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Is it acceptable for muslims to mark festivals of other religions (particularly, given the time of year, Christmas)?

Does our acceptance of these 'holy days' give legitimacy to beliefs which, as Muslims we know to be clearly false?

Or should we once again put our feelings to one side in order to maintain harmony (with neighbors who don't afford the same respect towards us)?

Thank you brothers for your views & answers

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I saw this question and felt it was not similar. The questioner was asking whether it was ok to share gifts with non-believers in a non-religious gathering during the christmas period... Whereas I'm asking whether we should mark any non-islamic religious festival, even when we know that there's no basis for doing this. (i.e. send christmas cards) –  Hanif Nov 29 '12 at 21:35
    
I was always told it was not by some imams, but they did not provide citation, and they're usually not very tolerant types. Christmas is being increasingly recognized today as a secular holiday. –  Muz Nov 30 '12 at 4:18

3 Answers 3

Oh come on... You just rotated this question 'What would my Non Muslim friends feel if I don't celebrate their festivals? Isn't that bad?'

to

'Is there any possibility that we can celebrate their festivals so that we don't hurt their feelings?'

There are many a places in the Qur'an which say that we should not make even friendship with the non Muslims (Read more here). And this question is about celebrating their festivals?.

The thing is Qur'an and Hadith want us to behave in a neutral way with them i.e. don't incline towards them, nor misbehave with them but to treat them justly.

So, in our case, staying neutral means not celebrating their festivals thereby not encouraging them, and at the same time we should not stop them from celebrating them. They have their rights (I'm talking about in a non-Islamic country especially).

About maintaining harmony?

I don't understand.... By just simply refusing to celebrate their festivals in a polite way, how is it at all considered 'not maintaining harmony'?

And acceptance of 'Holy days' or is it 'Holidays'? It would be cool to accept them as Holidays rather than 'Holy days'. By simply recognizing them as 'Holy days' Holidays doesn't mean we have to recognize them as 'Holy Days' too. As and always, we recognize them as Holy days just because we respect others and their feelings. That's it. That by no means, mean that we are supposed to celebrate those festivals along with the Non Muslims.

And "Isn't that bad?". Yes, it should be bad. Because at least by that refusal which they get, they will someday recognize what they were doing was wrong or they had/have to upgrade (in case of legitimate festivals like Christmas, although it is legitimate, there are no rulings in Islam that we recognize and celebrate it. Although there are places like the day of Ashura where Prophet (pbuh) finally said it is optional to fast on that day as our ancestors 'Jews' did because it was a happy day for them).

May the creator guide us all.

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The prophet PBUH said:

نْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رَضِيَ الله عَنْهُ قَالَ: كَانَ لأَهْلِ الجَاهِلِيَّةِ يَوْمَانِ فِي كُلِّ سَنَةٍ يَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا فَلَمَّا قَدِمَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ المَدِينَةَ قَالَ: "كَانَ لَكُمْ يَوْمَانِ تَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا وَقَدْ أَبْدَلَكُمُ الله بِهِمَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمَا: يَوْمُ الفِطْرِ وَيَوْمُ الأَضْحَى" أخرجه النسائي (1 / 231) ، والطحاوي في "مشكل الآثار" (2 / 211) ، وأحمد (3 / 103 , 178 , 235 , 250)

It was reported that the prophet PBUH said: In the days of Jahilia, there were 2 days a year that people used to celebrate and when the Prophet PBUH came into the Madina, he said you used to have 2 days to celebrate and Allah replaced them with 2 days that are better, Aldhua and Alfitr days.

There is also another hadith:

مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ ، وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ قَوْمًا حُشِرَ مَعَهُمْ " .

A person who does similar acts to certain people he is one of them, and whomever loves certain people he is risen with them in the day of Judgment.

Those two hadiths (and similar ones) are the ones some scholars use to say that it is not allowed to celebrate other holidays.

Personally, I think that if the celebrations are not religious in nature, it is fine. For example, the prophet celebrated the Day Allah saved Moses from the Jewish culture because we are more of his followers then they are.

Also keep in mind that the Majority of Muslims are Non-Arab and there are many converts and the only time they get to meet their family and friends (even Arab Muslims) except on National holidays.

Additionally, say celebrating "days" is OK but not holidays. For example many scholars said it was OK to celebrate national Labor day or independent day. From such ruling you can infer that any celebration that does not have to do with religion (ex: Christmas, Hanukkah or Halloween). There are many days people celebrate which have nothing to do with religion like Birthdays, thanksgiving, secretary day, etc.. Which I personally think it is OK to participate in.

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Briefly speaking concerning your inquiry(s):

Is it acceptable for Muslims to mark festivals of other religions (particularly, given the time of year, Christmas)?

Does our acceptance of these 'holy days' give legitimacy to beliefs which, as Muslims we know to be clearly false?

Or should we once again put our feelings to one side in order to maintain harmony (with neighbors who don't afford the same respect towards us)?

You ought to pay heed to this significant issue that as a brief answer, on the whole, attending in such celebrations which are related to non-Muslim customs, it is counted as a haram act. Because the attendance of Muslims can demonstrate their celebrations as a true action and actually you’d confirm their practices by attending in such celebrations. In regard to your question “Does our acceptance of these 'holy days' give legitimacy to beliefs which, as Muslims we know to be clearly false?”, the answer is that our acceptance would give legitimacy to beliefs of them. Then we should avoid attending in such celebrations in order to demonstrating that we do not counted it as a righteous celebration.

Conclusion:

Celebrating religious festivals of non Muslims are not allowed in Islam, and it is the duty of the Muslims not to attend in such celebrations in order to demosntrating that their practices are not true from our view (Islam), because we are Muslims and we have to observe some issues, since in truth, each of us can be considered as a Representative of Islam who ought to be aware in observing many Islamic related acts.

Reference:

http://www.islamquest.net/fa/archive/question/ar21877 in Persian (Farsi)

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