Saying “Merry Christmas”

Can I Say “Merry Christmas” to My non-Muslim Co-Workers, Friends, and Family?

By Jamaal Diwan based on the fatwās of Shaykhs Yusuf al-Qaraḍāwī and Muṣṭafā al-Zarqā1

 

Q:

Is it permissible for me to say “Merry Christmas” to my non-Muslim classmates, friends, family, neighbors, and others this holiday season? Please keep in mind that on the days of Eid they always wish me a “Happy Eid” and even buy me gifts.

 

A:

Allah says in the Quran addressing how Muslims should deal with non-Muslims:

 

“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. Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”2

 

There are also many places in the Quran and Sunna that encourage the Muslim to be of the best of manners. One example of this is the ḥadīth of the Prophet (pbuh) where he said, “The believers with the most complete faith are the ones with the best manners.”3 The Prophet also said, “Verily, I was sent to perfect good character.”4

 

That being said there are a couple of things to take into consideration here. The first is that there is no disagreement between the scholars regarding the impermissibility of celebrating Christmas. It is a religious holiday that is based on beliefs that are against Islam and it is not permissible for Muslims to celebrate it. This is because it goes against the concept of protecting one’s dīn and contradicts the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) which limited Muslim religious holidays to the two Eids. That does not mean that they cannot spend time with their non-Muslim family on such a day if there is a family get together but that is a different issue.

 

As to whether or not one can greet their non-Muslim family and friends with “Merry Christmas” there are two major opinions. The first says that it is impermissible and was held by scholars such as Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn ʿUthaymīn, and others. The second opinion is that it is permissible as long as the intention is to interact with them in the best way possible  without supporting their belief.5 This opinion was held by scholars like Yusuf al-Qaraḍāwī and Muṣṭafā Zarqā. The latter opinion also allows the exchanging of greeting cards on holidays like Christmas as long as the card is free from any sort of religious symbolism.

 

Al-Qaradawi in his fatwā specifically mentions  being aware of the opinion of Ibn Taymiyya, but that he does not agree with it based on the influence of the different times  and  circumstances during  Ibn Taymiyya’s era. Al-Qaradawi speculated that had Ibn Taymiyya lived during the times in which we live and seen the  the importance of good relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, that he would have changed his opinion. Regardless whether that would be the case or not,  it does show that al-Qaradawi was acutely aware of Ibn Taymiyya’s opinion when he gave his fatwā.

 

The argument against saying “Merry Christmas” to one’s family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers is based on the concept that in doing so you are approving of their beliefs in some way. This is simply not the case and saying “Merry Christmas” is nothing more than an act of good societal manners. However, it should be noted that this is not the same as actually celebrating Christmas or other non-Muslim religious holidays. Celebrating these holidays is not allowed but exchanging greetings and even gifts with non-Muslims on them out of companionship and manners is permissible, as long as the gifts themselves are permissible. This is especially the case when those same friends and family greet and exchange gifts with you on the Muslim holidays.

 

In conclusion, in America we need to try and seek a balance between maintaining our identity and the purity of our beliefs while at the same time dealing with our greater society in the best way possible. Therefore, I think the way Muslims in America should deal with this issue depends on their circumstances. An interesting way to understand this predicament is to look at how Jews in America deal with this same question.6 It seems that they have many of the same discussions that we have around this time of year. In general there are a couple of things that we want to try and be aware of at the same time: we want to maintain our identity and belief, we want people to understand Islam as much as possible, we want to respect and appreciate others, we want to treat others in the best way possible, we don’t want to be socially awkward or insular. Different situations will require different responses. Those of us who have non-Muslim families have different situations than those of us who do not. You could reply with a number of different answers, including: “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “As a Muslim I don’t celebrate Christmas”, or “Thank you.  I don’t celebrate Christmas. But merry Christmas to you.” The appropriate answer will depend on the person, the situation, one’s internal intentions, and the perceived intentions of the one they are speaking to.

