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Secular Holidays and the Example of al-Ateerah al-Rajabiyyah posted in July 2010

Since we are in the month of Rajab, I thought it would be timely to discuss an event from life of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him). The average, educated Muslim and even many scholars have little to no knowledge about this subject. It is an established part of the guidance Allah revealed and preserved for us and carries much divine wisdom. Since the 4th of July just passed, I’d like to research this issue and see what we kind of fiqh (jurisprudence) we get from it.

In looking at this issue, we must acquaint ourselves with a common practice among the Arabs during the times of Jahiliyyah (the times of ignorance before the Qur’an was revealed). According to the major Arabic dictionaries and historical encyclopedias, al-Ateerah was an occasion in which Arabs would slaughter animals during the first 10 days of Rajab seeking to fulfill their vows (al-nathr) and to receive the favor of their gods.1 Then, according to the well-established biography of the Prophet ﷺ, the Prophet ﷺ was guided to Islamicize this tradition.2

In Islamicizing these traditions, the Muslims were commanded to slaughter in the name of Allah alone and give the meat to the poor, family and friends, just as we do the udhiyyah (slaughter for Eid al-Adha). The proof for this is in the hadith (narration) that states, “The Prophet was asked about al-Ateerah and he said it was haqq (truth).”3 The Prophet ﷺ also said, “Indeed every year, each household is responsible for the slaughter of al-Udhiyyah and al-Ateerah.”4 In the following set of authentic ahadith, the practice was allowed or seen as sunnah (established tradition of the Prophet ﷺ). Abu Razeen al-Uqaylee asked the Prophet ﷺ, “We used to slaughter animals in Rajab. We would eat from its meat and give it to those who came to us.” The Prophet ﷺ responded, “Laa, ba’s” meaning “no problem” or “that’s fine.”5 At his farewell pilgrimage three months before he passed away, the Prophet ﷺ said, “…Whoever wishes let him slaughter…and whoever wishes not [to] then let him not…”6

On the other hand, there is another hadith, which is the most common and authentic of all, that says, “No far and no Ateerah.”7 To a layman, this seems to be a contradiction, but it is far from that. Imam Shafi’i and his students hold that this hadith combined with the aforementioned ahadith only abrogates the obligation of al-Ateerah. So their position is that al-Ateerah remains a sunnah and thus the meaning of the vague hadith is “No far or Ateerah is an obligation.” This was the position of Ibn Seereen and Imam Ahmad as well as many of the Scholars of Hadith.8

Some Malikis, as noted by Ibn Rushd in al-Bidayah, took this hadith as a full abrogation,  thus making it makrooh (disliked) to take part in al-Ateerah. Al-Allamah ash-Shawkani disagrees with the Malikiyyah based upon solid usool (method used to derive fiqh). He said, in agreement with the Shawafi’, “In combining the hadith it must be said that the meaning is ‘there is no obligation of Far or Ateerah’ thus making it a sunnah which the Prophet ﷺ allowed. This can be the only opinion because we don’t know the exact chronological order of these texts except that they are all within the last couple years of the Prophet’s life… There is no doubt that the hadith ‘No Far and No Ateerah’ by itself indicates prohibition. That can’t be the case after we combine this hadith with the other ahadith and the fact that full abrogation cannot be established except with knowledge of the order of the statements or by a clear claim that it is abrogated.”9

The majority of scholars from the Hanafi and Hanbali schools of thought said that this hadith came as an abrogation of the legislation of these practices as a sunnah, and thus it was replaced by al-Udhiyyah. They hold that this abrogation was not that of prohibition but rather that of negating it as an Islamic practice like the Udhiyyah, yet it still remains an acceptable and permissible cultural act.10 Ibn al-Qayyim said, “If it we gather these ahadith then we see that this hadith of abrogation is that of it being a sunnah (Islamic practice) without there being a prohibition or dislike in it. So if a person wanted to slaughter an animal in Rajab for whatever reason and he wanted to give the meat to the poor, then that would not be disliked 11

