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Muslims and Birthdays: Ruling on Greetings, Cakes, Gifts, and Parties

Q: What is the ruling regarding birthdays? Our muslims greet one another on this day and feel insulted if one does not greet them. Another issue is regarding birthday cakes, gifts and parties. Please advise.

A: Celebrating birthdays is a custom of the kuffaar. As Muslims, we are commanded to refrain from emulating the kuffaar as well as adopting their ways. Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم  (the one who emulates a people will be counted from amongst them (in the court of Allah Ta’aala)). Hence, it is reprehensible to share in the happiness of someone celebrating his birthday by saying “happy birthday” to him or to make a birthday cake or to send gifts on that occasion.

We should remember that if we make the feelings of people the benchmark, then just as some people become happy by telling them ‘happy birthday’ others take exception to this. Thus, the criteria of acceptance in the court of Allah is the adherence to the Sunnat of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam not the feelings of people.

عن ابن عمر قال قال رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم (سنن أبي داود 2/559)

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)

This answer was collected from MuftiOnline.co.za, where the questions have been answered by Mufti Zakaria Makada (Hafizahullah), who is currently a senior lecturer in the science of Hadith and Fiqh at Madrasah Ta’leemuddeen, Isipingo Beach, South Africa.

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