 

And Allah knows best.

 

*Note

Shaykh al-Ghiryani, a prominent Libyan Maliki scholar, also said that the majority of the Malikis consider it to be disliked. The point in sharing all of this is to show that it is NOT an area of agreement amongst all the scholars.

 

  1. al-Zarqā was one of the great scholars of the modern era and died in 1999. He was well trained in literature, secular law, and Islamic law. He was recognized by his peers as a great scholar and came from a family of prominent scholars which included his father and grandfather. For al-Qaradawi’s fatwā see his book Fī fiqh al-aqalliyyāt and for al-Zarqā’s see his Fatāwā. []
  2. Quran 60:8-9 []
  3. Narrated by Aḥmad, Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Ḥibbān, and al-Ḥākim. []
  4. Narrated by Ibn Sʿad and al-Bukhārī in al-Adab al-Mufrad. []
  5. What is meant by this is not that people are not allowed to believe what they want to believe. They are. What is meant by this is that the Muslim is not agreeing with their belief. []
  6. See: “Wishing Jews a Merry Christmas?”; “How Should a Jew Respond to a ‘Merry Christmas’ Greeting?” []
  7. This was narrated in his book, Akām ahl al-dhimma []

Do I Have to Pray Jumuah When Eid Comes on Friday?

* For a more detailed analysis see Imam Mustafa Umar’s article on his website, mustafaumar.com, here.

 

Q:

If Eid is on a Friday and one attends the Eid prayer are they still required to attend the jumuah prayer?

 

A:

Jumuah prayer is normally required upon men who do not have an excuse which allows them to miss it. However, when Eid falls on Friday there is some discussion between the scholars as to whether or not that counts as an excuse which would allow them to miss the Friday prayer.

Essentially there are two major opinions on this issue. The opinion of the the Hanafi and Maliki schools is that men are still required to pray the Friday prayer even if they attend the Eid prayer on a Friday. The opinion of the Hanbali school is that if men attend the Eid prayer then they are excused from attending the Friday prayer on the same day.

The general principle is that when such an acceptable scholarly difference exists it is permissible for the person to act upon either of the opinions. However, in this case there are a few things to keep in mind:

– It is important for us as a Muslim community in America to give importance to days like Eid and try to make them as festive and memorable as possible. If we do not do this we run the risk of our kids associating positive memories with other religious holidays (like Christmas) and not with the Eids. As such I highly recommend those who can take off work to do so. If one is able to take off work then they should try to attend both the Jumuah and the Eid prayer.

– If one is not able to take off work for the whole day then they should still try to take off for Eid prayer and then simply prayer zuhr instead of taking off again for Jumuah. It is permissible for them to do this as long as they pray the Eid prayer in congregation.

– As a general rule it is better to still pray Jumuah even if one attends the Eid prayer.

May Allah guide us to what is best and fill our hearts with the light of belief.

 

Jamaal Diwan

Fasting Six Days in Shawwal

Merit

The Prophet (pbuh) stated in an authentic hadith, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days from Shawwāl then it will be as if they fasted the entire year.” There are many things that can be benefited from this hadith, a few of them are as follows:

–          It is the practice of the Prophet to fast at least six days in Shawwāl in order to acquire the benefit mentioned in the hadith.

–          Fasting is one of the greatest types of worship and the reward for it is with God, as mentioned in the hadith qudsi, “Fasting is for Me and I reward for it.” Therefore, Ramadan gives us a yearly chance to make fasting part of our regular routine of worship. It is well established that the Prophet (pbuh) used to regularly fast Mondays and Thursdays, as well as the three “white days,” (the middle days of the month when the moon is fullest) and that he would also encourage others to do so as well. If one fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows that with six days in the following month then they are well on their way to establishing fasting as part of their regular routine.