I decided to do this research after seeing a forum where some modern Saudi scholars and Salafi brothers were demeaning the honorable Shaikh Abdullah ibn Bayyah for using this issue as a proof in allowing Muslims in the West to take part in non-religious holidays or occasions. The fact is that it is solid proof indeed. The Saudi scholars and their followers contended that the hadith “No Far and No Ateerah” is a case-closing hadith which is – as we have seen in this article – far from the majority position of ahle Sunnah (Sunni Muslims). When doing this research, I read many modern scholars  from the Muslim world claiming that this issue is a clear cut abrogation that led to the prohibition of this act and any others like it. They make a point to mention that celebrating any day other than the two holidays revealed to our beloved Prophet ﷺ would be an innovation rejected by the masses. The fact is that I believe they’re seeking to hide the legitimate majority opinion based in the established schools of fiqh in order to serve their expression of political frustration. I believe they are frustrated that not only are the Muslims nowhere near becoming a superpower, but we have also become very weak in the world today. Our scholars see our governments as cowardly and unable to stand up to Western injustices, and they feel like they must stand up as representatives of this deen (religion) and do something. The problem, however, is that the “don’t be Western in any way, shape, or form” attitude has only alienated us more and weakened our  ability to articulate our message to the masses.

These are indeed noble intentions, but the act is against very harsh injunctions of the Qur’an. Allah said, “Indeed those who conceal what We have sent down of clear proofs and guidance after We made it clear for the people in the Scripture – those are cursed by Allah and cursed by those who curse,”(Qur’an, 2:159). There are numerous more Islamic and practical ways to deal with the political frustration we all face.

Before concluding, I will have to clarify a couple issues to our readers who, like me, were brainwashed with this un-Islamic anti-Western rhetoric that keeps us segregated and reclusive and not “Western.” We should be seen as a unique, integrated (not assimilated), positively-contributing identity in Western society. The hadith that says “whoever acts like or imitates a people is one of them” is not usable in this context because the Prophet ﷺ “Islamicized” al-Ateerah by making the slaughter for Allah alone. The fact is that the explanation of this hadith, according to the consensus of commentators, is that we are prohibited from looking like or imitating the disbelievers in matters that represent shirk (associating partners with Allah) or sin or that specifically identify them as disbelievers.  This does not include what clothes you wear or how you eat, as the Prophet ﷺ did these things just like any other polytheist of his time. Another hadith relates, “Whoever innovates something in this affair of ours (Islam) something that is not from it then they will be rejected.” Again this hadith, according to all the commentaries, means a religious matter, not a secular one that is common to all peoples of faith and atheists alike.

In conclusion, I stand with our Shaykh, the distinguished Abdullah ibn Bayyah, by saying that according to these texts, there is nothing wrong with celebrating occasions and holidays which are customary and are not representing a certain religion. This is as long as Muslims conduct themselves in an Islamic manner and do not participate in acts that can lead to sinful behavior.

  1. Fath al-Bari v. 9, kitaab al-aqeeqah, bab al-ateerah pg. 682 dar al-Hadeth al-Qahirah.
  2. Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah v.29 pg. 278.
  3. Ahmad Shaker on Musnad Ahmad 4/11, Albaani agreed with him in al-Irwaa 4/411.
  4. Al-Tirmidhi 1518 (authenticated by Albani), Ibn majah 3125, Ahmad 4/215.
  5. Saheeh al-Nasa’ii by Albani 4244.
  6. Ahmad 3/485, al-Nasa’ii 7/169,171, Ibn Al-Mulaqqin Sharh al-Bukhari 26/305, the muhadditheen differed over the authenticity of this hadith between weak and good, but the Fuquhaa agreed in using it.
  7. Agreed Upon by Bukhari and Muslim.
  8. Al-Majmoo’ 8/444, Sharh al-Nasaaii al-Suyooti/Sindee ;kitaab al-far’ and al-Ateerah #4228, Lata’if al-Maa’rif Ibn Rajab Pg. 163 Dar al-Hadeeth al-Qahirah (ahkaam shahr Rajab).
  9. Nayl al-Awtaar kitaab al-Manasik bab al-far’ and Ateerah #2152-2157.
  10. Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqheyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah vol. 29 pages 278-279, Al-Fiqh al-islamy wa Adillatuh al-zuhaily v. 4 pg. 2746.
  11. Awn al-Ma’bood kitaaab al-Dahayaa 19,20 bab al-Ateerah comment of Ibn al-Qayyim dar al-Fikr vol. 7 pg. 382.

