Happy Holidays

To say those words or not, that is the question.

Ever find yourself, as a practicing Muslim, in the quandry of wondering whether or not to wish your Christian, Jewish, agnostic, or atheist co-worker a very Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year? Sometimes we get into that zone where we think to ourselves, “But that is kufr (or shirk or bid’ah) and I should not be participating in such a thing!” Fair enough. I don’t mind, as I don’t believe in telling you what to say, think, or do.

However. Having said that. Think about the following:

  1. Do you find yourself looking forward to the Holiday Season? If for no other reason than the much-needed rest it brings you in your hectic life? And for the opportunity to catch up on all kinds of activities that fall by the way-side during the rest of the year?
  2. Do you find yourself taking advantage in the absolutely marvelous sales that prevail during this season? Oh, look at sweater! That coat would make a gorgeous abaya! And that pashmina–such a beautifully modest hijab! etc... (Don’t tell me you haven’t!)
  3. Do you find yourself stocking up on all that fabulous green gift wrap that is so widely abundant right now? (Green being the representative color of Islam).

When you do this, and many other things, aren’t you participating in the spirit of season in a far more meaningful way than offering a single salutation of kindness to your co-worker, neighbor, or gardener? What is the appropriate line to draw? Is it a brilliant representation of Islam to not offer a kindness to others?

The point must have been made many times before this, that we are not the first Muslims to be living as minorities in a society. Our very own Ashaab Kareem lived among pagans, and had entire family members and tribal affiliations who were pagan. SubhanAllah, they provide such a fine example for us in showing us the moderate approach to a beneficial co-existence with those who are non-Muslim. As a single example, I will leave you with the following, from Sahih Bukhari:

The daughter of Abu Bakr Radiallahu Anha, sayyidina Asma (radiaAllah anha), was in Madinah, and was paid a visit by her pagan mother and grandfather. This was at a time during which the Quraysh of Makkah were at peace with the Muslims. She inquired of Rasullullah Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam as to whether she should treat them with kindness, and was told “Yes.” Thereafter, the following verse was revealed:

Allah does not forbid you that you show kindness and deal justly with those who did not fight you in your religion and did not drive you out from your homes [Al-Mumtahinah 60: 8]

I don’t think there is any one of us reading this right now who has been fought with or driven from our homes (alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah!). As people who earn our living in this country, who still do enjoy very many liberties living here (enjoy them while we have them), I don’t think an offering of Happy Holidays would be amiss. Allahu Alam.

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6 Responses to Happy Holidays

  1. Somebody says:

    Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe (in the Oneness of Allâh – Islâmic Monotheism) to be affected by Allâh’s Reminder (this Qur’ân), and that which has been revealed of the truth…[57:16]

    Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “As for congratulating them for the symbols of kufr that belong exclusively to them, this is haraam according to scholarly consensus, such as congratulating them for their festivals and fasts, and saying, ‘A blessed festival to you’ and the like. Even though the person who says this might not become a kaafir by saying this, it is still forbidden, and it is the same as congratulating them for prostrating to the cross. Indeed, it is an even greater sin with Allaah and is more hated by Him than congratulating them for drinking wine, killing people and committing adultery, and so on. Many of those who do not care about religion do this, and do not realize how abhorrent their actions are. Whoever congratulates a person for his sin, bid’ah (innovation) or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allaah. The pious scholars used to avoid congratulating the tyrants when they were appointed to official positions, or congratulating the ignorant when they were appointed as Qaadis, teachers or Muftis, because they sought to avoid the wrath and anger of Allaah .” (Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah, 1/144-244).

    http://www.islamqa.com/index.php?pg=article&ln=eng&article_id=70

  2. It would be nice to obtain the daleel from which Ibn al-Qayyim derived this principle, inshaAllah. I understand where you are coming from. However, part-taking in the many derivatives of the Judeo-Christian culture in our current day is far more congratulatory than saying “happy Holidays.”

    JazakAllah Khair for the article. It was very long and detailed. I am not advocating participation or imitation…I am pointing out that basic etiquette being dispensed with is unnecessary. If one feels that wishing somebody well on their occasions endangers their imaan, then certainly do not do so. However, please DO NOT look down upon those who do wish our non-Muslim colleagues and neighbors a happy holiday. (I did not say Happy Christmas…I specifically said Happy Holiday. Holiday means one thing to me, and another thing to someone else–thats the power of language.) The purpose is being able to coexist peacefully with our non-Muslim acquaintances. If the Sahaaba were permitted to show kindness to the pagans, I am certain that we can too.

