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Muslims, the Turkey, & the Thanksgiving Day Question

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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 daleel, 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.

 

Ify Okoye is a Muslim woman, a convert, born and raised in the U.S. She is from New York and her parents are from Nigeria. Despite the petty hassles of work and school, Ify finds time to travel usually for AlMaghrib Institute seminars and to visit beautiful places. Pronunciation primer for her name, say it like this: E-fee O-coy-yeah!

56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. Pingback: Muslims, the Turkey, & the Thanksgiving Day Question « Ify Okoye

  2. Avatar

    Ahmad AlFarsi

    November 25, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    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 :)

  3. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    November 25, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    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.

  4. Avatar

    Askia Toure

    November 25, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    What’s wrong with celebrating Thanksgiving?

    • Avatar

      Ify Okoye

      November 25, 2010 at 5:17 PM

      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.

      • Avatar

        daleels

        November 25, 2010 at 8:55 PM

        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

        November 25, 2010 at 9:33 PM

        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???

        • Avatar

          Ify Okoye

          November 25, 2010 at 10:01 PM

          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.

          • Avatar

            muslimah

            November 25, 2010 at 11:37 PM

            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.

            :)

          • Avatar

            Ify Okoye

            November 26, 2010 at 9:16 AM

            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. :)

          • Avatar

            Nihal

            November 26, 2010 at 12:46 PM

            We should have a Hall of Fame for some of these comments.

          • Avatar

            Ubaid B.

            November 29, 2010 at 5:42 PM

            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.

          • Avatar

            Ify Okoye

            November 29, 2010 at 10:13 PM

            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.

      • Avatar

        Muzzammil

        November 25, 2010 at 11:11 PM

        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]

        • Avatar

          Ify Okoye

          November 25, 2010 at 11:28 PM

          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.

          • Avatar

            Muzzammil

            November 26, 2010 at 10:03 AM

            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

          • Avatar

            Mansoor Ansari

            November 29, 2010 at 6:48 PM

            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]

          • Avatar

            Ify Okoye

            November 29, 2010 at 10:01 PM

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

  5. Hena Zuberi

    Hena Zuberi

    November 25, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    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

      November 25, 2010 at 10:10 PM

      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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    Safia Farole

    November 25, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    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

      November 25, 2010 at 10:14 PM

      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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    Ify Okoye

    November 25, 2010 at 11:53 PM

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    Sidiq

    November 26, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    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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    Hassan

    November 26, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    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.

    • Avatar

      daleels

      November 27, 2010 at 12:24 AM

      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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    Charles

    November 27, 2010 at 6:16 AM

    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?

  11. Pingback: Were we misled? « Peace, Bruv

  12. Avatar

    Slave of Allah

    November 29, 2010 at 2:39 AM

    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)

    • Avatar

      Charles

      November 29, 2010 at 11:38 AM

      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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    Khaled

    November 29, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    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

      November 14, 2013 at 9:39 PM

      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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    Dawood Doerr

    November 29, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    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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      Ify Okoye

      November 29, 2010 at 10:00 PM

      My parents weren’t drinkers so alcohol never really played a part in the meals.

      • Avatar

        Slave of Allah

        November 30, 2010 at 3:53 AM

        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)

        • Avatar

          Ify Okoye

          November 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM

          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.

          • Avatar

            Slave of Allah

            December 2, 2010 at 1:42 AM

            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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            Charles

            December 3, 2010 at 4:44 PM

            According to the article The Meaning of Bid’a by Sh. G. F. Haddad, not every innovation is misguidance.

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    wondering

    November 30, 2010 at 12:58 PM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Charles

      December 3, 2010 at 7:49 AM

      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.

    • Avatar

      Ify Okoye

      December 3, 2010 at 7:54 AM

      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.

  16. Avatar

    Charles

    December 3, 2010 at 4:51 AM

    @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?

  17. Avatar

    africana

    December 3, 2010 at 7:25 AM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Charles

      December 3, 2010 at 7:39 AM

      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.”