About the author

John (Yahya) Ederer

John (Yahya) Ederer

Imam John Yahya Ederer left a life of spiritual decadence and embraced Islam in 1998. In 2002, he accepted a scholarship offer from the Islamic American University in Michigan and spent 6 years travelling the Muslim world studying with prominent scholars. He attained an associates with IAU, a certification of mastery of the Arabic sciences from the ministry of education in Egypt, a diploma in Islamic Studies from the Cordoba Institute in Kuwait and a license with one of the highest chains of transmission in Qur’an memorization and recitation. He served as the Religious Director of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida for two years and now lives with his wife and two children in Charlotte, North Carolina where he serves as Imam of the Muslim American Society. He currently sits on the clergy board of one of the largest interfaith coalitions in Mecklenburg Ministries and is a board member of the Shamrock Drive Development Association.

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  • Salaam,

    This is a much needed article, so Jazakullahu Khairan. However, there is one point on which I am still confused. It seems that this article indicates it’s ok to celebrate holidays such as Fourth of July, and not celebrate holidays such as Christmas. This I completely agree with. How does this tie into wedding anniversaries and birthdays. Birthdays and anniversaries don’t have religious overtones in anyway, however where I live it is strictly forbidden to celebrate specifically birthdays. Could someone please address this, using solid evidence.

    Jazkullah once again.

  • Excellent article/explanation. Although, I think the hypothesis of why the scholars are purporting the other opinion, could be worded better, or in another way.

    جزاك الله خيرا!

    • I agree with Yus from the Nait.

      “Al-Allamah ash-Shawkani disagrees with the Malikiyyah based upon solid usool (method used to derive fiqh)”

      I took a slight offense to that sentence. Though I’m sure none was meant . The wording suggests Malikis don’t use “solid” usul and somehow are misleading people due to their not using “solid” usul.

      • As-Salamu alaikum Ya Hamza 21,

        We seek refuge with Allah from a bad suspicion as to the meaning of written words until we clarify the meaning and intent.

        I was not saying that the maliki’s Usool are not solid. I am myself a trained Hanbali which isn’t far from the Usool of mailki’s and in looking at the issue of the consideration of custom, I am a student and avid reader of the Maliki’s like al-Qarafi and ash-Shatibi.

        All I was saying is that Imam ash-Shawkani’s argument is based in solid Usool and not some weak opinion in itself. This is not to knock the Maliki’s in any way. Everyone has their respected opinion in making Ijtihaad, but of course we disagree for different reasons. According to historicaland textual analysis combined with the reality we live in in the west, I say the Hanabli’s make the best opinion.

        By the way, the one who I am defending, the esteemed Sh. Bin Bayyah is one of the foremost Maliki’s alive, yet he saw that his own scholarly tradition doesn’t have the best opion on this matter all things considered. As a Hanbali, I could easily do a research to show that Niqab is not an obligation because I don’t find that that is strongest opinion. On Niqab, I beleive Hanabali Usool are not as strong in deriving their opinion.

        Especially in today’s globalized world, I beleive this is the correct way of a trained student of Islamic Law.

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    This was incredible and timely. I’ve noticed, that as time goes on, Sh. John rocks harder and harder!

    Play on brother!

  • As-Salamu alaikum TL /Yus,

    Yes brother the esteemed Shaikh Abdullah Ibn Bayyah and Salman al-Ouda both agree that the points mentioned in the Hadith are more than enough evidence to support the permissibility of celebrating birthdays and anniverseries.

    The Hypothesis is simply my opinion based on this and many other issues. Allah knows best though as to why there is this leaning towards tougher stricter more anti-western opinions by scholars from the Muslim world outside of al-Azhar. While as we saw in this research and many more i the future inshaAllah that there are other perfectly viable opinions well-rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah and schools of Fiqh which would make life and Da’wa a lot better here. But for some reason there is this heavy push from the East that these other options are either non-existant or weak strange opinions with no foundation and whoever follows them is following their desires.

