Q: Is it permissible for Muslims to have Easter, Diwali, Christmas, Black Friday sales, etc.? If it is not permissible, then what is the reason? Some Ulamaa say that this is emulation of the kuffaar. What does emulation of the kuffaar refer to?
A: Islam is a religion that is complete and perfect in every respect and it provides a person with guidance in all spheres of his life. From the time the child is conceived till the time he is ushered into the world, and through the various stages of childhood, adolescence and old age which follow, Islam guides a person as to how he should lead his private, domestic and social life with honour and dignity. Even during occasions of happiness, such as marriage, or occasions of sadness, such as divorce or death, a person is not left to himself to decide which path he should adopt and what direction he should take. Rather, Islam guides him every step of the way and teaches him how to conduct himself, both in private and when interacting with people. In essence, there is no religion that is parallel to Islam in offering direction to man and showing him the path towards success.
Allah Ta’ala has commanded us to adhere to the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and to emulate his mubaarak lifestyle in all dimensions of our lives. Allah Ta’ala states:
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّـهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو ٱللَّـهَ وَٱلْيَوْمَ ٱلاَخِرَ
“Indeed, there is in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful example for the one who hopes in Allah Ta’ala and the Final Day.”
When we have been commanded by Allah Ta’ala and His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to follow the mubaarak lifestyle of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in order to gain salvation and success, then we need to examine whether such practices existed during the mubaarak lifetime of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and were practised by him and his illustrious Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). The way of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and his illustrious Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) is the gauge to determine whether a practice is acceptable or not in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.
Celebrating Easter, Christmas and Diwali
As far as celebrating Easter, Christmas and Diwali are concerned, these celebrations are religious celebrations of the Christians and Hindus. Hence, it is extremely serious for a Muslim to emulate the kuffaar and participate in any of these religious celebrations. In the Hadith, we are commanded to refrain from emulating the kuffaar as well as adopting their ways and customs. When we are prohibited from adopting their ways and customs, then one can well imagine the serious consequences for emulating them in their religious ceremonies and celebrations.
The jurists have written that if one participates in the celebration of the kuffaar out of respect for such days, he will become a kaafir. The great jurist, Abu Hafs al-Kabeer (rahimahullah), said, “The one who after worshipping Allah Ta’ala for fifty years gifted an egg to a disbeliever, in reverence for the kuffaar celebration (e.g. Easter), will become a kaafir and lose the reward of all his righteous deeds.” If one participates in their celebration without respecting and honouring their celebration, he will not become a kaafir. However, this action will be makrooh-e-tahreemi. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:
من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم
“The one who imitates a people will be counted among them (in the sight of Allah Ta’ala).”
Hence, it is impermissible to say “Happy Diwali” or “Merry Christmas” to non-Muslims as one will be wishing them happiness in their kufr and shirk practices. Similarly, it is impermissible to have Diwali or Christmas sales as one will be promoting Christianity and Hinduism.
Celebrating wedding anniversaries, new years and birthdays
As far as wedding anniversaries, new years and birthdays are concerned, these are all kuffaar customs. It is not permissible for a Muslim to emulate the kuffaar in their customs and traditions. Even though these customs are not exclusive to any religion nor do they have any religious connotations associated with them, due to the fact that these are kuffaar customs, it is not permissible for Muslims to emulate them in these customs and traditions.
As far as Black Friday is concerned, it should be understood that it is a business and shopping event which the kuffaar promote. Though this is not a kuffaar celebration, it is among the special yearly events which the kuffaar advertise and promote to boost sales and acquire wealth. Just as the kuffaar promote sports and sporting events and attach great significance to them, similarly they promote these types of events to boost their business and satisfy their greed. In essence, all this is part of the kuffaar culture and is alien to Islamic culture.
A Muslim should understand that these occasions such as sporting events, Black Friday, etc. have nothing to do with Islam. A believer should not promote kuffaar traditions and customs nor involve himself in them. Rather, he should remain steadfast upon the Sunnah and not be swayed by the alien culture of the kuffaar. We have been commanded in the Hadith to refrain from emulating the kuffaar as well as adopting their ways. Hence, we should refrain from having Black Friday sales as this is not part of the Islamic Culture.
As believers, we should understand that true respect, honour and dignity can only be attained by following the pristine, pure teachings of Islam and the Mubaarak Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). If we seek honour and respect elsewhere, we will bring nothing but disgrace and humiliation to ourselves. Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) has emphasized:
إنا كنا أذل قوم فأعزنا الله بالإسلام فمهما نطلب العز بغير ما أعزنا الله به أذلنا الله
“We were the most disgraced of people. Allah Ta’ala then gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour in something besides that through which Allah Ta’ala has honoured us (Islam), Allah Ta’ala will disgrace us.”
