After I realized that the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny were not real, celebrating holidays and even my birthday began to recede in their importance for me. Back when I was in high school, my dad always said, he really liked how my turkey turned out. A large turkey is a hard bird to cook well (unless its smoked, then it's much easier). The key is to keep it moist and well-seasoned so it does not turn out bland after all those hours of hard work. However, I didn't object to receiving gifts or cash. And back in the day, when my siblings and I shared a paper route, the onset of the holidays brought an expected cash windfall of hundreds of dollars in tips and gifts from our clients, which was very much appreciated it.

So after I became Muslim, I was exposed to the discussions of the permissibility of celebrating and indeed even acknowledging celebrations that did not originate within Islamic teachings. Eager in my new convert zeal to do what seemed to be the prevailing mood in my community, circle of friends, and among the fatawa websites and Islamic activists that I listened to, I avoided celebrations like Thanksgiving Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween, the Nigerian Independence Day celebrations, and of course Christmas and Easter among other days. I became wary of accepting invitations from my family to share in the holiday meal. I wasn't sure how to handle accepting cards and gifts from them on my birthday and on Christmas. For awhile, I stopped eating the main meal with my family on those days. I remember a number of very sincere discussions at the masjid with other sisters where we debated whether or not to eat the turkey or to sit at the table with our families while they ate the traditional holiday meal.

So often, in the discussion points the issue of the hadith about the “two eids” was raised but rarely was the issue of joining ties with our families raised. One might say, this oversight could be in part due to the fact that many of the people we listened to, only had Muslim family and were not born and raised here in the States. Many of us had this feeling that the imported scholars and students of knowledge fresh from their studies over there and the fatawa from there was “real Islam.” And this feeling left many of us rejecting our culture, even parts that did not contradict the shariah from our names to our clothing to our  food to our habits that were perfectly acceptable cultural variations. But where's the Dalil, there is some discussion about the origins of the holiday and its supposed halal-ness or haram-ness over at Suhaib Webb's blog.

A few years ago, as I began to question and cast off some of the interpretations I had accepted and promoted almost as gospel, I began to question my faith. What happened? Was I slipping? How did I go from not even acknowledging Thanksgiving and refusing to eat the meal with my family to happily (although, not really) but comfortably eating with and looking forward to being with them on a day like this? For awhile, I was shy to admit that I enjoined ties with my family and sat down to enjoy a meal with them on this day. It was kind of like wearing the “I voted”  sticker around the masjid. You gotta be tough to weather the evil looks, smirks, stares, side comments, and character assassination that often accompanies such discussions among a certain segment of our community, although much less now than before.

This is not only an issue for converts but born Muslims also face these issues, which are rarely talked about in our communities. Much like so many of the important issues that get swept under the rug as we put our collective heads in the sand and pretend like they don't exist. I can understand and respect the arguments of those who wish to dissociate from Thanksgiving Day as a matter of faith and principle but I can also understand and respect the arguments of those who take the opposite view. I've had both in my journey in Islam and I'm thankful for the blessing of Islam this day and every day.

Since many of us have this day off, how are you using it? I've noticed an uptick in Islamic courses and lecture events today and throughout the weekend. My aunt just had her first child last week, so my family is gathering over at her house.

Among the the things, I love about these holidays here in a non-Muslim country is the happiness and feeling of community it brings to so many, who then share that emotion with those around them. And the peace and quiet in the morning. I stayed up after fajr and was awestruck by how quiet the normally bustling weekday morning was outside my windows. Beautiful.

May Allah, subhanhu wa ta ala, guide us to that which pleases him. Ameen.


56 Responses

  1. Ahmad AlFarsi

    I think an important distinction needs to made here, one which seems to have been overlooked at the discussion over at suhaibwebb.com. Namely, the distinction about whether one visits his non-Muslim family on some day during the year when they happen to be gathering and whether one actually celebrates.

    For me, whenever I am able to (have the time off from work/school etc), I make an attempt to visit my (non-Muslim) family. If they all happen to be gathering around Thanksgiving or Christmas time, then that is the time that I go visit. And if they happen to be eating dinner at home, I join them in eating a pretty delicious dinner (keeping it halal, of course). If this happens to occur on the days around Thanksgiving or Christmas (or on those days themselves), it certainly does not mean I am celebrating those occasions! It just means I am eating dinner with my family :).

    Of course, we don’t join in the “rituals” of their celebrations, if they happen to be participating in any. So on Thanksgiving, if they say a Thanksgiving prayer, or if they go around the table saying “what I am thankful for” (they don’t really do that), we generally don’t join in such things. Likewise, if they go to church for Thanksgiving (which they do sometimes), of course we do not go with them. And likewise, we don’t join in any Christmas prayer, or opening up of Christmas gifts, or anything like that. Of course, if we haven’t seen them in a while, we would out of courtesy bring a gift with us, but we would give it to them on the day we arrive, and they’d open it right away. We wouldn’t let the fact that Christmas is around the corner prevent us from bringing them gifts.

    I think a clear distinction needs to be made between these two concepts: (1) getting together with your family when they happen to be getting together (whether or not it is around holiday time) and (2) actually celebrating the holiday. We do number (1) whenever we can; we don’t do number (2), and they understand, alhamdulillah. I feel the two issues got heavily conflated over at the discussion at SW.com, and that probably added to the confusion of many. Allah knows best :)

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  2. Ify Okoye

    Yes, excellent points Ahmad. One might say and I’ve heard this on a popular audio lecture that often gets passed around or referred to in these type of discussions that the main ritual or symbol of the day is the turkey meal so that anything related to that meal, preparing, eating, sitting down at the table is not permissible. It’s sometimes a very fine line to navigate.

    My family doesn’t really do anything special on this day other than get together and eat. Although, I remember when we were much younger someone might offer a prayer before we ate the food or we might go around the table to say what we are thankful for, neither of which I see as particularly problematic except when the prayer ends with the “in Jesus name” line. Muslims offer a dua before eating and remembering to be thankful for the blessings of Allah seems like a form of dhikr.

    And Allah knows best.

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    • Ify Okoye

      Some may view it as not an Islamic holiday or a holiday Muslims should celebrate for various reasons, commonly:

      1. Hadith of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, that “our holidays are two” i.e. the Muslims have two eids (Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha). This hadith is often interpreted to mean that only the two eids are permissible to celebrate as holidays.

      2. Linguistically, eid is something that returns, so annually repeating days should not be specified or marked for celebration except by the shariah. Only Allah has the right to make days special or blessed.

      3. Some might say the origins of the day are religious or not as secular as the holiday now seems. Hence, they do not wish to participate in a religious non-Muslim celebration.