  • Salam

    Br. Abu Majeed, I have seen what Sheikh Salman al-Ouda says about wedding annivesaries, but not birthdays. Do you have a link to something?

    • WAS Br. Hamayoun,

      I heard him say it on his weekly program after Jumu’ah on MBC (the Emirate station)

      Ahah I found it.
      Notice how he differes from someone who was born in a place where it is customaty and the Muslim country which imports this practice from non-Muslims and they themselves aren’t accustomed to it.

  • Salaam,
    Regarding birthdays, sheikh yusuf estes says that the candles on the cake date back to worshippers of fire

    dr zakir naik says its okay if done within limits of islam, ie no dancing,mixing,music..but he still thinks its better to avoid.

    SO what shud we do?:/ the concept of fighting off forces of nature and fire worshipping goes a bit towards shirk right…:s

    • As-salamu alaikum Hira,

      I have read that candles and round cakes supposedly go back over thousands of years ago to some polytheistic practice. The fact is that there is a disagreement among historians about it, but the fact remains that the issue is with what everyone understands today. I confirmed this through Shaikh Suhaib and the Dar al-Iftaa al Masriyyah. Nobody understands that birthdays have anythings to do with polytheism or any other theism for that matter. My son just had his 4th birthday and the only restriction I had was that we don’t make wishes when blowing out the candles. Nor do we throw pennies in water fountains and make a wish and at thanksgiving we don’t pull apart the wishbone and make a wish either for obvious religious reasons.

  • Salamalaikum…Jazakallah Khair for your perspective on this shaikh. I’m sure you have researched the origins of the holidays in question here. What would you say about celebrating such holidays if there was any proof at all of they’re pagan origins or if they were even remotely associated if any type of shirk ? specifically birthdays in which the customs of offering congratulations, presenting gifts and celebrating complete with lighted candles in ancient times were meant to protect the birthday celebrant from the demons and to ensure his security for the coming year. . . . Down to the fourth century Christianity rejected the birthday celebration as a pagan custom. Some Christians to this day don’t celebrate birthdays for the same reasons. I understand, today it’s so well rooted in society that if you don’t celebrate it, suddenly your an outcast. My friends tell me it’s not their niyyah to do any shirk, they just wanna have a good time with friends and family but is that enough..? Same goes for the one that’s named after St. Valentine ..? May Allah reward you, I know you may be extremely busy but with all due respect please reply

    • wa alaikaum as-salam wa rahamtullah ‘Imran,

      After research and taking in consideration the principles of Fiqh and aqeedah and the foundations and objectives of our deen, I have come to the following conclusions about Muslim minorities and how to deal with the major western Holidays-

      1- New year’s eve gathering OK, but not anywhere near alcohol, illicit relationships or PDA, and of course no public kissing, although if it is you and your wife I see no problem. Most of the programs on TV are filled with useless meaningless music and talk that I deem as Makrooh.

      2- New Years Day- Again gathering and congradulating is fine, but stay away from alcohol and any other sinful things.

      3- Martin Luther King. Pay respects to the concepts he represented and what he did for our country, but no prayer service or anything.

      4- Memorial Day- Respect for those who fought for our country, but again no prayer service.

      5- Valentines day- Between Husbands and Wives OK, but we should make a point to teach our youth on this day about the sanctity of marriage and the corrutption of extra-marital relationships. This holiday reminds me of the Prophet when he heard why the Jews fasted Ashooraa and why he joined them. Maybe also tae the guidance of the Propeht as narrated by Ibn Abbas to also observe one day before or after.

      5- St. Patricks day- No way. we should have no part of it. It is celebrated the fact the st. patrick trinitarianized the people of ireland from shirk to shirk and now it is simply known for people getting real drunk and wearing green which is because he used the three leaved shamrock to explain the trinity to the irish.

      6- April fools. I think we should avoid it. It seems harmless, but there is a hadith which says that the Prophet never lied even while joking.

