“O you who have believed! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed Allaah guides not the wrongdoing people.” [Quran 5: 51]
Nowadays, whenever anybody visits some of the Muslim countries, they find that the circumstances within them are quite different to what they would have expected. One only needs to set foot in these countries and begin to wander their streets to witness the tragic behaviour of its inhabitants.
When one observes the level of joy and ecstasy as the different classes of people within the Muslim communities prepare to receive Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it seems impossible to believe what one previously heard about the Muslim countries and how its people were adhering to Islam.
The entrances of hotels, cafés and stores are festooned with Christmas decorations; photographers dress up as Santa Claus and go around taking souvenir photos of people; florists compete in selling their produce for people who rush to buy it for this occasion regardless of the price. Some Muslims prepare to hold parties in their houses and hotels and these hotels have tempting special offers for people to hold their parties in their halls and party rooms during that period.
The media plays a huge part in propagating these celebrations; it prepares various television programmes and series in anticipation of these events.
The fact of the matter is that all of these actions represent a comprehensive imitation of western culture and can only be the result of very low levels of faith or indeed a total lack of it; to exhibit this type of behaviour is to strip oneself from the distinction and superiority of Islam and it is also an evil which makes Muslims who partake in such celebrations be included in the saying of the Prophet : “He who imitates a people will be from among them (on the Day of Judgement).” [Abu Daawood] And in another narration, he said: “The one who imitates people other than us (i.e., in faith) is not from us. Do not imitate the Jews or the Christians.” [Tirmithi]Imaam Ahmad said: “The very least that this Hadeeth entails is the prohibition of imitating them (i.e., the Jews and the Christians); although it is also apparent that the Hadeeth labels the one who does so as a disbeliever (as Allaah Says what means): “O you who have believed! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed Allaah guides not the wrongdoing people.” [Quran 5: 51]
When Muslims imitate non-Muslims their rank in the Sight of Allaah decreases. This is because a Muslim is superior to a disbeliever, so if he were to imitate a disbeliever then he would descend from his lofty rank to that which is inferior and this is a form of being ungrateful for the bounties of Allaah and an insult to the religion of Islam because Islam is superior to everything else and nothing should be given priority over it.
Islam has established a path to guidance which differs from the culture and customs of the disbelievers regardless of whether they are from the people of the book or otherwise. Islam abrogates all previous religions and legislations and our Muslim nation is the one to be followed and not one which should blindly imitate others.
Anas ibn Maalik said: “The Prophet arrived in Madeenah while people were celebrating two particular festivals, so he asked: “What is (the significance of) these two days?” Some people replied: ‘They are days which we used to celebrate during the pre-Islamic era.’ So the Messenger replied: “Allaah has replaced them for you with two days which are better, the day of ‘Eed Al-Fitr and ‘Eed Al-Adh-haa”” [Abu Daawood]. Therefore, it is not permissible for a Muslim to celebrate New Year, because is it not one of the celebrations of the Muslims.
Muslim merchants and traders must not participate in any aspect of celebrating this day; they should not imitate the Christian merchants in the types of merchandise they sell during this period and they should refrain from decorating their shops with special lights and other kinds of decorations to commemorate this occasion.
Imaam Ibn Al-Haajj mentioned in his book which mentioned the sayings of the Maaliki school of opinion in Islaam: “It is not permissible for any Muslim to sell the Christians anything distinctly used during their religious celebrations, whether it is meat, grease or clothing; they should also refrain from assisting them in any of the affairs of their religion, because this is a form of honouring disbelief and aiding them in their disbelief and the Muslim leaders should forbid the Muslims from doing so. This is the ruling of Imaam Maalik and others and I do not know of any Islamic scholar who differed with this ruling.”
It is our religious duty to boycott these celebrations; are we unable to prevent our children and other members of our household from participating in these immoral celebrations? How can a Muslim father watch his children prepare for these parties on New Years Eve and remain silent? Some parents even participate in this by purchasing items for the parties and by making their own plans for that night with their friends and relatives so that the way is paved for their children to spend the night with their girlfriend or boyfriend by listening to music, dancing, intermixing with the opposite sex and many other acts that Allaah has prohibited and which would make morality shed tears and chastity protest.
