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4 Reasons Why Muslims Should Not Celebrate the New Year

Dr Muhammad Wajid Akhter

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Every year, a large number of Muslims get into the festive spirit and celebrate New Year’s day. Whether it’s Facebook status updates, Twitter messages or even holding New Year’s Eve parties – many Muslims (especially, but not exclusively in the West) go the whole 9 yards when it comes to ringing in the New Year. But is this a harmless cultural practice with no faith based significance or a step in the wrong direction? I believe that it is the latter.

Here are 4 reasons why I believe that Muslims should not celebrate the New Year:

4. It is Technically Inaccurate and Pagan

As Muslims, we have our own calendar that has been in constant use for 1400 years. Even though we may end up using the Gregorian calendar due to circumstances beyond our control, we know for a fact that Allah has ordained the use of the lunar calendar for us in our worship. According to our Hijri calendar (initiated by the great Sahaaba Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), the new year actually begins on the first of Muharram. To learn more about it click here.

The Gregorian calendar (so called because it was developed by Pope Gregory) decided on the 1st of January as the New Year to celebrate the circumcision of Jesus. Its origin – like so many modern-day holidays – lies in the pagan Roman festivals associated with Janus – the two headed deity who symbolised change.

3. What Exactly is There to Celebrate?

Any celebration by Muslims needs to be put into context of the local and global situation of our fellow human beings. The two Eids amply do so by encouraging prayers, duaa for those suffering and alms to the needy. However, celebrating the New Year does no such thing.

It is a celebration that is cut off from the reality of the rest of the Ummah. The starvation in Somalia, the murder in Syria, the imprisonment of Gaza, the ethnic cleansing of Burma – celebrating the New Year is pretty much exactly the opposite of the “fever and wakefulness” that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spoke about when he said we were like one body.

Salahuddin Ayyubi was once asked why he hardly ever smiled even though this was a sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). He replied, “How can I smile when I know that Masjid Al Aqsa is being defiled and the Muslims are suffering?!” That attitude, dear brothers and sisters, is why he achieved what he did and why we’re still debating on whether or not it is acceptable to send “Happy New Year” messages.

2. They may involve Un-Islamic Practices

Let’s be honest. When you picture New Year’s Eve celebration, you don’t picture people sitting in a gathering that could take place in a mosque or with the local Imam around. Instead, they are (and I know this is a generalization) usually events that mirror the celebrations of where this holiday originated from. It is usually an Islam free zone, which is not entirely surprising given that it has no basis or relationship to Islam.

1. It is Against the Spirit of Islam

I am well aware that there is a difference of opinion on this matter between scholars, and I respect that. However, there are a few points I’d make to that.

Firstly, the number of scholars who condone the celebration of the New Year are in the minority.

Secondly, the scholars who do condone it almost never actually celebrate the New Year themselves or with their families – at least not in public – showing that even though they may believe it acceptable, it is not preferable.

Thirdly, many of them predicate their views based on a number of caveats – that it is no longer a pagan or Christian ritual, that it is good dawah to non-Muslims and that it not involve any un-Islamic element. Most of these caveats are difficult to satisfy adequately.

This is meant to be a gentle reminder and not a harsh rebuke. It would be against the spirit of Islam to not show kindness and respect to non-Muslims. We are encouraged to be warm and welcoming, not least because it will attract others to our faith. By the same token, it is against the spirit of Islam to do any of the above by subordinating our own faith, culture or heritage.

There are many ways to showcase our manners and act as ambassadors for our faith without having to adopt the celebrations of others. By adopting the celebrations of others, we may be harmlessly saying a few words or just enjoying ourselves. Equally, we may be opening the door to disappearing within the dominant culture and to a future which of blurred boundaries for our community and children.

This issue occupied the minds of greater people than us – Uthman raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), Ali raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and many other of the greatest Sahaaba. When the great assemblage of the companions of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had discussed this issue at length, the matter was brought to a close by the wise words of Caliph Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that are as relevant today as they were then. He said,

The Hijrah has separated truth from falsehood, therefore, let it become the epoch of the era.” 

So this year – as the clock strikes midnight on the 10th of Rabi` al-Awal, 1436 A.H. – thank Allah for the blessings of having our own calendar and the two Eids. May Allah give us all many, many more in happiness, health and unity for the whole of the Ummah. Ameen.

 

Authors note: I would like to state here that many have made good counter-points to the article in the comments sections below. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, we can all agree that it should not divide us from each other…or from our fellow citizens.

Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - Doctor, Medical Tutor (Social Media, History & Medicine) - Islamic Historian - Founder of, and current board member to Charity Week for Orphans and needy children. www.charityweek.com - Council member, British Islamic Medical Association

173 Comments

173 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Momekh

    December 28, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    I too do not think that there is anything to “celebrate” after every 12 months. Anyone celebrating the turning of another year doesn’t really know WHY.

    And no one celebrates the Islamic New Year (Muharram) for reasons well known.

    And I also wonder why you equate reading the Quran and Hadeeth with celebration? Reading the Quran and celebrating something are two distinct activities.

    Also, and most importantly perhaps, the title of this article is designed to be clicked, whereas your article itself is much more subtle. I love the last para how you say it is a gentle reminder. The title, on the other hand, makes me say, “So Muslims celebrate twice a year on Eids, as sanctioned. What else can we celebrate? “

    • Avatar

      Sahud

      December 31, 2012 at 10:38 PM

      In reply to momekh he said: “I too do not think that there is anything to “celebrate” after every 12 months. Anyone celebrating the turning of another year doesn’t really know WHY.”
      You are very close-minded and self-centered person I can see that. Well of course you will celebrate a new year. It’s a universal calendar. Just like how you will celebrate your birthday. Another year right? And please let me tell you that Christians also don’t celebrate Ramadhan and other Islamic events. It’s the same thing. The Muslims are not required to celebrate new year even some Christians don’t.

      • Avatar

        Barry

        January 1, 2014 at 11:48 PM

        I was born Church of England (Christian) but do not subscribe to any religion – HOWEVER I do respect other peoples religious believes of any kind, how sad that it’s not a two way street. As for “Christians also don’t celebrate Ramadhan and other Islamic events” you’re not entirely correct, “celebrate” maybe they don’t but having lived many years in the UAE, Qatar and Oman, I can say that Islamic holy days are held in high regard by other faiths including Christianity, and have experienced the spirit of such events to be embraced by other faiths in a respectful way. One reason I elected to “opt out” of subscribing to any religious belief is due to the “clubism” that many religions portray – if you don’t belong to my “club” then you’re the enemy, which of course is ridiculous. As humans we should all be free to choose and if we can’t live among others because they don’t eat the same bread – then we should learn to live side by side with them. It’s all about reaching out and touching people, regardless of any per-existing conditions or beliefs we each have, let’s not forget in the realm of the universe this is a very very very small planet we all live on.

      • Avatar

        Roopesh

        January 1, 2017 at 1:08 AM

        well said Mr. Sahud

      • Avatar

        Shabir

        January 1, 2017 at 8:23 AM

        The New Years Celebrations have nothing to do with Islam, there is Scholarly Consensus from all schools of thought, how can these celebrations have anything relating to Islam, The Prophet (saw) made clear the 2 Eid are the Celebrations for the Muslims, so can a Christian pagan New Year be? People need to study matters before they speak about them, Often you’ll find these people partaking in Christmas and the other Christian festivals to some degree without any shame to justify their desires

    • Avatar

      Daniel Mogale

      July 23, 2014 at 1:12 PM

      I like the the story

      • Avatar

        Zareena

        November 15, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        Thankyou very much. It took me 5 days to write it .

      • Avatar

        Christian

        June 26, 2015 at 3:45 AM

        The main narrowness of you people mind can be seen from the inactive button for Barry’s comment. You people try to live like human beings.

    • Avatar

      Farouk

      January 1, 2015 at 1:07 AM

      Jazakallah khairan for the informative article.

    • Avatar

      Ummabdullah

      January 1, 2015 at 10:44 PM

      This is very informative article. جزاك الله خير
      Not only there are many other celebrations that we should not celebrate ; for example, baby shower, birth days, anniversaries ETC.
      We are different than any nation; we have our own occasions.

      • Avatar

        HC

        January 3, 2015 at 2:54 PM

        You are right in saying that there’s no real reason to celebrate any of these occasions. I also do not have the desire to do so. But you are wrong in stating that “other nations” are different. The image that was shown to express the difference between Eastern versus Western celebrations is very misleading. Don’t be fooled – these are two extremes. I am a Westerner and did not celebrate the new year, in stead I decided to go jogging at 07:30 to watch the sun rise on the great mosque-cathedral in Cordoba. It was magnificent. My point is to be weary of generalisations and stereotyping, brought to you by the media.

      • Avatar

        Kelly

        January 3, 2015 at 3:26 PM

        You do realize that in Islam, all is permitted except what is explicitly forbidden, except in worship where all is forbidden except what is explicitly permitted. Celebrating any of these things is not a form of worship, and has not been explicitly forbidden, therefore a ruling (or random website comment) calling it forbidden is going well beyond what we are allowed to do.

        • Avatar

          HC

          January 3, 2015 at 4:34 PM

          I agree with Kelly. The occasions for celebration listed in Ummabdullah’s response are not forbidden in Islam, but are merely culturally oriented. If you give gifts to newborn babies, enjoy. If you acknowledge someone’s date of birth, good. If you remember a date a year later, enjoy the memory.

      • Avatar

        Lcay

        December 31, 2015 at 11:03 PM

        Why not celebrate so many things.
        Just to be different?
        Religion can make a people different by adding more practices & (also) celebrations.
        Why should it subtract every other celebration?
        The author made good points againts new year celebrations, but you don’t have reason to not celebrate other events in life.
        There is no explicit teaching againts celebrating highlights of your life.
        Reasonable celebration is always good.

      • Avatar

        Zeb

        December 31, 2016 at 7:38 AM

        I agree with Kelly whole heartedly. Thanks Kelly!

      • Avatar

        Anon

        December 31, 2016 at 6:42 PM

        You are really closed minded. I pity you.

    • Avatar

      Albana

      December 30, 2016 at 5:48 PM

      I think that you should not celebrate it because you are just celebrating 1 year closer to your death.

      • Avatar

        Mathy

        January 4, 2017 at 7:39 AM

        Don’t celebrate birthdays either, I guess.
        Having some fun is a way to soften the painful reality of relentless time.

    • Avatar

      Anon

      December 31, 2016 at 6:41 PM

      So after a full 12 months of being alive, being safe and healthy shouldn’t be celebrated?

    • Avatar

      Fahad

      January 1, 2017 at 12:00 PM

      Is this really a serious issue?

      Why will people celeberate New year based on Islamic Calender when Islamic Calender is not being applied these days?

      • Avatar

        Mathy

        January 4, 2017 at 7:41 AM

        Chinese use a lunar calendar in addition to western calendar and tend to celebrate both holidays in very different ways.
        Times are tough, we can use more excuses for get-together and fun

  2. Avatar

    Yasmin

    December 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this very informative and persuasive post!

    • Avatar

      Zareena

      November 15, 2014 at 5:29 PM

      Do you come to mosce?

      • Avatar

        Zareena

        November 15, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        You should not celebrate christmas because if you do Allah want like you and when you do celebrate christmas that’s mean that shaytarn is saying to you do celebrate and also Allah is saying don’t celebrate it.

  3. Avatar

    Who cares?

    December 28, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    I will be going out, enjoying and celebrating with my friends, because I am not a narrow-minded ideologue.

    • Avatar

      Open your mind

      December 28, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      As a recent revert, it is separatist “holier than thou” attitudes such as expressed in this article by a so-called “scholar of Islam” that are causing me to question my new faith alltogether

      • WAJiD

        WAJiD

        December 28, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        Salaam,

        1. I am not an Islamic scholar. I don’t claim to be one.

        2. I make it clear that there is an opinion that says it is acceptable to celebrate New Years (albeit as long as it fulfils certain criteria.) Not sure how that is holier-than-thou?

        3. At no point in this article do I advocate separatism. And to claim that it is separatist to not celebrate New Years is not really accurate. There are a million ways to engage with non-Muslims – it doesn’t have to only be Christmas and New Years.

        4. Such spiritual blackmail of the “This is why I don’t pray” / “This is why I am considering quitting Islam” variety is not really appropriate. If you have questions, seek answers. If you have doubts, seek clarity. If you disagree, then provide reasoning with evidence. I will do the same.

      • Avatar

        muslimah

        December 29, 2012 at 5:32 AM

        AssalamoalikumwRwB…..”open your mind”,i am so happy to see that Allah blessed you with the best of the treasures,by that i mean true guidance.Sis/bro look,people disagree with one another even in the matters of faith but that does’nt mean at all that you start doubting or questioning your faith!Trust me i really love you 4 the sake of Allah,i want better 4 you and want that Allah let us meet in Jannah..celebrating new year is not an issue of dispute at all,as a revert you must not consider these things right now instead ur first concern should be the Faraidh(obligatory acts)..Sis/bro learn about Islam,you did’nt enter this circle of islam out of nowhere,you must have seen sumthing or experience something that really inspired u..Talk to some really authentic sheikh,infact first read Quran,converse directly with Allah,read its translation and most importantly ask God to show you the right path…I ask Allah 4m the depth of my heart to guide you and all of us,give us the strength to follow the Straight path…May Allah clear all ur doubts and make you firm on ur Deen!I’m highly apologetic if any of my words hurt anybody there…JazakAllah khairan!

        • Avatar

          jasken

          December 25, 2013 at 1:47 PM

          Salamalykum,In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

          All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

          Dear brother/sister in Islam, May Allah help us all lead a righteous life based on Islam!
          It is very important to note that Islam is a complete way of life and it suffices Muslims. At the same time, We should not forget our role in the society. We should be a good example to others. Islam urges us to be kind with all people without any kind of discrimination due to differences in faith or race.

          Muslims have their own identity. In order to keep this identity, Muslim scholars said that Muslims must not celebrate Christmas or holidays of non-Muslims. By participation in Christmas, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her consciousness of this basic point of difference between Islam and Christianity. Muslims must be very careful in this matter. The greatest danger is for our next generation, who may slowly lose their Islamic faith in tawhid and may start believing in Jesus as “more than a prophet and servant of Allah”.

          We should tell our children that we are Muslims and this is not our holiday. This is the holiday of our Christian neighbors and friends.
          The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Every people have their `Eid…” Some celebrations are of a religious nature, and some others are social and cultural. Some celebrations are based on beliefs and practices that are contrary to Islamic teachings, and some celebrations are not of that nature. Some people claim that Christmas is now a secular holiday and it is very much an American national holiday rather than a religious holiday. But it is wrong to assume that because this holiday is national, it has ceased to be Christian. It is true that this holiday is very popular and it is extremely commercialized; nevertheless it is basically a religious holiday. Its very name and all its symbolism is Christian through and through.

          Christians celebrate at Christmas what they believe to be the “day of the birth of God’s Son” or what they call “God Incarnate”. Thus it is not only a celebration of another religion, it is also a celebration that is based on a belief that is totally against the teachings of Islam. From the Islamic point of view, the belief in the “Son of God” or “God in the flesh” is a blasphemy and kufr (denial of God’s Oneness). By participation in Christmas, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her consciousness of this basic point of difference.Muslims must be very careful in this matter. The greatest danger is for our next generation, who may slowly lose their Islamic faith in tawhid and may start believing in Jesus as “more than a prophet and servant of Allah”.The argument that “Christmas is, after all, Prophet Jesus’ birthday and so there is no harm in celebrating Christmas” is neither logical nor Islamic. Why should Muslims celebrate Jesus’ birthday? Why not the birthdays of the other 24 prophets and messengers who are mentioned in the Qur’an by name?

          For us Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is the final Prophet and Messenger of Allah, not Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was the last one and they say that “after God spoke through many prophets … in these last days he spoke to us through his son whom he made to inherit every thing” (New Testament, Hebrews 1:1). Thus they celebrate his coming, but for us Muslims, Prophet Muhammad was the last Prophet and Allah appointed him for all people and for all times to come.

          I do agree that our little children are deeply affected with the festivities and glitter of this holiday. We should try to take them to some Islamic camps and conferences at this time and give them some other alternate programs and activities. But Muslim families should not have Christmas trees in their homes, nor should they put up lights inside or outside their homes at this time.

          We should tell our children that we are Muslims and this is not our holiday. This is the holiday of our Christian neighbors and friends.

          I am pleased to know that you celebrate Ramadan and `Eids with lights and decoration of your home and exchange gifts with your children. This is very thoughtful, indeed. It is good to decorate our homes and masjids during Ramadan and for `Eids. It is mentioned in one of the Hadiths that even the heaven is especially decorated during the month of Ramadan. Allah Almighty closes the gates of Hell and opens the gates of Paradise during the month of Ramadan.

          We Muslims should give special attention to our own Islamic holidays. In this way our children will be attracted to our own celebrations rather than looking at others.

          Unfortunately, there are some Muslims who do not pay any attention to Ramadan and `Eids. Some of them do not even come to `Eid prayers and even if they come, they do not take their day off from work. Thus their children have no idea about Islamic holidays or they think that Islam is a religion without any festivals and celebrations.

          Explaining the reasons why Muslims don’t celebrate and believe in Christmas, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

          Christmas was a pagan custom which was adopted into Christianity; it has nothing to do with reverence and love of Jesus, the mighty Messenger of Allah that we Muslims hold in the highest regard and respect. If Jesus were to come today, whether or not he would identify himself with those who celebrate Christmas is a question one should ask seriously.

          If we are celebrating the great teachings of Jesus or other prophets, we must do so everyday. To do so means to practice love, mercy, justice and compassion and to be actively engaged in doing the will of God. May Allah bless you all.