      7- 4th of July. My family had a blast a few weeks ago, but again stay away from drinkers and be very safe with fireworks. don’t spend a lot of money on fireworks. This is not wasting because it makes people happy and that accoridng to al-Mustafa is sadaqah. Muslims need to be seen on this day as it shows how we are proud Americans. If we are not then why are we here???

      8- Earth Day . We should be the main and most notable participants in this.

      9- Thanksgiving. No problem except unless you can’t find a halal turkey and you don’t ewat the meat of Ahle Kitaab (joking). Stay away from alcohol/Pork and don’t watch too much football (joking).

      10- Mother’s/Father’s day. No problem with using that day to pay a special respect to our parents. This day would mean nothing to a Muslim if we became like most of our American brothers and this is the only day we show respect adn extra affection to our parent’s. This day Muslim’s should use in Da’wa and interfaith as an oppurtunity to call to the true righteousness due to our parents.

      11- Christmas. Muslims should have no part in this because it is a main defining characteristic of christianity. It is based on many lies and we have our own Eid’s to celebrate.

      12- Easter. No way. We do not beleive that Jesus (pbuh) was crucified and killed by the Jews and thus resurrected from the dead after visiting Hell??? No Easter egg hunts and chocolate eggs because of the relationship to these beliefs. Note: We can in celebrating our own Eid’s which Allah revealed for us- without inventing a false easter bunny who lays eggs LOL- introduce cool traditions that we do for the kids like Jupiter jumps scavenger hunts etc…

      Conclusion- We can be American on our own terms and that is one of the beauty’s of this country.

      • Jazakallah Khair shaikh…

        That is a great analysis of all the holidays. I was specifically curious about birthdays also considering the fact that even some practicing christians avoid celebrating it because of its pagan roots. All the others on the list make alot of sense.

  • I see your third reference a little differently
    “The Prophet was asked about al-Ateerah and he said it was haqq (truth).”

    Are you sure that this doesn’t mean that al-Ateerah had been rooted in a true practice (cf. the Hajj was also performed during the days of ignorance before it was “Islamicized”)? If the hadith does mean this, then there isn’t any link to secular holidays…

    • As-salamu alaikum Aperittos,

      Your conclusion is interesting, but with all do respect to your individual observations, What you have suggested is not the case and to my knowledge you are teh only Muslim who ever said as such because the scholars of our historically preserved law say it means that it is either an obligation or a sunnah in other words it is truth in our religion.

      • Peace,

        I agree with you–that’s what I was trying to say. So if it’s part of our religion (either obligatory or optional), then there isn’t anything here that tells us how we should deal with secular holidays. I see this as similar to the case of the Hajj; it was performed by the pagans before its practice was corrected in the time of Islam. It started as a pure religious practice, was corrupted by the pagans, and was then restored and purified with the coming of Islam.

        In the end, I’m not convinced that al-Ateerah justifies observing secular holidays.

  • Salam brother,

    Jazak Allah Khair for the informative article…so can we Islamize holidays such as Christmas since Ateerah had its roots in polytheism i.e. slaughtering animals to receive the favor of their gods, but it was allowed on the basis that we slaughtering only for the sake of Allah…For example, having turkey dinner, having a Christmas tree, giving gifts but not going to mass, etc…I hope this is not controversial but it’s important to the reverts.

      • Ya Imam, I’m confused. Please correct why the following analogy does not work?
        Atteerah = kufr practice at the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم
        Christmas = kufr practice in 2010

        Ateerah = became islamicized
        Christmans = Can be islamicized?

        (I read your response to ‘Imran, but I still couldn’t figure out why the above would be incorrect)

        What exactly in the Usul is stopping it from being islamicized like Ateerah?


        • Salamullahi alaika ya Yus,

          I understand your confusion and I defintely considered it. Here is why it isn’t so cut and dry adn why I came to the decision I did.

          The first thing is that the Muslims did not Islamicize Ateerah. It’s legislation was from our Exalted Master above seven heavens.

          So that is actually not what we are using here as a precedent because to islamicize things related to Kufr and make them an official Eid, we really need revelation otherwise we are playing with innovation which is very dangerous.

