Every year, as Muslims we are told that we cannot celebrate Christmas and New Years, neither can we congratulate our non-Muslim colleagues (even out of respect for them) and the year passes by with the same message yet we do not heed to them.
So why is this year any different?
This year is different in no way, but before this message is discarded, I want to give you a thought that may stay with you, or may leave you.
Islam is a perfect religion. A religion that teaches its believers to respect those who practice and believe differently from them. This beautiful religion of Islam is not harsh to its believers nor those who disbelieve in the true message of Allah.
Here are 4 Reasons why YOU should NOT celebrate:[Reasons adapted from MuslimMatters.org]
4. It is Technically Inaccurate and Pagan
As Muslims, we have our own calendar that has been in constant use for 1400 years. Even though we may end up using the Gregorian calendar due to circumstances beyond our control, we know for a fact that Allah has ordained the use of the lunar calendar for us in our worship – and therefore, by extension, our daily lives. According to our Hijri calendar (initiated by the great Sahaaba Umar , the new year actually begins on the first of Muharram.
The Gregorian calendar (so called because it was developed by Pope Gregory) decided on the 1st of January as the New Year to celebrate the circumcision of Jesus. Its origin – like so many Western holidays – lies in the pagan Roman festivals associated with Janus – the two headed deity who symbolised change.
3. What Exactly is There to Celebrate?
Any celebration by Muslims needs to be put into context of the local and global situation of the Ummah. The two Eids amply do so by encouraging prayers, duaa for those suffering and alms to the needy.
However, celebrating the New Year does no such thing.
It is a celebration that is completely cut off from the reality of the rest of the Ummah. The starvation in Somalia, the murder in Syria, the imprisonment of Gaza, the ethnic cleansing of Burma – celebrating the New Year is pretty much exactly the opposite of the “fever and wakefulness” that the Prophet spoke about when he said we were like one body.
Salahuddin Ayyubi was once asked why he hardly ever smiled even though this was a sunnah of the Prophet . He replied, “How can I smile when I know that masjid Al Aqsa is being defiled and the Muslims are suffering?!” That attitude, dear brothers and sisters, is why he liberated Jerusalem and why we’re still debating on whether or not it is acceptable to send “Happy New Year” messages.
2. It Usually Involves Un-Islamic Practices
It was reported with a saheeh isnaad from Abu Usaamah: ‘Awn told us from Abu’l-Mugheerah from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr:“Whoever lives in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their New Year and their festivals, and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.”
Let’s be honest. When you picture New Year’s Eve celebration, you don’t picture people sitting in an Islamic environment encouraging each other towards good as the clock strikes midnight. Instead, they are (and I know this is a generalization) mixed gender events where people wear fashionable clothes, dance and sing songs, etc. It is necessarily an Islam free zone, which is not entirely surprising given that it has no basis or relationship to Islam.
1. It is Against the Spirit of Islam
The hadeeth “Every people has its festival, and this is our festival” implies exclusivity, that every people has its own festival, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers)…” [al-Baqarah 2:148] and “… To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way…” [al-Maa’idah 5:48] This implies that each nation has its own ways. The laam in li-kulli (“for every”, “to each”) implies exclusivity. So if the Jews have a festival and the Christians have a festival, it is just for them, and we should not have any part in it, just as we do not share their qiblah (direction of prayer) or their laws.
This is meant to be a gentle reminder and not a harsh rebuke. It would be against the spirit of Islam to not show kindness and respect to non-Muslims. We are encouraged to be warm and welcoming, not least because it will attract others to our faith. By the same token, it is against the spirit of Islam to do any of the above by subordinating our own faith, culture or heritage.
There are many ways to showcase our manners and act as ambassadors for our faith without having to adopt the celebrations of others. By adopting the celebrations of others, we are not harmlessly saying a few words or just enjoying ourselves. We are opening the door to disappearing within the dominant culture and to a future in which our children may have Muslim names, but are otherwise indistinguishable from non-Muslims in their habits, customs and appearances.
This issue occupied the minds of greater people than us – Uthman , Ali and many other of the greatest Sahaaba. When the great assemblage of the companions of the Prophet had discussed this issue at length, the matter was brought to a close by the wise words of Caliph Umar that are as relevant today as they were then. He said,
“The Hijrah has separated truth from falsehood, therefore, let it become the epoch of the era.”
“If someone says; I am courteous to them because they are courteous to me and they congratulate me for Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
We say: Alhamdulillah. If they congratulate you with Eid Al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr, then they have congratulated you for legislated holiday, which Allah has made for all.
But if you congratulate them for Christmas then you are congratulating them for a holiday which Allah has not designated as a holiday.” – Sheikh ibn Uthaymeen