  18. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    December 3, 2010 at 7:44 AM

    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

      December 3, 2010 at 2:08 PM

      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.

      • Avatar

        Ify Okoye

        December 3, 2010 at 2:17 PM

        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. :)

        • Avatar

          Sidiq

          December 3, 2010 at 2:34 PM

          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.

      • Avatar

        Charles

        December 3, 2010 at 2:45 PM

        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?

  19. Avatar

    Tamim

    December 15, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    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.

    • Avatar

      Slave of Allah

      December 16, 2010 at 11:33 AM

      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.

      • Avatar

        Ify Okoye

        December 16, 2010 at 2:12 PM

        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.”

  20. Avatar

    Charles

    December 16, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    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

    • Avatar

      Slave of Allah

      December 17, 2010 at 2:33 AM

      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.”

  21. Avatar

    Sureyya

    December 17, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    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.

  22. Avatar

    Abu Abdillah

    November 22, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    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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#Islam

When Faith Hurts: Do Good Deeds = Good Life?

Loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way- even if it hurts. It is a time to learn.

Zeba Khan

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hurts, hardship. Allah, test, why Allah is testing me

The Messenger of Allahṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that the faith in our hearts wears out the way our clothes wear out. Deterioration, maintenance, and renewal are part of the cycle.  That’s life with all that hurts. That’s normal.

But what happens when that’s life, but life is not your normal? What happens when it feels like life isn’t normal, hasn’t been normal, and won’t be normal for a foreseeably long time?  For some of us, refreshing faith becomes secondary to just keeping it.

It’s easier to say Alhamdulillah when you are happy. It’s harder when you’re not. That’s human nature though. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with what we teach about faith that can leave us unprepared for when Allah tests it. I believe that our discussions about faith tend to be overly simplistic. They revolve around a few basic concepts, and are more or less summed up with:

Faith = Happiness

Righteousness = Ease

Prayer = Problem Solved

Good Deeds Equals Good Life?

Basically, the TLDR is Good Deeds = The Good Life. None of these statements are technically untrue. The sweetness of faith is a joy that is beyond any other gratitude, for any other thing in this world. Righteousness in the sight of Allah will put you on the path to the good life in the afterlife. Making dua can be the solution to your problems. But when we say these things to people who have true faith but not happiness, or righteous behavior yet distressing hardship, we’re kind of implying that that either Islam is broken (because their prayers seem unanswered), or they are broken (because their prayers are undeserving of answers.) And neither of those is true either.

Allow me to elaborate. I think it’s safe to say that there is not a single parent who has not begged Allah to make their sick or disabled child well again. Yet, our Ummah still has sick and disabled children. Through history, people have begged Allah for a loved one’s life, and then buried them – so is prayer not equal to problem solved?

Many righteous people stand up, and are then ostracized for their faith. Many people speak truth in the face of a tyrant only to be punished for it. Many of us live with complete conviction, with unshakeable belief in the existence and wisdom and mercy of Allah, and still find ourselves unhappy and afraid of what He has willed for us.

Are We Broken?

No, but our spiritual education is. In order to fix it, we have to be upfront with each other. We have to admit that we can be happy with Allah and still find ourselves devastated by the tests He puts before us, because faith is not a protection from struggle.

Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever said this to anyone else?

No one ever told me. It was hard for me to learn that lesson on my own, when I pleaded with Allah to make my son’s autism go away, and it didn’t. Everyone told me –Make dua! The prayer of a mother for her child is special! Allah will never turn you down!

It was hard trying to make sense of what seemed like conflicting messages- that Allah knows best, but a mother’s prayer is always answered. It was even harder facing people who tried to reassure me of that, even when it obviously wasn’t working.

“Just make dua! Allah will respond!”

I’m sure people mean well. But it’s hard not to be offended. Either they assume I have never bothered to pray for my son, or they imply that there must be good reason why Allah’s not granting to my prayers. What they don’t consider is that allowing my test to persist – even if I don’t want it to- is also a valid response from Allah.