      4. Some say it is imitation of non-Muslims.

      Opposing this view to indicate its permissibility, the arguments range from:

      1. All things are permissible unless explicitly forbidden by a text.

      2. The holiday as it is now practiced and understood is largely, if not completely secular for most.

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      • daleels

        I would argue there are really two issues at hand here. Taken from islamweb.net

        1) Reported by Anas may Allaah be pleased with him who said: “When the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) reached Madeenah, he noticed that the people of Madeenah used to celebrate two specific days. The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) asked them “Why are you celebrating these two days?” They answered, “We used to play and have fun on these days during the pre-Islamic period.” The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Allaah has replaced these two days with something better, ‘Eed Al-Fitr and ‘Eed Al-Adh-Haa.” [Ahmad and Abu Daawood] The interpreters of the Hadeeth stated that they celebrated these two days only because the weather was moderate at the times they celebrated them and not for any religious purpose. Yet, Islam abrogated them.

        2) The prohibition of resembling the non-Muslims is not restricted to inward actions [beliefs, actions of the heart] and intentions, but also to outward actions. It is for this reason that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) prohibited us from performing the prayer at sun set and sun rise, and he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said that it rises between two horns of the devil and the polytheist prostate to it at this time, despite the fact that a Muslim prays to Allaah and not to the horns of the devil. However, the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) forbade us from performing the prayer at that time regardless of our intention.

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      • bigakh

        lol..wow sometimes i just wish people open book. either ur ignorant..or just plain ol pathetic..um the only muslim in my family and not one time after being upon the haqq have i ever wanted to go back to celebrating any of these days.i don’t give a damn who they are or what they are they are kuffar!

        dear brothers and sisters you have the quran u have the sunnah why would u ever in your life want to imitate those people who allah says are people of the hell fire?..y? how could u even convince yourself that this is alright?

        would our prophet(salallahu alay wasalam)do such a thing? did the sahaba do things like this?…of course not!

        and one more thing before my brain explodes why in the world did you(Ify Okoye)say..”Some may view it as not an Islamic holiday ”

        what scholar says that it is???

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      • Ify Okoye

        Open a book yourself or ask some people of knowledge or better yet, just read the link to Suhaib Webb’s discussion, several people of knowledge and their opinions are referenced there. Do yourself a favor, get over yourself, you clearly haven’t studied any ilm much less adab or you’d have some appreciation for the difference of opinion among people more knowledgeable than you or I. My views do not exist in a vacuum and I can list people more learned and knowledgeable in the Islamic sciences who also take my view or those who oppose it. Will lists of names impress and convince you or change your mind?

        By the way, I’ll be at the Wisam Sharieff’s Bayyinah class in Columbia this weekend and the AlMaghrib class in College Park next week, come speak to me if you dare or stay cowering in your semi-anonymous online persona like the online cowards with fake names everywhere. I refuse to be bullied by the ignorant. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you embody the teachings of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

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      • muslimah

        With all due respect, I don’t think it’s appropriate for you to respond to a commenter like that. I understand your frustration, but there is an adaab of naseeha and insha’Allah perhaps next time you encounter a rude and close-minded commenter you can display the correct adaab in reply, not mimick their own. Jazakallahu khairan and Allah knows best.

        :)

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      • Ify Okoye

        That’s fine for you to think that way but I believe my response was highly appropriate. I’ve dealt with these sort of anonymous online personalities for a long time and I’ve found the language the online haters understand the best is a bit of their own medicine. They act all tough when they can hide online but when I meet them in person none of that tough persona remains so the challenge is on. If they can’t take heat, they best not step into my kitchen throwing un-informed and misdirected flames disguised as comments or they might get burned in the process and I think that’s fair. :)

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      • Ubaid B.

        Perhaps the commenter didn’t choose the best of words, but that doesn’t mean that their intention is to bully you. Maybe the person hasn’t read as much as you have, maybe they don’t know the other opinions, but that doesn’t mean you can treat them as being ignorant just because you believe you’ve been treated the same way.

        Sometimes, we pick one thing we’re good at, and when anyone gives us any sincere advice, we’re too busy thinking of how we’re better (or we know more) than the person in some respects, when the person may be more God-conscious or better in prayer than we are (better than us in the eyes of Allah).

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think when you respond you have to dilute your opinions, I think a healthy difference of opinion is great, but wouldn’t it also be amazing if, in your response, the person might see a better way to disagree?

        Wallahu a’lam and jazakillahu khairan for the article.

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      • Ify Okoye

        His words had no relation to naseeha and were highly inappropriate, accusatory, and conveyed an attitude of arrogance common in certain segments of the community. He’s in my local area and I honestly don’t believe he would have the gall to say those words to my face but online many feel free to rant and rave without knowledge, reflection, or due diligence. Such characteristics are not praiseworthy or worthy of respect especially not when speaking about issues as serious as the religion, hence my response was harsh to stop that line of dialogue dead in its tracks. Yes, I could have been all warm and fuzzy, sweet and sugary in my response and I actually considered writing one that way before and after my last response many times but I think the message got across to him and I hope he clicked on the link and learned something in the process. No hard feelings from my end.

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      • Muzzammil

        Opposing this view to indicate its permissibility, the arguments range from:

        1. All things are permissible unless explicitly forbidden by a text.

        First of all, that is true in most cases, and as the brother pointed out the hadeeth, every holiday in the world, save the two Eids, are impermissible. The hadeeth refers to there being no specific reason for the holidays, they were just something the people of yathrib used to do.

        1) Reported by Anas may Allaah be pleased with him who said: “When the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) reached Madeenah, he noticed that the people of Madeenah used to celebrate two specific days. The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) asked them “Why are you celebrating these two days?” They answered, “We used to play and have fun on these days during the pre-Islamic period.” The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Allaah has replaced these two days with something better, ‘Eed Al-Fitr and ‘Eed Al-Adh-Haa.” [Ahmad and Abu Daawood] The interpreters of the Hadeeth stated that they celebrated these two days only because the weather was moderate at the times they celebrated them and not for any religious purpose. Yet, Islam abrogated them.

        Second of All, Allah Azzawajal says in Surah Ale Imraan Ayaat 85

        وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

        And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.

        The word used here is “ghaira islaami deena” The word deen is used, and as children and common sense we learned that the word deen is not religion (completely). It incompasses much more, as religion refers to only the spiritual connection between man and God, Islam is a deen which is “A Way of Life”

        As written on Wikipedia, (pretty trustworthy, regardless of what others think)

        The term is sometimes translated as “religion”, but as used in the Qur’an, it refers both to the path along which righteous Muslims travel in order to comply with divine law, or Shari’a, and to the divine judgment or recompense to which all humanity must inevitably face without intercessors before God[1]. Thus, although secular Muslims would say that their practical interpretation of DÄ«n conforms to “religion” in the restricted sense of something that can be carried out in separation from other areas of life, both mainstream and reformist Muslim writers take the word to mean an all-encompassing way of life carried out under the auspices of God’s divine purpose as expressed in the Qur’an and hadith. As one notably progressive Muslim writer puts it, far from being a discrete aspect of life carried out in the mosque, “Islam is DÄ«n, a complete way of life”

        So Allah says in the ayaah that whosoever seeks a way of life other than Islam, be it Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Agnosticism, Atheism, Communism, Socialism or Capitalism in the sense of Western Society in its entirety, it will never be accepted of him, and he will be raised up amongst the losers whom he followed, whether that be the pagans, the people of the book, or otherwise.