        • Avatar

          Akhtar

          December 30, 2013 at 11:05 PM

          Jazakallah Khair Brother. “How can we be happy when our brothers are being suppressed/killed/torture all over the world”

      • Avatar

        Muslim by birth only

        December 29, 2012 at 5:14 PM

        No one is compelled to follow. You follow Islam for your own benefit. The benefit of acquiring every wealth, pleasure, time, and health for a very very long time. God is not in any need, especially the need to be worshiped by his own creation

      • Avatar

        Abdul Sattar

        January 3, 2013 at 12:07 AM

        assalamu alaikum Br/Sr Open Your Mind,

        EDITED AT REQUEST OF COMMENTER
        Please remember that there is a community of loving believers, and wonderful scholars who welcome you with open arms and are happy that you have joined our faith. We love you for the sake of Allah just for taking the step of joining our community. If you want to meet other people who have recently joined Islam and are looking for a place to find connections and are struggling with some of the same questions you might be, PLEASE check out http://www.taleefcollective.org/.

        Take care,
        wa alaikum assalam
        Abdul Sattar

        • Avatar

          Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          January 5, 2013 at 3:19 AM

          @Citizen M
          We generally do not let comments through that insults our authors or other commenters. However, in this case, the comment was approved by the author himself in order to reply to it. Authors are allowed a relatively free hand to approve comments that they would like to address or to remove those that they feel do not add value to the conversation.

      • Avatar

        Muslim

        January 4, 2013 at 6:47 PM

        Please do not let articles like these be representative of what the Muslim community is like. These views are clearly a minority.

      • Avatar

        Abdul Azeez

        December 31, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        Why question your faith my brother?

      • Avatar

        Yes please, Open your mind!

        January 4, 2015 at 11:52 PM

        Its time you question “YOUR UNDERSTANDING of the new faith” not your new faith! We’ve all got lots to learn bro. If every lesson is taken as “holier-than-thou”, I wonder where we would all end.

      • Avatar

        Shifa

        January 1, 2017 at 3:28 PM

        I would suggest you use websites or articles such as Islam q and a. They are very informative and cite plenty of Hadith. You have chosen a beautiful faith. Unfortunately, there are people who try to find fault in our religion and fail. Remind yourself why you picked this religion and keep learning more from masjids and imams. This article is great, but the typical lay critic would not see the point.

    • Avatar

      naz

      September 6, 2013 at 6:10 AM

      I’m surprised as many do not follow Islam but think they’re Muslims which is why Prophet Mohammad[SAW] feared that: “you will end up following the disbelievers, inch by inch, hand span by hand span, even if they were to enter lizard hole, you will follow them!!”

      Another narration: “The worst speech to Allah is when one man says to another man, “Fear Allah” and he replies: “Worry about your own self!!” So if someone tells you to follow Islam and you say no this is separatism, then you’re saying something that Allah hates.

      What Muslim are you? Muslim is follower of Islam; Islam means submission to the Will of Allah, and Muslim is one has submitted, another words “Slave of Allah”

      I’m posting few videos to clarify some things:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDLagf1SE-E

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tx_Pux3sXk

      for more information: email me: naz_007999@yahoo.co.uk

      Thank you

  4. Avatar

    Sereen

    December 28, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Honestly, at the bottom of it..its No biggie. Not worth an article. Bigger issues to deal with than a ‘ happy new year ‘ wish or family get together on that day. And parties?..Muslims are top class at feasting ..whether Somalia starves or Syrians are oppressed and killed. Sorry for the sarcasm , but this is the harsh truth , so that point is not really valid here. In that case even Eid should be celeberated with guilt.

  5. Avatar

    Omar

    December 28, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    10/10. Couldn’t agree more.

    What influence did Umar have on the calendar?

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      December 29, 2012 at 5:01 AM

      Walaikum asalaam,

      Umar (R) presided as Caliph over the meeting of the great Sahaaba that designated the Muslim calendar – and where they explicitly rejected copying non-Muslim celebrations.

      The Prophet (SAW) said that if there was to be a Prophet after him, it would have been Umar (R). It is difficult to imagine someone whose opinions should be listened to and followed more than him.

      Yet when this Sahaaba says that we should put Muharram as the start of our calendar and use the hijrah as start of our epoch – we not only ignore his advice (unanimously agreed by the sahaaba) but are determined to celebrate the opposite of his suggestion by going for a different calendar, a different epoch and a different month.

      Indeed Umar (R) spoke the truth when he said that the hijrah separated truth from falsehood… and it continues to do so even to this day.

  6. Avatar

    Nuraini

    December 28, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    personally I don’t find a New Year to be about anything but an arbitrary calendar point. and, the western-imported celebratory elements in my country tends to import the concerts and fireworks and hedonism, which made New Year abhorrent to me.

    BUT, from experience with non-Muslim in-laws from whose culture the Gregorian calendar is, their own traditional view of New Year is not about getting drunk. They have a traditional dimension we have not imported along with the drinking festivities. The way I understood it, the celebration is pretty much for having made it alive for another year. Which, despite all your suffering (and really, Muslims aren’t the only group suffering in the world) of all people Muslims should be aware that this is something to be grateful for. I don’t think this attitude of not being happy because not everyone is, is really exemplary at all. When would it be possible for everyone to be happy, while we are still on this side of life? When Muslims especially have been told by God Himself that we *will* be tested and disliked? I mean, was not the Prophet someone who smiled? Are we saying that the suffering of Muslims at his time was not as great as today, and that was why it was ‘ok’ that the Prophet smiled? No offense to Salahuddin, but (1) he really should have smiled sometimes and (2) we should remember he was mostly in the vanguard of war, and presumably not a lot of funny things happened, plus he could actually do something about the suffering he was thinking about, so maybe he was just serious and concentrating. The point is, it is a good thing to pause and reflect that, you know, we made it this far, and what a remarkable thing that is, actually. And that all that you have on that day, even if it’s just life, is worth celebrating about.

    It also marks – though arbitrarily – a psychological new start, a leaving behind and hope for a better year ahead. Again, this letting go of what was and hoping for more chances of life to do better – surely Muslims should know better than anyone the importance and value of this hope and redha. In fact, for this purpose there is probably value in the date being arbitrary since there is no historical event, like expulsion or martyrdom or whatnot to fix your mind to a time in the past, thus discouraging us from the objective to just LET IT GO. and MOVE ON. Maybe we *should* have a New Year day, in light of our various communities’ and sects’ inability to LET the past GO. yes, they were important events, and yes it has consequences felt today, but aside from what we can learn from them for the future, the events themselves are also of the dunya, and attachment to them is attachment to dunya. we have so many markers of remembrance, but no markers whatsoever of letting go.

  7. Avatar

    Ishaq

    December 28, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    I usually like your articles brother Wajid and I respect your opinion but I respectfully disagree with it. Though I did enjoy reading this and I enjoyed the out look. :)

  8. Avatar

    Khalidroc

    December 28, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Celebrating New years is shirk! It has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. The date is based upon the Gregorian calendar for the birth date of Jesus (supposed birth date in the minds of Xtians). The Gregorian calendar states that these years are AD – Anno Domini – in the year of our lord – wherein the lord referred to is Jesus. We as Muslims accept and acknowledge Allah as our One and Only Lord. Jesus is not lord and so to celebrate new years (the supposed birth date of Jesus) is to put him up as equal in stature with Allah – na3udhu billaahi min dhaalik! So it is shirk!

    • Avatar

      Irene

      December 11, 2013 at 2:05 AM

      @ Khalidroc:
      To clarify a confusion: New Year (January the 1st) is not the birth day of Jesus (December 25th).
      Christmas is for Christians the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and the celebration lasts for three days (December 25th, 26th and 27th). Christmas Eve is on December 24th.

  9. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    December 29, 2012 at 3:03 AM

    Walaikum asalaam all –

    JazakAllah khairun for the replies. Just wanted to address some of the points being made:

    1. It is not a big deal – don’t make an issue out of it

    The trouble is, the start of a slippery slope never looks like a big deal until you are right down at the bottom. Then you realise you should have done something earlier.

    Adding on a holiday that isn’t ours and has nothing to do with Islam (no one seems to have an answer to that) and defending it so fiercely – don’t be surprised when your children de-value their own Eids because they have all these other holidays to celebrate too…

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      December 29, 2012 at 4:09 AM

      2. We’re happy during Eid so why not in New Years?

      I did make the point that:
      – Eid is divinely ordained, New Years is not.
      – Eid encourages Zakat, Qurbani – New Years encourages wasting money on fireworks, parties etc…
      – Eid encourages prayer and duaas (for our brothers and sisters), New Years encourages haraam activities (again, I’m not sure where the Islamic New Years Eve parties are but I have yet to see any evidence of one…)
      – So please don’t equivocate between the two…

      There seems to be the viewpoint (as expressed by Sereen and Nuraini) that there’s lots of pain and suffering going on all the time so we really can’t use that as an excuse not to party, enjoy ourselves and say “Happy New Years”.

      – Did the Prophet (SAW) say that the Muslim Ummah is like a body and if one part of the body suffers then we shouldn’t worry because there’s always suffering and we shouldn’t let that get in the way of our fun? Like I said, it is the exact opposite of the fever and wakefulness that he spoke about.

      – I am not saying that we should be sad all the time. But does that mean therefore that it is somehow ok to celebrate a year just passed that has been so traumatic for the Ummah and a New Year with more of the same?

      • Avatar

        Nuraini

        December 29, 2012 at 7:32 AM

        brother, it is true muslims have the two eids that unite us all. but at the same time, in real terms today, chinese muslims have the chinese new year, persians have nowrouz, most of us have independence or national days for our respective countries, kings’ birthdays, historical days, harvest festival days, and so forth. the issue with taking issue with new year’s day on principle – not its means of celebration – is that you must also invalidate all of these other holidays or festivities. i’m pretty sure that in the old days when the muslim missionaries came to distant lands and saw the local celebratory days, they asked them, quite apart from *how* the day was celebrated, what is this festival *about*. and that’s why many of the above commemorative days are even still around, while others were rejected. many of them, at the time the missionaries encountered them, were celebrated in prohibited ways (say, nowruz), yet today have turned into quite acceptable celebrations. some of them still shared today between muslim and non-muslim groups of the same race/nation, show this divide in *means* of celebration (say, chinese new year, chingming), while the positive *reason* for commemoration continues to be shared. by the article’s reasoning, they never should have been accepted in the first place because it is impossible to separate from its means of celebration, which is the same thing as what the festival is about. elsewhere in the world, this has been shown not to be true.

        yes, we should all feel when part of us is suffering. however, the most useful people to others are those who are neither desensitised to others’ suffering nor are they so paralysed by their empathy that they don’t acquire and shore up their own strength – because if you have little, you can give little, and that includes positivity and cheerfulness. please re-look not just at your article text, but your choice of pictures and captions – to me they intend to rebuke, provoke, and presupposes a meaning for the holiday that becomes your straw man, yet may not be entirely true to many. being pictures, they speak more than the text.

        is it not the opinion of the scholars, that even those of us in the most grievous suffering, MUST be thankful nonetheless to Allah, because in our suffering, and perhaps even the suffering itself, is still innumerable blessings from Him? and therefore even if the ummah is in a sorry state, the ummah still have things to be grateful for, and MUST reflect on and be happy about? therefore while one differ on “why pick this calendar “, or maybe express concern that it is difficult for your local situation to not be carried away by the *prevailing* celebration style today, or whether it’s locally relevant, i don’t think it is intellectually honest to say that “to be happy for what has happened in the past year is a bad thing, essentially because we collectively _did not get more_ than what we did”. and because we do not have more than we think we _should have_, thinking and hoping for a better year is inappropriate. masha-Allah brother, do you realise the implication of your reasoning? that because we didn’t have MORE than what Allah gave us, we should not be happy for what He DID? yes last year was a ‘crappy’ year for Muslims like a lot of years. but that was what Allah gave us, and it is for us to be grateful for it, and reflect on WHY we suffer and WHY in our hearts we feel resentful for what He gave to us that we are unable to feel happy or see anything good in it. truly redha is the most difficult part of our religion, and i speak as someone who struggles with it right now, but we must realise the danger of this feeling of unsatisfaction because it is a sign of a lack of redha, and very dangerous to iman, and i feel i must intervene and caution you of it and i apologise if it’s taken the wrong way.

        lastly, i have no direct interest in this matter, neither celebrating nor even observing new year’s day, nor am i in the West so the issue of how far to assimilate is not even relevant to me. however, because of my extended family, i know it is not fair to say the things said in this article, and I think the reasoning behind the stated disapproval of the new year commemoration is one that is disempowering of the ummah, distrustful of Allah, and exclusivist about distinct, valued, yet non-Arab cultural elements that we have – somewhat hypocritically – tolerated in other non-Arab nations in ages past who happen to be considered “Muslim” races today. i think there’s quite enough of this mindset now, and i quite resent this mindset of paranoia and fear encroaching into countries that have until recently been able to adopt holidays other then the eids with a mindset of positivity and strength, which incidentally made life a whole lot easier for converts and probably why entire kingdoms could convert in those days – but which is now re-introducing unnecessary difficulty for today’s converts that were never imposed on their predecessors a hundred years ago.

      • Avatar

        sibu

        February 15, 2016 at 9:59 AM

        assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh

        dear brother Wajid.

        i agree with EVERYTHING you said.
        jazakAllahu khairan kathiran!

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      December 29, 2012 at 4:34 AM

      3. It is unfriendly or separatist to not celebrate New Years

      – It is really unfortunate when some Muslims (and non-Muslims) reduce the parameters of being friendly and relationship with non-Muslims to celebrating Christmas/ New Years etc…

      – There is so much more that we can have in common without compromising our Islamic values. Whether it be sports, charity, environmental activism, science etc… There are so many occasions where we can get together.

      – A large section of Non-Muslims do not celebrate New Years. More than 28% of Americans will not be celebrating this New Year showing that it is perfectly possible to be friendly, a citizen of your country and not celebrate… http://goo.gl/EAHfE

      • Avatar

        love-islam

        January 3, 2013 at 12:43 AM

        I dont understand whey are we muslims are so weak in faith. If ALLAH Subhan Wa Tallah sys him self that he perfected our religon and choose for us ISLAM, until whey you guys will be following the disbelivers halydays ect…….stop imating theire celebration, they will never be you friends or protector they are enimeis of ALLAH you all can go head and celebrate with them, but alwys remember your grave and teh day of akhra the of day of resurrection you all will be resurrected with them. sis/brs respect your religon before its too late be proud of who you are dont let this dunya world to diseive you be strong as a real muslim, Islam is the ony religon will survive. Look around you how many people revort to islam, and islam keep growing ALHAMDULIAHA, stop talking nagatave about your religon. LA HOWLAH BILAH QUWATA ILAH BILAH. peace to you all, may ALLAH Subhana Wa Tallah guide all of you in the straight path. AMEEN

        • Avatar

          Irene

          December 11, 2013 at 2:29 AM

          @love-islam:
          No offense, you say “peace on you all” at the end of your comment, but you say at the beginning that “the disbelivers” will “never be your friends or protectors” and that they are “enemies of Allah”. I am Christian, do you consider me an enemy?

          I think this is hypocripical, to wish peace like… an automatism, without reflecting on the bigger value behind these words.

          Peace among believers of different religions is really important to me. Even my name, in Greek, means peace.

  10. Avatar

    muslimah

    December 29, 2012 at 5:17 AM

    JazakAllah Khairan wa Ahsan al Jaza brother…May Allah accept ur tireless efforts,put barakah in ur knowledge,work and family and bless you all with Jannat-ul-firdous…kindly remember me in ur duaz…once again Jazak Allah khair to you and ur whole team

  11. Avatar

    Nuha

    December 29, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Jazakallah Khairan . I have a doubt, If any non-muslim says ‘Happy New Year’ to us , is it ok to respond to them .

    • Avatar

      HC

      January 3, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      Around this time of year the words “happy new year” is merely said as a greeting and well wishing. If you wish them well in return, there is no reason why you can’t respond with a similar greeting. They are not trying to lead you down a slippery slope ;-)

    • Avatar

      LEE

      January 1, 2016 at 9:23 AM

      If you will say Assalamu, alaikum, if i will not reply how will you react? it is the same as if i will say Happy New Year to you.

  12. Avatar

    Singingbluejay

    December 29, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    I celebrate two eids and we get together for Christmas and new year holidays as it is an opportunity to spend time with family which is sometimes difficult in our hectic lifestyles. With all due respect to all of you- lighten up! Stop making islam boring and making people feel guilty. Everyone knows what their duties in islam are and we are all responsible for instilling these values in our children and families. Instead of moaning about this article and debating about this issue, get out there and do something proactive by helping all our Muslim brothers and sisters who are misguided. Isn’t that what Umar RA did?? Instead of talking about things, he did them. And people followed……oh and smile :) There are much larger issues going on in the world than this article.

    • Avatar

      love-islam

      January 3, 2013 at 1:01 AM

      Do you think is fun to celebrate the New Year or XMS? you are so wrong stop fooling your self. do they celebrate your holiday? of cours……..NOT……………becouse they dont care about islam. You should read the QURAN/HATHIS so that you can understand the sharia the law. and remember islam is NOT boreing religon. islam is most beautifull religon in the world. And think about good stuff that islam provide us. ALLAH Subhana Wa Tallah promis us PARADISE of cours if your beliver you belive in it.

