Question # 194: As salaam u alaikum. Is it appropriate to celebrate with or wish non-Muslims on their religious festivals like Easter, Diwali, Christmas? In today’s society, is it permissible to wish them on media platforms like WhatsApp/twitter although one does not agree with their beliefs and customs? Will it not be shirk to wish or celebrate Easter or Christmas or Diwali with non-Muslim friends?
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: Greeting non-Muslims on the occasion of their religious festivals is haraam (prohibited) by consensus. Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the disbelievers by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts. Imitating them in their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices. So, if a Muslim is greeted by “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Easter”, “Happy Diwali” or such other phrase, he/she could say: thank you (for example) or simply change the topic of the conversation to avoid replying to the greetings or if possible try explaining to the other party, the reason he/she does not believe in it, in a very kind and nice way, and without injuring others` feelings.
Long Answer: From the Majmoo’ah Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen: “Greeting non-Muslims on the occasion of their religious festivals is haraam (prohibited), by consensus, as Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah: “Congratulating the disbelievers on the rituals that belong only to them is haraam by consensus… 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 or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allah (swt).” [In fact, responding with similar greeting would mean congratulating the disbelievers on a practice that is related to a belief that Allah has clearly called shirk].
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-Islaam 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, and because it makes the disbelievers feel proud of their religion. Allah 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.”
According to Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, “So, if a Muslim is greeted by saying “Merry Christmas” to him, he could say: thank you (for example). If it is possible to explain to the other party why he does not believe in Christmas, he should do so in a very kind and nice way, and without injuring others` feeling. Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo says: “what I found worked fine for me… was simply to change the topic of the conversation. If they greeted me with merry Christmas, I would say something like, “So how have you been…” If they departed with merry Christmas, I would say something like, “I hope to see you again soon.”” (Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)
Moreover, the following brief description of the festivals specifically mentioned in the question, shows their origin and also reflects the beliefs which are contradictory to Islam from the point of shirk as well as Qur’anic evidences:
Diwali is celebrated to honor Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (considered to be the incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana.
Easter Sunday is celebrated by many Christians as the day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, which is written in the New Testament of the Christian bible. According to the Gospel of John in the New Testament, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where Jesus was buried and found it empty. An angel told her that Jesus had risen. (In fact, Muslims believe Jesus (as) was not crucified in the first place, rather was raised bodily to heaven by Allah (سبحانه و تعالى); therefore, the issue of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus (as) is rejected by Muslims. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.”(Soorah an-Nisa’a))
Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe to be the Son of God. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on 25th December was in 336 AD, during the time of the Constantine (the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.
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.