Christmas and New Year are around the corner. Everyone is getting ready with all the decorations. Let’s celebrate, congratulate our friends and have some fun. But have we ever stopped for an instant and thought is all that halal? Or are we just following the crowd? Have we ever stopped and thought what are we celebrating or congratulating our friends on?
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said in Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah: “Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is haram by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and feasts by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on. 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 Allaah.”
Adh-Dhahabi said: “If the Christians have a festival and the Jews have a festival, then that is exclusively for them, so no Muslim should join them in that as he does not join them in their religion or their direction of prayer.”
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is not permissible for the Muslims to imitate them in any way that is unique to their festivals, whether it be food, clothes, bathing, lighting fires or refraining from usual work or worship, and so on. And it is not permissible to give a feast or to exchange gifts or to sell things that help them to celebrate their festivals, or to let children and others play the games that are played on their festivals, or to adorn oneself or put up decorations.”
In general, congratulating non-Muslims on their religious festivals is haram (forbidden), as this implies that one accepts their rituals for them, even though one doesn’t accept these to oneself. Just as we don’t accept it for ourselves we shouldn’t accept or approve it for others. Moreover, the day of their festivals is just an ordinary day for the Muslims and we should not do any activity that is part of what the non-Muslims do on these days
If we do celebrate and congratulate non-Muslims on their beliefs, it’s a way of inventing a new religion. A religion not as the religion the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has taught us. This is a serious case, as The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I will precede you to the Cistern, and men from among you will be brought to me, and when I stretch forth my hand to them, they will be pulled away. I will say, ‘O Lord! My followers!’ and it will be said: ‘You do not know what they innovated after you were gone.”
Congratulating or celebrating non-Muslims’ festivals in a sign of approval on what they believe in and this is a sign of kufr. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them” [Sunan Abu Dawud]
We shouldn’t show the slightest approval for anything that Allah doesn’t approve of. Allah says “If you disbelieve, then verily, Allah is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you” [al-Zumar 39:7]
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother or his neighbor what he loves for himself.” [Saḥīḥ Muslim]. It’s very important to also advice our friends about how important it is to not celebrate these days if we see them celebrating them
What we can do in these days is just treat them as normal regular days. There is really nothing special about them. Enjoy these days the way you would enjoy a weekend. Go out have fun, just don’t celebrate it the way non-Muslims do, don’t congratulate them and mostly don’t accept or give gifts on these days. Let’s enjoy these days without any sins.