In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Celebrating Non-Muslim Holidays Is Prohibited
(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on November 6, 1987)
Allah Almighty (S.W.T.) said in surat Al-Anam, (Verse 153), what can be translated as, "And verily, this is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This He has ordained for you that you may become Al-muttaqun, the pious."
There are three main ideas mentioned in this verse:
1. In this verse Allah (S.W.T.) is assuring us that this deen of Islam, which he ordained for his servants with all its implied laws and rules concerning beliefs, worshipping acts, human interactions, and moral issues, is a straight path with neither curves nor deviations.
2. In the middle part of this verse, Allah (S.W.T.) commands us to follow this deen by abiding strictly to its rules, and not to follow other paths. These other paths are actually not from the deen of Allah (S.W.T.). If these paths are followed in any major or minor matter they will definitely lead the people to go astray and deviate them from this straight deen of Allah.
3. In the last part of this verse Allah (S.W.T.) instructs us to be very careful, and stay for away from what he prohibits us to do.
So, this is Islam, a single straight path, the guidance is its result, paradise is its destiny. On the other hand, Satan invented different non-linear paths. Misguidance is its result, hellfire is their destiny.
Imam Ahmed, An-Nisai, and Al-Hakim reported an authentic hadith that the prophet (S.A.W.) drew on the ground with his hand a straight line and said, "This is the straight path of Allah" Then he drew many other curved lines to the right and to the left of that straight line and he said, "And these are the other paths. There is a Satan on each of these other paths calling people to follow them." Then the prophet (S.A.W.) recited the verse, "And verily, this is my straight path, so follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you away from His path."
A man asked Ibn-Masoud (may Allah be pleased with him), "What is the straight path?" Ibn-Masoud answered, "The one the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) left us in its beginning and its end is paradise. To the left and right of this path are many paths on each of these paths are men asking whoever passed by to follow them. The people who followed those paths ended in the hell fire and those who followed the straight path ended in paradise." Then Ibn-Masoud recited the same verse.
Hence, the Islamic path is distinguished and original. It has its features and pillars that result from its own essence. In fact, it is represented by two types of inspiration; the book of Allah (S.W.T.), the Quran and the authentic sunnah of the prophet (S.A.W.). So, Whoever follows the guidance of Allah (S.W.T.), will be protected from going astray and pain in this life and the Hereafter. As a matter of fact, Allah (S.W.T.) promised the believers to have a peace of mind, they will neither suffer fear nor grief. Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Taha, (verse 123), what can be translated as, "Whoever follows My guidance shall neither go astray, nor fall into distress and misery." Also Allah (S.W.T.) said in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 38), what can be translated as, "Whoever follows My guidance, there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve."
This is how our righteous ancestors understood this deen. They continuously tried their best to act and interact in harmony with what comes from Allah (S.W.T.) and his messenger. Our righteous ancestors were extremely cautious not to go against these teachings. They practically represented, this perfect deen, in their personal and social life. As a result Allah (S.W.T.) exalted them and they became the leaders of the world.
If one looks at the situation of many Muslims now a days, he will see a weakness in their belief, a declination in their personalities, and a serious deviation from the guidance of their prophet. As a result they became easy victims of imitating non-Muslims. This situation is confirmed by the following hadith of the prophet (S.A.W.) that was reported by Imam Bukhari and Muslim, "You will follow the way of those who preceded you in every small matter step by step, even if they entered the narrow hole of Dab, a (spiny-tailed lizard) you will follow them." They asked O Messenger of Allah, "Do you mean the Jewish and the Christians?" The prophet (S.A.W.) answered "Who else!"