–          The reward of carrying out these fasts is equivalent to fasting the entire year. This is clarified in another tradition where the Prophet (pbuh) reminds us after stating the reward of fasting these days that the reward of good deeds is multiplied by ten. This is one of the secrets behind the reward of this action because in carrying out the fast of Ramadan and six days in Shawwāl the person would have fasted roughly 36 days, which, when multiplied by ten,  equates to 360 days.

 

Make up Missed Days of Ramadan First or Not?

There a couple of things to consider when thinking about this question.

The first is that it is not required to make up missed days of Ramadan immediately. It is necessary that one make them up before the next Ramadan but they may do that at any point throughout the year.

The second issue is that the hadith mentions that the person who fasts Ramadan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month after, then it will be as if they fasted the whole year. This implies that one would have to finish the fasts of Ramadan before starting the six of Shawwāl. As such, a number of scholars required the completion of the missed days of Ramadan before the six of Shawwāl in order to receive the reward mentioned in the hadith. However, this is an area of disagreement amongst the scholars and if the person wants to fast the six days before making up their missed fasts of Ramadan in order to follow the sunnah then that is also okay.

The third issue is as to whether or not one can combine intentions between making up their fasts from Ramadan and fasting the six days of Shawwāl. Some scholars have held that it is permissible to subsume the intention of a voluntary deed under an obligatory one and as such this would be acceptable. However, they also noted that the one who did this for these days would receive the reward of following the sunnah of fasting six days in Shawwāl, but their overall reward would be less than the one who makes up their missed fasts and then fasts the six days.

 

Conclusion

Fasting the six days of Shawwāl is a meritorious sunnah which should be followed as much as possible. The best case scenario is to make up any missed days from Ramadan first and then fast the six days. However, if this is not possible or very difficult upon the person then they can either fast the six days first and then make up their missed days later or combine intentions between making those days up and completing the six days of Shawwāl.

One should also remember that in voluntary fasts the intention is not required from the night before and as long as the intention to fast is made before midday and the person has not done anything up to that point that would invalidate the fast then it is acceptable.

And God knows best.

Recitation for the Deceased

*Translated from al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh by Dr. Wahbah Zuhayli

 

Herein there are several issues for the Legal Scholars.

 

A. There is a consensus amongst the scholars regarding the benefit of the deceased from: dua, and istighfar (seeking forgiveness for them), such as: “Oh Allah! Forgive him. Oh Allah! Have mercy on him.”, and charity, and the carrying out of physical and financial obligations which accept representation such as Hajj. This is according to what Allah says in the Quran, “And those that came before them say: Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in belief.” [59:10]. And what Allah says, “And seek forgiveness for your sins and for the believing men and women” [47:19]. The Prophet PBUH made dua for Abu Salamah when he died, and for the deceased whom he prayed upon in the hadith of ‘Awf ibn Malik, and for all the deceased whom he prayed upon. The Prophet PBUH was asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah, my mother has passed away, will it benefit her if I give charity of her behalf?” Then the Prophet said, “Yes.” {narrated by Abu Dawud}. In another hadith a woman came to the Prophet and said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, the obligation of hajj has found my father in old age, incapable of travel (incapable of remaining of the animal that he would ride), should I make hajj on his behalf?” He said, “If your father had a debt would you pay it?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “The debt of Allah has more of a right to be paid.” {narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasaai}. He also said to someone who asked him, “My mother has passed away and she was required to fast one month, should I fast it on her behalf?” He said, “Yes.”

 

Ibn Qudamah said, “These are authentic hadiths, in them is evidence that the deceased benefits from the rest of actions of others whereby the closeness of Allah is sought. That is because fasting, and dua, and istighfar are physical worship and Allah delivers their benefit to the deceased, so similarly for other than them.”

 

B. The Ulama differed regarding the reception of the reward for purely physical worship such as prayer and reading the Quran to someone other than the doer of these actions into two opinions:

1. The opinion of the Hanafis, and the Hanbalis, and the later scholars of the Shafiis, and the Malikis that holds that the deceased receives the recitation if it occurs in his presence or if he is supplicated for afterwards, even if he is not present because mercy and blessings descend in the place of recitation, and making supplication at the end of it is more hopeful for acceptance.