Below is an explanation regarding the various forms and levels of emulating the kuffaar:
Emulating the ways of the kuffaar refers to one abandoning his Islamic identity and adopting the identity which is exclusive to the kuffaar. In other words, for a Muslim to abandon all such aspects (religious or worldly) by means of which a believer is identified and clearly distinguished from a disbeliever, and to adopt the ways of the kuffaar, amounts to emulating the ways of the kuffaar.
Emulating the kuffaar is of different levels
1. Emulating the kuffaar in their religious beliefs is haraam and amounts to kufr, e.g. for a Muslim to subscribe to the belief that Hazat Isa (alaihis salaam) was crucified on the cross.
2. Emulating those signs or symbols that identify and are exclusive to kufr is haraam and amounts to kufr e.g. wearing a cross.
3. Emulating the kuffaar in their religious ceremonies, celebrations or festivals is haraam e.g. for a Muslim to celebrate Diwali, Christmas, New Year, Easter, etc.
4. Emulating the kuffaar in their religious attire is makrooh-e-tahreemi e.g. for a Muslim to wear the attire that is exclusive to a religious group e.g. wearing a saari in our country.
5. Emulating the kuffaar and people that are not committed to Deen in their culture and lifestyle is also impermissible e.g. emulating them in their tight-fitting and revealing clothing, women wearing men’s clothing and vice versa, men wearing earrings, celebrating birthdays, promoting Black Friday sales, tattooing, women and men freely intermingling, etc.
Wearing such clothes that are not exclusive to the kuffaar, but are instead used by all and sundry e.g. wearing jackets, socks, men wearing formal clothes and women wearing unrevealing dresses is permissible and does not amount to emulating the kuffaar.
Similarly, carrying out those actions or using those items which are not exclusive to the kuffaar but are instead commonly used by all e.g. driving cars, eating and drinking in cups and plates, etc. does not amount to emulating the kuffaar. However, one should refrain from drinking in wine glasses as this is exclusive to the kuffaar.
As for the clothing that a Muslim should wear, it is preferable that he wears such clothing which has some type of Islamic connotation e.g. the clothing of the pious and respectable Muslims.
And Allah Ta’ala knows best.
عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم (سنن أبي داود، الرقم: 4033)
من تشبه بقوم أي من شبه نفسه بالكفار مثلا في اللباس وغيره أو بالفساق أو الفجار أو بأهل التصوف والصلحاء الأبرار فهو منهم أي في الإثم والخير (مرقاة المفاتيح 4/431)
خرج عمر بن الخطاب إلى الشام ومعنا أبو عبيدة بن الجراح فأتوا على مخاضة وعمر على ناقة له فنزل عنها وخلع خفيه فوضعهما على عاتقه وأخذ بزمام ناقته فخاض بها المخاضة فقال أبو عبيدة يا أمير المؤمنين أنت تفعل هذا تخلع خفيك وتضعهما على عاتقك وتأخذ بزمام ناقتك وتخوض بها المخاضة ما يسرني أن أهل البلد استشرفوك فقال عمر أوه لم يقل ذا غيرك أبا عبيدة جعلته نكالا لأمة محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم إنا كنا أذل قوم فأعزنا الله بالإسلام فمهما نطلب العزة بغير ما أعزنا الله به أذلنا الله (المستدرك على الصحيحين للحاكم، الرقم: 207)
عن عمرو بن الحارث أن رجلا دعا عبد الله بن مسعود إلى وليمة فلما جاء ليدخل سمع لهوا فلم يدخل فقال ما لك رجعت قال إني سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول من كثر سواد قوم فهو منهم ومن رضي عمل قوم كان شريكا في عملهم (إتحاف الخيرة المهرة، الرقم: 3297)
يكفر بوضع قلنسوة المجوس على رأسه على الصحيح إلا لضرورة دفع الحر والبرد وبشد الزنار في وسطه إلا إذا فعل ذلك خديعة في الحرب وطليعة للمسلمين وبقوله المجوس خير مما أنا فيه يعني فعله … وبخروجه إلى نيروز المجوس لموافقته معهم فيما يفعلون في ذلك اليوم وبشرائه يوم النيروز شيئا لم يكن يشتريه قبل ذلك تعظيما للنيروز لا للأكل والشرب وبإهدائه ذلك اليوم للمشركين ولو بيضة تعظيما لذلك لا بإجابة دعوة مجوسي حلق رأس ولده وبتحسين أمر الكفار اتفاقا حتى قالوا لو قال ترك الكلام عند أكل الطعام حسن من المجوس أو ترك المضاجعة حالة الحيض منهم حسن فهو كافر كذا في البحر الرائق (الفتاوى الهندية 2/276)
وبيع المكعب المفضض للرجل إن ليلبسه يكره لأنه إعانة على لبس الحرام وإن كان إسكافا أمره إنسان أن يتخذ له خفا على زي المجوس أو الفسقة أو خياطا أمره أن يتخذ له ثوبا على زي الفساق يكره له أن يفعل لأنه سبب التشبه بالمجوس والفسقة اهـ (رد المحتار 6/392)
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)