  13. Avatar

    ArabianSpace

    December 29, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Very informative article. Thank you

  14. Avatar

    Abba

    December 29, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    There is nothing to celebrate in a new year, a birthday, marriage anniversary or many such dates. These are milestones as time passes. As said in many comments above, the Gregorian Calander is like it not is used in many countries and out of circumstance Muslims living in the west surrounded more. If the non-Mulsims we are living and working with conisder it an important event, what is probiliting then saying, May You have a Happy New Year.

    I am not a muslim driven by too many technicalities, but my brothers who are extremely more practicing then me have sent me Happy New Year and I have either resiprocated or kept quite. I do not initatite a Happy New to a Muslim Brother, but find it kind to say Happy Birthday to a Non-Muslim

    Wish everyone Allah’s Blessings all the time

  15. Avatar

    Hassen

    December 29, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    The main take-away from the article is the point that we shouldn’t just following what everyone else does (not just holidays, but generally preferring to ‘fit in’ at the expense of preserving our own Muslim identities). I think the author does a good job of concluding with this at the end:

    “We are opening the door to disappearing within the dominant culture, to a future in which our children may have Muslim names, but are otherwise indistinguishable from non-Muslims in their habits, customs and appearances.”

    We are opening the door…

  16. Avatar

    Fezz

    December 29, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Nice article. Not as funny as your others though!

    I think its difficult as often on this day people have some time off and its the only chance to meet old friends. I was 50-50 on deciding what to do. Although having read this I probably wont stay up until the “new year” and will going to bed and catching up on some Z time

  17. Avatar

    Abba

    December 29, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Where has a minority remained with zero impact of dominant culture? To do by guiding our children to isolate and ignore every aspect, which may be religiously neutral and not even forbidden but do so as not to be a part of the surrounding environment, isolates and retards the growth potential for children. Leading and parenting is to maximize the growth potential within Islamic bounds. When we increase the domain of these bounds to cover human kindness and interaction with present environments the results are counterproductive at a community level. Example of Muslim communities in India and UK are examples of negative sociology-economic impact of extreme isolation. The story is not new. After 1857 in India Muslims resisted for a long time even to learn English language. Muslims in India and Pakistan are still suffering from that mindset. But for the Aligarh Muslim University the situation would have been worse.

  18. Avatar

    ahsan arshad

    December 29, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    salaam alaykum,
    a pertinent issue, not of kufr or shirk but as the author put it “going on a slippery slope”… When it is preferrable to abstain from doubtful matters in our religion then what about slippery slopes?
    Some of the comments are surprising to see such as “it is not a big deal”, “stop making islam difficult”.
    The topic has been discussed with academic integrity and it should be read academically keeping in mind that an action (small or big) done with the right intention (sincerely and for the sake of Allah only) cannot be small in the sight of Allah. If one believes that islam is a religion revealed by God/Allah and then islamic sources has guidance on a topic…then abstaining or enjoining in an act consistent with that guidance is inshallah worthy of reward which will come very handy.
    I request a more serious attitude!

  19. Avatar

    Angry

    December 30, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    We agree with a lot of points made in the article.However, what about those living in interfaith families ? Here is nice Aljazeera article about growing number of Inter – faith marriages in Uk http://www.aljazeera.com/news/europe/2012/12/201212281265527415.html .

    • Avatar

      Mahmud

      December 31, 2012 at 8:37 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      A Muslim woman marrying other than a Muslim man produces nothing but zina. The marriage is not valid.

      • Avatar

        Kelly

        November 4, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        Produces nothing but zina? Was that the opinion of the Prophet (pbuh) with his daughter Zainab bint Muhammad?

      • Avatar

        Stan

        January 1, 2017 at 7:22 PM

        Zina. Muslim woman marrying non muslim will never be recognised/ not valid.
        I married one and she looks great in a bikini. !!! Honestly who cares if you accept her or not but i can guarantee you this moselm or not moselm guys dont mind looking. I dont need to lock her up in full body clothing and control her because providing i look after her she will never feel the need to find other. Religion will not help my relationship only i can by being a decent person.
        Haha great topic for debate thanks love writing keeps my mind active thanks

  20. Avatar

    HPUnited

    December 30, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    What’s even worse is the New Years Resolution. “I’m going to lose weight”, “I’m going to quit smoking”. By February, it’s all but forgotten.

    Only morons make resolutions. Write down your goals, set a plan and work! You want to lose weight, it takes months of exercise and a strict diet.

    New Years is just another weekend of self-indulgence and elated emotions.

    • Avatar

      Damy

      December 30, 2016 at 2:58 AM

      Then, you don’t know the meaning of resolution, its use also as goals. Its just used mainly for New year in vocabulary. Check your english dictionary.

  21. Avatar

    Greg Abdul

    December 30, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    This argument has a typical flaw Muslims make when discussing these issues. Celebrating in Islam is either haram or halaal and the particular day is not what makes the celebration sinful. For example, if you spent Christmas day studying the Sunnah, that is a halaal celebration of Christmas. It’s just like when we do family day at most masjids. Family day is an innovation that did not happen in the Prophet’s time. Yet no one argues that when we gather for a bayan and briani we are engaged in haram actions.

    To answer the four points made here:

    1) “Against the spirit of Islam is not an evidentiary position. It’ a what-I-like statement. Legal positions in Islam are not validated by minority versus majority, but by the legitimacy of the origin of the opinion. If the scholar is legitimate and engaged in sincere ruling, we don’t do polls in Islam to see who likes what opinion the most. Sharia is not a popularity contest, as you infer in your first point.
    2) This I answer in my introduction. You are arguing against the day and not the how of celebrating. Taking alcohol and mixing with women in order to commit zina is never halaal, no matter the day, but your argument is against a certain day.
    3) This is your weakest and most incorrect point. We Muslims celebrate two Eids as Allah commands and none of us dare disobey Allah with the excuse that “suffering exists in the world. Muslims are not stoics and you seem to want to say that any non-Muslim expression of happiness is haram, which is extremely counter productive. Hating non-Muslims for their celebrations certainly is no way to win them over to Islam.
    4) This may be your strongest point, but it is in practice, quite baseless. No one worships Julius or Augustus Caesar as a god anymore, even though we use months that immortalize their names in our daily lives. The same thing goes for Janus. Muslims all over the world use the Christian calendar and none of us are denying Allah because we say January, July or August. The purpose of a calendar is that it is a method of calculating days and as such it is only a mathematical model which is either properly applied or not. It’s scientific method, not worship.

    You are being divisive. If a Christian calendar is haram, why isn’t the computer or a car a Christian creates just as haram? People like you want to teach us about the evils of non Muslims, but whenever we look at these kind of Salafi arguments we see that the main people hating the West in reality are chasing after the West faster than the same Muslims you want to criticize. My Imam taught us this past Friday about the importance of resolving to be better Muslims this coming year. I thinks it’s pretty obviously that is a halaal teaching. He is my teacher. You are not.

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      January 1, 2013 at 4:16 PM

      Salaam brother Greg Abdul,

      Even though, (as you so helpfully pointed out) I am not your teacher permit me to narrate this:

      Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al As (may Allah be pleased with him) – the great sahaaba who the Prophet (SAW) blessed with permission to write down his hadith in his lifetime- said:

      “Whoso enters/resides in the land of non-Muslims and celebrates their New Years and their festivities and imitates them until he dies and he is upon it, he will be brought back to life with them on the Day of Resurrection”
      [Sunan Al Bayhaqi]

      I hope this is evidentiary enough for you.

      • Avatar

        Greg Abdul

        January 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM

        as salaam alaikum brother,

        Celebration – The action of marking one’s pleasure at an important event or occasion by engaging in enjoyable, typically social activity.

        Mostly my adab is wrong. My imam is big on being humble and kind and I am a little too much into Malcolm X so maybe I am a wheel that’s a little too squeaky. Please forgive me. Thank you for citing the hadeeth. Al hamdulillah. But my point remains. If on Christmas day even, you go into a masjid and study Islam and that is your celebration, then certainly you are not on the path of those who worship other than Allah. I am not saying we should say Merry Christmas. Christmas is clearly haram. However, the non Muslims have non religious holidays. The way of the non Muslims is computers, cars and the internet, yet here we Muslims are using their inventions. They have invented a calendar that many of us use. I have never heard that using a Christian calendar is haram. They celebrate the first day of their calendar every year. My point, which I only have my Imam’s word on, is in my mind, just like Mawlid. Some of us want to argue about a certain day. If you go to the masjid and learn Islam and that gives you the most pleasure you have on this earth, then clearly, insha Allah, your celebration is not one that normally leads to the fire. This is my simple point. Many of us have extra time off because we work or do business with Christians this time of year. If our enjoyment – if our celebrating – is Islam is the issue, not what day it is….at least in my mind and my limited understanding.

      • Avatar

        Johnny Blaze

        January 2, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        Brother Wajid I have tremendous respect for you, soldier on brother.

      • Avatar

        love-islam

        January 3, 2013 at 1:35 AM

        Aslam aliykum Wajid brother i realy like what you said thats exactly our beloved prophet Peace and belissing of ALLAh be upon his said they will be brought together on the day of resrrection.

      • Avatar

        Kelly

        November 4, 2013 at 8:32 PM

        Can you provide a reference for the hadith ““Whoso enters/resides in the land of non-Muslims and celebrates their New Years and their festivities and imitates them until he dies and he is upon it, he will be brought back to life with them on the Day of Resurrection”” I do not see it in Bukhari, Muslim, Abudawud, or Muwatta. Also, how valid is the hadith?

  22. Avatar

    Fiona

    December 31, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Assalam Walaikum! This is from
    My blog : http://therevertdiaries.blogspot.com

    While many Muslims around the world do not adhere to taking resolutions for the new year as it is based on the Christian calendar, it is a tradition that many of us reverts have practiced prior to Islam.

    I will be making a resolution this year, as I did last year and I will explain to you the reasoning behind this.

    In the country we live in, the new year is also a synonym of winter, a time where everything has been stripped down, ready to come back to life.
    We, humans, subhannallah, have been created by Allah, like plants and animals, like the sky and the sea and everything else around us. We live in sync with the world around us. It is the science behind the faith, mashallah.
    Our bodies are ready for new beginnings in spring, our minds feel hopeful, we often feel more positive and more creative at that time of the year for that reason. Allah has given us seasons, and we must appreciate them all for how they affect us.

    I feel that taking resolutions can be helpful if they are linked to our deen, inshallah.

    So let me tell you a story, my story.
    On the 1st of January  2011, I took a resolution. I told myself that this was the year I would convert to Islam. On the 12th of June 2011, I took my shahada at Tooting Mosque. A week later, my fiancé and I had taken our Nikkah.
    On the 1st of January 2012, I decided to eat hallal meat only. That was a difficult part of my convertion, but mashallah, I managed to stick to it, with the help of Allah’s kindest and guidance.
    On the 1st of January 2013, Inshallah, I will start doing my 5 daily prayers.

    For reverts it is important to keep improving our deen at the speed which is right for us. Rushing ourselves when we aren’t ready may take us away from the deen. Some sisters mashallah, manage to change all these things at once, others may take months, or years.

    I make duah for all of my sisters to have a wonderful year 2013, filled with happiness, prosperity, health, wealth, learning, and most importantly with the beauty of the deen. Ameen.

    Salaams!

    xx

    • Avatar

      saf

      December 30, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      salam sister MASHALLAH very nice words and as long as our attention are not out of islam thats what counts …ALLAH SWT he knows better that we dont celebrate new years in the attention like none muslims but be positive its just a new day which we can remember its and remembering day what we will do in the ful year otherwise i wouldnt be able to remember the day we started ect ect..i wouldnt even remember the age of my kids if i didn’t have a calender and accordiing to islam i dont even no what date i gave birth ect..the intension counts the most like when we do GUSAL we have to have the intension that to purified our selfs and when doing WUDO we have to have then intention and for your intention ALLAH SWT rewards you….its like this HADITH that a man built a house and asked PROPHET PBUH to go to his house and bless it WHEN our PROPHET PBUH arrived he asked the man why have u bulit a window and the replied from that person was for fresh air and the light to come in the room upon hearing that PROPHET PBUH said that if you would have said that its for to hear the AZAAN you would have been rewarded from ALLAH SWT…its like me what ever i do like i put carpet in the house and put lyno in the kitchen my intentions are to do my NAMAAZ and to lkeep it clean in the month of RAMADAN and to read the QURAN and IN SHA ALLAH that is what iam going to do this year 2014 and MAY ALLAH SWT reward you for every thing you have gaved up for ISLAM i pray that ALLAH SWT gives u heath and make it easy for u IN SHA ALLAH…and remember sister the devil is your BIGGEST enemy he hates u and will try to distract u to go back to your religion its going to be tough on you but dont let the devil win you be strong and i pray that ALLAH SWT guides u and protects u in every way AMEEN SUMA AMEEN…

  23. Avatar

    aisha

    December 31, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    LIke so many of the comments above, I can’t help but disagree with this article. New Year’s has no religious foundation, even if the calendar we follow does. It isn’t seen as a religous holiday. It seems this article is saying not to celebrate New Year’s at least partially because the Gregorian calendar has a non-Islamic foundation. In that case- we shouldn’t be following the Gregorian calendar. In my personal opinion, New Year’s can be celebrated, but doesn’t have to. As long as you make sure you’re not involved in any haram.
    Saying New Year’s is wrong to celebrate is like saying birthdays or anniversaries are haram. It’s such a controversial and argued topic, you’re just opening a can of worms. I think both arguments are valid and it’s just making a big deal out of nothing… we have more important issues to discuss, or learn from.

    • Avatar

      Siberia Bakari

      January 1, 2015 at 5:49 AM

      burying your head on the sand won’t help. the pope Gregory calendar was first developed by a council of Christian bishops (council of Nicaea) and has been adopted by nearly all countries in the world

  24. Avatar

    Mohammed

    December 31, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    If I want to enjoy myself with my family and friends what’s wrong with that.
    *Comment edited to make it compliant with our Comment Policy*

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      January 1, 2013 at 2:54 AM

      Mohammed, please refrain from using inappropriate language. It is not befitting of a muslim.

      • Avatar

        mustafa

        January 5, 2013 at 1:56 AM

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        Remember to say your Salams, Aly.

  25. Avatar

    Mohsin saudagar

    December 31, 2012 at 11:07 PM

    Assalamalaikum…….plz I request 2 translate in Hindi if u can I can understand but not that much

    • Avatar

      n-a

      January 1, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      I want it in Kannada :)

  26. Avatar

    Mohsin Versiani

    January 1, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    Please please please…. Can anyone answer me, that in Pakistan we celebrate our two Eids and many other Religious festivals according to Hijri calender but we also celebrate festivals like Independence Day, Defence Day etc according to Christian calender.. So this calender has now become a part of our culture I may say… And we Celebrate New Year on 1st Muharram and 1st January as well.. So is there any problem to send new year wish messages??

  27. Avatar

    Amina

    January 1, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Where are your references. You mention that scholars are in a minority that disagree, which ones?

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      January 1, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Walaikum asalaam,

      The information is freely available on the net and by discussing with Islamic scholars. I encourage you to do the research yourself as it will be more meaningful.

      • Avatar

        a

        December 26, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        does this mean you don’t have the references?

    • Avatar

      Siberia Bakari

      January 1, 2015 at 5:54 AM

      You will find information on the link below useful
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar

  28. Avatar

    Sharif

    January 1, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    An excellent and well written article Dr Akhter – some interesting points raised in response though I hope I’m forgiven for saying that many of us can make the points with better adab. I feel given there is ikhtilaf on the issue it is perhaps an issue of urf and Muslims should consider celebrating it to be part of the wider society they live in instead of a closed off society that we presently are.

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      January 1, 2013 at 4:04 PM

      Walaikum asalaam brother Sharif,

      JazakAllah khairun for your kind response. Urf – or the acceptable following of customs related to the land you are residing in – has limits. It does not include the imitation of non-Muslims in their festivals…

      I agree with you that we should be less closed off and we should engage more.

      • Avatar

        claude

        December 29, 2015 at 7:46 PM

        ” It does not include the imitation of non-Muslims in their festivals”

        I don’t think anybody is saying we should actually participate in the specific religious traditions of others, but I (and most canadian muslims I know) see no issue with celebrating Thanksgiving with our families or wishing people a Happy new year or anything like that because those are clearly not religious celebrations. You might disagree and argue that every kind of celebration is haram and I don’t agree at all, but you have a right to your opinion, Salams

  29. Avatar

    Sal

    January 1, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    AOA Wajid

    Firstly I commend your efforts to try to educate young people on Islam and getting a message out there. It is heartening to see someone with conviction and spirit going forward and speaking for what you believe in.
    I am a muslim, and what I feel is correct is that I dont have the knowledge you have, and that is part of the problem of the reactions on message boards. However, I feel there are certain realities we need to get into perspective. I was born in the UK, we come from a moderate background and we are educated. The UK has given us a lot, not least of all a top class education, and the means to make money and live our lives freely. When i look back at my home country, I love it for what it is, but there are massive inequalities, corruption and other things that would make it impossible to live there. We should ALWAYS respect our fellow people, under the laws of the land – this is not an Islamic state, and we are bound by the laws – we are however FREE to make our own choices with regards to Special occasions and what we choose to celebrate or not. I believe, that New Years Day, in our day to day life, is NOTHING haraam, IF we are not harming others, choose to spend it with our family and friends, and if in some way it inspires us to do better for the year ahead then so be it. We celebrated by watching the fireworks, everyone reading 2 Nafals after salaah and we had food and talked about the year ahead. This should be something we encourage – not something we try and tell people is haraam. We live in England. We are living in a country that will hopefully house our children and their children. They will mix with the local population. We will teach them good things and about Islam. But – and this is where the issues start arising – if you suddenly start splitting yourselves from your neighbours and the people whose land you are living in, you risk totally alienating your children from everything that they could be. They will never become the well rounded individuals you want them to be. Sure, if you are living in an Islamic state, by all means, you have the environment and the people around you to say these kind of things, where everyone around you believes the same. Most people in the UK are moderate – they read salaah and they are trying their best – surrounded by a lot of haraam things. I believe if you are trying to appeal to people and bring them closer to Islam, you need to be showing compassion, love and kindness, and DRAW people in, so they listen to you and not react. That is an approach that will make people listen to you. Instead, people will now start asking…”Is it haraam to wish someone Happy New year??” It is about being middle of the road and finding a balance.
    I hope I did not sound like I was attacking you but I feel people need to understand what we are doing before approaching people with things that they will not listen to. A prime example – go to jumma in a lot of UK cities, and you will see people switching OFF when they go to jumma. They read salaah and run away. Why? No one is drawing them in. They are depressed, stressed out, in their daily lives and want to be inspired. They are getting zero inspiration there – they are just fullfilling their fard and leaving. That is not Islam. That is not going to promote love in Islam. It will promote half baked people who just know a certain amount and are unwilling to want to know more because no one has led them. It will be people like YOU who can lead. With light.