2. The opinion of the early Maliki scholars and the most well-known opinion of the early Shafii scholars which holds that the reward of purely physical worship is not received by other than the doer.

 

The Hanafis said: the preferred opinion for us is that it is not disliked for a group of people to sit and read Quran at someone’s grave. They also said in the section on making Hajj on behalf of someone else: it is allowed for a person to make the reward of his actions for someone else whether it be prayer or fasting or charity or something else and that does not reduce anything from his reward.

 

The Hanbalis said: There is no problem in reading Quran at someone’s grave because of the hadith that was previously stated, “Whoever enters the graveyard and reads Chapter Ya-Sin, it will bring ease to them (those in the graves) on that day, and they will get the reward for whoever is buried there.” And the hadith, “Whoever visits the grave of his parents and reads Chapter Ya-Sin he will be forgiven of his sins.” {both are weak hadiths and the first is weaker than the second according to Imam al-Suyūṭī}.

 

The Malikis said: Reading the Quran on the deceased after his death and at his grave is disliked because the early generations did not do it. But the later scholars are of the opinion that there is no problem with reading the Quran and making dhikr and making intention for the reward to go to the deceased, and he will receive the reward by the will of Allah.

 

The early Shafi scholars said: the well known opinion is that the deceased does not benefit from someone else’s deeds such as made up  prayers, or other than them, or reading of the Quran.

The later Shafi scholars however have verified that the deceased receives the reward of Quran recitation such as the Fātiḥah and otherwise. If it is established that the Fatiha benefits the live person who was bitten by a poisonous animal, as is shown in the hadith, “And what made you know that it is a healing?”, then the benefit of the deceased by it is more befitting.

 

Therefore the opinion of the later Shafis is the same as the other three schools in that the reward of reciting Quran reached the deceased. Al-Subki said: “It is understood from the hadith, by deduction, that some of the Quran if it is intended by it the reward and comforting of the deceased, it will benefit the deceased. That is because if it is established that the Fatiha benefitted the live, bitten person (with intention) as stated in the hadith: “and what made you know that it was a healing?” then the benefit of the deceased by it is even more befitting.” Qāḍī Hasan even allowed renting recitation of the Quran for the deceased. Ibn Salah said: “One should say: ‘Oh Allah! Deliver the reward of what we recited to such-and-such person.’ Thereby making dua for them. There is no difference in this between the close and the distant. And they should have certainty of the benefit in their action, because if there is benefit in dua and it is allowed for other than the one who is supplicating, then for it to be allowed for what is for him is even more befitting, and this is not specific for recitation only but for all types of actions.”

Salat al-Istikhara — The Guidance Prayer

Many people have questions about al-istikhārah, in the following article we will cover some of the things that the scholars have said about it and how to know what to choose after making it.

 

It was narrated by al-Bukhārī and Muslim on the authority of Jābir ibn ʿAbdillah, may Allah be pleased with them both:

The Prophet used to teach us to make the prayer of al-istikhārah in all affairs, the same way that he would teach us chapters from the Quran. He would say, “If one of you feels inclined to do something then let them pray two units of optional prayer, then say: ‘O Allah! I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power; I have none. And You know; I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allah! If in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is good for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is bad for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it. And ordain for me the good wherever it may be, and make me content with it.’”

Click here for the Arabic.

 

It’s Ruling

As a result of this hadith there is a consensus between the scholars that al-istikhārah is recommended and part of the Sunnah. They said that the purpose of it is to depend entirely upon Allah in one’s affairs, as He is the One who sees and knows all. Therefore, the person who makes al-istikhārah should not go into it with their mind already made up, but rather have an open heart and mind and ask Allah to guide them to what is best.