        So in terms of thanksgiving, whether or not it is religious does not make a difference. The fact of the matter is that it is practiced as a part of a different way of life than that of Islam. The only two holidays we celebrate are the Eids, as it is a matter of our Aqeedah. So it IS explicitly forbidden from the text, if we are talking in the general sense of the meaning. If by the meaning you mean that Allah or his Prophet never said that “Oh You Who Believe, Don’t Celebrate Thanksgiving” than that is true. It is not explicitly forbidden in that way, but as I tried to prove above, it is in the general sense of the verse, forbidden.

        Now for the second claim people bring up, I hope the first part explained that too, but there is another proof –

        2. The holiday as it is now practiced and understood is largely, if not completely secular for most.

        Allah Azzawajal says in the Qur’aan Surah Al Baqarah Ayaat 120

        وَلَن تَرْضَىٰ عَنكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلَا النَّصَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ ۗ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُم بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ ۙ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ

        Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: “The Guidance of Allah,-that is the (only) Guidance.” Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither Protector nor helper against Allah.

        Now this may at first glance seem like all the other ayaat, howver upon closer examination we find that Allah said “The Jews as Christians will never be pleased until you follow their MILLAT. Millat here does not mean religion, it is more encompassing, it is sort of like the word deen.

        The word Milla is derived from the root M-L-L in Arabic. It means a path or a way. It is also used for creed, religion, faith, confession or denomination.

        So the translation of the ayat is that “And the Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with you until you follow their way.”

        As is known in history, the “way” of the Christians and Jews is actually “ways.” They and their rabbis and priests have changed their millat (way) in every generation and time. This is to serve their evil purposes (whatever they may be.) Allah testifies to this in the Qur’aan when he says

        وَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِيقًا يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُم بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

        And verily, among them is a party who distort the Book with their tongues (as they read), so that you may think it is from the Book, but it is not from the Book, and they say: “This is from Allah,” but it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie against Allah while they know it. (Ale Imraan 78)

        فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَٰذَا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَّهُم مِّمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ

        Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands and then say, “This is from Allah,” to purchase with it a little price! Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for that they earn thereby. (Al Baqarah 79)

        So it is clear from these ayaat that the Jews and the Christians have changed their millats (ways.) What does this mean? It means that we should not allow the followings of the Christians and the Jews on the basis of saying that “no, no, it is not a religious matter anymore, it is more secular, or more materialistic now.” This is a wrong way of thinking. Even if the Christians were to stop saying 1 in 3 and 3 in 1, and started proclaiming materialism, and worship of money as we see them unconsciously doing today, it is still their millat (way), and so we do not follow them. And as some of the scholars have stated, and I do not agree or disagree with this as I myself do not have that knowledge, that A muslim should stay away from those people who when they proclaim something relating to matters of aqeedah, and religion, and such, that the Jews, and Christians are pleased with them. This is a sign of nifaaq, because of the ayaat, that the Jews and Christians will NEVER be pleased with you until you follow their way. And if they ARE pleased with you, then this means that you are following their way.

        Just going back to prove something about “The holiday is secular and not religious for them” It is very easy to prove this wrong. Tell the Christians and Jews to change the dates of Christman, Hannukah, etc. They will never do it because even though it may be at face value,secular, it is still in the undertone, a religious aspect of their way.

        So I hope that I have refuted these two arguments, and as Allah says

        And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”

        [Aal- ‘Imraan 3:81-85]

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      • Ify Okoye

        That’s a nice elucidation, which may be used to back up one side of the argument. Jazak’allah khayr. However, this interpretation is not universal and those on the other side will use to maxims of the shariah among their evidences and that hadith among others to show that other celebrations of a non-religious nature were permitted at the time of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and even today.

        I’m not arguing about the permissibility of celebrating Thanksgiving Day or other days, that’s a topic for another day, insha’Allah. My contention is that there is validity to both arguments, in regard to Thanksgiving Day and we need not try to force others to accept our opinion and we also need not bash them if they take the other opinion. And Allah knows best.

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      • Muzzammil

        Yup I agree with you in those matters brother, There are surely opinions on the other side of the coin, evidence which may just be as strong as the conservative opinion. Therein lies the beauty of how Islam accommodates and protects different fiqh and thoughts. When it comes to Thanksgiving, Halloween, and other “secular” holidays, there is a gray line. Personally, I refuse to celebrate those based on my understanding; and I can surely live with those with the other understanding. However, I think we should agree on for example, Christmas and Easter, which celebrate, and originate from Shirk, is impermissible to be part of; either in our heart by believing, our tongue by congratulating, or our actions by either emulating the actions of the kuffar on that day, or by going with them and joining in their ceremonies..It is a part of our Aqeedah to refrain from Christmas, and Easter, unlike Thanksgiving which delves into Fiqh….again there is a gray line as to whether or not we can go there and just watch, and not be part of….my personal opinion on that – If you see an evil (and anything celebrating shirk is by nature an evil) one should either stop with actions, or tongue, or should just believe it to be bad in the heart….however that is just my opinion and I still respect as my brother and sister those who don’t follow this opinion. As for actually celebrating Christmas and Easter, by participating in the same rites as mass, etc. this is no doubt a shirk unless force is involved.

        Again, I am just human, and not too good of one at that, so I am not saying my opinion is the correct one, and I surely am not trying to shove it down anyone’s throats; I ask you to forgive me brother if I have insulted your beliefs in any way, the same goes for anyone who disagrees with me; that is my opinion, as well as that of many other scholars – but then there are scholars for the other side too, I guess –

        As for celebrating Christmas, and other explicitly religious holidays, which are haraam by consensus –

        Please listen to this Khutbah – One of the best Khutbas ever given on this topic in my opinion; took place last December, The Khateeb is Sheikh Abu Adnaan – He is from Australia – The name of the lecture is George Celebrates Eid – Oh and I am sorry if I am not allowed to post any links; I don’t know your rules on that type of stuff

        http://www.kalamullah.com/Abu%20Adnan/George%20celebrates%20Eid.mp3

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      • Mansoor Ansari

        However, this interpretation is not universal and those on the other side will use to maxims of the shariah among their evidences and that hadith among others to show that other celebrations of a non-religious nature were permitted at the time of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam

        Sister Ify,

        Can you please give us an example if a celebration of a non-religious nature that was permitted at the time of the Nabi sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

        And how can this hadith be used to justify celebrating non-religious festivals when Nabi sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam is referring to a non-religious festival in the hadith.

