WE DON’T WISH YOU, A MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The article is a translative effort done by an erudite student of knowledge, it is not my own content rather I took his permission to share this. May Allah bless him and the shaikh for their efforts.

The Venerable al-Shaykh Kareem Hilmee, may Allah Preserve him and all of the carriers of sacred-knowledge, says:

All forms of praise are due to Allah Alone, and may He Send Mercy and Blessings on His Final Messenger the Prophet ﷺ, as to what follows:

Congratulating the Christians for their yearly celebrations which are of religious-stock is forbidden by the agreement of the scholars of Islam within their respective schools of Fiqh. From the scholars who have transmitted this consensus is the quintessential verifier Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, despite the fact that this motif does not require such an explicit verdict for the scholars of sacred knowledge, intelligence and those of impartiality.

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From the basest of most base of misinterpretations is one that supposedly traces itself back to al-Imam Ahmed and his Ashaab/companions (whether by proximity, or those that followed in his footsteps) that it is not forbidden. This has become popular for a specific set of individuals that delve in matters that do not concern them, nor are their areas of expertise. Rather, there is no statement from the Imam, or his companions that mirrors this to begin with; and perhaps this may be due to the fact that did not conceive a time would come when the belief-cum-practice of the Muslims would become corrupted due to trials and disfigurement of the spirit and the law of the Shariah.

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As for that which is mentioned in the books of the school in regard to congratulating the Ahlil Dhimmah (people of covenants within the Muslim polity), then this is entirely predicated on affairs that revolve around their worldly life (i.e. no religious significance). The companions give examples like congratulating on a child being born. And there is no explicit statement of the Imam to begin with on the issue of felicitations, whether in matters of religious significance or worldly affairs; rather there are competing statements of the Imam in regard to visiting the ill from the people of covenants. As for that which is preponderant, then it is allowance; especially if it is coupled with the hope of his conversion to Islam, and doors of calling them to Islam are open to them. However that which is authenticated by the companions of the school, and that which is the relied-upon stance is the opposite; and that is the forbiddance of visiting them. Building upon this stance, two competing views are constructed in regard to the attendance of their wakes, and the issue of felicitations. And this has been mentioned by al-Qadhi Abi Ya’la, in his work al-Riwayatan wal Wajhayn, and by al-Muffaq ibn Qudamah, and the Shaarih, Ibn Abi Umar and other. This is despite the fact that the authenticated construction is that the Imam has two explicit statements in regard to visiting them for the purpose of their wake, and the issue of congratulations is extracted from the same source.

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It is very clear that the issue of congratulating them, that is being debated is merely on visiting and there is no intention of congratulating them for their religious symbols and customs of disbelief. And this appears ostensibly in their predication on how and why they constructed these rulings. As they tend to predicate the forbiddance on the fact it necessitates respecting, and creating mutual bonds of acceptance, and creates love (editor note; between Islam and kufr). And they did not bother mentioning the issue of the affirmation of evil, and abandoning its mechanisms for policing, or anything from this general motif, which are far greater in potency in terms of their prohibition. And this is why Ibn al-Qayyim, the verifier explicitly states that the difference of opinion only revolves around congratulating for their worldly affairs. Therefore the relied upon view of the school is that the visiting of the people of covenants and consoling them for their grief, and congratulating them for their successes in the worldly affairs is not permitted. And there is another competing construction that is considered abandoned (for the madhab) that allows such an action (greeting for purely worldly matters), even if it could be considered strong due to other proofs.

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And if we supposed that there was this existence of this competing construction that allows the congratulating of the re-occurring religious holidays, and one of the companions of the school mentioned it in passing or extracted it from an evidence, as is the practice of some of them; then it would be an outlandish construction. And it is not allowed to operationalise this verdict, nor is it allowed to give fatwa based off of it, and presenting it as a view of the Imam or his school. And how could it be so and al-Imam Ahmed was known for his strictness in these regards particularly amongst the colossal Imams of the religion?! And his school without any difference of opinion, holds the non-allowance of initiating greetings with the disbelievers, in addition to the fact of the non-allowance of statements such as how are you? Good morning/evening and its like, without disagreement. And the lack of allowance for witnessing/participating in their festivals, without disagreement. Let us raise the stakes. It was from the personality of the Imam that if he saw a Christian he would close his eyes, and say: I cannot bear to look upon the one who falsely imputes lies upon Allah and Lies in His Name. So how could a deceiver, weave his deception and claim there is a possibility that the Imam allowed a person to congratulate them for their festivals?!

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Grasping onto straws in this manner, and mixing and matching between things that do not accept such unholy union is unacceptable. And delving into the detailed machinations of the madhab in this fashion for a person who is not someone devoted to its axioms and ancillary cogs, and the operationalisation of its parameters is absolutely untenable except for those from its fountain.