 

What Kinds of Things to Make It For

They also noted that it is not to be prayed for things that are prohibited, disliked, or required, but rather only for things that are permissible or recommended (if a choice must be made between various recommended actions). This is because in the first group of rulings there is really no decision to be made, but rather action to be taken. In the second group there can be decisions that need to be made and al-istikhārah is prescribed for such decisions.

 

Consultation and al-Istikhārah

Imam al-Nawawi says about this: “It is recommended for the person to consult others before making al-istikhārah. He/she should consult those whom they trust to care and give sincere advice and are reliable in their piety and experience.”[1]Many times we consult others during or after praying al-istikhārah, but Imam al-Nawawi is specifically stating here that such consultations should actually take place before the supplication is made.

 

When to Do It

If one is making al-istikhārah without praying two units of prayer with it then they can make it at any time because duʿāʾ is not restricted by any times. However, if one is praying two units with it then, according to the four schools, they should not pray it during the times wherein prayer is disliked. The Shafiʿis stated an exception for this in the case of the person who is praying in the Sacred area of Mecca by making analogy on the two units which are performed after al-Ṭawāf, because they are not restricted by any times.

 

How to Do It

The scholars stated that there are three different ways to make al-istikhārah.

1)      The best way, which is agreed upon by the four schools[2], is to pray two units of optional prayer then make the supplication afterwards, as mentioned in the hadith.

2)      The three schools except the Hanbalis said that one can also make the supplication without performing two units of prayer before it if need be.

3)      The Malikis and Shafiʿis also allowed one to make the supplication after any prayer, even if it is an obligatory prayer.

 

Regardless of which of these the person chooses they should follow the manners of supplication such as beginning by praising Allah and praying for His Messenger and ending by praying again for the Prophet, peace be upon him.

 

The person should also not rush when awaiting a response to their prayers because the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “A person’s prayers will be answered as long as he or she does not become impatient and say, ‘I prayer and my prayer was not answered.’”[3]

 

The scholars differed as to how many times the prayer can be repeated, with many of them mentioning seven times. However, if one does experience the results of the supplication after seven times then they may continue in their al-istikhārah, or they make as few times as is needed.

 

Another issue that some of the scholars discussed regarding al-istikhārah is whether or not one can make it on behalf of someone else. The Shafiʿis and Malikis held that it is permissible to do so because the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whosoever amongst you is able to benefit his brother, then he should do so.”[4] The Maliki scholar al-Ḥaṭṭāb said that he did not find any evidence indicating that this should or should not be done but that he did find some of the shuyūkh doing it. The Hanafis and Hanbalis did not discuss this issue.

 

The Results of al-Istikhārah

Contrary to popular opinion, one does not wait for a dream after al-istikhārah. Rather, one should look to what their heart opens up to or what is made easy for them. However, one should try as hard as possible to make sure that they are not mixing their istikhārah with their own desires and leanings and try to make sure that it is as pure and sincere as possible. A person can also look to the negative effects of al-istikhārah to know how it was answered. For example, if they were turned away from a particular decision and then did not find anything in their heart for it thereafter they can know that it was turned away from them, as mentioned in the supplication itself.

 

And God knows best.

 

 

*Extracted from al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah


 


[1] Al-Adhkār

[2] The Malikis, Hanafis, Shafiʿis, and Hanbalis.

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhārī.

[4] Narrated by Muslim.

Lining Up Chairs in Prayer

Q:

Some of the elderly or injured congregants pray seated on chairs. Sometimes they do this by putting the back of the chair on the line and keep themselves in line with respect to their shoulders and not their feet. Other times they line up with the back of the chair extending into the line behind them, keeping their feet in line and not their shoulders. Which is preferred?

A:

Clearly it is not possible for them to keep their feet and their shoulders in line. In such a case the priority is to keep their shoulders in line and therefore not extend the chair back into the line behind them. The Prophet (pbuh) would straighten the lines with particular emphasis on the shoulders. It also has the added benefit of not disturbing the people who are praying in the row behind them.