        Reported by Anas may Allaah be pleased with him who said: “When the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) reached Madeenah, he noticed that the people of Madeenah used to celebrate two specific days. The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) asked them “Why are you celebrating these two days?” They answered, “We used to play and have fun on these days during the pre-Islamic period.” The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “Allaah has replaced these two days with something better, ‘Eed Al-Fitr and ‘Eed Al-Adh-Haa.” [Ahmad and Abu Daawood]

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      • Ify Okoye

        Click on the link my friend and you’ll find that discussion already happened with evidence quoted.

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  3. Hena Zuberi

    I get bugged by my friends all the time for the disparity in my not celebrating birthdays, Valentine’s day, Halloween but going all out on Thanksgiving. My husband was raised in California, this is the one occasion that he gets excited about- its his family tradition- (he likes the turkey)- it was the compromise we came to in our marriage when I pushed for letting go of the “Hallmark” holidays.

    Last year was the best because it was the day before Eid- we had a quintessential Muslim American celebration. Around this time I would be going crazy making sure all the ‘fixins’ are done. My husband and I have a great time cooking the bird together, we have friends over. Sometimes I make the traditional meal other times, I spice up the pumpkin and make it desi style. This is the first time I am not making the ‘feast’ afters years – I am having anxiety since I have nothing to do (lol) My friend is cooking this time around for the first time so I am counseling her on the phone :)

    I bought halal turkey since they are only available around this time of the year- maybe I’ll cook it over the weekend.

    As for the history behind the day, my daughter and I were just reading about it in her history book- it says the feast may not have been held as commonly portrayed:
    1.the first ‘thanksgiving’ could have been held by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado about a century before Plymouth Rock or by the French Huguenots in Florida
    2.they most likely ate venison,eels, clams, lobster or ducks
    3.they had no sugar- so they probably did not have cranberries or pumpkin pie ( none of my kids like it so I substitute red velvet cake which gets gobbled up) (excuse the pun)
    plus if the Native Americans said a prayer they would not have said it to Jesus (AS)
    4. the pilgrims had a harvest festival, not, primarily a celebration of thanks to God, so it was probably around September- they gave thanks before every meal just as Muslims do

    my two cents- don’t make it a must, a fardh
    – use the time to bond with family, friends as often this is the only time they get off from work/college
    – many of us didn’t get to meet our loved ones for Eid as it was in the middle of the week

    I do avoid the Black Friday madness that follows the day.

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    • Ify Okoye

      Jazaki’Allah khayr for sharing your experiences, I know many of us struggle to find a balance and resolution between competing forces and demands. May Allah make it easy for you. Ameen.

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  4. Safia Farole

    Mashallah, great insight into the life and struggles of reverts. As an ummah we are truly blessed to have such a diversity of life experiences, and reverts occupy a very special position in our community, in my opinion at least (we’re fortunate to have such people who can bridge indigenous culture and Islamic identity).

    As for the discussion on those born Muslim wanting to celebrate this holiday I just imagined the reaction from my Somali family if I introduced such a thought – it would be deemed heretical:) You get my drift; some conservative families are not willing to entertain difference of opinions on some matters, even if it legitimately exists in shari’ah. But the funny thing is, I have 2 male reverts in my family (both are my brother-in-laws). One of them actually hosted a “pre-thanksgiving” “thanksgiving” dinner last saturday. And guess what we had? – turkey! (+ greens, stuffing, bread rolls, yams, exc.) Mashallah it was delicious (and different from the lamb and rice ritual we usually have), and I’m glad that my family can accomodate the cultural practices of my brother-in-laws, even if it doesn’t occur on thanksgiving day. And one more thing – my brother in law’s mom did the cooking that day, and she was so happy that her son could enjoy this dinner with her, and I think she’s now warming up to Islam (more so than in previous years when he would refuse to have a “thanksgiving” meal). Just food for thought…

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    • Ify Okoye

      I hope we can serve to bridge some of the cultural gaps but often especially in that super-salafi convert zeal, we foolishly only serve to increase the space and harm relations and leave an image unworthy of the beauty of the deen of Islam.

      Fascinating story from your family’s experience and also a great that the occasion can be used to bring your family Muslim and non-Muslim closer together. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Sidiq

    We do not need to take a special day to be just and thankful to our family and to praise Allah, we should be doing that everyday really. If celebrating Thanksgiving day is not an imitation of the disbelievers, then I don’t know what is, other than being on the verge of apostasy! May Allah protect us. Having said that, in Britain nobody really cares about this day, America seems to be the homeland of fitna and ultra-liberal Muslims. Emigration to Britain is pretty much obligatory on all American Muslims :)

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  6. Hassan

    May be the fatwa can vary from person to person (or culture to culture).

    Since in my culture and people do not celebrate it, I do not, as it would be imitating kuffar, but for people whose culture has thanksgiving, perhaps the imitation is not an issue.

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    • daleels

      you should listen to fiqh of tashabbuh by waleed basyouni (audio islaam). clarifies this stuff very well. what defines cultire etc.

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  7. Charles

    Part of the reasoning for not celebrating non-Islamic holidays is to avoid imitating non-believers. How far should this type of reasoning go?

    For example, Sunday is the Christian holy day and the day for their worship. (Some Christians do celebrate Saturday instead.) In Christianity, Sunday is also considered a day of rest. (Wikipedia has some background information on this.)

    In order not to imitate Christians, should Muslims work on Sunday? Is it haram for Muslims living in the West to take Sunday off from work?

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  8. Were we misled? « Peace, Bruv

    [...] latest issue being discussed is the validity of celebrating Thanksgiving on sites including Muslim Matters and Suhaib Webb. Only ten years ago there would have been no question as to the impermissibility of [...]

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  9. Slave of Allah

    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Shaykh al-’Allaamah Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen:

    [Ruling on celebrating non-Muslim holidays and congratulating them.]

    Question:
    Can a muslim celebrate a non-muslim holiday like Thanksgiving?

    Answer:
    Praise be to Allaah.

    Greeting the kuffaar on Christmas and other religious holidays of theirs is haraam, by consensus, as Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said in Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah: “Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is haraam by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on. Many of those who have no respect for their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or bid’ah or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allaah.”

    Congratulating the kuffaar on their religious festivals is haraam to the extent described by Ibn al-Qayyim because it implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of kufr, even if one would not accept those things for oneself. But the Muslim should not aceept the rituals of kufr or congratulate anyone else for them, because Allaah does not accept any of that at all, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “If you disbelieve, then verily, Allaah is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you. . .”
    [al-Zumar 39:7]

    “. . . This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion . . .”
    [al-Maa’idah 5:3]

    So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise.

    If they greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to Allaah. These festivals are innovations in their religions, and even those which may have been prescribed formerly have been abrogated by the religion of Islaam, with which Allaah sent Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to the whole of mankind. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]

    It is haraam for a Muslim to accept invitations on such occasions, because this is worse than congratulating them as it implies taking part in their celebrations.

    Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the kuffaar by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtidaa’ al-siraat al-mustaqeem mukhaalifat ashaab al-jaheem: “Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak.”

    Whoever does anything of this sort is a sinner, whether he does it out of politeness or to be friendly, or because he is too shy to refuse, or for whatever other reason, because this is hypocrisy in Islaam, and because it makes the kuffaar feel proud of their religion.

    Allaah is the One Whom we ask to make the Muslims feel proud of their religion, to help them adhere steadfastly to it, and to make them victorious over their enemies, for He is the Strong and Omnipotent.

    Majmoo’ah Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, (3/369)

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    • Charles

      Is Thanksgiving really a religious holiday? As a former Christian, I never considered it to be a religious holiday. There were/are no religious rituals associated with it. As far as I know it’s not celebrated by Christians outside of the U.S. and Canada. So, it’s not a Christian holiday. It’s just a local remembrance of God’s help in surviving in a new land.

      I suppose in the sense that one is giving thanks to God, it can be considered religious. But giving thanks to Allah is part of submission to Allah, so it’s not clear to me how that’s imitating non-Muslims other than setting aside one day for giving thanks. Of course, we should give thanks every day, actually, every second.

      Before worrying about giving thanks to Allah on a certain day in a year (and this is not to avoid consideration of the topic but to prioritize topics), I would question Muslim countries celebrating days of independence. Celebrating independence focuses on national pride and ambitions, which has nothing to do with Islam. I don’t like the words “pride” and “ambition,” but if I were to use them, I would say that our pride should be in what Allah has revealed to us, and our ambition should be to submit completely to Allah.

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  10. Khaled

    Its amazing that the people who defend celebrating these holidays do it on the basis that its not a Christian holiday but a secular one!! Its as if secularism is better than Christianity.

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    • Mujaahid

      No one is saying secularism is better than Christianity… they defend it on the basis that it’s not a Christian, but secular, holiday – not to say that secularism is better, but that if it has no religious basis, then it should be considered a general, non-religious celebration which would be considered permissible by default in Islam. The issue of “imitating non-Muslims” would not apply, as it only relates to matters of their religion! But when it is argued that Thanksgiving is not rooted in Christianity, that would mean [according to their argument] that – unlike Christmas – it is not an impermissible celebration.

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  11. Dawood Doerr

    The question has to also come up. Is there going to be alcohol served at the Thanksgiving Day table? Growing up in the US it would be strange to me to hear of a family that doesn’t drink wine or beer on that day.

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      • Slave of Allah

        Salam ‘alaykum sister Ify Okoye.

        It does not matter if your parents drink alcohol or not. As I quoted earlier above concerning those festivals or feasts, that it is harām by ijmā’ (إجماع) [scholarly consensus] for us to be part in, as mentioned by shaykhul-Islām ibnul-Qayyim (may Allāh have mercy upon him).

        So here is an explicit daleel:

        Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allāh have mercy upon him) said: it is not permissible for the Muslims to attend the festivals of the mushrikīn, according to the consensus of the scholars whose words carry weight. The fuqahā’ who follow the four schools of thought have stated this clearly in their books… Al-Bayhaqī narrated with a sahīh isnād from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb that he said: “Do not enter upon the mushrikīn in their churches on the day of their festival, for divine wrath is descending upon them.” And ‘Umar also said: “Avoid the enemies of Allāh on their festivals.” Al-Bayhaqī narrated with a jayyid isnād from ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr that he said: “Whoever settles in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their new year and festival and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahkām Ahl al-Dhimmah, 1/723-724).

        Allāh سبحانه وتعالى said:

        ( وَمَن يُشَاقِقِ ٱلرَّسُولَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَيَتَّبِعۡ غَيۡرَ سَبِيلِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ نُوَلِّهِۦ مَا تَوَلَّىٰ وَنُصۡلِهِۦ جَهَنَّمَ‌ۖ وَسَآءَتۡ مَصِيرًا )

        “And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.” (An-Nisā’, 115)

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      • Ify Okoye

        Wa salaam alaykum Slave of Allah,

        May Allah reward you for your efforts here and on my personal blog. I think I mentioned this in the article that there was a time in my life where I perhaps like you took my religion solely or mostly from books, lectures, and online easy to copy/paste fatawa but this is inadequate for so many reasons chief among them being the lack of contextualization. And for this context and understanding to develop, we need the aid of real, living, people of knowledge. Anyone can read or parrot a text but it takes someone of keen intellect and firm grounding in the religion to look at situation, look at the evidences and goals of the shariah to come to an practical understanding that one can then implement that affirms the principles of our religion.

        The goal of this piece was not to enter into a discussion of holidays in general, but of Thanksgiving Day, in particular. And not so much on the permissibility of the day as from among the people of knowledge that I learn from are those who take both opinions and both groups have their evidences. So we need not try to force others to agree with us nor bash them for disagreeing with us.

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      • Slave of Allah

        SubhanAllah.

        Every friday, we are reminded by the saying of Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “…Beware of newly invented matters, for every invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a going astray, and every going astray is in Hell-fire.” Likewise ‘Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (رضي الله عنه) said: “Follow and do not innovate, for indeed you have been sufficed, and every innovation is misguidance.” Also, Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) mentioned: “Every bida’ah is a misguidance, even if the people see it as something good.” (1)

        Since you are talking about celebrating Thanksgiving Day, and clear evidences doesn’t sufficed you, and since this message that you give could be misunderstood by many. By telling people that it is okey to attend those kinds of festivals, the question may raise that if this Thanksgiving is okey for us then other festivals practiced by kuffaar will be okey for us! Such as christmas, valentine, easter, even celebrating the birthday of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)! Although many scholars and people who make da’wah had clearly discussed those issues that we are not allowed to celebrate or attend those kinds of festivals. We have here, scholars and people who make da’wah (click and see the evidences!):

        Jamaal ud-Deen Zarabozo, Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, Dr. Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi, Abu Usamah adh-Dhahabi, Dr. Muhammad Salah, Assim Hakeem, Kamal el-Mekki, Abu Adnan, Zakir Naik, Abu Mussab Wajdi Akkari, Feiz Muhammad, Yusuf Estes, etc.