    Here is a very short article discussing the greater concept behind my point: Need it be Us vs. Them.

    Allahu Alam, and may Allah protect my deen, and may he not inflict us with wrath and anger. Ameen.

  3. dr@ma div@ says:

    this is absurd. i dont think it is wrong to wish other people merry christmas, happy hanukkah or happy new year etc… we just wanna be polite… it is so simple, when i wish someone merry christmas, it doesnt mean im converting myself to christian..isnt it? .. have an open mind and chill out!! – this is merely my thoughts… nothing more nothing less 😛

  4. Daniel says:

    Assalamualaykum…
    Have you ever heard about this, “everything is judged by your intention” (most probably, it’s a hadith but I can’t trace the exact one). I agree with you, Digital Nomad. I’m not interested to explain ever further since we’re coherence here. I just wanna share something with you regarding to the Christmas celebration.

    Just now, I was shocked because a muslim friend of mine wish “Merry Xmas” to my other muslim friend. She said it’s okay ‘cuz it’s more to culture festival. That’s totally HARAAM. I don’t know how come she easily say so. Didn’t she think it’s other religion’s festival? I guess Malaysia govt did a very good job in promoting “pluralisme in religion” among us.

    My point here is, although it’s okay for us to wish something for their religion, we still can’t celebrate it. Like your example above, buying all the things on the season isn’t so obvious like you’re celebrating that festival. It’s obvious when you wear santa’s cap, sing the christmas carol and all stuff regarding to the worshipping of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, somehow people just don’t know how to use their brain. Being “tolerance” doesn’t mean you have to be over tolerance, right? Your religion is still your priority.

  5. Drama Diva, You and I are in definite agreement…

    Daniel, Wa Alaikum Salaam. I am totally shocked at that. There are limits and there must be a purpose to why you would say Merry Xmas…saying it between Muslims serves no purpose at all. And when I hear of incidents like that, or incidents of Muslims putting up Christmas trees in their living rooms, I then totally understand why there are those who reject saying “Happy Holidays” to a non-Muslim. We have to be able to maintain a balance of respecting another’s faith without confusing our own.

    Thanks for the input, and welcome to our blog!

  6. Daniel says:

    Assalamualaykum again to every blessed souls…

    Just now, I read some other fatwas that contrary to ours. The ones (I.e. the fatwas) that I took (and the one that we agree) came from the Europe and the one that says it haram came from a state in Malaysia. Actually, when the ulamas didn’t come to the conclusion, we’re right to choose which one we think suit us well. It’s such a gift from God. For example, although I live in Malaysia, I’m studying in a state which populated by Christians. I think this state has the highest tolerance when it comes to religion. When they found out that there’s no solution for that, they’ll just keep silent (it’s better than quarrelling, don’t you think?). Maybe, it’s because the ones that they fight will be one of their family members (in one family, there might be some Christians, some Muslims – don’t get me wrong. In Malaysia, we can’t have different religion’s marriage. I’m trying to say that some of them have got the “hidayah” from the Almighty. ALHAMDULILLAH.)

    The best thing is, I stick to the fatwa that allows Muslim to wish other non-Muslims on their celebration. Guess what? Just now, a friend of mine (my senior, actually, she’s a Christian) who never says anything to me, wish me a Happy Holiday 2007. It was such a big triumph. Who knows it’ll be easier for me to get close to her and reveal about the truth. From my observation, there’s a barrier that separate non-Muslims from Muslims. I mean, non-Muslims usually want to know more about Islam but they’re afraid to ask. It’s not their faults, actually. It’s some Muslims’ fault – they’re afraid that they can’t explain anything to the non-Muslims, and then they prefer to scold them rather than humiliating themselves. That kind of so-called Muslims are such a big threat to our community/ummah. In my opinion, if we can’t destroy a barrier, why don’t just we climb over it and reach the “lost” people?

    By the way, I’m in charge for making monthly magazine for my college. I’m going to distribute about the fatwas on the legal way of wishing the non-Muslims (of course about the illegal way to wish them like my previous msg, too). Quite afraid, ‘cuz some Muslims are religious tolerance. I guess I’ve already got my confidence now after rechecking the fatwa all around the globe.

    P/S: Happy Eiduladha & New Year 2007M/1429H !!

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