Accepting gifts at Christmas, New Year and other festivals: From Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Uthaimeen, Ibn Bāz.

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Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله) stated in “Iqtidā Sirātil-Mustaqīm”:

“As for accepting gifts from them [the non-Muslims] on the days of their celebrations, then we have already narrated from `Ali (radiyallahu `anhu) that there came to him a gift on the celebration of Nayrooz* and he accepted it. And Ibn Abi Shaybah narrated in “Al-Musannaf” saying: Jareer narrated to us from Qāboos from his father: A woman asked `Ā’ishah: ‘We have some wet nurses from the Magians; and when it is their festival, they give us gifts.’ So she said: ‘As for what is slaughtered of animals on that day, then do not eat it. However, eat from their vegetation.’ Ibn Abi Shaybah also said: ‘Wakee` narrated to us from Al-Hasan Ibn Hakeem from his mother from Abu Barzah that he used to live in the locality of the Magians; and they would give him gifts on the celebrations of Nayrooz and Mahrajān, so he would say to his family: ‘Eat the fruits they give you, and leave alone what is besides that.’ So all of this proves that the celebrations do not forbid one from accepting their gifts. Indeed the ruling of accepting gifts during the celebratory days is the same as any other days because it does not entail aiding them in making apparent the signs of their unbelief. However, accepting the gifts of the unbelievers from the people who are at war with Muslims and those living in Muslim lands is a separate issue wherein there is some differing and in need of a detailed explanation – and here is not the place for that. And it is allowed to eat the food of the People of the Book on their days of celebration, regardless of whether it is bought or gifted or other than that as long as it was not slaughtered for the purpose of the day of celebration. As for the slaughtered meat of the Magians, then its ruling is well known – it is harām (prohibited) at all times.” (1/50-52)

* Zoroastrians worldwide celebrate Nayrooz (or Nowruz) as the first day of the New Year. Nowruz is the most important holiday in Iran.

Al-`Allāmah Muhammad Ibn Sālih Al-`Uthaimeen (رحمه الله) said in explanation of these words of Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (رحمه الله):

This speech of the shaikh (رحمه الله) is strange!! This is because accepting their gifts on their days of celebration is a sign that one is pleased with their festivals. Nevertheless, there are narrations from the Companions (radiyallahu `anhum) regarding this affair. Perhaps the Companions accepted these gifts because it was a time when Islam was strong and the people would not be beguiled/deceived by such gifts – and also the unbelievers knew then that the Muslims were higher than them. However, in our times today, if you were to accept gifts from them on their days of festivities they become joyous, and they say: ‘These Muslims agree with us that this day is a day of celebration.’ So, for this reason, it is necessary for us to explain this matter – and it is to be said: If it is feared that it will elevate and raise the unbelievers such that they will think that [accepting of gifts] is our showing pleasure at their annual festivities then the gift is not to be accepted regardless of whether it is from what zakāh is conditional upon or not.” (Tape 18, time stamp: 1:13:31; “Sharh Iqtidā Sirātil-Mustaqīm” Egyptian print, pp. 348-349)

Closer look at the narrations:

All of the narrations mentioned in the text of Ibn Taymiyyah have defects:

  1. “From `Ali (radiyallahu `anhu) that there came to him a gift on the celebration of Nayzoor and he accepted it.” The chain is disconnected because Muhammad Ibn Seereen (rahimahullāh) did not hear narrations from the Companion `Ali (radiyallahu `anhu). Ibn Seereen was born when there were two years remaining of the Khilāfah of `Uthmān (radiyallahu `anhu).
  2. Furthermore, if the narration from `Ali (radiyallahu `anhu) is authentic which is alluded to by Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, then it does not indicate that he accepted their gifts – rather it proves that he disliked that it be said, “it is their `Eid”. And this is the actual wording from Ibn Taymiyyah in “Iqtidā Sirātil-Mustaqīm” (1/515) where he stated: “And with the chain of narration to Abu Usāmah: from Hammād Ibn Zaid: from Hishām: from Muhammad Ibn Seereen who said: ‘There came to `Ali (radiyallahu `anhu) the day of Nayrooz.’ So he said: ‘What is this?’ They replied: ‘O leader of the believers today is the day of Nayrooz.’ He said: ‘They make every day Fayrooz!’ Abu Usāmah said: ‘He disliked to say: An-Nayrooz.’ Bayhaqee said: ‘In this narration, it is as if it is disapproved to single out a day specified in this manner that the Sharee`ah has not specified.'”
  3. As for the narration of `Ā’ishah (radiyallahu `anhā) brought by Shaikhul-Islam, then it has in the chain Qāboos and he is Ibn Abi Dhibyān – and he is criticised by the people of knowledge. Bukhāree mentioned that Jareer Ibn Abdul-Hameed criticised his narrations – and he is the one who narrates from Qāboos this report of `Ā’ishah! And is more acquainted regarding his affair. An-Nasā’ee declared him weak, as did Yahyā Ibn Ma`een (see “Tahdheeb al-Kamāl 23/329) Ibn Hibbān said about him: “He had poor memory. He was the only one narrating from his father that which had no origin – perhaps he would raise a mursal narration to marfoo` and connect a mawqoof narration!” (see “Kitāb al-Majrooheen” of Ibn Hibbān 2/219). Ibn Hajar said in “At-Taqreeb”: “He is lax: And with this the narration is dropped and the report is not used as a proof.”
  4. As for the narration of Abu Barzah (radiyallahu `anhu) then within the chain of narration, there is the female servant of Abu Barzah, Umm al-Husain Ibn Hakeem and she is unknown and thus cannot be relied upon.

Additionally, Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said:

“Whoever gives to the Muslims a gift on these days of celebration that is different to normal everyday practices outside of this celebration, then the gift is not accepted – especially if the gift is something that is used to aid in resembling them (in their religion) – like the gift of candle wax and so on on the birthday [of Christ], or egg, milk and sheep on the Thursday [Christian Lent] at the end of their fasting days. Likewise, the Muslims are not to give gifts on these festivals due to it being a festivity [of non-Muslims] especially if it is something that will aid in resembling them as we have mentioned.” (“Iqtidā Sirātil-Mustaqīm” 2/12)

Ibn Nahās (rahimahullah) said:

“And know that from the ugliest of innovations and the most evil is the agreement of the Muslims with the Christians in their annual celebrations in imitating them in their foods, actions, giving them gifts, and receiving gifts from them of food during their festivities. And this innovation is something experienced and undertaken by the people of Egypt. In this there is a weakness in one’s Religious adherence..” (See “Tanbeeh al-Ghāfileen” of Ibn Nahās, pp. 307-310)

The Permanent Committee of Scholars (Al-Lajnah ad-Dā’imah), Shaikh Ibn Bāz, Abdur-Razzāq `Afeefee and others (rahimahumullah) stated:

“It is not permitted for the Muslim to eat that which was prepared by the Jews and Christians or idol-worshippers [specifically] for their days of festivities. And it is not permitted for the Muslims to accept a gift from them in celebration of those festivities due to what that contains of honouring and cooperating with them in making apparent their religious symbols and furthering and promoting their innovations and partaking in the happiness of their festivals. And this may ultimately lead to taking on their festivals as our own festivals…” (22/398-399, Fatwa no. 2882)

Article source and reference:

This does not necessitate ill-treatment, bad manners or evil conduct with the non-Muslims at all.

A more detailed read —> How to Interact with the Jews, Christians & Others

Download and read the PDF here —> Living with Non-Muslims

Listen to the Lecture on this Topic —> How the Muslims are to live and Behave with non-Muslims

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