Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
What if we have friends who belong to another religion which has beliefs constituting shirk (under the Islamic way of perceiving things), and if they invite us to come and attend a ceremony with them or just sit and see how their religion works (prayer and other aspects of their religion)?
One may visit their temples when there is a need or genuine benefit to be achieved.
However, one may not be present when their idolatrous religious ceremonies are taking place. It is not allowed to be present in a place where sinful actions take place, so how about shirk, which is the one sin that is not forgiven (without complete repentance)?
even though in our hearts we do not ascribe to those beliefs, and out of curiosity we just feel that we should attend to know and be aware of how things such as prayer are done in other religions ……would it be shirk on our part as Muslims to go with our friends and sit through such prayer sessions (for the sake of knowing and becoming more accustomed to another culture/religion).
One can find out far more about other religious, their customs, and practices by reading… The fiqhi principle states that while, “Necessity dictates exceptions,” but, “Exceptions are limited to the extent of the need.”
And not to mention promote a feeling of good will between people of two religions, to show that we respect their beliefs, even though our own conflict greatly with theirs….?
There is a difference between respectfully tolerating others’ beliefs and, “leaving them to that which they believe,” as Sayyiduna Umar (Allah be pleased with him) expressed it, and respecting their actual beliefs, which we don’t (though there is no reason or wisdom in telling them that).
Good will is cultivated by being realistic and working together on matters of common concern. Many great Indian scholars have cooperated with Hindus, especially from the lower social castes, in common causes. There are countless moral and social issues and causes that we can (or, rather, should) work with others for. This is meaningful. Sitting through a ceremony in which shirk is being committed is intolerable.
And Allah alone gives success.