Celebrations In Islaam
Impermissible Acts of Celebration

Differing from the Non-Muslims
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Some Muslims naively think that Islaam allows them to resemble the non-Muslims and act in complete harmony with them. They seem to be extremely reluctant to exhibit a distinctive identity by proclaiming Islaam openly. They emphasize that what matters is what is in the heart, regardless of outward appearance or actions. This section will, in shaa'a 'Llaah, discuss these and related matters.
Commands From The Qur'aan And Sunnah
A Muslim is commanded to associate with his fellow believers and adhere to their way; Allaah (SWT) says:

If anyone contends with the Messenger after the Guidance has been plainly conveyed to him, and follows a path other than that of the believers, We shall leave him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell: What an evil abode!1

     A Muslim is further commanded to be distinctively different from the non-believers. For example, the Messenger saws said:
Be different from the Jews and the Christians.2

Be different from the disbelievers3

Whoever imitates a people is one of them.4

Importance Of Differing From The Non-Muslims
Why is it important to be different from the disbelievers? For the following reasons:
  1. The Muslims are blessed with the BEST guidance. The Guidance from the Lord of lords, from Allaah (SWT). This gives the Muslims a true dignity and pride to which no one else has a claim. Allaah (SWT) says:

    Honor belongs to Allaah, to the Messenger, and to the Believers.5

  2. The disbelievers are misguided, and their ways are based on deviant views concerning their societies, the universe, and their very existence. Their actions frequently reflect those deviant views. Why, then, would one wish to imitate them? Yet, very sadly, some Muslims do that - they imitate them in their most unintelligible acts! The Messenger saws says:
    You will follow the ways of those nations who preceded you very closely; even if they entered a lizard's hole you would follow them into it.6

  3. An important rule of fiqh states that, "External resemblance results in real resemblance of the hearts." Resembling the disbelievers is Satan's first step in leading the Muslims to behave and believe like them.

Classes Of Imitation
One of the best books on the subject of imitating the kuffaar is Ibn Taymiyyah's great book, "Iqtidaa us-Siraat il-Mustaqeem". He (r) demonstrates that imitating the disbelievers is prohibited in itself, even if one does not do it intentionally; furthermore, doing it intentionally may reach the level of kufr (disbelief).
      In order to better understand its dangers, imitation of the non-Muslims is divided below into five classes, some more serious than others.
  1. If a practice is done by the non-Muslims for religious reasons and involves shirk, then it is absolutely prohibited, and anyone who does it is a mushrik 1 in practice. Ex.,
    • wearing a cross,
    • displaying an idol (appreciably),
    • worshiping in the non-Muslim religious services,
    • praying to a grave.
    "In practice" here means that, regardless of whether the person commits such an act ignorantly or intentionally, which only Allaah (SWT) knows about, he is considered to be practicing shirk, and is treated accordingly.
  2. If a practice is done by the non-Muslims for religious reasons, but does not involve obvious shirk (at least to the one practicing it), then it is absolutely prohibited, and doing it constitutes a major sin. Ex.,
    • wearing the attire of clergymen, priests, etc.,
    • displaying a Christmas tree,
    • celebrating a non-Islaamic holiday.

  3. If a practice is initiated and done by the non-Muslims (though imitated by ignorant and weak-hearted Muslims), for non-religious reasons, and is not a practice of the religious and knowledgeable Muslims, then it is also prohibited; anyone doing it will be liable to the warnings in the Sunnah for those who imitate the disbelievers. Ex.,
    • not to grow beards and trim moustaches,
    • not to dye the white hair,
    • to isolate the wife because of her menses,
    • to wear the Western hat, Tuxedos, or neckties,
    • to wear wedding bands,
    • to intently wear white for weddings or black for funerals,
    • to walk dogs,
    • to eat steak with a fork in the left hand,
    • to watch sports games or soap operas, etc.

  4. If a practice is done mostly, but not exclusively, by the non-Muslims, for non-religious reasons, then it is permissible; however, the person who avoids it with the intention of obeying the above commands of the Prophet saws will be rewarded. Ex.,
    • wearing pants for men,
    • wearing the watch on the left hand.

  5. If a practice is a shared practice among different nations and cultures, not being specific to any one in particular, then it is totally mubaah (open or permissible). Ex.,
    • riding cars,
    • eating with spoons.
    Thus, we are not calling the Muslims to denounce the scientific and technological advancements because the kuffaar are currently pioneering in them. Islaam requires the Muslims to learn these forms of knowledge, and to benefit the Muslim Ummah with them.

  1. An-Nisaa' 4:115.  - Back to text 
  2. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.  - Back to text 
  3. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.  - Back to text 
  4. Authentic; recorded by Ahmad.  - Back to text 
  5. Al-Munaafiqoon 63:8.  - Back to text 
  6. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim.  - Back to text 
  7. One who commits shirk.  - Back to text 
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