Congratulating non-Muslims on their religious feasts out of fear of being harmed
Fatwa No: 41447

  • Fatwa Date:16-12-2009 - Thul-Hijjah 29, 1430
  • Rating:

Question

My question is about the creed of Walaa’ and Baraa’ (allegiance to Muslims and disassociation from non-Muslims). After the events of 11 September, we Muslims living in the United States, started to find it necessary to communicate with the Christian Americans. We began sharing with them their annual feasts such as Thanksgiving Day. I go along with my wife and children to a Christian family and partake in their celebration, and the food that is served does not contain pork or alcohol. I do not celebrate this day at home and only share with this family their celebration. Is this prohibited? What about my children and their attachment to these feasts? What is the difference between participating in celebrating the disbeliever's feasts and greeting them?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

 

We are ordered to treat all people well and to speak to people in a good way. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

·        {And speak to people good [words]} [Quran 2:83]

·        {Allaah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allaah loves those who act justly.} [Quran 60:8]

It was narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, ordered us to be good to our neighbors regardless of their religion and this is why Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him would ask his wife whenever they slaughtered a sheep, "Did you send some to our Jewish neighbor? I heard the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, saying: 'Jibreel kept ordering me to be good to neighbors so much that I thought that he would allocate a certain amount of inheritance to him.’" [Ahmad]

However, we should not confuse treating them well with the idea of gaining their affection at the expense of our creed and religion as we believe that they are following a void religion and that religious festivals are one of the most prominent aspects of any religion. Thus, how can our participation in these festivals that are part of their religious rituals be good? This is why scholars strongly disapproved of congratulating the disbelievers on their festivals. It is impermissible for Muslims to congratulate the disbelievers on or participate in their religious festivals. It is impermissible also to permit the ones for whom one is responsible, such as his wife and children, to do so. Al-Bayhaqi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him narrated through an authentic chain of narrators that ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr,  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him said, "Anyone who settles at the countries of non-Muslims, celebrates their festivals and imitates them until he dies, will be resurrected with them."

However, we say that if Muslims are afraid of being harmed in an unbearable manner if they fail to participate in the celebration of these festivals, they may compliment them according to what is necessary, but while disapproving of what they do in the heart. This would not be more than what Allaah The Almighty has legislated for Muslims when He Says (what means): {Except for one who is forced [to renounce his religion] while his heart is secure in faith. But those who [willingly] open their breasts to disbelief, upon them is wrath from Allaah, and for them is a great punishment.} [Quran 16:6]

There is a huge difference in sharing with the disbelievers the celebration of their festivals and greeting them. This is proved by the fact that the scholars have agreed on the impermissibility of participating with the disbelievers in their religious festivals, but they hold different opinions regarding greeting them with the same wording of the greeting of Islam (i.e. ‘As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum’ which means, ‘peace be upon you’). If a Muslim greets a non-Muslim by saying ‘good morning’ or ‘good evening’ it would be alright, however, there are different opinions regarding greeting them with the greeting of Islam. Most scholars said that Muslims should not start by greeting the disbelievers with the greeting of Islam and they quoted the Hadeeth that says: "Do not start by greeting the Jews and the Christians with the greetings of peace." [Muslim]

On the other hand, other scholars said that this is permissible and this was done by Ibn Mas‘ood, Abu Umaamah, Abu Ad-Dardaa’ and ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-‘Azeez. These opinions were mentioned by Ibn Abu Shaybah and others. Al-Awzaa‘i  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was asked about the Muslim who passed by a disbeliever and greeted him. He said, "If you greet him, then righteous people before you greeted them, and if you do not do so, then righteous people before you also did not do this either." Thus, we say that if there is a certain benefit for greeting the disbelievers, such as avoiding their harm or making them inclined to Islam, it is permissible to greet them, and there are many other forms of greetings (other than that designated amongst Muslims) that enable Muslims to avoid the difference of opinions. 

Allaah Knows best.

Related Fatwa