        In Islamqa it states:

        …The fact that some of those who go against sharee’ah are justifying what they do based on the actions of some imams of mosques or some teachers of Islamic education, will not benefit them before their Lord, because what is required of the Muslim is to follow the example of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and it is not permissible for him to put the teaching of anyone else before the teachings of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

        “Indeed in the Messenger of Allaah (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allaah and the Last Day, and remembers Allaah much” [al-Ahzaab 33:21]

        “And (remember) the Day (Allaah) will call to them, and say: ‘What answer gave you to the Messengers?’” [al-Qasas 29:65]

        If the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is clear, then it is not permissible for a Muslim to ignore it because of the actions or words of some person. Imam al-Shaafi’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The people [scholars] are unanimously agreed that if the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has become clear to a person, it is not permissible for him to forsake it because of the opinion of any person…

        So this should not doubt you it’s impermissibility of attending or participating the festivals of kuffaar. So the proofs that other “people of knowledge” bring are in fact invalid and against them without me having to see their evidences because there is already ijmaa’ (consensus) by the scholars that it is haraam for us! So there is indeed clear evidences!

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  12. wondering

    I find it strange that people have forgotton that the Prophet salallahu alahy wa salam told us to be kind to our parents and respectful to them and to uphold the ties of kinship, BUT if they asked us to disobey Allaah subhana wa taAllah then we should not listen to them in that, rather we obey Allaah swt first and foremost.

    I hope all the folks giving thanks remember the drones that are killing their muslim brothers and sisters in far away lands too. so when you sit down to that turkey maybe think about them a little, and also think about the other muslims being killed by those thankful people sitting down to their turkeys, those in Iraq, i wonder if they would feel happy about their muslim brothers and sisters sitting down for turkey on that day.

    You can keep in touch with family without falling into doubtful matters, it will take more time and effort but at least you wont have those doubts about ‘is it ok? is it not? am i sinning?’ etc

    The fact that the natives were almost wiped out, i wonder do they sit down for the turkey with a big smile on their faces?

    maybe if it had been our land that was taken and our families killed we might feel a little different.

    Nationalism is haram in islam, just because some muslims or muslim countries celebrate their independence from their ex colonial masters does not make it ok, in fact they are still in their colonial master mentaility, the reason they were encouraged to celebrate it and out do each other is so that the whole divide and rule mentality can continue. Foolishly it still goes on so does the rascist attitude and tribalism continue.

    May Allaah swt guide us all and help us all to thank Him as he should be thanked and to help our brothers and sisters everywhere around the world.

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    • Charles

      The fact that the natives were almost wiped out, i wonder do they sit down for the turkey with a big smile on their faces?

      That’s a good point. Although Thanksgiving is supposed to represent “giving thanks,” it does belong to a history of robbery, extermination, and murder, which should make us really think more than twice about celebrating it.

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    • Ify Okoye

      For the majority, irrespective of the truths and half-truths or lies and distortions we are taught in school, when people join with their family on the last Thursday in November because schools are closed as are most workplaces, it’s simply to eat a meal and enjoy each other’s company. Maybe to reflect on why one should be thankful for the blessings in one’s life but not much more. As such it’s hardly a “celebration” or reflection of anything purported to have happened in the past but rather a coming together as family and friends.

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  13. Charles

    @Slave of Allah

    I don’t follow your logic. For instance,

    If the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is clear, then it is not permissible for a Muslim to ignore it because of the actions or words of some person. Imam al-Shaafi’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The people [scholars] are unanimously agreed that if the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has become clear to a person, it is not permissible for him to forsake it because of the opinion of any person…

    It’s obvious from the comments above, that on this issue, some people do not find the Sunnah clear. The scholars are saying that if the sunnah is clear to an individual, not to the scholars. Of course, if it’s clear to any individual, scholar or nonscholar, what Allah requires through either the Quran or the sunnah, to go against that is to disobey Allah–which can never be permissible. But if it’s not clear to these individuals, then they are not forsaking the sunnah.

    Also,

    So this should not doubt you it’s impermissibility of attending or participating the festivals of kuffaar. So the proofs that other “people of knowledge” bring are in fact invalid and against them without me having to see their evidences because there is already ijmaa’ (consensus) by the scholars that it is haraam for us! So there is indeed clear evidences!

    There are quite a few intertwined problems here. One is that if other scholars disagree, whether today or at some time, then there is not a consensus of scholars.

    Another problem, that is if we exclude modern scholars, is it has to be shown that every scholar at a certain time (and all of those up until that time) agreed on a particular point. That means not simply a long list of scholars and what they’ve said, but every single scholar with respect to consensus. And as the author already noted with a link, it’s clear that the early scholars were not agreed on this issue. And note that here we are only talking about Sunni scholars, not Shia. In determining consensus, is it legitimate to exclude a group of Muslim scholars because we disagree with them?

    Also if we cannot allow later scholars to disagree with earlier ones is that we would have to assume that the earlier scholars are infallible while the later ones are fallible. But on what hadith or verse in the Quran is this assumption based?

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  14. africana

    I have no idea what Thanksgiving is, but I think one’s instinctive reaction-that discomfort that you feel when invited to participapte in an event not from our deen-is often a good measure of something’s permissibilty.

    Often for the sake of not causing offence we try to cover up that feeling with self-justifications, which is precisely what the disbeliever does with Islam over all.

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    • Charles

      I agree that one source of discomfort may be a “measure of something’s permissibility.”

      But there are other sources of discomfort. One can be from just doing something different from what you grew up with. Another source can come from knowing that others will disapprove of your actions even while you are doing what you know to be right. As a convert, I encountered quite a bit of discomfort from family opposition.

      The difficulty is in knowing which source your discomfort comes from because regardless of source, we tend to “cover up that feeling with self-justification.”

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  15. Ify Okoye

    Slave of Allah,

    It’s okay, I feel that you feel stressed, which makes me feel stressed, does that make sense? Smile.

    This post is not about the permissibility or impermissibility of all types of celebrations. Rather, one celebration in particular was mentioned, which people of knowledge have differed over. Take either opinion, both of which have legitimate evidence, may Allah accept it from you and from us.

    Even among those you highlighted, there are differences of opinion. If you wish to see Thanksgiving Day as a “festival of the kuffar” then so be it, others disagree. If you can’t handle, recognize or accept legitimate difference of opinion on this issue, then so be it. One of our teachers Wisam Sharieff taught us that “if it’s not on your plate, then don’t eat from it.” Focus your efforts on that which brings benefit and leave off needless argumentation, may you be blessed.

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    • Sidiq

      Ify, I have to be a little frank here. It’s not a nice sight when the blogger of “the thanksgiving day question” distances themselves away from any sort of questioning on the subject. From some of your comments here that I have bothered to read, it’s clear that you see your own post as a pointless exercise of telling the world what you think of Thanksgiving Day and dismissing other viewpoints as being off-topic. If this post is not really about the permissibility of Thanksgiving day and the surrounding question, then what was the point of writing it, what did you have in mind? As a blogger, you should really know what to expect from readers, shouldn’t you? I’m just saying. I’d rather read a to-and-fro debate between its permissibility (and I don’t see this to be of no “benefit” like you naively put it) because people genuinely want to know the two sides of the story to clear the matter up. I hope you understand what I’m getting at. If this post is simply to state that you enjoy Thanksgiving day, don’t use such a misleading title.

