Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
Do these scenarios entail disbelief?
- If someone says something you think is Islamically untrue and you don’t correct it, will it entail disbelief as you are letting them believe something that isn’t true? For example, if someone said that Islam says to eat at least three meals a day and you don’t correct them by telling them this isn’t true.
- Is watching Christmas films/eating birthday cake allowed, knowing they have pagan/Christian roots? Is this included in the hadith “Whoever imitates a people is from them”?
- Does showing off make one fall into kufr (disbelief)?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
What Is Disbelief?
Disbelief is a matter of the heart. One cannot leave the fold of Islam except by rejection of that which brought them into Islam. [Tahawi, al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya]
Failing to Correct an Erroneous Understanding
Failing to correct an incorrect understanding of Islam is not disbelief according to the previous principle. Furthermore, if the religious issue is not a matter of personal obligation to have knowledge of, one is not required to correct the claim. The knowledge of how many meals to eat per day is not an obligation as there is much expansiveness in the issue.
If someone states an erroneous understanding regarding personally obligatory beliefs or rulings and one has the ability to correct them, and there is no foreseen harm that may come as a result of that – then it will be an obligation to correct them with wisdom.
Imitating the Disbelievers
It is prohibited to imitate disbelievers and/or corrupt people.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever imitates a people is from them.” [Abu Dawud; Ahmad]
Imitation is only considered in those things which are specific to their disbelief or to their corruption, such that they are known by those things [Ali al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]. Eating a birthday cake is not something exclusive to a Christian, nor is it a distinguishing characteristic of the Christians. Likewise, watching a movie that depicts the celebration of Christmas. However, to celebrate Christmas or to have a Christmas tree in one’s home is an imitation of a religious celebration specific to the Christians.
Showing off is a major sin of the heart. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) says, “Indeed, that which I fear for you the most is the minor association (of partners with Allah Most High).” It was asked, “What is the minor association, O Messenger of Allah?” The Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied, “Ostentation (showing off). Allah Exalted and Glorious says when the people are rewarded for their deeds, ‘Go to those to whom you showed off to in the world! See if you find with them any rewards!’” [Ahmad]
Although showing off is a major sin, and despite its being called minor association (shirk), it is not disbelief. It is only disbelief if one does an act of worship intending their worship to be of other than Allah Most High. If someone is doing an act of worship, worshipping Allah therein, however, they desire people to see them – this is not disbelief; however, it is sinful.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani