Participating in non-religious festivals of non-Muslims
Fatwa No: 365086

  • Fatwa Date:26-12-2017 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 8, 1439
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. Shaykh, can you provide me the explanation of the verse: {For every religion We have appointed rites which they perform…} [Quran 22:67]? Does the verse give us (Muslims) permission to participate in their festivals like birthdays (individual birthdays), wedding anniversaries, company anniversaries, independence days etc.? I am confused. Please provide me with authentic evidence. May Allah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

According to Safwat At-Tafaseer (2/273), the meaning of the verse: {For every religion We have appointed rites which they perform} [Quran 22:67] is: for every Prophet and every past nation we have put for them a legislation, a manner of worship, and a methodology to follow, such as the saying of Allah (which means) {To each of you We prescribed a law and a method} [Quran 5:48] {which they perform}; meaning which they act according to, i.e. with that legislation.

The verse has absolutely nothing to do with the celebrations you mentioned (which are all non-religious). Rather, some scholars use the above verse as evidence that festivals are among the rituals of religions, so it is not allowed to join the non-Muslims in their festivals that are associated with their religions, and it is impermissible as well to join them in their prayers and acts of worship.

Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

"Festivals are part of the legislation and methodologies and rites about which Allah says (what means): {For every religion We have appointed rites which they perform.} [Quran 22:67]; such as the Qiblah (direction of prayer), the prayer, and fasting. There is no difference between joining them in their festival and joining them in all other rites of their religion. Conforming with them regarding their entire festival is conforming with them in their disbelief. Conforming with them in some branches of the festival is conforming with them in some branches of disbelief. Rather, festivals are a very distinctive characteristic of a given religion and are among the most apparent of their rituals, so conforming with them in these festivals is conforming to the most distinct characteristic of disbelief and the most apparent of its rituals." [Excerpted from Iqtidhaa’ As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem]

As for the ruling on celebrating the occasions that you mentioned (which are not associated with religions), then some contemporary scholars are of the view that celebrating those occasions regularly makes them like festivals, so they are forbidden and it is not permissible to celebrate them or to participate in them – whether the one who celebrates them is a Muslim or a non-Muslim – because the festivals are among the rituals that we are not allowed to innovate in.

However, other contemporary scholars hold the view that such celebrations are permissible in principle if they are free from violations of the Islamic Shariah, and they view that the festivals (which are not associated with religions) are not like acts of worship that we are not permitted to innovate in, but are, rather, like customs that are permitted in principle.

Allah knows best.

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