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      • Ify Okoye

        Sidiq, being frank can be good, so no worries. I feel the post for those who bothered to read it stands on its own. As an author, one can only do so much to guide the reader and if a reader and commenter takes away something other than what was intended or wishes to turn the discussion into something outside the scope of this post, that is their prerogative, doesn’t mean I have to agree or engage. I don’t see my post as pointless, rather my intent was to share some of my experience and the experience of others in relation to lived reality of this day and how the discussion from halal to haram has informed that experience.

        We accept guest submissions, the best way to see what you’d prefer to read is to write it and submit it to info@muslimmatters.org. :)

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      • Sidiq

        Fair response, thanks. I always consider submitting something to MM, perhaps in the near future. Just to let you know though, I do regard yourself as being one of the real quality writers on MM, even if I don’t agree with some of the things you write. You certainly know how to fill up the comments section, that’s usually a sign that the article is well-written and stirring up interest. With this particular post though, I’m confident in speaking for others also when I say that since I expected an all-out debate on the permissibility of Thanksgiving day, naturally I was a little disappointed :) Keep up the good work though.

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      • Charles

        Can an issue’s permissibility be debated if there is not a consensus among scholars?

        Issues must be discussed, of course, but I was just reading this article No Condemnation in Areas of Ijtihad. The basic concept is this:

        Ibn Taymiyyah said: “These issues of ijtihad are not obligated or condemned by force and it is not the right of anyone to force others to follow his opinion in them. Rather, he should discuss them, presenting clear evidence. Then if one opinion appears strongest to someone they should follow it and they should not rebuke someone who follows the other opinion.”

        The inability to “rebuke someone” suggests that permissibility cannot be part of the discussion. Any thoughts?

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  16. Tamim

    One thing that encouraged me to supports the view on Imam Suhaib’s blog was another article ( I can’t link it because his site is down) where he makes a great point about Usul. We need to look at the reasoning behind rules, and we need to be careful when we take literalistic interpretations. For example, one thing that was listed was a very big thing that hit me in the article, where he said that a prayer may be done perfectly by rules, but if one performs it without any sort of heart in it, or substance, is the prayer actually good? Though it is technically considered valid, we obviously should not try to aim towards that situation. Now, I am not saying that we should disobey the hadith; I am simply saying that I believe the hadith meant that we should not imitate jahil behaviors of the kuffar- for example, if they do something with their clothes that is ignorant and does not promote any good, we should avoid it. Thanksgiving brings families together, and makes people thankful for what they have – and all of us lack thanks for what Allah has blessed us with.

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    • Slave of Allah

      Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

      To: Ify Okoye, Charles and Tamim.

      Tamim, as for your saying “…Thanksgiving brings families together…” well, Allah has already perfected our Deen, it is Islam that brings families together and makes people thankful for what they have.

      So to all of you, tell me and bring me evidence if anyone, ‘ulama’ and big shuyukh, not like us, has opposed and disagrees with this ijmaa':

      Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allāh have mercy upon him) said: it is not permissible for the Muslims to attend the festivals of the mushrikīn, according to the consensus of the scholars whose words carry weight. The fuqahā’ who follow the four schools of thought have stated this clearly in their books… Al-Bayhaqī narrated with a sahīh isnād from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb that he said: “Do not enter upon the mushrikīn in their churches on the day of their festival, for divine wrath is descending upon them.” And ‘Umar also said: “Avoid the enemies of Allāh on their festivals.” Al-Bayhaqī narrated with a jayyid isnād from ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr that he said: “Whoever settles in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their new year and festival and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahkām Ahl al-Dhimmah, 1/723-724).

      When there is ijmaa’, shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahmân ibn Nâsir as-Sa’dî said: “…then it is obligatory to turn to it, and it is not lawful to oppose.” [Risaalah Lateefah Jaami’ah fee Usoolil-Fiqhil-Muhimmah, which is part of Manhajus-Saalikeen wa Tawdeehul-Fiqh bid-Deen (pp.101-112)]

      Insha’Allah, so let us bring our shuyukh here what their have to say about this: Yasir Birjas, Yasir Qadhi and Muhammad ash-Shareef.

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      • Ify Okoye

        Slave of Allah,

        If you want to know what person x has to say about this copy/paste – ask him or her directly.

        The question, which many have noted like Yasir Qadhi, Suhaib Webb, and others is not necessarily disagreeing with the contention by Ibn al-Qayyim as no one is advocating going to churches, synagogues, or temples to join in the religious festivities of any group.

        But rather the major point of disagreement is the ascription or description of a day like Thanksgiving Day as a “festival of mushrikin” and/or “imitation of the disbelievers.”

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  17. Charles

    A link in the original post has already been given to Suhaibwebb.com (the website is down right now) that gives the evidence that there is not a consensus with respect to Thanksgiving:

    There is a legitimate scholarly difference surrounding this issue. Those who hold such celebrations as forbidden do so contending that such celebrations are “religious in nature” and amount to imitating the religious rites of others. One of my teachers, Shaykh `Abdul Jalil al-Mezgouria told me, “There is nothing religious about this celebration.” In fact, I remember him giving a khutbah about it a number of years back.

    And in that post, in a response to a commenter, was written:

    I asked this question to the head of fatwa in Egypt, Dr. Muhammad Wisaam. He noted that the axiom on tunasi [the rhetoric of something changes] applies to any of these holidays. Meaning, that mufti is not concerned with what its what it meant in the past, but what it means now. When I explained the concept of this holiday to him ,and what it has grown to mean today, he stated that there is nothing wrong with this at all. This was also the answer of Dr. Muhammaad Rifat ‘Uthman who sits on the board of fatwa for the country as well as Dr. Sad Hilali a professor of comparative fiqh in al-Azhar and instructor at Dar al-Ifta.
    So, while Thanksgiving meant something to those who started it, it does not to many today (my family as an example) carry the same meaning. This is also applicable to the actions of the salaf, who did not censure some of the celebrations that began before the time of the Prophet and continued after his death (sa). Such as Atirah, the opening of the K’aba (which still happens today) and cleaning it as well as other celebrations. al-Dhabi mentions that Ali (ra) said, “Every day of ours is Nayruz. When he was served and ate Ice Cream on that day.” [See Siyar 'alam al-Nubala under Abu Hanifa and his birth].
    And Allah knows best,

    Suhaib

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    • Slave of Allah

      His saying is very ambiguous: “There is a legitimate scholarly difference surrounding this issue.”

