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Celebrations Festivities in Islam

Written by Moulana M. Ilyas Patel
Source: Al-Haadi

Human beings by nature wish to express their joy and happiness. They seek occasions to celebrate and enjoy themselves. As a natural religion, Islam has catered for this need by declaring the days of Eid as days of celebration. In fact Islam has made it compulsory to celebrate. This is clearly understood from the fact that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has even prohibited fasting on these days. One is encouraged to wear one's best clothes and to feast within moderate limits.

While the days of Eid are days of celebration, a Mu'min's celebration is one which takes him closer to Allah Ta'ala. The night of Eid is a night of ibaadah. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: "The one who will keep alive the nights of the two Eids (by remaining awake to engage in extra ibaadah), his heart will not die on the day (of Judgement) when other hearts will die" (Targheeb). Daily the servant of Allah performs the five Salaah. On the day of their celebration they proceed for an extra Salaah — the Eid Salaah. En-route to the Eid Salaah they are engrossed in the recitation of takbeer. It is also a day of engaging in excessive dua. Thus while a Muslim also celebrates, his celebration is a means of getting closer to Allah Ta'ala at every moment.

On the contrary, during the celebrations of those who are devoid of Imaan many people even take leave of their intelligence. Hence that time of the year is called the "silly season." Crime rockets, drinking and getting drunk is almost the norm, etc. Such "celebrations" are worlds apart from the celebrations of Muslims.

While Muslims have no control over what others do, the crucial question is how do Muslims respond to the celebrations of people of other creeds? Do they join them? Can they merely "watch" what is going on? This should be considered in the light of the directives of the Qur'an and Sunnah.

In this regard Allah Ta'ala declares: "And do not incline towards those who have oppressed themselves (by means of committing shirk (idolatry) or else you will be afflicted by the fire" (Surah Hud). "Inclination" pertains to all aspects — beliefs, customs, worship, celebrations and generally in their way of life.

Furthermore, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: "The one who adds to the numbers of a people is counted as being among them (i.e. he is one of them)" (Kanzul Ummaal).

Having considered the abovementioned Aayat and Hadith, let us consider the reality of some of the celebrations of the kuffaar. The World Book Dictionary defines Christmas in the following manner: "1. The yearly celebration of the birth of Christ; December 25. Christmas is marked by special Church services, giving of gifts and sending of greetings. 2. The religious and festive season before and after Christmas day."

As for New Year's Day, the World Book Encyclopaedia describes it in the following words: "The Roman ruler Julius Caesar established January 1 as New Year's Day in 46 B.C. The Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of gates, doors and beginnings. January was named after Janus, who had two faces - one looking forward and the other looking backward. The early Romans gave each other New Year's gifts of branches from sacred trees. In later times, they gave coins, imprinted with pictures of Janus, or gold covered nuts."

Likewise, Easter is described as: "The yearly celebration of the day on which Christ rose from the grave."

The abovementioned definitions make it abundantly clear that these are "religious" celebrations — religions which are baatil (false) and are steeped in kufr and shirk. It could therefore be said that these are celebrations of kufr and shirk. Participation in such celebrations is certainly "inclination" towards such people. It also clearly adds to the numbers of such people. Therefore this is extremely dangerous for one's Imaan. Muslims should therefore entirely shun participating in such celebrations.

Shunning participation in such celebrations should not be confused with being unjust to any person or treating him wrongly. Rather there is great emphasis in Islam on the treating every human being with kindness. Even prisoners were treated by the Sahaaba (R.A.) as if they were guests. Indeed, while kindness will be shown to every human, there will be no participation or inclination to his beliefs, customs and way of life.

Sometimes, many people, due to not having reflected on the implications, unwittingly become involved in supporting celebrations of kufr and shirk. The following are some of the ways in which such "passive" participation or support takes:

*Advertising "Christmas," "New Year" or "Easter" sales (or any other religious celebrations). There is no harm in having a sale or advertising "specials" at any time of the year. Why must it be a "sale" in the name of a celebration of shirk.

* Giving "Christmas" gifts to customers, staff, etc. This is tantamount to celebrating Christmas. Instead, without making it customary, give a gift at the time of Eid. Eid is our celebration. Bring alive the message of Eid.

* Selling items which are specific to kuffaar celebrations. Allah Ta'ala has prohibited us from assisting in acts of sin and transgression. Therefore one must refrain from selling items such as Christmas trees or decorations, Easter eggs and "hot-cross-buns" at the time of Easter, fireworks during Diwali, etc.

* Remaining awake till midnight on 31 December "to see in the new year." A Mu'min's new year is on the first of Muharram. The first of January is the new year of those who believe in the "God of Gates" — Allah is pure from such shirk. One should not observe such customs which are steeped in idolatry. May Allah Ta'ala keep us all steadfast on Deen and protect us from following the ways of His enemies. Aameen.