”  (For more info on the issue of fasting on Saturdays, see: http://www.islamway.com/?iw_s=Article&iw_a=view&article_id=2325 )

So, for the pagans, Saturday and Sunday was a special holiday for them, a Eid. On these days they would party, celebrate, relax, enjoy, dance, sing.  And in and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing on Saturday our Sunday, but the mere fact that the Pagans used to do this, was enough reason for our beloved Prophet to differ from their practice and not imitate them and fast on these days (to show his indifference and his disregard for their Eid).

So, just to differ from them, to show that we’re different, to indicate that he, in no way, is taking part in their Eid, he would fast on Saturdays and Sundays. It is as if to send a clear message: “I’m not partaking in the Eid of Non-Muslims. I want to differ from them. I love to differ from their practice (of relaxing, enjoying, partying) on these two days.” So, even though it’s permissible to relax on Saturdays and Sundays, he decided to exert himself and fast on these two days just for this particular purpose. Therefore, one can just imagine what our Prophet would’ve said if he were alive today and were asked about Christmas or Thanksgiving!

What would he say upon seeing Muslims greeting and warmly congratulating the Kuffaar on their Eids?

What if he saw his Ummah actually having Christmas trees and lights, imitating the Kuffaar and making these Eids of the disbelievers a part of their lives?

Fully indulging, forget contradicting and trying to differ from them, the Muslims are not even shunning their practices, but are rather completely participating in their traditions! “Followers” of Muhammad as they claim, but yet we see them exchanging Christmas cards and presents with the Kuffaar and making Thanksgiving turkeys. On top of all of this, they are even allowing their children to go and partake with the Kuffaar in trick-or-treating and Halloween-related events.

مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَومٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ
“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”

So the above Prophetic words do not apply, as some ignorant people misunderstand, to normal common things, like wearing a T-shirt, or tie, or sneakers, or driving a BMW or Mercedes-Benz SLR.  Rather, it refers to things that are specific for Non-Muslims and are well-known to be widely practiced by Kuffaar. For ‘Eids’ like Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, there is no doubt whatsoever that such Eids  fall into this meaning.

3. Ibn al-Qayyim said in his book, Ahkaam Ahl adh-Dhimmah, “It is not permissible for the Muslims to attend the festivals of the disbelievers, according to the consensus of the scholars whose words carry weight.

The Fuqahaa’ who follow the four schools of thought have stated this clearly in their books. Al-Bayhaqi narrated with an authentic isnaad from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab that he said:

“Do not enter upon the disbelievers on the day of their festival, for divine wrath is descending upon them.”

And ‘Umar also said:

“Avoid the enemies of Allah on their festivals.”

Al-Bayhaqi narrated with an acceptable isnaad from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr that he said:  “Whoever settles in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their new year and festival and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.”

So yes, most definitely, as the Prophet told us, as reported in Saheeh Al-Bukhari:

المرء مع من أحب
“A person will be with the one whom he loved (on the Day of Resurrection).”

You will be with the one whom you loved. “Love” is not just saying, ‘I love Allah, I love Islaam, I love Prophet Muhammad.’ Love is not talk. Talk is cheap!  Love is striving to imitate, to be like, and to follow the practices of someone or something.

Now, ask yourselves this: Are you imitating the Prophet more in your life, or are you abandoning his Sunnah? Forget about whether it’s obligatory or recommended. This isn’t a Fiqh issue. It’s an issue of: Do you really love the Prophet Muhammad such that you will strive to imitate him in every aspect of your life?  Or are you imitating the Kuffaar more in your life?  Do you imitate their traditions more than the traditions of your Prophet? Who do you wish to be resurrected amongst? You will be with those whom you love.