 

For more info see the following article: http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-183-901.htm

Kissing and Hugging One’s Spouse While Fasting

Q:

What is permissible between a husband and wife while fasting? Can we kiss? Hug?

 

A:

Fasting requires abstention from food, drink, and sexual relations. The penalty for a person who breaks their fast by consciously engaging in sexual relations is very severe. However, that does not mean that all types of intimacy are prohibited between spouses while fasting. It is permissible for spouses to kiss one another while fasting and embrace one another. This is true as long as there is no fear that they will lose control of themselves and fall into that which is prohibited. However, in any case it is better that they do not do so out of desire. If they kiss or embrace out of love and care, without fear of it leading to that which is not allowed, and without any sexual desire then there is no problem with that.

It is also important to note that in such a case there should be no guilt associated with such an action. This is because it is authentically narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) used to kiss his wives while fasting.

For more info please see this article from onislam.net

And God knows best.

Contact Lens Solution and Fasting

Q: 

Is it permissible to use contact lens solution while fasting or does it break one’s fast.

 

A:

It is permissible to wear contacts and use contact lens solution while fasting. This is because even if the lens solution were to reach to one’s throat somehow it is not food or drink nor is it similar to food or drink, in that it does not nourish.

For more info see the this article. It is also pasted here for ease of reference.

And God knows best.

 

===============================

Question:

Can we wear lens while fasting? Note that we have to put lubricant every four hour?

Fatwa:

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

We have already issued a Fatwa clarifying that it is permissible to wear contact lenses while fasting and that wearing them does not invalidate the fast. If wearing them necessitates using a lubricant as you mentioned, then if you mean that this lubricant is put in the eyes, it takes the ruling of the eye drops. The scholars differed in opinion about eye drops, some are of the view that it invalidates the fast while others are not of this opinion.

The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads: “Putting eye drops, oiling the eyelids, and putting medicine with oil in the eye, none of this invalidates the fast even if one finds its taste in his throat. This is the correct opinion according to the Hanafi School of jurisprudence, and the opinion of the Shaafi’ee School appears to correspond with the Hanafi view. However, the Maaliki and Hanbali Schools of jurisprudence are of the view that putting eye drops invalidates fasting if these drops reach the throat, as the eye is an inlet to the throat even if it is not a usual one.”

In our view in Islamweb, we consider the first opinion – which is that putting eye drops does not invalidate the fast – to be the preponderant one, and this is the opinion chosen by Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah .

This is in case the drops or the solution which you mentioned in the question reaches the throat, otherwise if it does not reach the throat, it does not break the fast even according to the Schools which are of the view that fasting is invalidated if the eye drops reach the throat.

For instance, ‘Olaysh from the Maaliki School of jurisprudence, said: “One should not apply Kohl eyeliner (to his/her eye) and should not put oil in his/her ear unless he/she knows that it does not reach his/her throat, and if one applies the Kohl or any other substance, it is permissible if this does not reach the throat.”

To conclude, it is permissible to put the solution in the eye when wearing the contact lenses and this does not invalidate the fast according to the most preponderant opinion of the scholars .

Allaah Knows best.

Praying Tarawih Behind Live Streaming Internet

Q:

Is it permissible to pray tarawih prayers at home behind a live streaming internet prayer?

 

A:

No. It is not permissible to do pray behind an imam who is in another place while following them through the internet or TV. One of the conditions of praying in congregation is that the imam and the congregants are in the same space. This would not be the case when praying behind an imam by following through a live stream and as such the prayer would not be acceptable.

However, it should be mentioned that it is permissible to pray tarawih at home by oneself. This was even the practice of the Prophet (pbuh) because he did not want people to think that the tarawih prayer in the mosque is required. It is preferable that the person prays in the mosque with the imam, but acceptable for one to pray at home as well. The person may also benefit from holding the mushaf and reading out of it directly while praying by themselves at home.

And God knows best.