Alamdu li 'Llaah. Indeed, all glory and praise is due to Allaah. We glorify and praise Him and we ask Him for help and forgiveness. In Allaah we seek refuge from the evils in ourselves and from our wrong doings. He whom Allaah guides shall not be misguided, and he whom He misguides shall never be guided.
I bear witness that there is no [true] god except Allaah, alone without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad (S) is His Abd(1) and Messenger.
Verily, the best words are those of Allaah (T); the best guidance is that of Muhammad (S); the worst matters [in creed or worships] are those innovated [by people], for every such innovated matter is a bid'ah(2), and every bid'ah is a misguidance which shall reside in the Fire(3).
To many people, celebrating eids(4) is a non-religious matter, and one has the choice to participate in celebrating any eid, for any nation or religion, as long as that does not involve engaging in araam (prohibited) actions. This view is the basis for what we witness repeatedly of Muslims engaging in various celebrations and in sharing in the holidays of other nations. This article is meant to present, based on the Qur aan and the authentic Sunnah, guidelines for evaluating holidays and other related practices. This should enable one to reach a quick and sound conclusion when faced with such events.
By Allaah's blessing and mercy, Islaam is complete, perfect, and universal in nature. Allaah (T) said (what means): This day I have perfected your religion for you, have completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion. [Al-Maa idah (5) 3] It is narrated by Muslim that some mushrikoon (idol worshipers) tried to mock of Islaam by saying, "It seems as if your prophet has taught you everything, even how to defecate!" When Salmaan (R) heard this he responded with the strong dignity of a true believer: "Yes indeed! He prohibited us from turning our faces or backs to the Qiblah(6) when defecating or urinating, from using the right hand to cleanse ourselves, from using less than three stones to cleanse ourselves [in the absence of water], and from using animal waste or bones to cleanse with."
Allaah's mercy has required that people be informed of all what would save them from the Fire and what would let them into the Gardens of the Hereafter. This was the mission of all prophets, as declared by Muhammad (S): There was never any prophet before me but that his duty was to reveal to his people what he knew to be best for them, and to warn them of what he knew to be evil for them. [Narrated by Muslim] And this was certainly the mission of the Final Messenger (S) as he said: Nothing of what would bring you closer to the Jannah(7) and further away from the Fire but have been clarified [through me] to you. [Authentic; narrated by Amad].
With His encompassing Wisdom, Allaah (T) made His Final Revelation, Islaam, a universal message meant for all peoples, at all times, without any distinction: We have not sent you [Muhammad] otherwise than to mankind at large, to be a herald of glad tidings and a warner. [Saba (34) 28]
Furthermore, this most important Message is preserved intact through the centuries, as is clearly observed today by any impartial examiner. This is in fulfillment of Allaah's promise: It is We Ourselves who have sent down the dthikr (the Message), and it is We who shall surely guard it [from corruption]. [Al-Hijr (14) 9]
We conclude then that:
The completeness of Islaam obviously means that it cannot be completed further. Whether people realize it or not, believing otherwise would imply one or more of the following dangerous conclusions:
To some people, the universality of Islaam means that Muslims have the full choice to resemble and behave in coherence with other people in their localities (or in other locations as well). You continue to hear questions like the following: Is it all that important for a Muslim to have a clear distinctive identity? Is it not sufficient to have a strong belief within the heart and to perform Islaam fully but privately?
Based on simple Islaamic principles, we can immediately conclude that the answer to the first question is, simply, yes! And the answer to the second question is, simply, no!
A true Muslim is always eager to associate with his fellow believers: If anyone contends with the Messenger even 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! [An-Nisaa (4:115)].
And a true Muslim is very anxious to be distinctive and different from the non-believers. This attitude follows from the repeated instructions of the Messenger (S): Be different from the Jews and the Christians [Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim], Be different from the disbelievers [Al- Bukhaaree and Muslim], and: Whoever imitates a people is one of them. [Authentic; narrated by Ahmad]
Why is it so important to be distinctive and different from the disbelievers? For the following reasons:
After the above lengthy discussion which, as stated earlier, is meant to provide general guidelines concerning celebrations and other related matters, we come back to apply what we have learnt so far to the subject at hand.
Prophet Muhammad (S) once saw the Ansaar celebrating a certain day. He inquired about that and was informed: This is one of two days that we used to celebrate in Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islaamic ignorance) and we continue to do so. He replied: Nay! Allaah has substituted for you two better days: the day of al-Fitr and the day of al-Adhhaa. [Authentic; narrated by Ahmad, an-Nasaaee, and others]
In addition to these two days, the Jumu ah (Friday) is an eid day. The Prophet (S) said: This is a day which Allaah has designated as an eid for Muslims. [Authentic] From this and the previous hadeeth, we conclude that Muslims have only three eid days, a weekly eid every Friday, and two annual eids, al-Fitr and al-Adhhaa.
Also, Islaam instructs us as to how to celebrate our eids. No fasting is allowed on these days (Friday is excepted under certain conditions). On eid days, Muslims take a bath and wear their best clothes. They avoid all forms of sinning which people tend to commit when they are in a state of rejoice. The major part of the celebration is not eating or drinking. Rather, it is a prayer which gathers Muslims together to remember Allaah's bounties and to chant His glory and greatness.
It becomes clear then that Allaah alone has the right:
The evidence from the Qur aan and the Sunnah is quite clear in that eids are distinctive features for every nation. Allaah (T) said (what means): To every people we have appointed [its own] rites and ceremonies. [al-Hajj (22) 34/67] And it was shown in the previous section that eids are purely religious occasions for Muslims.
As discussed earlier, Allaah (T) and His Messenger (S) have warned us against following or imitating non-Muslims in things which are characteristic of their religions or beliefs. This is more emphasized in the case of their eids or occasions, which always hold some religious or ideological non-Islaamic meanings, and on which the kuffaar indulge in many evil practices. Differing from them on such occasions includes the following:
It has been shown above that eids are meant to be purely Islaamic occasions and practices. They are not liable to the innovation or disobedience of people. The warnings concerning bid'ahs (and sinning in general) clearly applies to them. Thus:
To preserve our identity and our dignity, and to attain Allaah's love and acceptance (which means peace and happiness in this life and ultimate prosperity in the Hereafter), let us adhere to what pleases Him as he instructed in His Book or in His Messenger's Sunnah; and remember: eids and celebrations are no exception to that. We ask Allaah for guidance.