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      January 1, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      Walaikum asalaam,

      JazakAllah khairun for your kind response – and I appreciate the way you put your views across.

      I agree with you 100% on the following points:

      – We need to do more to inspire our youth and fellow Muslims (e.g. in Jummah, during khutbahs etc…) In fact, I wrote an article about exactly that point just previous to this about how we need to take our Eids as seriously as others take Christmas.

      – We do not live in a Muslim country and should respect the laws of the land. We also should be grateful for the opportunity to live in relative peace and harmony.

      – We should try and be as welcoming as possible to non-Muslims and not separate ourselves from them. We should try and engage with them and take an active part in society as much as we can.

      Where the disagreement comes is whether or not taking part in their celebrations automatically precludes the above. I don’t believe it does.

      I worry brother Sal. I worry a lot because I see the logic that you and many others disagreeing with the article provide seems to say that if we don’t take part in New Years, if we somehow don’t condone this celebration and others, if we don’t take part – then we are making ourselves unfriendly, unlikeable, divided and secluded. We are turning people off.

      Follow that line of thinking and apply it to other situations. That logic can be used to justify not wearing a headscarf. Surely this creates uncalled for barriers and makes many non-hijaabi Muslim girls uncomfortable – so lets get rid of it. And having a beard is just a sunnah isn’t it? Why needlessly antagonise people from the faith when studies show that non-Muslims prefer clean shaven people and trust them more? How about going to club but just drinking orange juice (the perennial favourite of many young Muslims in the UK)? After all, not going to the pub/ club means you are a virtual recluse anyway so why not go but maintain our Islamic values by not drinking. This may not be the way you are thinking, but this is the logic that you are employing and it would become hypocritical if we suddenly said that others could not apply that logic to other scenarios for the same reason.

      The reality is that the case against celebrating New Years has the weight of ahadith, statements of the scholars, 1400 years of the Muslim ummah not doing so. It also take into consideration what the effect on the Muslims will be in the future.

      Unfortunately, the case for celebrating New Years really has much less evidence in any of those departments.

      I simply don’t believe that our engagement with non-Muslims or those far from the faith requires us to compromise on our principles.

      Again, I hope I have not offended. As stated in this article – that was never my intent.

  30. Avatar

    peace

    January 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    What ever is haram and forbidden is already clearly described and explained Allhamdulilah. Matters like this are for the scholars and fuqaha to argue and talk about and come up with answers. Please also avoid qouting hadith with out proper context and when you do not have the proper qualifications. It is a tabboo topic and we have bigger problems to take care of…………….

  31. Avatar

    Ayatullah

    January 2, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Agreed …not disputing whatever…My own question is How About going to watch FIre works (even in so called shariah COuntries like Dubai and Malaysia) not in anyway Partaking in the event but just to see the beauty in it. Do you have any knowledge about fatwas passed on that? even though Problems of free mixing is definately there.

  32. Avatar

    love-islam

    January 3, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Ya ALLAH plase guide all these people all you act like muslms but in reality you are NOT look at this guy saying hes from UK who cares where u from whatevere you are dont foreget your religon, and stop talking about muslams nagative, if you are inlove with non muslms then go ahead and be friend with them that they not kik you out of thire land, this is shows how muslms are so weak in faith. So what i live in Canada and i practice my religon i dont care about poeple what they say, i dont obey people i obey my lord ALLAH Subhanna Wa Tallah, if you live your life as a disobedience you will die in the same way. Dont let this dunya to desive you,

    • Avatar

      mustafa

      January 5, 2013 at 2:02 AM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Yes, I agree with you 100% brother, it is a shame it has come to this. Subhanallah, we will both stay firm until we both meet Allah inshaa Allah even if other Muslims and non Muslims mock us. We will see who is closer to Allah and His Messenger.

      We are not in need of any other Muslims as well.

      I have two points to make:
      1) Your link is dead. I tried accessing it…..I clicked your name and nothing happens.
      2) You have to spell better and write better so that your message comes across better. Remember, Allah has prescribed ihsan, so when you do something, perfect it!

  33. Avatar

    ahsan arshad

    January 3, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    @ peace
    1. I dont understand how you can say that the topic is taboo? Issues in islamic law are disagreed by scholars but that does not make it taboo. Students of knowledge are required to look at the evidence of both sides, weigh them and adopt stronger opinions on such issues. Frankly speaking, compared to other issues this topic is not disagreed by scholars to a great extent.
    2. The fact that we have important issues to take care of – such as of palestine and israel – well lets solve it… its not that easy, is it?
    Whatever is part of islam is important. Some issues are of primary importance and some of secondary-but that does not mean that secondary issues should not be discussed or neglected. That would be non sense and no “scholar with proper qualifications” would endorse it

  34. Avatar

    peace

    January 3, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    The reason I dislike arguments like this is we as an ummah have lost the ability to follow the basics of islam. We feel no shame in lying, back biteing, eatting riba, ignoring rights of our parents, our siblings, keeping rahm relations, we are lazy about doing five prayers on time, fail to show kindness to other humans esp if they are not muslim or follow a different thought process, and other creations of Allah, we do not support truth and speak out against injustice but……….. we will all dive into the haram and halal discussion of new year celebration, question the permissibility of saying happy new year etc etc.
    If you have achieved all the basics and corrected that, your nafs is undercontrol, riya is out, you are able to speak thruth, avoid kabair sins and then sagair then dissuss this…..otherwise leave people alone. You donot like it……………donot do it………Simple as that…..Only a Mufti has authority to pass a fatwa and that is also limited by time and circumstances……..

  35. Avatar

    peace

    January 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    The reason I called it taboo is beacuse it has already been talked about and agreed and disagreed on. Read books of fiqh and learn and follow your madhab rather than argue.
    As for the bigger problems……Issue of Palistine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afganistan, Syria, and many many many others…..that is not the big problem in my opnion. They are symptoms. Like for example Malaria causes fever, As a doctor you do not just worry about fever and treat pt with acetaminophen, you worry about the cause of malaria and need to take medication to kill the parasite and also remove patient from the area so he dosent get reinfected or get rid of the water swamps that breed the mosquito. Then only you get a lasting cure.
    We as a muslim believe that Allah is all powerful and nothing can happen unless he wills it. So the big question we need to ask is Why is this happening to us. What is Allah teaching us here, where did we go wrong??If we can answer that question and do an honest soul searching, then we can get the answer. I hope you get my point……….

  36. Avatar

    Abdul Sattar

    January 3, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    Br. Wajid,

    1. My initial comments to you were based on a disagreement on how someone’s specific situation was being handled and answers.

    2. I was unfair in my critique with you and asked the moderators to cut out the portions of my comment that were unfair and inappropriate.

    3. I don’t wish to engage you on this topic as so much has already been said, but didn’t want to leave bad feelings, and wanted to apologize for my harsh comments. I’ve found the rest of your articles to be very beneficial mashAllah.

    4. However, whenever someone reaches out and says they are struggling with their faith, my thought is that their situation takes precedence over a matter of furoo’.

    5. For example, when someone is uncomfortable with converting to Islam because of their dog that they love their family dog so much, I would tell them -” follow the Maliki opinion, keep the dog, but convert if you believe. We’ll deal with such little issues later.”

    6. I felt this approach when dealing with those fresh to Islam was left out of the your answer, and I had a strong disagreement with that. We need a certain amount of love and gentleness with our new brothers and sisters, you know what I mean?

    I wish you the best, forgive me for the harsh critique.

    jazakAllahu khairan,
    Abdul Sattar

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      January 3, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      Walaikum aslaam,

      Thank you for the reply. I did not feel that I was harsh to the brother or sister in my reply, but I accept that I could have gone out of my way to be more explicitly welcoming.

      JazakAllah khairun for the reminder.

  37. Avatar

    Sarah

    January 4, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    I really enjoyed your article regarding Christmas & happened to stumble accross this also.
    I do not know enough regarding the Muslim rules etc to be able to make any for of opinion, but enjoyed the debate and points of view from readers.
    I know the calendar initially created by the pope etc, but over time it has been used genetically world wide (as have the genetic use of metric measurement etc) for the purposes of recording historical events ( im not on about religion) but so that births/deaths/marriages were recorded correctly. The day war ended (any war you like) and as international business suppliers/exporters used an international figure that was recognised globally. As a non-Muslim I see New Year as the end of a year in which we have all worked so hard, a national holiday in which we all finally as a family get to spent uninterrupted time together and a chance to be thank full for what we have and to bid a fond farewell to all those we may have lost

  38. Avatar

    Sarah

    January 4, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    Sorry, my last comment, posted before I had finished…….
    It can mean different things to different people. At work today, I saw my friend (Muslim) and wished her a happy new year and did she enjoy it. She explained they did not celebrate it and about your own new year. Nobody took offence and we laughed when I said I take it back merely wished her a ‘Happy New Calendar’ !!
    I

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      January 4, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Dear Sarah,

      Thank you for your messages and kind words… Indeed, I am convinced that the majority of non-Muslims are like yourself – friendly, open-minded and more than willing to understand that just because we may have different celebrations/ values/ faiths – doesn’t mean we can’t share our short time on this planet together in some harmony…

      We may have different celebrations marked on our calendars… but we can all agree on the kittens.

  39. Avatar

    Sarah

    January 4, 2013 at 1:05 AM

    Sorry, did it again (im using a mobile sorry!)

    I do however want to comment about something said by ‘Love-Islam’ : I think you are wrong to say that non Muslims “will never be your friends or protectors and are the enemies of Allah” this is not the way in which to promote yourself. Why does the world always have to be a case of ‘us & them’ ? Why promote doubt and distrust?
    You make Islam appear aggressive and this it is exactly the opposite??
    People are my friends for who they are and their character. Im afraid that their gender, ethnic origin or religion do not factor in whether I like a person or not. I find that ignorance & intolerance does not discriminate. They are alive and well in every culture.
    “Never assume to be mighty & above all others and cast judgement or distain to those below – it makes it all the more painful the day you may have to pass them on your way back down to the bottom”

    On that note I shall at least wish you happy new Calendar’ and I hope it’s one with kittens on like mine haha

  40. Avatar

    Sarah

    January 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Thank you for your reply Wajid

    If anything brings people together its animals and sports!

    The world needs education and with that eliminates the fear of the unknown of people who have different religions and cultures.

    With education, comes travel. Every person should visit a Country of less fortune. Not for the purposes of pity, but to see that when you strip away the materialistic wealth, see those who genuinely have nothing, it’s only then that you see a true person. It makes you realise what truly is important…….to me, I believe that it is important to understand the differences in people and be happy for their celebrations.
    In the existence of the world, our time here is a meer blink of an eye, yet so much of people’s time is consumed with hatred of others, self righteousness and the belief that those with different opinions, religions, skin colour are inferior.
    I’d rather enjoy and embrace all that is different, because difference doesn’t mean its wrong, not does it mean that I have to change what I believe.

    When I die, it is only me, myself that is judged that day and throughout all my faults and lifes sins, I can say I was the best person I could be.

    I wish you all the very best in all that you do. You encourage others to see the positives about other people’s cultures or how you can use those things to promote and engage in Islam. Other Religious leaders could learn something from you.

  41. Avatar

    Sarah

    January 4, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    Sorry for the split comments, I clearly can not master the art of posting from a mobile. Please feel free to delete the first one as it is only half of my original comment. Thank you :)

  42. Avatar

    ahsan arshad

    January 4, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    @ Peace
    salaam alaykum Peace, hmmm yes unfortunately we as an ummah are far away from the “basics” of islam even from knowing those basics and action/implementing them is the next step. Why? that is the case is a long discussion but something must be done about it by us. You have raised a primary concern and I personally feel that is due to lack of dawah/educating the neglected parts of society by the “educated” (one of the many reasons)
    However I must say at the same time that this website (I write as a reader) does not issue fatwas. Articles such as this one are a point of discussion where the author concludes with a stronger opinion (according to him/her) supporting it with evidences. It is written at a pertinent time when muslims particularly younger ones ask this question, they unfortunately as you pointed out would not wake up for fajr prayer but yet ask this question (they need to learn to prioritize).
    I enjoyed your response.

    • Avatar

      nora

      January 7, 2013 at 7:09 PM

      Im a muslim I LOVE that i am one i hope everyone can become a muslim I think that muslims should celebrate New Year but in reading Quran and doing what Allah thinks is right for them. :)

      • Avatar

        Siberia Bakari

        January 1, 2015 at 6:16 AM

        @Norah, Which new year, Pope Gregorie’s new year or Muharram?

  43. Avatar

    Wael Abdelgawad

    January 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Some of your best points were made in the comments. Your comment about having so many other holidays that we devalue the Eids in our childrens’ eyes, really hit home. I have struggled to get my daughter to care about Eid.

  44. Avatar

    S

    January 13, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    I think there are more important issues to write about than this. Unfortunate. I know of Muslims that when the New Year (Gregorian) starts or on New Years Eve make duaa for health, happiness and peace amongst ALL humanity. It just unfortunate that celebrating New Years or not is debate worthy, this goes in the “are we allowed to say Merry Christmas” “debate” bucket.

  45. Avatar

    Fatima

    January 17, 2013 at 5:18 AM

    I think Muslims should not celebrate new year because we have our own calendar , beside that we only celebrate 2 days per Islamic year….
    We should not encourage others from following traditions that are no islamic, therefore we do not conform to non-Muslim holidays, such as Easter, Christmas, and New Year, because they are all based on beliefs that Muslims do not believe.

  46. Avatar

    Brother Of Islam

    January 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    A very good article and a very hot debate.
    very interesting i thought. tqsm for sharing :)

  47. Avatar

    abir

    January 26, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Thank you for the article…. common muslim sense, putting things into perspective, thanks for wording how we should feel towards the Gregorian new years eve.
    I think what some missed is that this is an opinion or line of thought or reflection on a modern day event …the author did not say it is halal / haram … And also the author addressed a current social topic that needs to be discussed so that we rethink our actions or views regarding it.
    I certainly have noticed the over enthusiasm this event brings on the muslim society. it has become a major must do event in many peoples lives. why? is the real question.
    For all those who are pro celebrating the Gregorian new years eve for its celebration of life & renewal , positivity & cheerfulness, redha & hope ,family gathering & humanity etc…why can’t they do this on Hijri new year… ?If anything reflecting on the Hijra itself and its meaning would symbolize this. Why do we have to lose our identity as Arabs, Muslims and our rich proud history.
    I acknowledge the Gregorian for those of christian /catholic faiths , but we have our own Faith… I always mention this subtly as i reply with good wishes to those who wish me a happy new year… i explain that Arabs/ Muslims have a different calendar and our own new years date… just like the Chinese for example.
    Most of the world knows we fast the month of Ramadan, make Haj in Zhul hijah month because we act on it, we can act on remembering our new year on Muharram.
    I think following other cultures or religious celebrations as our own is a weakness & or form of ignorance & or passiveness… We acknowledge it for them on their new year..& hopefully they will acknowledge it for us in Muharram … but I definitely don’t expect them to celebrate it with us…& they won’t.. out of their own common sense!
    The only exception would be for those converts to Islam who want to keep their family relations with their non muslim families… if the environment they are celebrating in does not oppose islamic values….but i wander whether they get the same respect , enthusiasm & support on the Islamic new year, If they don’t then they should ask for it.
    In summary I think the aim of this article was a reminder that we have our own new year, & we should not be mistakingly emphasizing the Gregorian new year over the Islamic new year which is one of the concerns the author of this article was raising.
    What i would like to add is that when we commemorate our new year it should be a time to remember our blessings , the gift of life , the jihad and perseverance of the our Prohet early muslims to hold on to their faith in their hijra & renew our intention to make a Hijra (resolution) from our old misgivings to become better muslims.
    I think it would be wise to consider & reflect why Omar chose the Hijra as the beginning of the islamic new year.

  48. Avatar

    Moose

    February 6, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Very poorly written article. The rhetoric was fairly flat and unengaging. This style and substance would better suit an old, religious uncle who just migrated to the United States. Point of the matter, no one is going to change their mind about celebrating a rather bland holiday as a result of inconsistent internal logic and due to, what you claim, “Islam”.

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      February 7, 2013 at 1:13 PM

      Walaikum aslaam

      You have every right to hate the article and to assume it won’t sway anyone. Just like I have the right to hope that it might.

      JazakAllah khairun.