Also, now a days, there are many Muslims who share non-Muslims in their holidays and celebrated with them in the same way like Easter, St. Patrick Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. This is prohibited in Islam and we should avoid it and warn other Muslims from it as well. Imam An-Nisai and Ibn-Hebban reported in an authentic chain that when the prophet (S.A.W.) migrated to Madinah, he saw the Ansar (natives of Madinah) celebrating two holidays that they inherited from Jahiliyah time (period before Islam). He (S.A.W.) said, "Allah, the Exalted, has replaced these days for two days better than them: the day of breaking the fast and the day of sacrifice." It is very clear in this hadith that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) did not allow the Muslims to celebrate non-Islamic holidays. Also Imam Bukhari reported that Omar (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) said, "Avoid non-Muslims in their holiday." Also in an another authentic chain of narration, Ali (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) had been given a gift. He asked, "What is this?" The people said, "O Leader of the believers today is An-Nayrouz, (non-Islamic Holiday). Ali rejected the gift and said angrily, "Do you make up every day a new holiday?!!"
Imam Ibn-Taymiah was asked about the Islamic ruling of this case. He answered, what may be summarized as follows: "Muslims are not allowed to imitate non-Muslims in any way, this includes celebrating their holidays, special way of their food, dresses, etc. Also it is prohibited to have a feast, exchange gifts, and to sell anything that may be used in these activities. In addition it is not allowed to give permission to the children to celebrate the same way of non-Muslims in their holidays. This includes the type of playing, and special decoration.
In summary, Muslims are not allowed to practice any special things in Non-Muslim holidays, but that day has to be a normal day as other days. This ruling is agreed upon by all the Muslim Scholars.
A group of scholars went beyond this limit and considered whoever performs the above activities during non-Muslim holidays as Kafer a disbeliever. Abdullah son of Amr Bin Al-Aus said, "Whoever imitates the disbelievers, make their feasts and celebrations, till he dies, he will be gathered with them on the day of judgment."
Imam Ahmad and other hadith collectors reported a good hadtih that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "Whoever imitates some people, he is considered as one of them." In another narration the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "A person is not one of us (Muslims), if he imitates others (non-Muslims)."
We can find some reasons behind the prohibition of the imitation of the non-Mulsims in their feasts or holidays and the things that are special to them. The first reason has to do with imitating them in their feasts and holidays. This is
because Islam views the feasts and holidays as one of the worship acts, and therefore, it is not allowed for a Muslim to worship the way the non-Muslims do. Ibadah or worship in Islam has to be according to the teaching of Islam only.
Another reason has to do with imitating them with that which is special for them, including their distinct characteristics. This is because imitating them will lead to integration and eventually assimilation into their society. It should be clear that melting and assimilating into the non-Muslims culture leads to Kufr (May Allah protect us Ameen)
This danger of assimilation is especially important when the Muslims live among the non-Muslims (like our situation). We need to pay special attention to the children because the assimilation machinery of this system targets them most.
For that reason, the scholars have said that imitating the non-Muslims leads the Muslims to their love and liking their ways and life styles. Finally, we say that any minor or major act that leads to the assimilation of Muslims in a non-Islamic society is haram, because whatever leads to a haram is also haram.
Islam strongly prohibited imitating non-Muslims Even if it is in a worship act. The prophet (S.A.W.) did not allow the Muslims to imitate the Jews by fasting Ashorah the tenth of the month of Muharam. Imam Bukhari and Muslim reported that when the prophet (S.A.W.) arrived to Madinah he found the Jews fasting that day. He asked what is this day? They answered it is a special day when Allah saved mosses and his followers from their enemy,(Pharaoh) so Mosses fasted that day. The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "I have more rights to follow Mosses than you" So he fasted that day and he also ordered the Muslims to fast it and he said, "If I live till next year Ill fast the ninth" which means the ninth and the tenth.
Allah (S.W.T.) warned whoever disobeys the prophet (S.A.W.) by following and imitating non-Muslim in surat An-Nisa, (Verse 115), what can be translated as, "And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the Right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell, what an evil destination.
It is very important to know what is meant by not imitating non-Muslims. It applies only with what is special to them, and their feast celebration activities. But as far as the scientific matters, inventions, and modern technology are concerned, Muslims are allowed and urged to follow and benefit from these important issues.
Your comments are welcome and appreciated: