Question # 148: Can you accept a dinner invitation from a non-Muslim friend at his house? Especially if this dinner invitation is made to celebrate a non-Muslim religious occasion?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: The basic principle is that it is permissible to accept gifts/ invitations from non-Muslims, so as to soften their hearts and make Islam attractive to them. However, it is forbidden for a Muslim to accept invitations on the occasion of their religious festivals because it implies taking part in their celebrations. Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices; whether one does it out of politeness or to be friendly, or because one is too shy to refuse, this is regarded as hypocrisy in Islam.
Long Answer: It is said in Fataawaa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah that “…if …relationship [with non-Muslims is] based on selling or buying, or accepting an invitation to eat halal food, or accepting a gift of something that is permissible, for example, without that having an influence on the Muslim, then this is permitted and it is permissible to eat the food offered by a [non-Muslim] to a Muslim if the food and drink are halal… If this will help to convey the message of Islam, this is a stronger reason why these invitations should be accepted and these relationships upheld, and there is more hope that there will be a reward in this case.”
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) accepted the invitation of a Jewish woman and ate her food. In his Sahih, al-Bukhari included a chapter entitled ‘Chapter on Accepting Gifts from Mushrikeen’, in which he (may Allah have mercy on him) said: Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that Ibrahim (عليه السلام) travelled with Sarah and entered a village in which there was a king or a tyrant. He (the king) said: Give her Haajir (the mother of Isma’il). And the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was given as a gift a (roast) sheep in which there was poison. And Abu Humayd said: The king of Aylah gave the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) a white mule and a cloak. And he quoted the story of the Jewish woman who gave the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) the poisoned sheep.
So, the basic principle is that it is permissible to accept gifts/ invitations from non-Muslims, so as to soften their hearts and make Islam attractive to them.
[However,] “…it is forbidden for a Muslim to accept invitations on the occasion [of their religious festivals], because this is worse than congratulating [or greeting] them as it implies taking part in their celebrations.
Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the [disbelievers] by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtidaa’ al-siraat al-mustaqeem mukhaalifat ashaab al-jaheem: “Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices…”
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…” (Majmoo’ah Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)
(Most part of the above reply is based on various answers provided by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.