      The scholars have agreed that it is haraam to attend the festivals of the kuffaar and to imitate them in their festivals. This is the madhhab of the Hanafis, Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis. (See al-Iqtidaa’, 2/425; Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah by Ibn al-Qayyim, 2/227-527; al-Tashabbuh al-Munhaa ‘anhu fi’l-Fiqh al-Islaami, 533).

      What a lie, as for him to quote: al-Dhabi mentions that Ali (ra) said, “Every day of ours is Nayruz. When he was served and ate Ice Cream on that day.” [See Siyar 'alam al-Nubala under Abu Hanifa and his birth].

      Al-Bayhaqi narrated that ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) was given a gift for Nawrooz and he said, What is this?” They said, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, this is the day of Nawrooz.” He said, “Then make every day Fayrooz!” Abu Usaamah said: “He, may Allaah be pleased with him, did not even want to say ‘Nawrooz.’” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubraa, 9/532).

      Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “ ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) did not even want to say the same name as they gave to their own festival, so how abut doing the same things?” (See: al-Iqtidaa’, 1/954).

      Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid said about nawrooz: “… this is not an Arabic term; the Arabic language is rich enough not to need such words, and has better words that can be used.”

      Shaykh al-Islam said: “It is not permissible for the Muslims to imitate them in any part of the things that are exclusively part of their festivals, whether it be food, dress, bathing, lighting fires or changing their habits with regard to daily living, acts of worship, etc. It is not permissible to give a feast or give gifts or sell items that will help them to do that for that purpose, or to allow children and others to do any of that, whether it is playing, wearing new clothes etc. in conclusion, they should not make that day special by adopting any of their rituals; for the Muslims, the day of the kaafirs’ festival should be like any other day.” (Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa, 52/923).

      Shaykh al-Islam also said: “Just as we should not imitate them in their festivals, so too we should not help the Muslim who wants to imitate them to do so. It is forbidden to so this. If a person issues an invitation on the occasion of their festivals that he would not ordinarily do, his invitation should not be accepted. If a Muslim gives a gift on this occasion that he would not ordinarily give at any other time, his gift should not be accepted, especially if it is something that would help a person to imitate them, as we have already stated. A Muslim should not sell anything that could help Muslims to imitate them in their celebrations, such as food, clothing and so on, because be doing so he is helping them in sin. (al-Iqtidaa’, 2/915-025).

      Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid said:

      “… the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us that groups of his ummah would follow the enemies of Allaah in some of their rituals and customs, as it says in the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him), who narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you, span by span, cubit by cubit, until even if they were to enter a lizard’s hole, you would follow them.” We said, “O Messenger of Allaah, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said, “Who else?!”

      (Narrated by al-Bukhaari in al-I’tisaam bi’l-Kitaab wa’l-Sunnah, Baab Qawl al-Nabi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) La tattabi’unna Sanan man kaana qablakum, 8/151; and by Muslim in Kitaab al-‘Ilm, Baab Ittibaa’ Sanan al-Yahood wa’l-Nasaara, 4/2054)

      What the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) spoke of has indeed come to pass and has become widespread in recent times, in many of the Muslim countries. Many of the Muslims follow the enemies of Allaah in many of their customs and ways of behaving, and imitate them in some of their rituals and in celebrating their holidays.

      The matter has been made even worse by the opening up of mass communications between peoples, whereby the rituals and customs of the kuffaar are now transmitted with the glamorous adornment of sound and image from their countries into the Muslim countries, via satellite TV and the World Wide Web (Internet). Many Muslims have been deceived by their glamour…”

      He also said concerning religious festivals by means of which they seek to draw nearer to Allaah, such as the Epiphany, Easter, Passover, Christmas, etc.: “All of this is haraam, and there is the fear that it may lead to kufr, because of the hadeeth, ‘Whoever imitates a people is one of them.’ And the one who does this is aiming to join in some of the rituals of their religion.” And he said: “Those who attend the festivals of the kuffaar in their countries and who like them because they are ignorant and have weak faith and little knowledge, may be prompted to bring some of those festivals and rituals to the Muslim countries…” Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtidaa’ al-siraat al-mustaqeem mukhaalifat ashaab al-jaheem: “Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak.”

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  18. Sureyya

    Assalamua Alaikum. I find a sad thread in this discussion. Muslims aren’t listening or taking points from each other’s discussions to learn. Christmas is different from Thanksgiving. Arguing them together is not legitimate and weakens any discussion. One is clearly a religious holiday that celebrates that which every Muslim rejects to be a Muslim. Celebrating it is wrong, without doubt. Wishing someone well during their holiday season is never wrong and is required of every Muslim, but wishing someone a Merry Christmas may well cross the line into condoning that which we must not. Islam is not so cloudy, if one is humble. Thanksgiving is a different matter all together. We note that the hadith replacing the pre-Islamic holidays with Eids did not stop the celebration of the Prophet’s entrance to Medina. Condoning the thanking of Allah subhanahu wa Ta’ala for what we have should never be condemned. The issue is one of interpretation–are we adopting a custom that is imitation of the non-muslims, or as the Prophet (pbuh) fasted just like the Prophets before him, are we simply thanking Allah, who is the Lord of us all for giving us what we have in this country? Is the argument clouded by policitical and cultural issues that blind us to being honestly grateful for this country’s good, while condemning it’s wrong deeds? This is not a religious holiday on the surface, and being grateful to Allah can never be a sin, but we need to be careful not to turn it into a religious holiday or elevate it to the level of the Eids if we do choose to observe it. That crosses the line. However, there is no doubt that the interpretation that completely equates it with pre-Islamic holidays makes Thanksgiving questionable at best. Be honest and humble whichever you choose, otherwise you risk being ignorant. Ask yourself it is unIslamic to celebrate weddings? No. But then ask if you sincerely, and in a scholarly fashion reject all other celebrations–the liberation of Muslim countries? If you do, you are consistant. If you do not, you need to examine your fiqh.

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  19. Abu Abdillah

    As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum,

    It’s Muharram. The month in which Allah’s Final Messenger fasted the most outside of Ramadhan. It’s a Thursday. One of the days we are recommended to fast on a regular basis. I look forward to feasts on our ‘Eids, the days in which our Prophet stated substituted for other eids. I am an American convert of over 30 years. Our Messenger would fast differently than others who were also ordered to fast before us, and to make it a POINT to differ from those previous communities. My non-Muslim family and the culture that I grew up in has me in a position since I am living in the US that their practices already have a greater impact on my life than I do on theirs. Holding proudly and tightly onto Islam and standing out and up for it is getting like holding onto hot coals. I can invite my family for eids or other days if I really want them to come together or be with them or want my children to know them or want to give them da’wah on my terms or where I have a real say and a likelihood to be listened to. Such an event can be planned well in advance (years even) so they can take the day off or travel as can I. I want to put more effort into OUR ‘Eids than theirs. I fasted today and I pray it was accepted.

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