  49. Avatar

    l. turner

    March 22, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    I appreciate what you wrote, so very true. I have watched this happen in christianity over the years and no longer follow the ways of this belief. I study scriptures, history, etc. i have read the Quran with deep thought. Shalom

  50. Avatar

    Aisha Siddiqui

    March 30, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    The Islamic calendar is based on pre-Islamic calendar followed by Arabs. The hijrat date was however established during the first hijrat of the prophet from Mecca to Medina, and even though the hijrat actually happened during the month of Rabi ul awal, the Hijrat calendar started in Muharram, as suggested by Ali ibn Abu Talib. Hazrat Umar (R) did not migrate with the Prophet (PBUH) as he ws not a Muslim at this stage. Hazrat Umar may be credited for establishing and promoting the Islamic calendar on all Arab states, as he conquered much of the Arab world. He however did not invent, or initiate the islamic calendar. Thank you

    • WAJiD

      WAJiD

      March 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Salaam alaikum sister Aisha,

      I’m not sure about the points about the calendar being based on a pre-islamic one. I mean, almost every calendar is either lunar or solar so that doesn’t really mean that it is pre-islamic.

      Also, Umar (R) was definitely a Muslim in the Makkan period.

      WAJiD

    • Avatar

      javaid

      January 8, 2016 at 10:31 PM

      No the counting of Hijrah year was also instituted by Umar(ra).

      You are right and wrong at the same time. People have a notion that everything Pre-Islamic is Un-Islamic. There were many traditions of Arab society that Islam kept as it is. Also some of arab beliefs came from the Abrahamic Faith.

      What can be said about the calendar is that the days of the week are 7 which is common among all civilizations. The months are pre-Islamic but their foundation and concept agrees with the religion of Ibrahim(as) so for example, Islam kept the status of four sacred months.

      The things instituted b Umar(ra) was the counting from Hijrah. By this reason, we consider the Calendar to be Islamic. The pre-islamic part of the Calendar is also part of the religion of Allah(swt).

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  52. Avatar

    Farid

    December 29, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Assalaam alaikum wa rahmotalahi wa barakatu,

    It is not my intention to condemn anyone or make anyone feel an inferior Muslim. I merely want to add some points of view that might be interesting for anyone who is searching to deduct an answer from all information available on the subject:

    1) The Gregorian calendar is a widely used medieval refinement of the Julian calendar. The Julian and Gregorian calendar both contain 365 days, but differ in the way leap days during centennials are applied. Non-Christians that use the Gregorian calendar do not denote eras as BC (before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini), but as CE (Common Era) and BCE (Before Common Era). The division of a year in 365 and sometimes 366 days stems from the Julian calendar, introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE (i.e. before the supposed birthday of Christ). Therefore it is incorrect to state that celebrating a new year on January 1st is an act of Christianity.
    2) The Julian calendar uses names of Roman gods and Roman emperors as month names. One could state that using the Julian/Gregorian calendar is shirk, but if this applies, it applies not only to January 1st, but also to other dates during the year. In most cases the calendar is not used to praise Roman gods and deceased emperors, but as a generally accepted means to designate a certain moment in time (even by Muslim societies and institutions).
    3) Fireworks are unnecessary entertainment, polluting the air and containing heavy metals. Please check the following link for info on Islam and the environment http://www.islamawareness.net/Nature/environment_approach.html
    4) Alcohol use: 2:219
    5) Certain types of music: 31:6
    6) Appropriate conduct between men and women: 24:30-31
    7) As @jasken (see above) mentioned: celebrating New Year whilst not celebrating our Eids and 1 Muharram might lead your children astray.

    And Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Siberia Bakari

      January 1, 2015 at 6:33 AM

      @Farid, If you say Julian calendar preceded birth of Christ Jesus, then follow that calendar, Note. The orthodox church rejected Pope Gregory calendar and still follows Julian calendar today.

  53. Avatar

    Moeen Uddin Ahemd

    December 31, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    I have just sent a message to all my Facebook’s friends. Forth by dint of knowing from this page and others as well, I am going to make up my mind not to get into the festive spirit and celebrate New Year’s Party, Day etc………………………………………….

  54. Avatar

    Richelle Ramos

    December 31, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    respect is what we just needed

  55. Avatar

    Chana Dal

    December 31, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    I respectfully disagree with not celebrating other holidays. At no point do “Westerners” say…hey, I’m glorifying Pagan/Christian/etc… beliefs and must be debaucherous. I believe we should take every opportunity to celebrate the wonders that are around us…at whatever holiday point. This New Years…I will be celebrating with my family. Happy New Year!

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  57. Avatar

    UmmHamza

    January 1, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    May Allah reward you for your intention and effort with His mercy! Some people sadly don’t know how to accept a heartfelt-meant nasiha (like they were personally addressed and forced to read and follow this article), whether they consider it nonsense or not, whether they intend to follow it or not. Because that’s a sign of a good muslim character, being kind, not arrogant, and saying thank you to people who mean well, even if it bothers.

    And Allah knows the best.

    wslm

    • Avatar

      absidy barbemi

      September 12, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      muslims do not celebrate new year. this is because they do not know when to celebrate, since the religion is found after counting calender has been started(at around 630 G.c).

    • Avatar

      Tommy

      January 1, 2017 at 6:32 PM

      Totally agree. The only real thing that matters in this world is whether you are an honest kind person. Having a nice family is a good start. Waking up in the morning with a smile on your face rather than being grumpy etc. Any Religion will not do this for you but your kids can !!!

  58. Avatar

    Dean O'Mac

    April 1, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Why is Islam such a negative, restrictive religion? Why can’t you just people live and let live?

  59. Pingback: Celebrating New Year's Day || Aurooba Ahmed

  60. Avatar

    sasirekha

    December 10, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Its very new information for me, while am reading this, it take me to another mind!
    Thanks for posting!

  61. Avatar

    a

    December 26, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    I think the most fascinating thing is to see how people waste their time with such a small issues rather than making a concrete help and positive change in this horrible, sad, unjust and racist world…

  62. Avatar

    M R

    December 29, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    good article, jazakallah khayr

  63. Avatar

    MJ. Biswas

    December 31, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Very informative & a balanced article. Jajak Allah khair!!

  64. Avatar

    muslimah

    December 31, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    The fact of the matter is that all of these actions represent
    a comprehensive imitation of western culture and can only
    be the result of very low levels of faith or indeed a total lack
    of it; to exhibit this type of behaviour is to strip oneself
    from the distinction and superiority of Islam and it is also
    an evil which makes Muslims who partake in such
    celebrations be included in the saying of the Prophet :
    “He who imitates a people will be from among them (on the
    Day of Judgement).” [Abu Daawood] And in another
    narration, he said: “The one who imitates people other
    than us (i.e., in faith) is not from us. Do not imitate the Jews
    or the Christians.” [Tirmithi]Imaam Ahmad said: “The
    very least that this Hadeeth entails is the prohibition of
    imitating them (i.e., the Jews and the Christians); although it
    is also apparent that the Hadeeth labels the one who does so
    as a disbeliever (as Allaah Says what means): “O you who
    have believed! Do not take the Jews and the Christians as
    allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is
    an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them.
    Indeed Allaah guides not the wrongdoing people.” [Quran 5:
    51]

    • Avatar

      Kelly

      January 3, 2015 at 3:34 PM

      Islam’s stance is that ‘Imitating’ the other culture or religious person is only bad in worship, where one might confuse you as someone of the other religion, which was important at the time of Mohammed (pbuh) as that meant you were likely at war with the Muslims. Many people falsely assume this applies to non-worship/religion (“the west” in general) which is wrong, and create this slippery-slope argument. You should NEVER accuse someone of having “low levels of faith” or “total lack of it”, as only God knows their heart. In fact, accusing someone of this is what is wrong in Islam, not following non-religious Western ways.

    • Avatar

      Damy

      December 30, 2016 at 2:45 AM

      I don’t get it at all. “Be nice to your neighbour be it another religion” other says “do not ally with them”. They could be the employer,business partner,employee etc. Are this just masks cus I just keep getting confuse. #revert!

      • WAJiD

        WAJiD

        December 30, 2016 at 3:05 AM

        Ws Damy,

        It is simple inshaAllah. Being nice does not mean the same as being the same. I can be nice, polite and even loving to someone with views different to mine without having to adopt those views.

  65. Avatar

    Ayoub

    December 31, 2014 at 8:16 PM

    • Avatar

      Kristy

      December 28, 2015 at 4:50 PM

      I am an Evangelical Christian who celebrates Christmas. While almost all Christians celebrate Christmas as remembering the day Jesus was born, the importance of the day is not just that Jesus was born, but that as GOD, Divinity chose to be born into humanity out of a Love which is GOD Alone for our salvation. Merry Christmas!

  66. Avatar

    MUSTAFA

    January 1, 2015 at 2:18 AM

    aslm.may Allah (swa) reward the author with jannah. Amin. He was quite intellectual, brave, patient, foresighted,consistent, erudite, astute,articulative,welcoming and best of all sunnatic.I wonder if those critisising him would love to present that criticism of theirs before Allah in the day of reckoning? please be on safer side as the prophet (saw) said leave that which you doubt and go for that you have no doubt upon. assalamualaikum.

  67. Avatar

    Siberia Bakari

    January 1, 2015 at 6:56 AM

    With increasing population, interactions , interdependence and advance in technology/internet, the World is gradually becoming a global village, the minorities will eventually be engulfed by the majority. Many years from now english will be the main if not the only language, Small religions including Islam will only be read in historical books, unless muslims create an independent enclave with not interaction with the majority of world population

  68. Avatar

    Sandi

    January 2, 2015 at 12:28 AM

    LOLL LET’S JUST MAKE EVERYTHING HARAM WHY DON’T WE

    • Avatar

      Kelly

      January 3, 2015 at 3:36 PM

      All caps is haram! Haram! Have you ever seen Baba Ali’s video “Haram Police”? Very funny!

  69. Avatar

    Randy

    January 14, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    I may be ignorant but I’ve wondered if Islam or particularly Sunnis forbids pictures, why did Dubai which is 85% Sunni portray digital images on the buildings during the 2015 New Years Celebration?

  70. Avatar

    ABDUL JABBAR KOORAD

    September 7, 2015 at 11:09 PM

    friends…me from India..in the indian situation,there have a lot of muslims…but…they haven’t knowledge about they are muslims…bcoz they are borned as a muslim…and they haven’t any knowledge about shareeath…if we ask them about Allah..THEY WILL REPLAY “WHAT IS THAT?”

  71. Pingback: Comment on 4 Reasons Why Muslims Should Not Celebrate the New Year by ABDUL JABBAR KOORAD | Souqhub | Blog

  72. Avatar

    Syed

    December 22, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    To the writer. I understand and appreciate your efforts to answer questions that many Muslims have in these times and climes. However, some things are not simply black and white. What is your definition of celebration ? What is the importance of any day in a sea of time and space through which we move. I am a Muslim who answer to his creator five times a day and more, follow the tenets of my faith to my best ability. But the most benefit I receive as a human being is from

    “We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 48)

    Does Allah care about your little markings on your calendar days ? A day for any celebration is a day one has an opportunity to be him or herself among others, to have a chance to show them who you are. To be generous and to mingle so others will understand you and your faith better. The more you dissociate yourself from everything, the less opportunity of service to the almighty. I never consume alcohol or partake in practices that violate my faith or its foundations. However, I invite others over, or visit them and they are generous and courteous to consider my needs as well. This is what Allah wants, not the opposite. Let us think about the society we wish to create, not just in the West but where there are more Muslims. It is through your interactions that people will learn of your nature, not by your absence.

    Thank you and good luck with your contributions.

    • Muhammad Wajid Akhter

      Muhammad Wajid Akhter

      December 22, 2015 at 2:29 PM

      Walaikum asalaam Syed,

      JazakAllah khairun for your reply. While I may not agree with some of your points, I cannot deny the general spirit of what you are saying.

      Thank you.

  73. Avatar

    ademC

    December 28, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Even if you decide not to “celebrate” this time is still an opportunity to give. Given the “secular” tax year ending, a large number of donations among our non-Muslim colleagues are given before the end of December. Since the suffering of Syrian refugees and Rohingya Muslims in Burma are mentioned in this article, why not encourage both friends and family to donate at this time. It is also important to support policies that effectively address the injustices that are root causes of violence. This can be a long term challenge– changing systems of oppression is not a form if instant gratification but is a necessary investment.

    While humanitarian support could go to groups like ICNA Relief and Islamic Relief or Muslim Aid, there are also many smaller groups dealing with refugees like Kimse Yok. For the Rohingya, advocacy matters and for that at http://www.burmamuslims.org is Burma Task Force USA. Even the American Jewish World Service is providing good services to Rohingya refugees in Thailand. And Groups like Amnesty International work to protect human rights around the world. Such donations are tax deductible and reduce the amount of tax you pay to the military industrial complex — though of course some of our taxes do pay for schools too. Peace.

  74. Avatar

    Baz Ward

    December 31, 2015 at 3:39 PM

    We have a short 60, 70, 80 years of life. During this time, their will be many disappointments and tragedies. Why not then take every opportunity to inject a couple of celebratory days in that life?? And I don’t believe in any afterlife etc … live your life fully NOW. …. because NO ONE has ever come back to tell us their is anything after death so we have to assume that it is a myth.

  75. Avatar

    Nazir

    January 1, 2016 at 4:55 AM

    I read this write up and a few comments also.
    I fail to understand that why some Muslims are so eager to celebrate new year of Christians? Had eman been strengthened in their hearts, no such wish would develop in their minds. Since there is glamour glued to these celebrations so baser self wants it and Satan becomes happy when human does these deeds because involvement in these deeds makes a man oblivious of the remeberance if Allah. Christmas is celebrated as the birth of God’s son so how a true muslim can greet people on this view which is tantamount to use invective against God.
    Allah says all creatures is my family and be kind to them. It can be a fool only who can interpret from it that since Satan too is a creation of God and a creature so we must not hurt him and should love him and please him?
    Now see, the man who wrote this write up is too a Muslim and he who is opposing him is too a Muslim, it is the amount of eman that writer has more than the one who opposes. Muslims should not be afraid of the threatnings if anyone asks you if he is not allowed to do the UnIslamic deeds he will leave Islam. No one should hold us at ransome and blackmail us. Islam takes away a man from hellfire. Now if anyone is hell bent upon to jump into it how can we save him? Then hell may be destined to him?
    Yes, we must respect everyone irrespective of colir cast and creed and should be kind to everyone. We should never hurt anyone. We should be kind to the family of Allah, even we should be kind to Satan by not to do the bad and wrong deeds, thus not to increase his “Nam e aamal” by those sins which we could do in his instigation; that would be our kindness towards him.
    Yes we should not be narrow minded and prove broad minded and sift spoken but it is permissible upto that limit where our faith and beliefs are not jeopardized.

    • Avatar

      Ibrokhim

      December 23, 2016 at 1:19 AM

      R u ok? R u muslim? Do you think that Isa is son of Allah?

  76. Avatar

    Cali

    January 2, 2016 at 3:36 AM

    All have taken the New Year celebration to a level it is not.
    Celebrating New Year, is and was to be for the hope of new beginnings, for better and prosperous year.
    Though truly, most people celebrate with family and/or friends so they can all wish each other a good and prosperous year, who cares if these others that celebrate in big crowds prefer that.
    Sometimes All religions and even non-religions, look into and make things more than they really are.

  77. Avatar

    funda

    January 4, 2016 at 2:16 AM

    Unless you are scholar of Islam, leave giving Fatwas to the real Scholars. Just because you’ve seen some muslims go overboard on New Years don’t assume it’s some sort of wide spread epidemic. Actually that picture on the right is more like how some us spend New Year’s eve.

  78. Avatar

    Muqtasid

    January 4, 2016 at 3:21 AM

    We should stay awake to pray tahajjud, not to celebrate a festival that is not a part of our religion.

  79. Avatar

    Learn Quran

    January 6, 2016 at 2:36 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this very informative and persuasive post!

  80. Avatar

    javaid

    January 8, 2016 at 10:18 PM

    Lets forget for a moment about the history of New Year. The celebration of New year clearly has drinking, dancing and all sorts of Munkaraat. In Europe and Germany in particular, there is even a bigger issue of apparently ‘Muslim’ assylum seakers groping the women in public and stealing from them.

    So what good comes out of this ?

    And another fact is that in our deen, the ibadah at the time of ghaflah is rewarded more. So the Muslim youth should focus on doing righteous deeds in such times to get more reward instead of doing the Munkaraat and giving a bad name to Islam and the Muslims.

  81. Avatar

    hariman muhammad

    December 25, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    But in hadith、rasulullah S.A.W said that we may celebrate Happy New Year.

  82. Avatar

    Amatullah

    December 30, 2016 at 12:27 AM

    I stumbled upon this article Today, when breaking my head to explain a fellow-muslim sister the same thing as Shaykh said in the article and each of his comments. I could only imagine the effort it took him to answer all that, the pain it gave to see fellow muslims in this state and I can actually relate to a bit of it. May Allah guide us soon. It is sometimes very disappointing to see people who have been given the Perfect way of life, reach this state. No wonder, Hijrah separates truth from Falsehood even today. If only Umar Ibn Khattab RadhiAllahu Anhu would see this day as a evidence to his saying!

  83. Avatar

    i believe in jesus

    December 31, 2016 at 1:20 AM

    As a sinner i say…istigfirAllah first and then ma sha Allah…as to the reminder of how we need to be serious like Salahuddin………..Allah forgive me and forgive us all for wasting time, lack of discipline and resolute on al haqq and all that needs to be done…etc…istigfirAllah.