I have been told to think back in my life, and try to determine what sin caused my child’s disability, as if the only reason why Allah wouldn’t give me what I asked for was because I was so bad I didn’t deserve it. As if good deeds equaled the good life, and if my life wasn’t good, it’s because I hadn’t been good either.

Bad Things Happen to Good People

You can assume whatever you like about my character, but bad things do happen to good people, even when they pray. You can try your hardest and still fall short. You can pray your whole life for something that will never come to you. And strength of faith in that circumstance doesn’t mean living in a state of unfulfilled hope, it means accepting the wisdom in the test that Allah has decreed for you.

That’s a bit uncomfortable, isn’t it.  When we talk about prayer and hope, we prefer to talk about Zakariyyah 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – who begged Allah for a child and was gifted with one long after anyone thought it even possible. But we also need to talk about Abu Talib.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was raised by his uncle Abu Talib, and in his mission to preach Islam he was protected by Abu Talib.  But Abu Talib died without accepting Islam, was there something wrong with the Prophet, that Allah did not give him what he asked for? Was he not good enough? Did he not pray hard enough? Astaghfirullah, no. So if Prophets of God can ask for things and still not get them, why are we assuming otherwise for ourselves?

Making a Bargain with Allah

If we can understand that faith is not a contract for which we trade prayers for services, then maybe we can cope better when fate cannot be bargained with. Maybe it won’t have to hurt so bad – on spiritual level – when Allah withholds what we ask for, even when we asked for the “right” things in the right way and at all the right times.

Life is not simple. Faith is not simple. The will of Allah is not simple, no matter how much we want it to be, and when oversimplify it, we create a Muslim version of Prosperity Gospel without meaning to.

If you’ve never heard of it, prosperity gospel is a religious belief among some Christians that health and wealth and success are the will of God, and therefore faith, good deeds and charity increase one’s wellbeing. Have faith, and God will reward you in this life and the next. That’s nice. But it’s too simple. Because the belief that Good Deeds = The Good Life doesn’t explain how Ibraheem 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s father tried to have him burnt alive.

Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s brothers left him for dead in the bottom of a well. He grew up a slave and spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Aasiya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – the wife of the Pharoah – one of the four best women in the history of womankind – died from her husband’s torture.

Good people are not guaranteed good lives. Islam is what we need, not a system of practices that we use to fulfill our needs.

When we limit our understanding of faith to a simplistic, almost contractual relationship with Allah, then we can’t even explain the things that Allah Tested His own prophets with.

Nor can we understand, or even begin to cope with- what He Tests the rest of us with either. We have to be real in our talk about faith, because otherwise we set each other up for unrealistic expectations and lack of preparation for when we face hardship. Faith is not protection from hardship. Faith is part of hardship. And hardship is part of faith.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) asks us in the opening of Surah ‘Ankabut,

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test? We certainly tested those before them. And ˹in this way˺ Allah will clearly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are liars.

Allah says in Surah Baqarah, ayah 155: “And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of the fruits of your labor. But give glad tidings to those who are patient in adversity.

tests, hurts, faith , hardship

Allah Tests Everyone Differently

Allah tests each of us differently, but in every single case – every single time – a test is an invitation to success. Hardship is the process through which we prove ourselves. Experiencing it– and then drawing closer to Allah through it –is how faith is tested as well as strengthened.

If we can change how we perceive hardship, then we can also change how we perceive each other. On our cultural subconscious, we still see worldly failure as being equivalent to spiritual failure. So when we see people who are homeless, we assume fault. When we see people facing depression or divorce, we assume fault. We even look at refugees and victims and special needs children and we look for fault. Because if it’s that bad then it’s has to be someone’s fault, right?

Fault is how we place blame. Blame is how we know whose mistake it is. But the will of Allah is never a mistake, it’s a test.  Instead of faulting each other for what Allah tests us with, we could respect each other for the struggles we all endure. We could see each other with more compassion for our challenges, and less aversion when Allah tests us with dealing each other.

