Is it permissible to give gifts to friends and family for ashura and make it a custom?
The Arabic words عياله and أهله (dependants) are used in the Hadith which encourages spending on one’s dependants/family on the day of Aashura (10th Muharram). The narration implies that, on this day, the head of the household is encouraged to spend more than usual on his family’s food and other necessities. The Hadith in no way implies that gifts be exchanged in the month of Muharram, or on the day of Aashura, as has become customary nowadays. This practice of exchanging gifts between friends and relatives has no basis in the Shari’ah and cannot be established or substantiated from any Ahadeeth.
It will be acceptable however, if it is the habit of a person to give gifts throughout the year, that he/she sends a gift to someone during the month of Muharram or on the day of Aashura in accordance with his normal practice without attaching any significance to this particular month or day. However, due to the custom and innovation of exchanging gifts on Aashura coming into vogue nowadays (to the extent that some consider it an act of Sunnah), it is preferable to give the gift prior to, or post Aashura (10th Muharram); and that too, not as a Muharram/Aashura gift per se, but as a normal gesture of gifting.
Checked and Approved By:
Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.