Is it permissible to attend the National Day celebration? If I am obliged to attend the celebration – as an employee in the embassy – what should I do? Can I attend with the intention of giving a religious talk, advising people to obey Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him)? Please guide me what to say because the celebration date is approaching and I do not know how to answer the ambassador’s wife if she invites me.
The National Day is not a day of `Id. It is just an occasion when people gather to celebrate something, like celebrating marriage or a newborn. This is not a religious `Id and we have to clarify this difference, which many people do not understand. Based on their misunderstanding, they may cause others to have doubts in their religion and to feel as if they are committing a major sin by celebrating an occasion. It is not a sin and the basic ruling of all things is permissibility. There is no harm to attend this celebration. The Maliki School of jurisprudence deemed it undesirable to eat from `Atira (a sacrifice offered by the pre-Islamic people during the month of Rajab), while the Hanbali School deemed it permissible, since there is no text prohibiting it. People during the pre-Islamic times used to slaughter an animal in the month of Rajab. It was called Rajabiyyah or `Atira. Some scholars are of the opinion that it is permissible, based on the basic ruling. If people gather and slaughter an animal during Rajab or Sha`ban, or at any time, there is no harm in this. Similarly, if people celebrate an occasion, such as their independence or the National Day, which is common in African countries, there is no harm in this. It is also good that you can give a religious talk to the people. On the other hand, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that Muslims have only two `Ids: `Idul-Adha and `Idul-Fitr, this does not mean that he forbade people from gathering. These celebrations are not prohibited, even if you hate attending them, as long as they involve no evil. Thus, there is no need to disturb people and spread doubts regarding matters that are not prohibited according to the Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijma`, or the agreement of scholars in the same Madhhab. It is better to take the more lenient of the two opinions in such cases as these which have no conclusive evidence. Leniency and ease is among the principles of this religion. Allah says: “He has… not laid upon you in religion any hardship.” (Al-Hajj, 22:78) He also says: “Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you.” (Al-Nisa’, 4:28) And He says: “So verily, with hardship, there is (more than one) relief, verily, with hardship, there is (more than one) relief (i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs).” (Al-Sharh, 94:5-6) The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Make things easy (for people) and do not make things difficult, give glad tidings and do not put people off.” Related by Al-Bukhari (69) and Muslim (1734) on the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him). So, the basic ruling in this religion is to make things easy for people. The opinions of other scholars are respected, but they are not equal to the judgment of Allah. Peace be upon you.