So when you’ve done things the right way, but the right things aren’t happening. Or you’ve been charitable to others, and they’re being evil towards you. Or you’ve earned only halal, but haram- it’s been taken away from you, remember this- your faith is being tested. Allah tests those that He loves. When He raises the difficulty level, Allah is extending a direct invitation for you to climb higher.

So How Do We Succeed When Faced With Failure?

The first thing to do is redefine failure. There is only one true failure in this life, and that is dying on the wrong side of Siraat ul Mustaqeem, because if close your eyes and wake up in Jahannam, no success in this life can compensate for that.

I find that helpful to remember, when I fail to stay fit because I can’t exercise without hurting myself, when I fail to fast in Ramadan because it’s dangerous for me to do so- when I fail to discover a cure for my family’s personal assortment of medical issues through rigorous internet “research,” none of that is my failure either. And I can feel a lot of different ways about these situations, but I do not feel guilty- because it’s not my fault. And I do not feel bitter, because my test is my honor. Even when I do feel scared.

Being scared in not a failure either. Neither is being unemployed. Being unmarried is not a failure. Being childless is not a failure. Being divorced is not a failure. Nothing unpleasant or miserable or unexpected is a failure. It’s all just a test, and seeing it as a test means you have the state of mind to look for the correct answers.

Not even sin is failure, because as long as you are alive, your sin stands as an invitation to forgiveness. The bigger the sin, the greater the blessings of repenting from it.  Everything that goes bad is the opening of the door for good. A major sin can be the first step on a journey that starts with repentance and moves you closer to Allah every day thereafter. Sin only becomes failure when it takes you farther away from Allah, rather than closer to him.

Jahannam is the Only Failure

Addiction is not a failure. Depression is not a failure. Poverty is not a failure. Jahannam is the only failure. Everything else is a gap in expectations.

You assumed you would have something, but it’s not written for you. You assumed you’d ask Allah for something and He’d give it to you, but what is that assumption based on again? That good deeds are the guarantee to the good life, and that prayer equals problem solved?

Allah has all the knowledge, Allah has the wisdom, Allah is the best of Planners – how are you assuming that your wishes supersede His will? Even when you put your wishes in the form of a prayer?

They don’t. It is absolutely true that Allah may choose to rewrite Qadr itself based on your prayers – but that’s still His choice. Allah has always, and will always be in control of this world. And that means your world too. If you still think you’re in control, you will find it really, really hard to cope the first time you realize you’re not.

When we understand that we don’t get to control what happens and what doesn’t, we can then release ourselves from the misplaced guilt of things going wrong.  Lots of special needs parents struggle with guilt. I meet them often – and every single parent has asked the question- directly or indirectly-

What did I do for my child to deserve this?

Can you hear the presumption in there? That the parents were good, so why did something bad happen? They were expecting for good deeds to equal the good life.

There’s a second presumption in there too, that their life choices were a determining factor of what happened to their child. That is a presumption of control. And as long as you try to hold on to that presumption of control, there is the constant feeling of failure when it just doesn’t work the way you think it will.

I am not proposing that we lose hope in Allah and despair of His Mercy. I am in no way insinuating that Allah doesn’t hear every prayer, hasn’t counted every tear, and isn’t intimately aware of your pain and your challenges. Allah hears your prayers, and in His wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we want. In His Wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we need.

Even if we don’t see it.

Even if it scares us.

Even if it hurts us – because Allah has promised that He will never, ever break us.

hurts, hardship, special needs

Allah Tests Us in His Mercy

I am proposing that we put trust in the wisdom of Allah, and understand that when He tests us, that is part of his mercy, not a deviation from it. When He grants something to us, that is part of His mercy, and when he withholds something from us, that too is part of His Mercy, even if we don’t like it. Even when we ask Him to take it away.

The third thing I would like to propose, is that we correct our understanding of – Fa Inna Ma’Al usri yusraa, Inna Ma’al usri yusra.

So verily, definitely, for sure- with hardship there is ease. Again, Inna – for sure, with hardship there is ease.

I’m sure lots of you have said this to people you loved, or to yourself when you’re struggling with something and you’re just trying to get through it. But did you mean that this hardship will end, and then things will be good again? Like as soon as things have been hard for a while, Allah will make them easy again?

Would you believe that’s not really what that means? Ma’a means with, not after. With this hardship, there is ease. And maybe you’re like aww man, but I wanted the ease! I want the hardship to go away and Allah I’m ready for my ease now!

But that hardship, will bring you ease. Allah does not tell us what the ease will be, or when it will be- but He says it’s there, so trust Him. Even if you can’t see it right away, or in this life –it will become apparent.

I can tell you some of the ease I found with mine.

Learning When It Hurts

When my son was diagnosed with autism, my husband and I had to drop everything. We dropped our plans to save, to travel, and to live the charmed life of neurotypical parents whose only fears are that their children may grow up and NOT become Muslim doctors. We spent our earnings and our savings and our time and our nights and our tears and Alhamdulillah, we learned patience. We learned perspective. We learned compassion.

We really learned what we thought we already knew – about unconditional love and acceptance. We learned to be bigger than our fears, and smaller than our own egos. We learned to give and take help. We learn to accept what wisdom our cultures could offer us, and respectfully decline what did not. We learn to set boundaries and make rules that did justice by our children and our family, regardless of whether they were popular. With hardship comes ease.

When we couldn’t afford therapy for my son, my husband and I founded a not for profit organization in the UAE that provided it for my son and dozens of other people’s sons and daughters. Three and a half years ago I left that organization to seek better educational opportunities for my son here in the US, but it’s still running. The seed that our challenges planted has grown into something beyond us. With our hardship came ease for ourselves and others as well.

When I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, my health issues were upgraded from challenging to permanent. I had to rethink how I lived, how I planned, how I dressed, and even – my relationship with Allah. But if I had never been sick, I would never have started writing. When it hurt, I wrote. When I was scared, I wrote. When I was lonely, I wrote. And by and by the grindstone of fear and sickness and frustration sharpened my skills. Where I am today both spiritually and professionally – is actually a direct result of both autism and chronic illness. With hardship comes ease.

I don’t like my hardships, but I don’t have to. You don’t have to either. Being a good Muslim doesn’t always mean being a happy Muslim. It just means being Muslim, no matter the circumstances.

That means loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way – even if not loving everything He throws your way. You may hate your circumstances, and you may not be able to do anything about them, but as long as you trust Allah and use your hardships to come closer to him, you cannot fail, even if this life, you feel as if you never really succeeded.

hurts, depression, faith , hardship

Faith Wears Out In Our hearts, The Way Our Cothes Wear Out on Our Bodies

The hardship that damages and stains us is Allah’s invitation to repair, renew, and refresh ourselves. Our test are an invitation, an opportunity, an obstacle – but not a punishment or divine cruelty. And when we know that those tests will come, and some may even stay, then we can be better prepared for it.

Trust Allah when He says that He does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. He told us so in Surah Baqarah Ayah 286. Remember that when you are afraid, and Allah will never cause your fear to destroy you. Take your fear to Allah, and He will strengthen you, and reward you for your bravery.

Remember that when you are in pain. Allah will never cause your pain to destroy you. Take your pain to Him, and He will soothe you and reward you for your patience. Take it all to Allah – the loneliness, the anxiety, the confusion. Do not assume that the only emotions a “good Muslim” takes to Allah are gratitude and happiness and awe. Take them all to Allah, uncertainty, disappointment, anger — and He will bless you in all of those states, and guide you to what is better for you in this life, and the next, even if it’s not what you expected.

The struggles in your life are a test, and whether you pass or fail is not determined on whether you conquer them, only on whether you endure them. Expect that they will come, because having faith is not protection from struggle. Faith is protection from being broken by the struggle.

I ask Allah to protect us all from hardship, but protect us in our hardships as well. I ask Allah to grant us peace from His peace, and strength from His strength, to patiently endure and grow through our endurance.

Ameen.

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#Islam

What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

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The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza

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On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.

 

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