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A grace is a short prayer or thankful phrase said before or after eating. The term most commonly refers to Christian traditions. -- Wikipedia

Here's a Catholic example:

Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

There's an implication of shirk in this passage, which is obviously unacceptable in Islam.

In my experience, ordinarily the host (or one of the hosts) will stand up and say grace, while the remaining people bow their heads and remain silent.

Question: What can a Muslim do when dining with Christian friends who say grace?

I don't want to be unfriendly nor disrespectful, nor obstinate in religious matters. It seems like I could mentally replace "Christ" with "God", which seems like it would make the passage Muslim appropriate. Alternatively, I could say something like "in the name of God" (basically Bismillah in English), which would probably be not too off-putting.

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    Are you expected to repeat the prayer or just listen to it? – UmH Apr 7 '17 at 8:17
  • It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Just don't join in, if they are your friends, I'm sure they won't mind. – Dinar Apr 7 '17 at 8:20
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    You could say or recite a similar dua' while they are reciting it fir yourself. – Medi1Saif Apr 7 '17 at 8:33
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There are a couple of different Islamic teachings that apply here, and you will have to balance them out:

  • Imitating other religions and participating in their rituals is forbidden(1).
  • Islam has its own rituals relating to eating which you should observe(2).
  • Islam enjoins ihsan (excellence) in all deeds, including in dealing with non-muslims, and that involves kindness and good treatment:

    Quran 60:8 Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

    Quran 29:46 And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him."

    Quran 16:125 Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.

  • When you observe a wrong action, it is permissible to remain silent while condemning it in your heart, the same would apply to an act of shirk:

    I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

If everyone at the table is expected to pray privately or in whisper, then you can join in, making your own Islamic invocation. If people have raised their hands, you may raise your hands according to the Islamic tradition and not the customs of the Christians (hands open and forward).

If one person is going to say the prayer aloud, and the remaining people are expected to silently listen then you can remain silent since that is permitted. You shouldn't raise your hands, nor bow your head, nor say "Amen" with the rest. If they object you can explain your position and offer to excuse yourself till they are done.

If everyone is expected to repeat the prayer, led by a person, then you should not repeat the wordings, nor make the gesture, and should remain silent.

In the last two cases you can optionally, in lieu of Taqwah, wait for the prayer to complete and then in a normal, audible tone recite the Bismillah, or an Islamic invocation. Respect is bilateral and your host or friends should be willing to bear with you when you bear with them ... indeed Bismillah doesn't negate any of their beliefs and is not disrespectful.

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It is haram to take Kaafirs as friends. Allah says in the Qu'ran:

“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliyaa’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Awliyaa’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Awliyaa’), then surely, he is one of them. Verily, Allaah guides not those people who are the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust)”

[al-Maa’idah 5:51]

Here it says that taking Jews and Christians as friends make you one of them.

In this verses below, Allah says that taking kuffaar as friends incurs the wrath of Allah and his eternal punishment.

“You see many of them taking the disbelievers as their Awliyaa’ (protectors and helpers). Evil indeed is that which their ownselves have sent forward before them; for that (reason) Allaah’s Wrath fell upon them, and in torment they will abide.

  1. And had they believed in Allaah, and in the Prophet (Muhammad) and in what has been revealed to him, never would they have taken them (the disbelievers) as Awliyaa’ (protectors and helpers); but many of them are the Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allaah)”

[al-Maa’idah 5:80-81]

Another verse shows this with reason:

“O you who believe! Take not as friends the people who incurred the Wrath of Allaah (i.e. the Jews). Surely, they have despaired of (receiving any good in) the Hereafter, just as the disbelievers have despaired of those (buried) in graves (that they will not be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection)”

[al-Mumtahanah 60:13]

However this applies if there is no fear of harm.

Allah says: “Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Awliyaa’ (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allaah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:28]

So you can be friendly with them if there is danger because of not being friendly. You can make friends with them if there is fear of evil that may arise if you don't. In your case, there is probably no fear so being friends with them is haram.

About your question:

Eating with them is not haram if there is shar'i reason such as inviting them to Islam or to guide them to the truth. In your case, it would be haram as stated in the verses. Saying Grace is imitating the kuffaar and is haram becaude of the hadith:

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.'' (Islam Q&A)

Changing Grace to an Islamic way is haram as it is imitating the kuffaar. Even though you change the words you are still copying the kuffaar in doing the act. You should say the Dua before Eating (Bismillahi wa'laa barakatillah).

However, because you are already friends with them and if you just stop your friendships, they might cause harm to you because it might have hurt their feelings or you fear that they might than in that case it would be allowed to eat with them but you shouldn't enjoy it. The verse below allows this.

“Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Awliyaa’ (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allaah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:28]

Source: Islam Q&A

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