|Celebrations in Islaam|
Eid Celebrations - Differing from the Disbelievers|
|Author: Dr. Muhammad al-Jibaly|
|Article ID : IBD150001 |
- Completeness of the Deen
- Completing That Which Had Been
- Distinct Muslim Identity - Is
there a Choice?
- Holidays Are Part of the Complete
- Imitating Non-Muslims in
- Bid'ahs and Sinning on Eids
Alamdu li 'Llaah. Indeed, all glory and praise is
due to Allaah. We glorify and praise Him and we ask Him for help and forgiveness. In
Allaah we seek refuge from the evils in ourselves and from our wrong doings. He whom
Allaah guides shall not be misguided, and he whom He misguides shall never be guided.
I bear witness that there is no [true] god except
Allaah, alone without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad (S) is His Abd(1)
Verily, the best words are those of Allaah (T); the
best guidance is that of Muhammad (S); the worst matters [in creed or worships] are those
innovated [by people], for every such innovated matter is a bid'ah(2),
and every bid'ah is a misguidance which shall reside in the Fire(3).
To many people, celebrating eids(4)
is a non-religious matter, and one has the choice to participate in celebrating any eid,
for any nation or religion, as long as that does not involve engaging in araam
(prohibited) actions. This view is the basis for what we witness repeatedly of Muslims
engaging in various celebrations and in sharing in the holidays of other nations. This
article is meant to present, based on the Qur aan and the authentic Sunnah, guidelines for
evaluating holidays and other related practices. This should enable one to reach a quick
and sound conclusion when faced with such events.
Completeness of the Deen(5)
By Allaah's blessing and mercy, Islaam is complete,
perfect, and universal in nature. Allaah (T) said (what means): This day I have perfected
your religion for you, have completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as
your religion. [Al-Maa idah (5) 3] It is narrated by Muslim that some mushrikoon (idol
worshipers) tried to mock of Islaam by saying, "It seems as if your prophet has
taught you everything, even how to defecate!" When Salmaan (R) heard this he
responded with the strong dignity of a true believer: "Yes indeed! He prohibited us
from turning our faces or backs to the Qiblah(6) when
defecating or urinating, from using the right hand to cleanse ourselves, from using less
than three stones to cleanse ourselves [in the absence of water], and from using animal
waste or bones to cleanse with."
Allaah's mercy has required that people be informed
of all what would save them from the Fire and what would let them into the Gardens of the
Hereafter. This was the mission of all prophets, as declared by Muhammad (S): There was
never any prophet before me but that his duty was to reveal to his people what he knew to
be best for them, and to warn them of what he knew to be evil for them. [Narrated by
Muslim] And this was certainly the mission of the Final Messenger (S) as he said: Nothing
of what would bring you closer to the Jannah(7)
away from the Fire but have been clarified [through me] to you.
With His encompassing Wisdom, Allaah (T) made His
Final Revelation, Islaam, a universal message meant for all peoples, at all times, without
any distinction: We have not sent you [Muhammad] otherwise than to mankind at large, to be
a herald of glad tidings and a warner. [Saba (34) 28]
Furthermore, this most important Message is
preserved intact through the centuries, as is clearly observed today by any impartial
examiner. This is in fulfillment of Allaah's promise: It is We Ourselves who have sent
down the dthikr (the Message), and it is We who shall surely guard it [from corruption].
[Al-Hijr (14) 9]
We conclude then that:
- Islaam contains the complete and perfect guidance for
- Islaam did not neglect any information that would be
needed by people to reach happiness and to avoid harm, in all matters, whether minute or
- Islaam is the only guidance tailored for all peoples
at all times.
- Islaam has been preserved, and will remain intact
through the ages, as the only true guidance capable of helping and saving people.
Completing That Which Had Been Completed?
The completeness of Islaam obviously means that it
cannot be completed further. Whether people realize it or not, believing otherwise would
imply one or more of the following dangerous conclusions:
- that Allaah (T) was not truthful in declaring this
completeness (I seek refuge in Allaah from such a blasphemous thought.)
- that Allaah (T) has forgotten or missed some details
needed to complete the Deen (again, I seek refuge in Allaah from such a blasphemous
- that Muhammad (S) has neglected or forgotten to
convey to us some matters needed to complete the Deen (and again, I seek refuge in Allaah
from such a blasphemous thought.)
This shows why Islaam warned so strongly against
introducing bid'ahs into the Deen. We have cited in the Introduction above the Prophet's
(S) words warning of bid'ahs. Imaam Maalik (r) said, Whoever innovates in Islaam what he
believes to be a good bid'ah would be [implicitly] claiming that Muhammad (S) has betrayed
the trust (of delivering the full Message) He then recited the above aayah(8) from al-Maaidah.
Distinct Muslim Identity - Is there a Choice?
To some people, the universality of Islaam means
that Muslims have the full choice to resemble and behave in coherence with other people in
their localities (or in other locations as well). You continue to hear questions like the
following: Is it all that important for a Muslim to have a clear distinctive identity? Is
it not sufficient to have a strong belief within the heart and to perform Islaam fully but
Based on simple Islaamic principles, we can
immediately conclude that the answer to the first question is, simply, yes! And the answer
to the second question is, simply, no!
A true Muslim is always eager to associate with his
fellow believers: If anyone contends with the Messenger even after the Guidance has been
plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that of the believers, We shall
leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell: What an evil abode! [An-Nisaa
And a true Muslim is very anxious to be distinctive
and different from the non-believers. This attitude follows from the repeated instructions
of the Messenger (S): Be different from the Jews and the Christians [Al-Bukhaaree
and Muslim], Be different from the disbelievers [Al- Bukhaaree and Muslim], and: Whoever
imitates a people is one of them. [Authentic; narrated by Ahmad]
Why is it so important to be distinctive and
different from the disbelievers? For the following reasons:
- a) We Muslims are blessed with the best guidance. The
Guidance from the Lord of lords, from Allaah (T). This gives us true dignity and pride
that no one else has a claim to: Honor belongs to Allaah, to the Messenger, and to the
Believers. [Al- Munaafiqoon (63) 8]
- b) The disbelievers are misguided, and their ways are
based on sick or deviant views concerning their societies, the universe, and their very
existence. Their actions frequently reflect their deviant opinions. Why then would anyone
ever think of imitating them? Yet Muslims sometimes do just that - they imitate them in
their most unintelligible acts! The Messenger (S): You [Muslims] will [in future times]
follow the ways of those [disbelieving] nations who preceded you very closely; even if
they enter into the hole of a lizard you would follow them into it.
- c) There is a substantial amount of evidence in
Islaam leading to the important rule: external agreement or similarity results in real
similarity and agreement of the hearts. Thus, resembling disbelievers is Satan's first
step in leading Muslims to behave and believe like the kuffaar(9).
Differing from the kuffaar is of different levels or
types, some of which are more important than others. They can be broadly classified as
- Islaam requires us to be different from non-Muslims
in matters which are particular to their beliefs or worships, such as: wearing a cross,
attending their religious services, wearing monks' attires, displaying or valuing their
idols, etc. Imitating the kuffaar in such matters constitutes a major sin which is most
possibly a form of disbelief that leads to permanent abode in the Hell Fire (may Allaah
(T) save us).
- Islaam requires us to be different from the kuffaar
in matters which are representative of them or are characteristic of their identity, even
if the religious aspect were not apparant in such matters. Examples of this type of
requirements: growing beards and trimming moustaches, dying white hair, not to totally
abandon women in their menses, etc.
- Matters which can be classified under the above two
types should be treated similarly, even if there is no specific text to require such
treatment. Examples: wearing the Western hat or wedding bands, carrying pictures of family
members, walking dogs, wasting time in watching sports games and soap operas, etc.
- As for other matters which are done by the kuffaar
but are not specific to them, the above texts inform us that we should still try to be
distinctive from them as much as possible.
- What is stated above should not be taken to mean, for
instance, that we should not learn the sciences or use technology because the kuffaar are
currently its leaders. Islaam requires us to learn and benefit from such forms knowledge,
and this does not have to do with the subject of being different from the disbelievers.
Holidays Are Part of the Complete Deen
After the above lengthy discussion which, as stated
earlier, is meant to provide general guidelines concerning celebrations and other related
matters, we come back to apply what we have learnt so far to the subject at hand.
Prophet Muhammad (S) once saw the Ansaar celebrating
a certain day. He inquired about that and was informed: This is one of two days that we
used to celebrate in Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islaamic ignorance) and we continue to do so. He
replied: Nay! Allaah has substituted for you two better days: the day of al-Fitr and
the day of al-Adhhaa. [Authentic; narrated by Ahmad, an-Nasaaee, and others]
In addition to these two days, the Jumu ah (Friday)
is an eid day. The Prophet (S) said: This is a day which Allaah has designated as an
eid for Muslims. [Authentic] From this and the previous hadeeth, we conclude that
Muslims have only three eid days, a weekly eid every Friday, and two annual eids, al-Fitr
Also, Islaam instructs us as to how to celebrate our
eids. No fasting is allowed on these days (Friday is excepted under certain conditions).
On eid days, Muslims take a bath and wear their best clothes. They avoid all forms of
sinning which people tend to commit when they are in a state of rejoice. The major part of
the celebration is not eating or drinking. Rather, it is a prayer which gathers Muslims
together to remember Allaah's bounties and to chant His glory and greatness.
It becomes clear then that Allaah alone has the
- to prescribe eids and to set their dates, and
- to prescribe the manner of celebrating them.
Imitating Non-Muslims in Celebrations
The evidence from the Qur aan and the Sunnah is
quite clear in that eids are distinctive features for every nation. Allaah (T) said (what
means): To every people we have appointed [its own] rites and ceremonies. [al-Hajj (22)
34/67] And it was shown in the previous section that eids are purely religious occasions
As discussed earlier, Allaah (T) and His Messenger
(S) have warned us against following or imitating non-Muslims in things which are
characteristic of their religions or beliefs. This is more emphasized in the case of their
eids or occasions, which always hold some religious or ideological non-Islaamic meanings,
and on which the kuffaar indulge in many evil practices. Differing from them on such
occasions includes the following:
- Staying completely away from the kuffaar's
celebrations. This means to avoid places where they perform their holiday practices and to
avoid participating with them in such practices (Christmas and New Year parties, Halloween
trick-and-treat nonsense, Thanksgiving celebration and dinner, Fourth of July fireworks,
First of April lies, birthday parties, anniversaries, etc).
- Avoiding doing, ourselves, things which pertain to
the practices of the kuffaar on such occasions (allowing Christmas trees in our homes or
offices, inviting our friends to a Turkey dinner on Thanksgiving day, allowing members of
our families to purchase or borrow Halloween attires, holding birthday or anniversary
parties for our family members, etc).
- Avoiding to congratulate the kuffaar on their
occasions. For, How can we bring ourselves to congratulate or wish people well for their
disobedience to Allaah (T)? Thus expressions such as: happy Thanksgiving, happy birthday,
happy New Year, etc, are completely out. The only possible happiness is in true imaan!
- Avoiding to celebrate our eids in a way which is
meant to copy the ways of the kuffaar (mingling and shaking hands between men and women,
improper cover for both genders, etc).
- Avoiding to initiate certain occasions or eids in
imitation to theirs (the Day of the Earth, the Day of Iowa Muslims, etc.)
Bid'ahs and Sinning on Eids
It has been shown above that eids are meant to be
purely Islaamic occasions and practices. They are not liable to the innovation or
disobedience of people. The warnings concerning bid'ahs (and sinning in general) clearly
applies to them. Thus:
- Celebrating so called Islaamic occasions other than
the three days prescribed by Allaah is a bid'ah which is rejected by Islaam, because it
consists of introducing new rites and worships which only Allaah or His Messenger (S) have
the right to do. This applies to occasions like the Prophet's Birthday, the Hijri New
Year's Day , the Middle of Sha'baan and the like.
- ntroducing certain baseless practices during the
three legitimate days is also a bid'ah. On these days, people choose, for instance, to
visit graveyards and distribute sweets there, to read specific portions of the Qur aan, to
specify the preceding night for extended worship, and to do other things which have no
- Committing all sorts of innovations and sins in
imitation to the kuffaar and the ignorant Muslims is obviously a combination of bid'ahs
and other forms of disobedience which are emphasized by that people get involved in them
at the time when they are supposed to be performing a purely religious worship.
To preserve our identity and our dignity, and to
attain Allaah's love and acceptance (which means peace and happiness in this life and
ultimate prosperity in the Hereafter), let us adhere to what pleases Him as he instructed
in His Book or in His Messenger's Sunnah; and remember: eids and celebrations are no
exception to that. We ask Allaah for guidance.
- Abd - Devoted servant and worshipper.
- Bid'ah - Innovation in the creed or in acts of
- The foregoing paragraphs are a translation of Khutbat
ul-Haajah (the Sermon of Need) with which the Messenger (S) used to start his speeches and
which he was keen to teach hs companions.
- Eids - Holidays and other recurring events.
- Deen - The reliigion od Islaam practised as a
complete way of life.
- Qiblah - The Direction (of Al-Ka'bah) faced by
Muslims in prayer.
- Jannah Gardens of Paradise
- Aayah - A portion of the Qur'an which is usually
about one sentence long.
- Kuffar - Those who reject Islam - disbelievers.