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Similarly, the generality of the companions who spoke with the obligation of preventing them from visceral celebrations, which are of a religious nature, and the obligation of forbidding such things; and this was mentioned by Ibn Abi Umar in his Sharh al Kabeer and by others.

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Al-Saffareeni mentions in his Gadhaa al-Albaab: and that which they manifest of evil in public grounds according to our Shariah, then it behoves that they should be forbidden from such. And they are to be prevented from procuring that which annoys the Muslims, such as engaging in vices, and not limited to consumption of alcohol, swine, festivals, crosses and bells”. And this was at a time when the Muslims had a breath of eeman, honour and glory, that they were annoyed by the presence and manifestation of disbelief! And that which has been mentioned is the view of the generality of the scholars from every strata and epoch, and the vast majority of them were quite strict in matters lesser than this, and we do not wish to lengthen this reply with their excessive quotations.

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And from the strangest of affairs after all of these charades, that some of these “more-literal than the literalists” folk argue by way of a lack of citations. In that there are no explicit statements from the great scholars in this particular, ancillary ruling (i.e. congratulating the disbelievers in their religious festivals). And it is similar to the statement of the person who argues that the consensus on this issue is not correct, because a lack of an unequivocal statement from the Quran or the Sunnah on this very particular issue. It is as if they imagine that the proof they seek, and its source is restricted to unequivocal statements in small thing. It is not worth expending oxygen pursuing further conversation.

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And it is important at this juncture to realise that the reason that this activity is forbidden is due to the affirmation of their manifestation of evil, permeated with their major disbelief, and silence upon it, with the added bonus of manifesting acceptance of it, even if it is an ambiguous gesture. And this is present here without a doubt, and no person of sound intelligence would stutter on such an event. Let us take a hypothetical.

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Suppose one day you are coming back from work, and you hear a bit of an uproar, and your neighbour is insulting your father openly for all to see, attacking his honour and character. Could you fathom the possibility of you walking across his lawn to greet him politely, shake his hand and congratulate him on some affair?! And then a few flimsy, sub-par excuses are presented such as my congratulations for him does not mean I agree with his disrespectful behaviour before. And you should have asked what was in my heart when I was greeting him etc etc etc!!!

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And to Allah, the Most High, the Most Exalted are the greatest of descriptions. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah the Most Superior said, “The son of Adam slights Me, and he should not slight Me, and he disbelieves in Me, and he ought not to do so. (Found in al-Bukhari and other collections). As for his slighting me, it is in their statements that: Allah has taken offspring.

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And these people in their celebrations sing hymns, engage in worship, all of it revolving around insulting Allah, and being happy with such a process. They speak about the birth of the son of God, and that he died and was resurrected, and other lies. Then would a sane Muslim argue the allowance of such an action?!

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Another matter which is included in our discourse is the issue of congratulating them with words which are bereft of religious connotations. Such as if a person was to mention on such a day things like; I wish you the best, may Allah Make you happy, etc; then I’m honestly not sure how a person could argue that the reason they spoke in such a way at this particular time and place, is in no way connected to their kufri festivals, and that which is connected to their celebrations, and that which permeates it from non-Islamic injunctions to the committing of shirk, and cursing Allah may He Be Glorified, and the person’s acceptance of this.

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And arguing more on this point with a person is pure mental gymnastics and sophistry. And if a person was to be just to themselves, they would see this whirlpool. And I do not know any person, that turns to debate in matters like this, and spreads it like the plague amongst the laity of the Muslims, when they are already drowning in the far-reaching effects of fluid battle-ground of liberalism, and secularism. So he initiates this and ignores that?! And the complacency found within the further promoting closer bonds with the Mushrikeen, and arguing for the correctness of their ways and beliefs!

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And it is known from that which has preceded that the reason for the prohibition, that the congratulating of a Muslim for another Muslim with a new years greeting, and those think like it, which shares barely any resemblance to the pagan festivals and agreeing with them in some form over it, is outside of our demarcations, and this is indeed a separate issue entirely. Even if there are those from the scholars that were strict in this also, such as the Malikiyyah as per their regulations around innovations, as is narrated in al-M’iyaar al-Mu’arrab, from the chain of Yahya ibn Yahya al-Suhnun, that he said, it is not allowed to gift someone something for their birthday, whether Christian or Muslim, or accepting their invitation, or preparing anything towards it. And it behoves this person to treat these days like any normal day of his life.

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If addition, if we were to argue for the sake of argument that a Christian on these days, was approached with certain phrases, such as may Allah Guide you to Islam, or may Allah Save you from your shirk. Then this does not enter our area of research to begin with, as it does not conform with any form of congruence with their festivals.

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And if it was said: Isn’t the substance and the thrust of your thesis in expanding these rulings, leading to problematic outcomes such as making people flee from Islam, and exceptional strictness, and abandoning dawah based on goodness, and making it easier for the souls to more readily accept it?

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Then we say: There is a fine line between goodness and excellence, and not making people flee from the religion, AND affirming evil, and remaining silent upon its manifestation, and complacency in falsehood!