Such parents seem to consider these actions as normal, despite the fact that they will certainly be held to account for the cultivation and upbringing of their children. Allaah Says what means: “O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones…” [Quran 66: 6] Did such fathers, who did not prevent their children from celebrating the New Year protect themselves and their children from the Hellfire?
Fear Allaah in your behaviour and actions; remain firm on His obedience and refrain from disobeying Him; encourage your wives and children to adhere to Islamic rulings and assist them in this; rebuke them and restrain them from committing sins so that you may protect yourselves from the Hellfire.
Many Muslims do not seem to realise that these celebrations are an integral part of the Christian religion and form part of its rituals. Being joyful and participating in their religious celebrations is in fact a celebration and an honouring of disbelief, which has a devastating impact upon the creed and faith of a Muslim.
How can a Muslim rejoice at any celebration of the non-Muslims while he reads the book of Allaah in which He Almighty Says what means: “Neither those who disbelieve from the People of the Scripture nor the polytheists wish that any good should be sent down to you from your Lord…”. [Quran 2:105]
How can a Muslim rejoice while he reads the words of Allaah where He Almighty Says what means: “Many of the People of the Scripture wish they could turn you back to disbelief after you have believed, out of envy from themselves…” [Quran 2: 109]
How can any Muslim compromise his creed and faith and join the Christians in their rituals of disbelief while Allaah Says what means: “They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike…” [Quran 4: 89]and, “If they gain dominance over you, they would be [i.e., behave] to you as enemies and extend against you their hands and their tongues with evil, and they wish you would disbelieve.” [Quran 60: 2]
Fear Allaah and thank Him for having guided you to Islam and for making you distinct and superior by sending Muhammad , the Prophet of mercy, especially for you. Allaah has made you the best nation that was ever sent to mankind, provided you adhere to Islam and follow the Prophet .
Be proud of your religion, because it is the only one that is based on sound creed, just legislation and honourable manners. Do not be deceived by what many people do for they are unaware of the reality of Islam; resist these evil innovations which have conquered our communities by boycotting these celebrations and be as Allaah Says (what means): “Follow [O Mankind] what has been revealed to you from your Lord and do not follow other than Him any allies…” [Quran 7: 3]and do not be as Allaah Says (what means): “And be not like those who forgot Allaah, so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient.” [Quran 59: 19]but do everything that will make you prosper in this life and the Hereafter.
Ruling on celebrating Christmas
Ibn Taymiyyah said in his commentary on the verse (which means): “And [they are] those who do not testify to falsehood…”[Quran 25:72]: As regards the festivals of the polytheists, they combine confusion, physical desires and falsehood. There is nothing in them that is of any religious benefit, and the instant gratification involved in them only ends up in pain. Thus they are falsehood, and witnessing them means attending them.
This verse itself praises and commends (those who do not witness falsehood), which has the meaning of urging people to avoid taking part in their festivals and other kinds of falsehood. We understand that it is bad to attend their festivals because they are called ‘falsehood’.
It indicates that it is Haraam (prohibited) to do this for many reasons, because Allaah, The Most Exalted, has called it ‘falsehood’. Allaah Almighty condemns the one who speaks falsehood even if no one else is harmed by it, as in the verse forbidding Thihaar [a form of divorce in which the man says to his wife “You are to me like the back of my mother”], where He Says (what means): “… And indeed, they are saying an objectionable statement and a falsehood…” [Quran 58:2]
Allaah Almighty also Says (what means): “… So avoid the uncleanliness of idols and avoid false statement…” [Quran 22: 30] So the one who says or practices falsehood is condemned in this fashion.
Anas Ibn Maalik said: “The Messenger of Allaah, came (to Madeenah) and they (inhabitants of Madeenah) had two days in which they would (relax and) play. He said: “What are these two days?” They said, “We used to play (on these two days) during the Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period).” The Messenger of Allaah, said: “Allaah has given you something better instead of them: Yawm Al-Adh-ha (‘Eed Al-Adh-ha) and Yawm Al-Fitr (‘Eed Al-Fitr).” [Abu Daawood]
This indicates clearly that the Prophet, definitely forbade his Ummah (Muslim Nation) to celebrate the festivals of the disbelievers and he strove to wipe them (non-Islamic festivals) out by all possible means.
Indeed, the Prophet, went to great lengths to command his Ummah to be different from the disbelievers in many issues that are permitted and in many ways of worship, lest that lead Muslims to be like them in other matters too. This being different was to be a barrier in all aspects, because the more different you are from the people of Hell, the less likely you are to do their acts.