    How about just wishing blessed new year, as it is revolved around the birth/circumcision of our common beloved..ie the messiah son of mary peace be upon them both….just to be nice as there is no kufr/disbelief really in that..or is there?…even though al hamdullah we have our blessed two days of eid..al hamdullah…with that said xmas, is definitely a no go (due to the obvious pagan sun mirtharism worships and its rituals…and st devilas and his two dears originally snakes…..and stealing children in his red sack ((plz refer to hidden history of xmas by merciful servant))…. etc)..that goes for me personally in terms of greetings ie wishing new year but not the other…apologies no offense to our xtian brethen…Allah knows best and may He forgive all our short comings!

    question: when does the gregorian calender actually begin…..meaning talk about 2- 4 years late or early?

    albeit, all the best for the remaining Islamic year and may we all reach up and coming ramadan and to those who go by the gregorian, happy new year- may we all be blessed and all come together and know jesus pbuh like he really is…if not in our life times then perhaps he’ll be busy resurrecting before his own death or if that is a wrong interpretation then most definitely on the judgement day…ya Sattar ya Rb for that day for all humanity!!…..

  84. Avatar

    Uzma Ansari

    December 31, 2016 at 7:10 PM

    This is a brilliant article brother. I just came across while searching for ‘why muslims shd not celebrate new year’. Your article was written in 2012 and still people are debating on it . Nothing has changed. I do not wish to see many fellow muslims and relatives wishing me Happy new year. I am terrified to see many muslim countries celebrating new year parties. This is the time of fitnah which we were told. People will only be involved in arguments and will not follow whats been told by Allah.
    You have done your part. May Allah give us guidance to be a better Muslim and Human being.

  85. Avatar

    Mike

    January 1, 2017 at 5:49 AM

    I grew up in a Christian family along with 3 brothers. None of follow any religious belief now. We all believe that religions were devised and used as a tool to control people. This has been proven to work extreamly well over the centuries and to this day. If modern science was around back in the day religion would never have got of first base. End result life expectancy would be up 10 fold on the stats around today !!!

  86. Avatar

    MH

    January 4, 2017 at 10:26 AM

    JazakAllahu Khayran for the article.

    On a side note, I’m curious to know how you got the ‘symbol’ for ‘RadhiyAllahu Anhu’. The reason why I ask is because when I put this article into Spreeder it doesn’t show the symbol. Instead it actually reads the translation; which is supposed to be “may Allah be pleased with him.” However, all of them are displaying as “may Allah be pleased with HER,” so either Spreeder is getting it wrong or there was a teeny, tiny mishap in the actual article. Just thought I’d let you know :)

  87. Avatar

    Mikael

    January 13, 2017 at 4:43 AM

    Celebrating a New Year has been happening for millenia, way before the christians, muslims or jews existed.

    Same goes for the calendar, it’s something that goes back to the Neolithic. The day, the solar year and the lunation and ancient concepts.

    You call that paganism, I call it humanity.

    You’re doing the divide with these articles.

  88. Avatar

    Abdul Ahad

    December 24, 2017 at 9:23 AM

    You could have ended the article after the first paragraph.

    “As Muslims, we have our own calendar that has been in constant use for 1400 years. Even though we may end up using the Gregorian calendar due to circumstances beyond our control, we know for a fact that Allah has ordained the use of the lunar calendar for us in our worship”

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#Current Affairs

The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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#Society

Obituary of (Mawlana) Yusuf Sulayman Motala (1366/1946 – 1441/2019)

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier.

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera

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Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala

A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address
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Reflections on Muslim Approaches to the Abortion Debate: The Problem of Narrow Conceptualization

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question.

Shaykh Salman Younas

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Abortion

“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes’ is what certain Muslims would assert… This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth.”

Shaykh Abdullah Hamid Ali in A Word on Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

“The golden mean is kind of a summit, and it is a struggle to get there. The ego does not want balance because you have to think and make sacrifices.”

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in Paradigms of Leadership (6)

A few months ago, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law House Bill 134, or the Human Life Protection Act, which prohibited all abortion in the state of Alabama except in cases where it was deemed necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the mother. The bill additionally criminalized abortion or any attempt to carry it out in situations deemed non-necessary. A motion to exempt rape and incest victims from this law was defeated in the Alabama state senate, which give the state the (dubious) distinction of possessing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in America. This move by Alabama to place extreme restrictions on abortion followed a spate of similar legislative moves by other states, such as Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

This escalation in anti-abortion legislation occasioned intense debate within the Muslim community.[1] Muslims who self-identify as progressives chanted the familiar mantra of “my body, my choice” to affirm a notion of personal rights and bodily autonomy in defending a woman’s right to choose. The ideological underpinnings of this view are extremely problematic from a theological perspective, and the practical policies arising from it that sanction even late-term abortions contravene the near-consensus position of classical jurists and is rightly seen as an assault on inviolable human life. For this reason, this essay will not pay any particular attention to this view.

Several people pushed back against this permissive attitude by arguing that abortion is essentially prohibited in Islam in all but the direst of situations, such as when the life of the mother is at genuine risk. This opinion has a sound precedent in the legal tradition and is the mainstream view of some of the legal schools, but it has often been presented in a manner that fails to acknowledge the normative pluralism that exists on the matter in the shariah and rather perniciously presents these alternative opinions as ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. Similarly, those who favour the more lenient view found in other legal schools are often seen characterizing the stricter opinion as ‘right-wing’ or reflective of the Christianization of Islamic law. Despite having legal precedent on their side, both groups engaged the abortion question in a manner that was rather superficial and fundamentally problematic.

Abortion

Did Jurists Only Permit Abortion in ‘Dire’ Circumstances?

I will begin this essay by offering a corrective to the mistaken notion that classical jurists only permitted abortions in cases of necessity, an assertion that has become very common in current Muslim discourse on abortion in America. One need not look much further than the Ḥanafī school to realize that this claim is incorrect. Though there are opinions within the school that only permit abortion before 120 days with the existence of a valid excuse, the view of several early leading authorities was that abortion was unconditionally permissible (mubāḥ) before this period and/or prior to the physical form and features of a fetus becoming clearly discernible.[2] In his encyclopaedic work al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, Burhān al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 616/1219) presents two main opinions on abortion in the school:

(i) It is permitted “as long as some physical human features are not clearly discernible because if these features are not discernible, the fetus is not a child (walad)” as per Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand. Some scholars asserted that this occurs at 120 days,[3] while others stated that this assertion, though incorrect, indicated that by discernibility jurists intended ensoulment.[4]

(ii) It is disliked because once conception occurs, the natural prognostication is life and so the fetus is granted this ruling at the moment of conception itself. This was the view of ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Qummī (d. 305/917-18).[5]

The first opinion of unconditional permissibility was not a solitary one in the school. It was forwarded by many of the foremost Ḥanafī authorities, such as Ḥussām al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 536/1141),[6] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī (d. 575/1175),[7] Jamāl al-Dīn al-Ghaznawī (d. 593/1196),[8] Zayn al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 666/1267),[9] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī (d. 683/1284),[10] Fakhr al-Dīn al-Zaylaʿī (d. 743/1343),[11] Qiwām al-Dīn al-Kākī (749/1348),[12] Jalāl al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī (d. 767/1365),[13] Kamāl ibn al-Humām (d. 861/1457),[14] Muḥyī al-Dīn Jawīzāda (d. 954/1547),[15] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī (d. 1088/1677),[16] and several others.[17] The reasoning underlying this view was that prior to a specific period (whether defined by days or by fetal development), a fetus is not a ‘child’ or ‘person’.[18] Therefore, no ruling is attached to it at this stage.[19]

Another opinion in the school, and one that has gained wide acceptance amongst contemporary Ḥanafī jurists, argued that abortion prior to 120 days was disliked and sinful unless carried out with a valid excuse. This view was most famously expressed by Fakhr al-Dīn Qāḍīkhān (d. 592/1196) in his Fatāwā and subsequently supported by the likes of Ibn Wahbān (d. 768/1367),[20] Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563),[21] and Ibn ʿĀbidīn (d. 1252/1836).[22] These sources, however, do not define or fully flesh out what constitutes an excuse, sufficing mainly with a single example as illustrative of a case where abortion would be permitted, namely when a woman ceases to produce milk on account of pregnancy and her husband is unable to provide an alternative source of sustenance for their child and fears his or her perishing. Cases of rape, incest, adultery, and other possible excuses are not discussed by most of these authors, and it is not clear whether they would have deemed these valid excuses or not.[23]

The Ḥanafī school, therefore, had three main opinions on the issue: unconditionally permissible prior to a specific time period; unconditionally disliked; and conditionally permissible prior to a specific time period. Of the three, the first view seems to have been the dominant one in the school and held by multiple authorities in virtually every century. The view of conditional permissibility was also a strong one and notably adopted by several later jurists. It is also the view that has gained currency among modern Ḥanafī scholars who are generally not seen forwarding the view of unconditional permissibility.

Some Contemporary Views on Abortion

A wide range of opinions is also found in the discourse of contemporary jurists. Shaykh Muṣṭafā Zarqā (d. 1999) presented a gradated scheme where abortion prior to 40 days was permitted without a “severe excuse”, which included “undertaking necessary travel where pregnancy and giving birth would prove a hindrance, such as for education or for work that requires a couple to move.”[24] He also considered financial strain arising from a child as a valid excuse during this limited time period. According to him, the threshold for a valid excuse would become higher as the pregnancy proceeded beyond 40 days.

Muftī Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī (d. 1996), one of the foremost scholars of the Deobandī school, permitted abortions when conception occurred out of wedlock (zinā).[25]

Muftī Salmān Manṣurpūrī states emphatically that the basis is that abortion is impermissible unless there is a valid excuse before 120 days, such as the life of the mother being at risk, serious consequences to her general health, an actual inability to bear pregnancy, clear harm or danger to one’s current children, and adultery, but not fear of economic difficulty nor the decision not to have children.[26]

In Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya, Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq states that a fetus diagnosed by medical professionals with an incurable and serious disorder that will prove to be an extreme burden on the child and its family is permitted to abort prior to 120 days as per the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Mecca.[27] Elsewhere, he divides pregnancy into three stages. The first stage is when the general form and facial features of the fetus take shape but prior to the formation of its limbs. At this stage, it is permitted to carry out on abortion with a valid and established excuse, such as the fetus suffering from a “dangerous hereditary disease”, “physical abnormality/deformity”, the life of the mother being at risk, or reasonably-established fear of the mother’s “physical and mental health” being impacted. The second stage is when the limbs of the fetus are clearly formed and discernible, and the third stage is after 120 days. In both these stages, the respected Muftī rules that abortion is not permitted except in cases of necessity, such as saving the life of the mother.[28] The permission to abort the fetus is also extended to cases of rape.[29]

Mawlānā Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī (d. 2019), a founding member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, India, argued that the permission to carry out an abortion before ensoulment (even after discernibility) is not simply restricted to cases of necessity (ḍarūra) but includes cases of need (ḥāja), which broadly includes “any situation that entails bodily or psychological harm for the parents or the child and is a cause for continual distress.”[30] Examples of valid excuses include “danger to the general health, mental health, or life of the mother”, pregnancy resulting from rape or fornication (so long as it is not someone who has engaged in the latter habitually), the strong possibility that the child will be born with serious physical abnormalities or defects as determined by a medical professional, and the genuine inability of the parents to raise and maintain/sustain more than one child without it negatively impacting their current children.[31]

Mawlānā Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī states, “Essentially, abortion is impermissible in Islam, and there is no time period in which it is acceptable to abort a fetus. However, this impermissibly has degrees. In the first scenario (i.e. post-ensoulment) it is a grievous sin and categorically prohibited; in the second scenario (i.e. pre-ensoulment but post-discernment of limbs) it is lesser than this; in the third scenario (i.e. before features/limbs become discernible) it is relatively less severe than the previous two.” He then goes on to rule that abortion is not permitted for the following reasons: not desiring more children; conception out of wedlock; or being physically or mentally unable to care for a child, since others may be able to do so. Excuses that permit abortion before ensoulment include a doctor concluding with reasonable-surety that the child will suffer from a dangerous hereditary disease, physical abnormalities, and deformities, and the life of the mother is at serious risk.[32]

There are stricter views than some of those mentioned above, especially from non-Ḥanafī scholars. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, taking the Mālikī school as his basis,[33] has argued that abortion before 40 days is prohibited “with rare exception.”[34] This view of impermissibility is also held by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī although he allows for a dispensation to be given to victims of rape.[35]

Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya also deems abortion at all stages of pregnancy to be sinful to varying degrees except in situations where the life of the mother is at risk.[36]

Shaykh Wahba al-Zuhaylī (d. 2015) ruled that abortion was impermissible from the moment of conception “except in cases of necessity” such as being afflicted with cancer or an incurable disease.[37]

Framing the Problem: Basic Levels of Engaging the Law

The discussion so far makes one point quite evident: there are an array of opinions on the issue of abortion ranging from the extremely restrictive to the more permissive. Though ‘difference of opinion’ (ikhtilāf) has generally been viewed as one of the outstanding and unique features of Islamic legal discourse, it is precisely the range of views that exist in the tradition on abortion that partly plays a role in the problematic approaches to the issue seen amongst certain Muslims. It is not so much the differences themselves that are the issue, but the manner in which particular opinions are selected by individuals who subsequently propagate them to the community as binding doctrine.

To better understand this, one can broadly identify four basic levels of engagement with religious law applicable to Muslim leaders and scholars in the West in the context of the abortion issue,[38] which often overlap with one another: (a) personal, (b) academic, (c) fatwā, public preaching, and irshād, and (d) political.

(a) The Personal

The ‘personal’ level concerns an individual’s own practice where he or she can follow the legal school (or trusted scholar) of their choosing or decide on the rulings that govern their lives when possessing the ability to do so. This level does not directly concern anyone but the individual himself.

(b) The Academic

The ‘academic’ level in the current context refers primarily to a process of study, reflection and deduction, and research to arrive at a personal conclusion regarding some aspect of the law that is undertaken in conversation with a guild of peers and not the general population. Such academic activity is often theoretical, abstract, and conceptual, and even when it addresses more practical concerns, it constitutes a general articulation of an opinion, not an individualized responsa, that others engage with as members of a scholarly class. This scholarly class includes the ʿulamā’ and others whose input is relevant to a particular issue.

(c) Fatwā, Irshād, and Public Preaching

The realm of fatwā is exclusively for a qualified scholar. Here, the scholar enters most directly into the practical implementation of a legal ruling. Fatwā does involve an academic process, and it is often conveyed by a jurist as a universal ruling in accordance with his academic conclusions. However, the practice of fatwā is commonly understood as an answer directed by a qualified jurisconsult (muftī) to an individual (mustaftī) who requires guidance on a particular religious matter. The jurisconsult providing said individual with an answer is now tasked with translating the abstract, theoretical, and academic into a practical solution, which requires taking into account the circumstances of the questioner.[39]

The delicateness of this matter has led some scholars to compare the relationship of a jurisconsult with the questioner to that of a doctor and his patient.[40] Indeed, the answer that a scholar provides a questioner may not be fully in accordance with the theoretical and abstract conclusions the former has reached in an academic setting, it may disregard an opinion that the jurisconsult otherwise deems a valid legal interpretation because its application is not appropriate in the specific case at hand, it may be strict or lenient, in accordance with the legal school of the scholar or a dispensation from another, and it may be inapplicable to anyone but the questioner. Further, a fatwā is non-binding (unlike a judicial court ruling) and does not negate other valid opinions or peoples’ choice to follow them. This is important to note in contexts where a fatwā is issued to communicate a universal rule.

In many cases, the answer that is provided to a person is not presented as a fatwā but merely a form of religious advice or irshād. Though there is presumably a difference between these two concepts, they are sometimes indistinguishable in a Western context. Irshād has a seemingly less formal quality to it, and it can be offered by a non-scholar though the prerequisite of sound knowledge still remains. Like fatwā, the proffering of religious advice and guidance can assume a more public form and have an academic flavour to it. The articles written by non-scholars on the blogosphere, lectures and speeches delivered by speakers, and religious counsel extended to others falls within this general category of irshād. For those in leadership roles, the public nature of their work means that high standards are required even here when it comes to addressing and conveying religious issues of a complex or delicate nature.

(d) The Political

If the issuance of a fatwā and providing religious advice is a delicate matter, the process of forming, advocating for, and/or enacting laws on the political level is far greater in this regard. Such laws are made in the context of human societies and affect large swaths of people who objectively vary in their circumstances – individual, social, religious/ideological, and economic. Unlike a fatwā or irshād, once a law has been settled upon by the state, it becomes binding upon an entire population and any reasonable alternative ceases to hold validity in practice at least until the law is reviewed and amended. Exemptions are only tolerated when affirmed by the law itself. Further, law interacts with and influences society in complex ways. This is true for all forms of law, not just ones that are state-enacted.

A core question in legal philosophy is what the law ought to be or what makes a law good. The ‘good’ is a moral concept and might be described as one that is essentially contested in so far as people differ over its conception and the criteria for its application. Some emphasize the consequences of a rule (consequentialism), while others favour a deontological moral ethic or one that is virtue-centred. Each of these families of theories subsume within them further particular theories that differ with one another. There are also considerations of fairness, equity, distributive justice, enforceability, practicality, and/or efficiency that those evaluating the law might assign significant value to. These notions of morality and the good influence policy-making and legal systems.

