I am staying in a 7 story flat. Non-Muslims coming from different parts of India mostly occupy these flats. The doubt is that when my wife and I meet them (opposite sexes) in the lift or ground they greet, smile and talk to us. Can we return these greetings (to opposite sexes) and talk to them as it would be weird if we do not respond. If they invite us for parties can we attend them? If not what excuse can we give them, as we will have to face them everyday. Hope you will answer these questions.
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 is His slave and Messenger.
A Muslim should not greet non-Muslims first with the words of al-Salaam Alaykum whether addressing a man or a woman. This is from the saying of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who said: “Do not start the Jews and Christians with the greeting “Salaam”. If they greet a Muslim with “As-Salaam Alaykum”, reply with “Wa alaykum”, i.e. and “upon you too”, not more than these words”.
Greeting a non-Muslim with words other than the words of Salaam is permissible if there is a necessity such as greeting non-Muslim relatives, neighbors, or to attract one to Islam, etc.
A man is not permitted to greet a woman or answer her greeting except if this does not cause any temptation.
Therefore, if you and your wife encounter non-Muslim women and they greet you both, you both may respond to their greetings taking into consideration the above rules. In addition, you should lower your gaze and should not give a smile to non-Mahram women. Your wife may greet non-Muslim women with words other than the words of Salaam; she may respond to their greetings and may talk to them.
If they invite you in general parties you may accept it. Attending their parties and eating their food is permissible provided their food is free from illegal matters. Imam Ahmed narrated from Anas that a Jew invited the Prophet for the dish made of barley bread and fat tail of a sheep whose smell had changed.
However, attending their feasts, congratulating them for their feasts and presenting gifts on the occasion of their feasts is absolutely forbidden.
Allah knows best.
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