The Hadeeth (Prophetic narration): “Every people has its festival, and this is our festival” [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim] implies exclusivity that every people has its own festival, as Allaah Almighty Says (what means): “For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers)…” [Quran 2: 148] and “… To each among you We have prescribed a law and a clear way…” [Quran 5: 48]. This implies that each nation has its own ways. The letter “to” in “to each” implies exclusivity. So if the Jews have a festival and the Christians have a festival, it is just for them, and we should not have any part in it, just as we do not share their Qiblah (direction of prayer) or their laws.
One of the conditions set out by ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab and agreed upon by the Prophet’s Companions and by all the Muslim Jurists after them is that those of the People of the Book who have agreed to live under Islamic rule (Ahl Al-Thimmah) should not celebrate their festivals openly in Daar Al-Islam (lands under Islamic rule). If the Muslims have agreed to prevent them from celebrating openly, how could it be right for the Muslims to celebrate them? If a Muslim celebrates them, is that not worse than if a non-Muslim does so openly?
The only reason that we forbade them to celebrate their festivals openly is because of the corruption involved in them, because of the sin or symbols of sin. In either case, the Muslim is forbidden from sin or the symbols of sin. Even if there was no evil involved apart from the non-Muslim feeling encouraged to celebrate openly because of the Muslim’s actions, how can a Muslim do that? The evil involved (in their festivals) will be explained below, Allaah willing.
In the chapter entitled “on the abhorrence of entering the churches of Ahl Al-Thimmah on the occasion of their New Year and other celebrations” Al-Bayhaqi reported the following Hadeeth:
“‘Umar said: “Do not enter upon the polytheists in their churches on their feast-days, for the Wrath (of Allaah) is descending upon them.” He also said: “Avoid the enemies of Allaah on their festivals.”
It was also reported that ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr said: “Whoever lives in the land of the non-Arabs (non-Muslims) and celebrates their New Year and their festivals, and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” He mentioned – and Allaah knows best – the one who lives in their land, because at the time of ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr and the other Companions, they used to forbid open celebration of non-Islamic festivals in the Muslim lands, and none of the Muslims imitated them in their festivals; that was possible only when living in the lands of the non-Muslims.
‘Ali Ibn Abu Taalib refused to even acknowledge the name of their festivals which were exclusively theirs, so how about actually celebrating them?
Ibn Al-Baghdadi said: “It is not permitted to attend the festivals of the Christians and Jews. Ahmad also stated this, and his evidence for that is the verse (which means): “And those who do not witness falsehood…’ [Quran 25: 72]. He said: “The Muslims are to be prevented from entering upon them in their synagogues and churches.”
Greeting the non-Muslims on Christmas and other religious holidays of theirs is Haraam, by consensus, as Ibn Al-Qayyim said in Ahkaam Ahl Al-Thimmah: “Congratulating the non-Muslims on the rituals that belong only to them is Haraam by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and feasts by saying: ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from disbelief, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on. Many of those who have no respect for their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or Bid’ah (innovation) or disbelief exposes himself to the Wrath and Anger of Allaah.”
Congratulating the non-Muslims on their religious festivals implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of disbelief, even if one would not accept those things for oneself. But the Muslim should not accept the rituals of disbelief or congratulate anyone else for them, because Allaah Almighty does not accept any of that at all, as He Says (what means): “If you disbelieve – indeed, Allah is Free from need of you. And He does not approve for His servants disbelief. And if you are grateful, He approves it for you…” [Quran 39: 7]
And (what means): “. . . This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. . .” [Quran 5: 3]. So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise.
If the non-Muslims greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to Allaah. These festivals are innovations in their religions, and even those which may have been prescribed formerly have been abrogated by the religion of Islam, with which Allaah sent Muhammad, to the whole of mankind. Allaah Says (what means): “And whoever desires other than Islam as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers…” [Quran 3: 85]
It is Haraam for a Muslim to accept invitations on such occasions, because this is worse than congratulating them as it implies taking part in their celebrations.
Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate non-Muslims by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because the Prophet said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Abu Daawood]
Whoever does anything of this sort is a sinner, whether he does it out of politeness or to be friendly, or because he is too shy to refuse, or for whatever other reason, because this is hypocrisy in Islam, and because it makes the non-Muslims feel proud of their religion.
Allaah Almighty is the One Whom we ask to make the Muslims feel proud of their religion, to help them adhere steadfastly to it, and to make them victorious over their enemies, for He is the Strong and Omnipotent.
By Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen
How to explain the Christmas lights to your kids?
It is very important that we prepare ourselves for this imminent occasion. As always, at the end of each year, day in and day out – and all through the night, we are constantly pummeled with the lights, decorations and music of the season at every turn. You won’t be able to take a trip to the grocery, the library, or even your front yard without noticing it.
But this year we too were, just days before, celebrating our Islamic ‘Eed Al-Adh-Ha, not in the same manner of course, but it was our time for celebration nonetheless. These unusual circumstances may present confusion and curiosity amongst children, teenagers and even new Muslims. It is essential that we address their questions and concerns in an honest, straightforward manner. The most effective method of clarifying and conveying accurate and detailed information is to deal with facts in an efficient and appropriate manner. Replacing normal curiosity with knowledge, will, Insha Allaah (Allaah willing), strengthen everyone in his conviction.
Among the numerous situations that may arise during this season are the Christmas lights. Little Omar –with awe and delight, one evening as you’re passing by lit up houses on the way to the Masjid –may exclaim: “Look, the lights are so pretty!” you look at him frowning, “No, no, no! Omar, those are ugly!” you reply scolding him.
Omar may never tell you he thinks the lights are pretty again, because he doesn’t want to disappoint you. However, that doesn’t mean that this is what he thinks. He may still believe that the lights are pretty; and in addition, he may feel that this is untrue!
It may even be hard for you to tell someone the lights are ugly – possibly because you don’t even believe that yourself. Why? Because the lights are delightful to most, young and old alike, that’s why they are used for all sorts of festive occasions. The fact is, although they may be nice to look at, the underlying reason is that they are used at this time of the year, and this is what is ugly… not the lights themselves.
All the children can see are the lights in a rainbow of colors, flashing and twinkling. They don’t see the Kufr (disbelief) that is being celebrated inside the lit-up houses. This is why it is so vital that the situation be fully explained and not simply brushed off. We must tackle these situations with a detailed explanation, and only with that will a new Muslim or a child fully understand why the lights or decorations are so unappealing during this time of the year.
It is important that they understand that the lights themselves are not Haraam (forbidden). They are simply small colored light bulbs on a string that can be used to any purpose whatsoever, just as any other light bulb. In many places all over the world, they are used for various reasons totally unrelated to any religious holiday. It is not the lights that should be the focus; it is what lies beneath that which is important.
You could spend the entire afternoon arguing your point that lights are ugly and the end result may still be that they don’t agree. Even after a debate on the issue, you may feel that you have come out the winner, but think about this: what was really won – your opinion? Unfortunately, that’s not a good enough reason for anyone, even a child, to agree with you and change their mind. Furthermore, by only discussing the irrelevant issue of the lights – what did they learn? Probably not much, except may be how to become a better debater next time.
Christmas, this year in particular, is a good opportunity to sit down and fully explain the major differences between Islam and Christianity to a new Muslim or a child. The explanation should be according to the age level of the child, and according to the knowledge of the teenager or adult. One should emphasize on the Kufr that is behind all of it, and how non-Muslim parents lie to their children about the fictitious Santa character! One should explain that the time of the year Christmas falls in is an ancient pagan holiday and that adorning the evergreen trees with decorations is a practice of pagans, and that it’s even forbidden in the Bible (Jeremiah 10:3-4)!
To further emphasize this fact, have them research this information in any encyclopedia and remind them of the following verse in which Allaah Says (what means): “And from those who say, “We are Christians” We took their covenant; but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded.” [Quran 5:14]
Next, take a few moments to allow them to ask questions. After you have fully explained to them the differences, and informed them in regard to the extreme Kufr that the decorations and lights are representing in pagan religions and in Christianity, ask them what they think of the lights and decorations now. Most likely, their response will be dramatically changed!
The distinction between a hasty incomplete answer and one with a full explanation is that you are not leaving room for lingering curiosity and also are not undermining their intelligence or opinion. By respecting their intelligence and opinion you are opening their minds to listen.
With an honest, straightforward explanation, you will, Insha Allaah, be able to take all the sparkle out of the lights, and instead, turn on the light of knowledge in their mind.