How do Muslims approach this issue? Islam is viewed by Muslims as a comprehensive moral and philosophical system where the moral value of an act is determined by the divine will. It is the commands and prohibitions of God that render an action good or evil, and under this divine command theory, revelation is the primary source for moral knowledge.[41] However, this legal notion of moral value is not as straightforward as it sounds since a significant number of legal rulings are probabilistic in nature and differed upon. Consequently, the moral value attached to these rulings lack a decisive character, which engenders a plurality of moral outlooks. This pluralism is an indelible feature of the tradition itself creating a paradox whereby Muslims can affirm that good and evil are known through revelation, while recognizing that differences concerning moral judgments are part of the moral vision of revelation itself.

This raises important questions regarding the political approach a minority Muslim population in the West might take regarding the abortion issue. Should Muslims seek to accommodate a pluralism justified by tradition and avoid commandeering the state to coercively impose laws that negate the right of people to follow an acceptable and mainstream Islamic legal opinion?

Should Muslims simply support restrictions on abortion practices that contravene the consensus position of Islam? Or should Muslims seek to promote an opinion, or some combination of opinions, among those found in the legal schools on the basis of a reasonably defined criteria that assesses the issue holistically from the perspective of the theological, legal, ethical, and the public good?

Indeed, there are many classical opinions whose validity scholars did not accept, others that were prima facie valid but not put into practice, and classical jurists themselves erected systems to keep a check on legal chaos resulting from people being allowed to arbitrarily follow any opinion with a basis in precedent. Yet, Muslim societies always tolerated differences of opinion, and for most of its history, people living in these societies had recourse to various scholars from multiple legal schools. Unlike the centralizing and homogenizing tendencies of the modern nation-state, Islamic law was centrifugal and operated on a grass-roots level to produce self-governing societies. In many periods, this diversity was even found in judicial settings where courts were established for each of the legal schools. This was extended to non-Muslim populations living under Islamic governments as well who were accorded a high degree of autonomy. While this might strike some as a thing of the past, a nostalgic yearning for a bygone era, there are many lessons the community can draw from the attitudes and approaches of past societies.

In a political context, the notion of the ‘public good’ (maṣlaha) is particularly relevant given the scope and consequences of legislative actions, but it is a notoriously complicated one to pin down and, like the ‘good’, might be described as essentially contested. Even the basic question “who will this law or opinion impact, and in what manner” takes one into a complex maze of considerations and perspectives that demand careful attention and thought. It is hard to imagine any informed answer to this question without the input of a variety of experts. While Muslims are not quite in a position to craft legislation, influential religious activists and scholars who advocate for specific legislation and/or discourse on it to the wider community should keep the above points in made for any advocacy that proceeds in the name of religion is one that must be approached with care and seriousness.

Abortion

Identifying the Problem: Beyond Personal Preferences, Emotions, and Selective Madhhab Picking

With this framework in mind, it is now possible to identify a major problem in current American Muslim discourse on abortion, which is that it does not meaningfully engage any of the levels described above save the personal. The distinction between these various engagement contexts is hardly recognized. Most public discourse on abortion promotes one traditional opinion over another based not on a rigorous standard that is grounded in revelation, theology, legal theory, ethics, the public good, and a keen awareness of human nature, the individual, political, social, and ideological currents and factors, historical trends, and the challenges of the contemporary world, but seemingly on personal opinions based on little more than a reaction to a perceived ideological threat, individual proclivities, or pure taqlīd. The mainstream opinions of the legal school simply act as tools of legitimation for one’s personal view.

The Problem of Imposition

On a personal level, this is not a problem per se, and people have their reasons to select certain views as opposed to others and even vociferously promote them in some limited capacity to friends, colleagues, or family over a session of tea or a short-lived social media feud with random individuals. However, for those in positions of leadership and influence, this cannot be the basis for a fatwā, general communal irshād, or public advocacy impacting millions of people. The imposition of the personal onto these areas in this manner is both ill-advised and potentially harmful. Even the conclusions reached by a scholar on the basis of sound academic research may be put aside in these contexts, i.e. fatwā and political activism/legislation, when the scholar feels that competing considerations and interests demand so. Thus, a scholar may believe in a reading of revelation that is extremely restrictive on abortion but recognizing the probabilistic nature of his interpretation and the variety of individual circumstances, the ethical norms of ease and warding off hardship, profound societal and economic changes, complex and strained community and family structures, the advice of other experts, and the general public good chooses not to advocate for this view as a matter of policy to be implemented as law or provided to a specific individual as a legal edict.

The Sunna Imperative for Leniency, The Lack of Depth of the Lenient

It is often forgotten that a peculiar response by some classical jurists to the degenerated state of society was not in toughening up legal prescriptions but relaxing them: “Our time is not one of avoiding the doubtful (shubuhāt), meaning if a person only avoids the impermissible, it is sufficient.”[42] This was an ethical consideration influencing the judgment of the jurist who saw it not as compromising religion nor a dereliction of his duty but part of the guidance of the sunna itself where facilitating the affairs of people was deemed important.[43] As Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad states commenting on the instruction of al-Birgivī (d. 981/1573) not to give the laity the more difficult opinion on an issue validly differed upon:

This, of course, is a Prophetic counsel. The ego doesn’t always like giving people easy options because we assume it is because of our laziness or some kind of liberal Islam. For al-Birgivī it is taqwā to give the ordinary Muslims the easier interpretations… but nowadays, we tend to assume that the narrower you are, the less compromises you make, the more the West will be angry and, therefore, the better the Muslim you must be.[44]

The Prophetic counsel that Shaykh Abdal Hakim refers to is known to many: “Make things easy and do not make them difficult.” This attitude of facilitating matters for people, granting them leniency, and not repulsing them with harshness and difficulty is a part of Islam. As Imām al-Shāṭibī stated, the removal of hardship (rafʿ al-ḥaraj) is a decisively established foundational principle in the shariah.[45] From this foundational principle arises some of the most important legal and ethical principles in the Islamic tradition, such as hardship necessitates ease, there is no harm nor reciprocating harm, harm is lifted, the lesser of two evils, taking into account the consequences of an act, custom as a source of law, and more. In fact, some jurists opined that when the evidence for an issue was contradictory or conflicting, the more lenient opinion was to be given preference due to the generality of revelatory texts affirming ease in the shariah.[46]

But there is a problem. Many of those who promote and relay the lenient Ḥanafī opinion of unconditional permissibility approach it in a manner that lacks substance. On the academic plane, even basic questions regarding this position are not addressed or understood, much less entertained. Take, for example, the difference between the statement of Ḥanafī jurists that abortion is impermissible after the physical features of the fetus become discernible and the statement of others in the school that this impermissibility comes into effect after a 120-day period. Are these the same? Who in the madhhab held these positions? Is there a clear preference for one or the other? How was discernibility understood? What features needed to be discernible? Did discernibility refer to what is normally observable by humans or to what is discernible by modern embryogenesis? How have contemporary jurists addressed this issue? Then there is the matter that one is hard-pressed to find a single contemporary Ḥanafī jurist who favours the view of unconditional permissibility. What does this reveal about this opinion and the possibility of critically evaluating past opinions that fall within the scope of differences of opinion?[47]

These questions largely fall within the parameters of an intra-school discussion and do not even begin to address the broader social and political considerations mentioned earlier.

Here, the sheer fact that there were over six-hundred thousand abortions reported in America in 2015, the latest year for which statistics exist from the CDC, should be alarming to people and cannot be callously dismissed.

Though the overwhelming majority of these occurred well within a 120-day period (≤13 weeks’ gestation, which is measured from the first day of the woman’s last menstruation and not from the day of conception), most of those who obtained these abortions were unmarried women who did so in non-dire circumstances.[48] The culture of sexual freedom out of which the abortion movement emerged and its ideological grounding in notions of bodily autonomy and personal choice cannot be ignored in this discussion.[49] Nor can the devaluing of family and motherhood,[50] the practice of female foeticide, the increasingly materialistic outlook of society, and its mechanistic view of human beings.

Additionally, some Muslims seem largely oblivious to the fact that abortion politics link to many other issues that have little do with abortion itself, such as assisted suicide or end-of-life care. In a famous district court case on assisted suicide, Compassion in Dying vs. Washington, it was Planned Parenthood vs. Casey that was cited as an important precedent to rule that a ban on physician-aided suicide was unconstitutional.[51] Clearly, it is not sufficient to make simplistic appeals to leniency to justify promulgating an opinion that leads to such wider consequences. Abortion, in other words, cannot be treated as a ‘stand-alone’ issue with little or no relation to a broader philosophical outlook that downplays a sanctity of life ethic.[52]

Thou Shalt Make No Exceptions, But Should We?

Many of the issues highlighted in the previous paragraph raise serious theological and ethical concerns for Muslims and should push them to reflect on the type of society they wish to create and sustain in America. Is the abortion movement today in line with the moral vision envisioned for society by God and His Prophet (blessings upon him)? Clearly not. But while the seriousness of this crisis cannot be understated, a core question, at least in the context of this debate, is often missed: if it is misplaced and dangerous to forward the most lenient opinion in this context, in what way does the strictest possible position on abortion where exemptions are not even extended to victims of rape and incest ameliorate the current situation? Or to put it differently, how do these social and ideological problems make the strictest possible opinion on abortion the most appropriate one to adopt for the individual and society?

The answer to this question is not usually satisfactorily provided. Generally, such a view returns to a genuine moral belief one holds regarding a fetus being an inviolable living person. This moral belief may be grounded in a preferred reading of revelation, simple adherence to a specific legal school, a reaction to a perceived ideological battle framed in the language of pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal inclinations, or, as is usually the case, some combination of these factors. But the no-exception view is at least initially a personal view one holds, which is then forwarded as a broad religious and political solution. One may wonder why this is an issue. After all, why shouldn’t a person forward what he or she personally believes to be the Islamic ruling on an issue?

Certainly, this is expected especially when it concerns human life, but as stated earlier, it is problematic when that personal view, which it should be noted in this case lacks a decisive legal/moral character from a religious perspective, moves into the realm of fatwā and public advocacy without taking into account the many considerations required to make an informed decision in these areas. This is in addition to the fact that those who hold this view feel perfectly within their rights to tell others to set aside their personal moral views permitting abortions precisely in view to a broader context.

Here, it is worth sharing the response given by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī when he was asked about abortions for Bosnian Muslim women who were raped during war. After mentioning that his basic view is that abortions are impermissible “from the moment of conception” and “this is what we give preference to”, he states:

However, in cases of need, there is no harm in taking one of the two alternative views (i.e. permissibility before 40 or 120 days), and whenever the excuse is more severe, the dispensation will be more established and manifest, and whenever it is before the first 40 days, it is closer to dispensation.

We know that there are jurists who are very strict on this matter and do not permit abortion even a day after conception… but what is most preferable is a middle path between those who are expansive in granting permission and those who are excessively strict in prohibition.[53]

This is, of course, how knowledge and fiqh operate. They do not merely float around in the world of the abstract but address a complex world of real people, which in the context of fatwā, irshād, and politics often requires setting aside individual feelings and personal adherences to particular legal opinions: “Know that this ikhtilāf [between scholars] may be a reason to provide facilitation and ease, which is one of the higher aims of the shariah affirmed by the unequivocal text of the Qur’an and sunna.”[54]

Too often, many of those who vociferously promote the strictest view on abortion address the issue on the level of the abstract and then transfer it to the practical realm with little further thought. Take, for example, the argument that Muslims should oppose the legalization of abortion because a majority of abortions are due to economic anxiety or a feeling of unreadiness, which in turn return to the increasingly materialistic outlook of society and crumbling family structures.

This materialistic outlook and erosion of the family must be remedied. However, no justification is ever furnished as to why a no-exception abortion stance is the best method to address this social problem, and there is almost no focus on the individual. It never crosses the mind of the proponents of this view that it is the very fact that society is materialistic to its core and the family lay in ruins that causes economic anxiety and feelings of unreadiness to be felt much more palpably and intensely by young, unmarried, pregnant women.

Web MD

By largely confining their analysis and presentation of the issue to ‘materialism’, ‘decay of family’, ‘feminism’, etc., proponents of the restrictive view (inadvertently) divert attention away from the lived realities of people. This leads to neglecting the more concrete conditions and circumstances people are subject to, such as poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, poor health, psychological issues, sexual abuse, incarceration, social inequality and stratification, and the varying abilities of people to cope with life pressures and struggles. This focus away from the individual produces an unsympathetic, even antagonistic attitude, where the solution favoured is uncompromising and rigid. The ethical is erroneously conflated with strictness even though it might entail leniency in recognition of individual and social conditions.

To take one example where these broader considerations come into play, take the issue of pregnancy resulting from rape. Though statistics regarding rape are inconsistent because the crime is so underreported, it is safe to say that hundreds of thousands of women are victims of rape every year with tens of thousands of these rapes resulting in pregnancy (approximately five percent).[55] A significantly high number of rape victims are under eighteen with many actually being under the age of twelve.[56] Victims of rape spend many weeks simply recovering from physical injuries and managing mental health symptoms, which can remain with them for years. Beyond the physical and psychological symptoms common after rape, if a rape victim decides to carry her child to term, she is forced to go through a lengthy and exhausting process to prosecute her rapist in a criminal court and contest custody in a family or dependency court.

The political and legislative context makes matters even more difficult. Not every state has legislation in place allowing for parental rights to be terminated for a rapist. Most states that do have such legislation in place require a criminal conviction of rape beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of evidence possible, with several also requiring a civil court conviction by clear and convincing evidence that conception resulted from rape.

Some states require the rape to be of the first-degree, which is varyingly defined.[57] Generally, the chances of obtaining a conviction of first-degree rape are slim. Not only do rape crimes go unreported in a majority of cases,[58] there are numerous hurdles in the criminal justice system that disadvantage rape victims at every stage of the process, such as ‘rape myths’ that influence police, investigative officers, jurors, and judges.[59]

In most cases, a rapist will plead guilty to lesser crimes in order to avoid prolonged jail time, which would potentially allow him to gain parental rights in states requiring first or second-degree rape convictions for such rights to be terminated.[60] In view of this, one can state that the suggestion by some Muslims that abortion should not be permitted even in such contexts because a woman can simply put her child up for adoption is seriously misinformed and potentially harmful.[61] Is the correct solution in this context to support the most restrictive view on abortion?

Conclusion: Refining our Conceptualization & The Bigger Picture

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question. This issue, like many others, cannot be properly addressed through a narrowly defined law, politics, or clash of ideologies narrative, especially at the level of individual fatwā, communal irshād, or political activism, advocacy, and legislation.

Nor can the wider community be shown direction on this issue, or have a course charted for them, merely on the basis of narrowly-informed personal opinions and proclivities neatly presented in the classical opinions of our choosing. Our approach must address the issue through real fiqh, namely deep understanding, where the question of abortion is tackled with an academic rigor that is cognizant of lived realities and is grounded in the ethics and guidance of revelation.

Today in America, a crisis we face is of an activism not based in, or guided by, real scholarship, and a scholarship that is wanting, uninspiring, and disconnected from those it seeks to guide. The first step scholars must take on this issue is to gain a proper and thorough conceptualization of the issue. No sound and effective conclusion can arise without such a conceptualization. This is true for any issue we find ourselves dealing with.

On the level of addressing the broader community, this is not an issue to be decided by an individual but a collectivity of minds coming together to exchange ideas and opinions. The laity should understand that American Muslims will not reach an agreement on this matter, and nor should we demand that they do. People will continue to forward different opinions and solutions. The progression of time will likely result in a plurality of acceptable views emerging within our context. This should not be met with confusion.

Muslims once lived in an age of ambiguity where opinions were confidently held but differences embraced. Today, we live in an age of anxiety, people with confused identities, threatened by modernity and various ideologies, so much so that “the only form of Islam [we] can regard as legitimate is a totalitarian, monolithic one” as Shaykh Abdal Hakim once remarked. Let us avoid this, allow for different perspectives, but demand higher standards from those who seek to guide us and speak on our behalf especially when the matter veers into a space that impacts people and communities in a very real way.

Finally, and most importantly, Muslims must break out of the mindset that social problems can simply be legislated away or solved through polemical battles waged on the internet against pernicious ideologies. The political and social are intimately intertwined, but it is all too common to see many Muslims neglecting the latter while imagining that the activities they are engaged in to address the political are actually meaningful and impactful. In fact, it is often detached from the real world, a mouthing of clichés and idle moralizing on social media platforms that elicits rage and fails to yield actual solutions on the ground. If television altered the meaning of being informed as Neil Postmann asserted, social media has undoubtedly taken things a step further by altering the meaning of ‘taking action’.

The erosion of family, the decay of morality, the rise of materialistic outlooks, the loss of higher purpose and meaning, and the devaluing of life must be addressed more directly through education, the creation of a real community, the nurturing and training of leaders who embody knowledge and wisdom, and the erection of structures that support peoples’ faith and anchor them in times of crisis. It should not be forgotten that these non-legal institutions play an important role in shaping behaviours and promoting social mores.

Muslims should learn from the many conservative Christian activists who, contrary to popular stereotypes, demonstrate an acute awareness of the struggles and anguish that many women contemplating abortion experience. As the prominent pro-life activist Frederica Mathewes-Green states:

This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child.

If you were in charge of a nature preserve and you noticed that the pregnant female mammals were trying to miscarry their pregnancies, eating poisonous plants or injuring themselves, what would you do? Would you think of it as a battle between the pregnant female and her unborn and find ways to help those pregnant animals miscarry? No, of course not. You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.” Something is creating intolerable stress, so much so that animals would rather destroy their own offspring than bring them into the world. You would strive to identify and correct whatever factors were causing this stress in the animals.[62]

It is this realization, which arises from a perspective that looks beyond abortion as simply an ideological battle between ‘the feminist’ or ‘the liberal’, that generates a sense of empathy within many conservative Christian activists who are then motivated to assist women in concrete ways.

Take the example of Embrace Grace, a Texas-based non-profit organization, which describes its purpose as “providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women and their families who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy” and to “empower churches across the nation to be a safe and non-judging place for the girls to run to when they find out they are pregnant, instead of the last place they are welcomed because of shame and guilt.” Christians have set up hundreds of pregnancy care centers across the United States, which, despite issues of concern, provide resources and services to pregnant women. Various churches have set up support groups for single mothers and mothers-to-be, while the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) has set out to confront systemic injustices in society that lead women to seek out abortions, such as poverty.[63]

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad said reaching the golden mean requires that we think and make sacrifices. It is time for leaders, thinkers, and scholars in our community to begin thinking more deeply and contemplatively about the issue of abortion in its various contexts, and it is time for our community to sacrifice their time, wealth, and energies in providing concrete solutions and remedies that demonstrate a true concern for both the unborn and the women who carry them.

God alone is our sufficiency.

[1] References to Muslims in this article should be primarily understood as referring to people in positions of leadership and influence. In this article, I discuss some of the technical aspects surrounding the legal debate over abortion, but my intent is to simply provide a brief overview of this aspect of the debate in order for a general audience to appreciate some of the complexities of the topic.

[2] Though the term fetus technically refers to the unborn after 8 weeks of gestation, many use it to refer to the unborn throughout the period of pregnancy. I will be using the latter convention for the sake of simplicity.

[3] al-Ḥasan ibn Manṣūr al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, on the margins of Fatāwā Hindiyya (Bulāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Amīriyya, 1310 A.H.), 3:410.

[4] Ibn Māza himself framed the ruling in terms of ensoulment. He stated that jurists differed on the permissibility of abortion pre-ensoulment with some permitting it. He then cited the text of Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand, which only speaks of discernibility. Qāḍīkhān mentioned how the discernibility of physical features and limbs was “determined” by some as occurring at 120 days. Kamāl ibn al-Humām and others correctly pointed out that observation proves otherwise but proceed to state that the connection made between discernibility and ensoulment shows that scholars intended the latter when expressing the former. Ibn ʿĀbidīn, however, questioned this. I agree for several reasons: firstly, many jurists make no reference to 120 days or ensoulment when presenting this ruling; secondly, discernibility and ensoulment are clearly different stages during the pregnancy, a fact that was known to classical scholars who sometimes applied different terms to these two stages, such as taṣwīr/ṣūra and takhlīq/khalq; and, thirdly, most Ḥanafī rulings premised on determining personhood rely on the discernibility criterion. Given this, there are two possible views in the Ḥanafī school regarding the period before which abortion is permissible: before some of the physical features of the fetus become discernible or prior to ensoulment at 120 days. Additionally, there was discussion in the Ḥanafī school on the features that were to be given consideration when assessing whether a fetus was a ‘person’. These discussions are highly significant in modern debates for if the criterion for personhood is discerning a particular physical form on the basis of observation, this potentially broadens the scope for modern Ḥanafī understandings of the concept of personhood and how/when it is established. I hope to address these issues in a separate paper. See Maḥmūd ibn Aḥmad ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī fī al-fiqh al-Nuʿmānī, ed. Nuʿaym Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 2004), 8:83-84; al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, 3:410; Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 1:201.

[5] Ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 8:83-84. It is worth noting that al-Qummī did not say fetus is a life at conception but that it has begun a process that concludes with life.

[6] Ḥussām al-Dīn ʿUmar ibn Māza, al-Fatāwā al-Kubrā (Istanbul: Rāghib Bāshā #619), ff. 96b.

[7] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī, al-Wajīz (Istanbul: Koprulu #684), ff. 116a.

[8] Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, al-Ḥāwī al-Qudsī, ed. Ṣāliḥ al-ʿAlī (Lebanon: Dār al-Nawādir, 2011), 2:326.

[9] Zayn al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al-Rāzī, Tuḥfat al-Mulūk, ed. Ṣalāḥ Abū al-Ḥajj (Amman: Dār al-Fārūq, 2006), 290.

[10] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī, al-Ikthiyār, ed. Shuʿayb Arna’ūṭ (Damascus: Dār al-Risāla 2009), 4:153.

[11] ʿUthmān ibn ʿAlī al-Zaylaʿī, Tabyīn al-Ḥaqā’iq Sharḥ Kanz al-Daqā’iq (Multan: Maktaba Imdādiyya, n.d.), 2:166.

[12] Amīr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Kākī, Miʿrāj al-Dirāya (Istanbul: Koprulu #619), ff. 395b.

[13] Jalāl al-Dīn ibn Shams al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī, al-Kifāya Sharḥ al-Hidāya, on the margins of Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:373.

[14] Kamāl ibn al-Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:372-73.

[15] Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn Ilyās Jawīzāda, al-Īthār li-Ḥall al-Mukhtār, ed. Ilyās Qablān (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Irshād, 2016), 4:98.

[16] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī, al-Durr al-Mukhtār (Lebanon: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2002) 197.

[17] I am usually disinclined to list names of jurists in this manner when relating who held a specific legal opinion. One reason for this is that it creates the mistaken illusion that every one of these jurists came to this conclusion on the basis of their individual ijtihād when it may in fact simply be an exercise in taqlīd. Thus, one finds that most of these authors merely relate verbatim those who preceded them without any additional comments. However, it still indicates that these jurists accepted the ruling in question as the position of the school without qualms.

[18] When does a fetus qualify as a ‘person’ or a ‘human’? What are the necessary and sufficient features for personhood? Does personhood correspond to the beginning of life? If not, when does life begin? How is this connected to ensoulment? When does ensoulment occur? When does a fetus have moral standing? What is the nature of this moral standing over the course of a pregnancy? These are central questions in classical and modern debates on abortion. Sometimes, one finds that ‘person’, ‘human’, ‘life’, and related terms, are not properly defined, which is a problem given that conclusions regarding abortion are often premised on their proper conceptualization. Further, when attempts at proper definition are undertaken, people naturally come to different conclusions. For example, some modern pro-life philosophers argue that ‘persons’ are individuals of a rational nature and a fetus has no capacity for sentience, at least not until mid-gestation. Conception, therefore, cannot mark the beginning of a person. Yet even here, some scholars note that the fetus is a potential person. Therefore, it has some moral value and standing, but others counter with a “person-affecting restriction” that argues that merely potential people possess no moral claims. Some people work under material assumptions regarding the nature of the mind and opine that a moral person must be a ‘self’ and a necessary condition for something to be a self is some form of electrical brain activity. The bioethicist, Baruch Brody (d. 2018), also relied on this criterion of brain waves in his conception of personhood. Jane English presents a range of features or ‘factors’ that she views as being found in typical conceptions of a person: biological, psychological, rationality, social, and legal. There are religious conservative thinkers who define being human on the basis of genetics. John T. Noonan stated, “The positive argument for conception as the decisive moment of humanization is that at conception the new being receives the genetic code. It is this genetic information which determines his characteristics, which is the biological carrier of the possibility of human wisdom, which makes him a self-evolving being. A being with a human genetic code is man.” Many religious conservatives also maintain that there is no moment during pregnancy that can be identified as conferring moral significance on the unborn, i.e. it possesses moral standing before birth and after. Thus, brain waves, sentience, quickening, viability, physical human form, etc., are given no consideration as points at which moral standing is affirmed for the fetus and prior to which it is denied. For important early works on this topic see John T. Noonan, The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970); Jane English, “Abortion and the Concept of a Person,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5, no. 2 (1975): 233-43; Baruch Brody, Abortion and the Sanctity of Life (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1975); Stephen Buckle, “Arguing From Potential,” Bioethics 2, no. 3 (1988): 226–253; Mary Anne Warren, Moral Status: Obligations to Persons and Other Living Things (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); Richard Warner, “Abortion: The Ontological and Moral Status of the Unborn,” Social Theory and Practice 3 (1974). The literature on this is vast.

Classical jurists of Islam were guided fundamentally by revelation in their answers to these questions, but they still had substantial disagreements. Some identified a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, others as potentially so, yet others as a person only when its physical features became discernible, while some seemingly assigned no status to it at any fetal stage prior to ensoulment. When it came to ensoulment, the majority said this occurred at 120 days, while others said 40 days. Some equated ensoulment with personhood, while others distinguished between them. There were other conceptual frames utilized in discussions concerning the fetus as well, such as dhimma and ḥuqūq, being ‘animate’ or ‘inanimate’, a constituent part (juz’) of the mother or a separate self (nafs), and so forth. This occasioned a degree of ambiguity regarding the moral standing of the fetus at various stages of pregnancy. For example, Imām al-Ghazālī prohibited abortion at all stages of pregnancy but stated that the sin of doing so is less severe in earlier stages than later ones. Some jurists deemed it permissible to undergo an abortion due to a minor excuse in the first 40 days, requiring a more serious excuse from that point up until 120 days, and impermissible in all but the direst of situations following ensoulment. The fetus, therefore, seems to have a diminished moral standing at the beginning of the pregnancy and full moral standing post-ensoulment even in the eyes of jurists who affirmed personhood from conception. This is also reflected in rulings concerning financial compensation (ghurra) and expiation (kaffāra) owed by someone who causes a woman to miscarry. Meanwhile, many Ḥanafīs seemed to have assigned no moral status to the fetus before it had a discernible human form. The moral standing of the fetus was also influenced by the manner of conception with some jurists suggesting that a fetus conceived out of wedlock was not similar to a fetus that was conceived through a religiously sanctioned relationship. Besides revelation, observation played an important role in these determinations, as did the specific legal traditions jurists operated within. Today, science and embryology have guided the conclusions of many scholars, which has raised questions regarding the epistemological and interpretive value of the former. There is arguably a need to go beyond limited legal conceptions of personhood and life and engage in deeper theological and philosophical discussions on this matter.

[19] This ruling was consistent with several others in the school regarding whether a miscarried fetus is named, shrouded, and washed, whether a miscarriage concludes the waiting-period of a pregnant woman, and even whether a fetus is resurrected in the next-life. These rulings, among others, returned to whether the miscarried or stillborn fetus was actually considered a child/person, which in turn related to the formation and discernibility of its physical features. I believe this strengthens the view that discernibility of physical features was the main criterion for personhood in the Ḥanafī school. For some of these rulings see Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī, al-Aṣl, ed. Mehmet Boynūkālin (Beirut: Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 2012), 1:296, 4:415, 481, 5:144. This interconnectedness of legal doctrine, or its organic unity, is expressed in a famous aphorism, “The law is a seamless web.” These discussions are also present in the other three legal schools.

[20] Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Wahbān, ʿIqd al-Qalā’id wa-Qayd al-Sharā’id, ed. ʿAbd al-Jalīl al-ʿAṭā (Damascus: Maktabat al-Fajr, 2000), 195.

[21] Zayn al-Dīn ibn Nujaym, al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq (Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-ʿIlmiyya, 1893; reprint by H.M. Saeed, n.d.), 3:215.

[22] Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 2:388-89.

[23] The Hidāya mentions that a child conceived out of wedlock is still muḥtaram and so cannot be aborted. Imām ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī mentions that this only applies to a fetus that has reached the stage of post-discernibility. He then goes onto state that the fatwā position in his time is that it would be permissible pre-discernibility and post-discernibility. See Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghinānī, al-Hidāya Sharḥ Bidāyat al-Mubtadī maʿa Sharḥ al-ʿAllāma ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī, ed. Naʿīm Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 1417 A.H.), 3:25.

[24] Muṣṭafā Zarqā, Fatāwā (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 2010), 285.

[25] Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī, Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyya (Karachi: Idārat al-Fārūq, 2009), 18:321.

[26] Sayyid Muḥammad Salmān Manṣurpūrī, Kitāb al-Nawāzil (Muradabad: al-Markaz al-ʿIlmī lil-Nashr wa’l-Taḥqīq, 2016), 16:248-81.

[27] Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq, Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2015), 6:756.

[28] Ibid., 6:755.

[29] Ibid., 6:763.

[30] Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī, “Khāndānī Manṣūbabandī,” in Jadīd Fiqhī Mabāḥith (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān, 2009), 1:332.

[31] Ibid., 1:331-32.

[32] Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī, Kitāb al-Fatāwā (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2008), 6:218-226

[33] The relied-upon position in the Mālikī school prohibits abortions almost entirely even if done prior to ensoulment, which Mālikī jurists opine as occurring at 40 days.

[34] https://renovatio.zaytuna.edu/article/when-does-a-human-fetus-become-human

[35] Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara (Cairo: Dār al-Qalam, 2005), 2:541-50.

[36] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā wa-Fiqh al-Aqaliyyāt (UAE: Masār lil-Tibāʿa wa’l-Nashr, 2018), 577-78.

[37] Wahba al-Zuhaylī, al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa-Adillatuhu (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1985), 3:557.

[38] The delineation and explanation I have presented here should not be seen as a comprehensive exposition of the concepts being discussed. Rather, it should be seen as a basic explanatory framework to understand the problem I wish to highlight in the next section. I have intentionally left out many details surrounding fatwā, siyāsa, taqlīd, etc., for the sake of the average reader.

[39] Muḥammad Kamāl al-Dīn al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ fī Rasm al-Muftī wa-Manāhij al-Iftā’ (Deoband: Ittiḥād Book Depot, n.d.), 61-62 in the Takmila; Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 28-29, 230.

[40] al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ, 28.

[41] ʿ Abd al-Malik ibn Yūsuf al-Juwaynī, Kitāb al-Irshād ilā Qawāṭiʿ al-Adilla fī Uṣūl al-Iʿtiqād, ed. Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqāfa al-Dīniyya, 2009), 210-11. This is admittedly a simplification of a very complex debate on the role of reason, its meaning and limitations, its relationship to revelation, deontological vs teleological theories of Islamic normative ethics, and more. These were issues of fundamental debate between the great theological schools, namely the Ashʿarīs, Māturīdis, and the Muʿtazila.

[42] Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥusayn Bīrīzāda, ʿUmdat Dhawī al-Baṣā’ir li-Ḥall Muhimmāt al-Ashbāh wa’l-Naẓā’ir, ed. Ilyās Qablān & Ṣafwat Kawsa (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2016), 2:415.

[43] This is also seen in the tradition of rukhas, or dispensations, and ḥiyal, or legal stratagems/loopholes.

[44] From his Paradigms of Leadership (6) lecture series.

[45] Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā al-Shāṭibī, al-Muwāfaqāt, ed. Mashhūr Ḥasan (Cairo: Dār Ibn ʿ Affān, 1997), 1:520.

[46] For reference to this see Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273-75.

[47] One might state that these people are simply engaging in a form of taqlid. This is fair, but there is still a level of diligence and rigor expected from anyone who wishes to publicly opine on a matter of such nature.

[48] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm

[49] Take the following statements made by Judith Thomson in her well-known defence of abortion, which continues to be loudly echoed by the pro-choice movement: “My own view is that if a human being has any just, prior claim to anything at all, he has a just, prior claim to his own body” and “No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body.” The violinist analogy she forwards, among others, expresses this point quite clearly. See Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1, no. 1 (1971): 48, 54.

[50] The sociologist Kristen Luker noted over three decades ago that pro-life and pro-choice activists were mainly divided due to their differing views on the meaning of sexuality, motherhood, and the role of women. See Kristin Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood. Berkeley (California: University of California Press, 1984), especially Ch 7.

[51] Compassion in Dying v. Washington, 850 F. Supp. 1454 (WD Wash. 1994). This was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997.

[52] The phrase ‘sanctity-of-life’ has featured prominently in theological, political, and biomedical ethical discussions related to abortion and end-of-life questions. Some members of congress, for example, have tried repeatedly to introduce a ‘Sanctity-of-Life Act’ to protect the unborn. However, the origins, meaning, and application of the phrase remain unclear and heavily debated. For a basic overview see the edited volume Sanctity of Life and Human Dignity (Boston: Springer Dordrecht, 1996).

[53] al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara, 2:609-13.

[54] Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273.

[55] The Federal House Bill 1257 that passed in 2015 as the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act cites between 25,000 and 32,000 pregnancies from rape annually but this is almost certainly an underestimate.

[56] For details on these and other related statistics see https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf.

[57] For detailed information regarding state statutes and provisions on the termination of pregnancy in contexts of children born as a result of sexual assault see http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/parental-rights-and-sexual-assault.aspx

[58] For statistics on this see the Department of Justice Criminal Victimization analysis (revised, 2018) at https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv16.pdf. There are several reasons why women choose not to report such crimes, which include fear of retaliation, shame and guilt, and a belief that police will not be able to help them.

[59] For a brief discussion on existing research around rape myths see Olivia Smith & Tina Skinner, “How Rape Myths Are Used and Challenged in Rape and Sexual Assault Trials,” Social & Legal Studies 26, no. 4 (2017): 442-45.

[60] Rachael Kessler, “Due Process and Legislation Designed to Restrict the Rights of Rapist Fathers,” Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, no. 10, vol 1 (2015): 199-229.

[61] There is a sensitive discussion surrounding the definition of rape in Islamic law specifically as it relates to intimate married partners. I have ignored this issue because it would distract from the main purpose of this article.

[62] https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/01/abortion-roe-v-wade-unborn-children-women-feminism-march-life/

[63] There have been initiatives in the Muslim community directed at addressing these pressing issues, such as the work of Dr. Aasim Padela of the University of Chicago and his Initiative on Islam and Medicine, Dr. Rafaqat Rashid and the work of al-Balagh Academy, Dr. Mansur Ali of Cardiff University and his research on bioethics, and several others. This is not to mention the many individuals who have tried to create practical spaces to assist people who may find themselves in difficult life circumstances. While there is much more to do, the efforts of these people should not go unnoticed.

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