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The Prophet ﷺ was not strict or hard-hearted, but he still ordered for the adulterer to be stoned, and for the thief to have their hand cut off, and prohibited that we initiate greetings of peace with the Jews and the Christians, and ordered for their paths to be separated on the streets. Rather, lightness and softness in its rightful place is true excellence, and in its unrightful place, it is considered sycophancy and humiliation. And there is no conflict here between giving dawah in goodness, and inducing the souls to acceptance, and between what the Shariah came with in terms of prohibitions for initiating Salams, or congratulating them for their festivals and things of that nature. For if a person wanted, they could easily be courteous, and excellent towards them, and struggle through these endeavours, and give them naseehah predicated on softness and gentleness, without the need to contravene the rulings of the Shariah, with its wise injunctions.

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And if a wise person was to ponder over these affairs, they would come to realise that removing the boundaries of the religion, and mitigating the presence and effect of these masaa’il, and becoming lackadaisical with them, actually leads to the weakening of the Ummah of Islam, more than improving it. And in reality, many of those who bounce in between and around these ideas without clout, due to their faux-beliefs that being soft, kind, and courteous, and attempting to change the hearts and minds, then for these folk entire lifetimes pass them by, and they will not speak with one syllable actually calling them to Islam. And for a person to presumptuously assume a person just by giving them “seasonal greetings”, or congratulating them on their festivals, and this will be a primary mover in terms of saving them, and bringing them to Islam, then this is how the minds of children work.

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And this is why from the childishness and playing with knowledge without due right is when a person disconnected the contextual backdrop of the tradition of the religion, and zeroes in on only being “nice/courteous” to the people of the book and sharing tables with them, and making dua’a for them in terms of bringing good upon them and things like it, then this is simply playing with the tenants of the religion, fanciful decorations and confounding masaa’il.

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And if it said: these actions are not done in light of being pleased with their actions.

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We say: if it was with being pleased with it, then this would have been disbelief from the get-go. However, our discourse primary revolves around the presentation of evil, being silent upon it, abandoning its prohibition, and manifestation a form of acceptance towards it. And Shaykhul Islam al-Bulqini was asked (May Allah’s Mercy shroud him): if a Muslim says to a person of the covenant on the day of their Eid, something like congratulations on your festival! Does this person disbelieve? He replied: if this Muslim said it to this Dhimmi, upon the intention of wishing to honour their rites, and religion, or their celebration, then they have disbelieved. And if he does not intend this, and he just happened to say it, haphazardly, then he does not disbelieve because he did not intend the action. And this does not mean it is allowed! Rather what is being examined is whether it is disbelief or not, as is apparent, and the slip of the tongue without an intention, due to culture or custom, where the Muslims are put to trial with such things, and a person made such a statement (congratulations!), without the intention of congratulations, or acceptance (being pleased with it), then this person does not sin nor do they disbelieve.

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And if it is said: Christians congratulate Muslims on their Eid’s, and this does not necessitate from them that they accept our religion. We reply: as eloquently stated by the venerable Shaykh Abdul Aziz al-Tarifi (may Allah Free him): it is not allowed to congratulate the Christian on the day of Christmas, even if they congratulate you for Islam’s religious festivals. Allah’s Injunctions are not something that can be exchanged and bartered. It is not for you to honour an idol, just because the idol-worshipper entered the masjid with you.

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& then we say: This action from the Christian is not in accordance with their religious conduct, even if their rites have been contaminated with extrapolations and fabrications. Rather the scholars of the Christians, and their council do not generally allow such behaviour. And this is not allowed in between their differing sects, then what about different religions altogether?! And if it is clear that the mere action of a Christian does not necessitate that it is accepted within their Church, then would a person testify to the equivalence of truth and falsehood?! (Nay)!

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As has preceded, our examination does not revolve around the acceptance of their religion, as this is clear disbelief and apostasy. Rather we are examining the issue of affirmation of their evil, and abandoning the calling out of their evil. And if a Muslim was to engage in their Eid al-Adha rites, and sacrifice their animal to Allah, and then we were to suppose their Christian neighbour was to come, smile in his face, shake his hands and say, كل عام وأنتم بخير. <I hope you are well, now and always> Then we would not understand except from this, acceptance to some degree, even if it is only apparent and not explicit. And that he sees this action from the Muslim, and does not show dismay as to the spectacle present, even if it is only on the surface (editor’s note: i.e. the Christian in this scenario has no ulterior motive, except to congratulate them on their Eid); and he doesn’t show any dismay to the public nature of the spectacle from the Muslims.

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And this is truly where our area of investigation lies. Even though the Muslims in their religious festivals, do not speak with shirk, or engage in actions which are considered to be base to begin with, so no form of equivalency applies!

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And it is Allah from whom we seek Aid!

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Indeed to Allah we belong and to Him, we shall return.

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