The Correct Islamic Ruling on Celebrating Thanksgiving Day
Deeds are reckoned according to intentions, based upon the hadith; “surely deeds are reckoned by intention”. There are several Sunnah and Qurʾānic injunctions that are found in the observance of Thanksgiving such as the Prophet’s exhortation upon the believers to feed food; when asked what is the best type of Islam, he replied: “feeding food, and spreading the salaams”. Thanksgiving also is marked by gathering with family and strengthening family bonds, which is a praiseworthy act; “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.”additionally, it is not prohibited in Islam to visit the homes of your relatives, and eat there; “It is no fault in the blind nor in one born lame, nor in one afflicted with illness, nor in yourselves, that ye should eat in your own houses, or those of your fathers, or your mothers, or your brothers, or your sisters, or your father’s brothers or your father’s sisters, or your mother’s brothers, or your mother’s sisters, or in houses of which the keys are in your possession, or in the house of a sincere friend of yours: there is no blame on you, whether ye eat in company or separately. But if ye enter houses, salute each other – a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah. Thus does Allah make clear the signs to you: that ye may understand”.
There are no verses in the Qurʾān or authentic ahaadeeth of the Prophet that expressly prohibit celebrating Thanksgiving. Even though there are scholars who triangulate different ahaadeeth and verses and interpret them to make Thanksgiving prohibited, this is without warrant according to our understanding.
It is not possible to prohibit an entire day, since all the days of the year belong to Allah . However, activities that occur on any given day can be prohibited if there is sufficient proof. So based upon the evidences that we have provided, observing Thanksgiving Day by itself, is not prohibited, and just like every other cultural occasion, the activities that one participates in on that day, should be looked upon on a case by case, compartmental basis.
It is permissible for a Muslim to prepare a meal on Thanksgiving Day, or any other day in their own homes, and eat thereof. It is also permissible to invite guests to your home on that day or any other day of the year to eat your food. It is permissible to cook turkey, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, or any other meat that is allowable according to the Book and the Sunnah. It is also permissible to go vegetarian if one likes. Allah has made no restrictions on which days people can feast and which days they cannot except in the case of Ramadan.
Likewise, If one sees benefit in taking a paid day off from work to spend with their family or to rest then they should do so. If they see benefit in spending that time with their families over grandma’s house and enjoying a good meal of allowable food, then they should do so. If the see benefit in spending halal money, on permissible items that are discounted in the mall, then they should do so. However, if going to grandma’s house for dinner or preparing a special meal in your own home will cause problems in the family, sour relations with the relatives, or somehow cause you to lose your religion, or disobey Allah and His Messenger, then you should not participate. Likewise, if a person wishes to avoid everything about that day, pay full price instead of the discounted price at the mall, return to their employer, their day’s pay when they took off, and behave as if it is just another day, then they are allowed to do that according to the Kitaab and the Sunnah.
Another important point is that, if we can accept that scholars can make ta’weel (interpretation) of divine ordinances so as to render an affair like Thanksgiving to be prohibited, despite that that there are no direct texts that say such, then it should be more acceptable that the opinions of scholars are also subject to interpretation, as to render their opinion erroneous, or invalid. Scholarly opinions are not divine writ. If the Book of Allah, and the ahaadeeth of the Prophet , are subject to interpretation, then so are the opinions of scholars.
Conditions for Celebrating Thanksgiving:
That you thank Allah first for the good that He has given you. It is permissible to thank others as well according to the hadith; “whoever does not thank people, does not thank Allah”.
· That you thank Him on all of the other days of the year as well, and not pick only that one day to be grateful to Allah .
· That you do not participate in any activity that is prohibited in the religion, such as drinking alcohol, using intoxicants, or displaying lewd, and unlawful behavior.
· Thanksgiving dinners sometimes invite to overeating or gluttony, so a Muslim must be mindful of that, not just during Thanksgiving but during the whole year.
· That you do not waste food, and if there is excess, then you should feed others with it, or refrigerate it until a later time. But you already knew that.
· That you do not eat in the name of other than Allah, or eat an animal that was killed in the name of other than Allah.
· That you do not sit at a table where alcohol and intoxicating beverages are served.