          We are using the precedent that, according to the texts and interpretation of many prominent scholars in our history, Allah allowed an act to remain acceptable as a cultural observance related to a certain time of year as long as it would be fully something that has NO SHIRK at all involved.

          Ateerah was not a defining characteristic Holiday of shirk in Jahilliyah. Ateerah was just an occasion in which the poltytheists would slaughter some animals. There is another day when the Prophet (pbuh) saw someone celebrating the actual greatness of the idols themselves to which teh prophet responded “Allah has replaced this day with two better celebrations than that.’

          So because Christmas in itself is a day filled with lies and celebrating it “Islamically” would require a complete overhaul, so we don’t take part in it. It is a day that in and of itself glorifies polytheism and false Aqeedah. With Ateerah the day had no significance but the act of slaughtering was something common to both Muslims and non-Muslims, except that we slaughter only for Allah.

          So for example Muslims beleive in the sanctity of the parents and their respect so to do something special on mothers day would be great. It’s just our standard of yearround special love, respect and concern makes us different than our American brothers is that most of them only really show and true deep love and respect ont his day out of the whole year. So the Ateerah analogy is there since it is just a difference in a common act on a day which only bears significance of the act not some special Eid celebrating shirk. Similarly, Valentines Day. There is a strong historical account that it was instituted not by christianity, but by a christian to preserve the sanctity of marriage. so we share that and should be more adamant about it, wheres the day itself doesn’t signify Shirk and wasn’t institued by a religion.

          I hope you understand bro because it is a technicality that takes a keen observation trained in Islamic law to understand the subtle yet big difference.

        • @Abu Majeed:

          aaaahhhh, NOW I get it. جزاك الله خيرا.

          My confusion was that I was ASSUMING (now you’ve clarified it…) that Atteerah was related to shirk @ the time of the Prophet. When it was mentioned of “sacrificing animals”, Shirk automatically clicked in my head because I was imagining them doing it in the name of their gods.

          Out of curiosity (I completely trust you, I’m not hating):
          How do we know that no shirk was involved? Is it because there’s no specific text to indicate otherwise? Meaning, is what is narrated about Ateerah JUST that. i.e “They slaughtered meat and distributed” faqat?


  • as-salamu alaikum,

    jazak Allahu khairan to the author for spending time on this subject. I was quite surprised by some of the conclusions regarding ‘ateerah; particularly regarding the quotations. For instance, while the author references ibn Rajab’s Lata’if al Ma’arif, he fails to quote his concluding remarks, which sum up the ruling of all four madhabs:

    “The Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Do not take any month as ‘Eid, nor any day as ‘Eid” (i.e. other than Fitr and Adha). The basis of this matter is that it is not permissible for the Muslims to uphold any celebration save that which the Shar’iah established, and these are the days of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and the three days of tashreeq – these are the yearly celebrations – , as well as Fridays, which is a weekly celebration;

    taking anything other than that as a holiady or celebration is an innovation (bida’a) with no basis in Shari’ah.” end quote.

    • I’ve heard a student of knowledge tell me his opinion about this (not saying it’s right or wrong). He admitted that the linguistic meaning of ‘Eid is something to the extent of a REPEATED celebration type of thing. However, he said that this definition was restrictive. He said that the meaning of ‘Eid is more general to mean “RELIGIOUS celebration”. Thus, anything that was repeated, had no relevance (in his opinion i.e. B-days, Anniversaries, etc.). However, what DID have relevance to him, was if the practice was a religious celebration, and that it was known to the common masses that it is a religious celebration i.e. Christmas as opposed to a b-day. Which is why when someone asked what about celebrating Christmas, he said no. However, he mentioned that say hypothetically after 1,500 years, Christmas has no common ties to Christianity, and is just some custom, then he’d agree, that ya we could hypothetically participate with it as a custom.

    • As-salamu alaikum zakat,

      I have an arabic version of al-Lata’if and after research I found the publisher and Muhaqqiq are strict salafy. When i read his general analysis it sounded like Ibn Rajab as I have read a lot of his works, but this conclusion seemed quite fishy as it doesn’t sound like any of our major scholars from history. It sounds like a modern Salafy approach. I do have verified knowledge that some Saudi prints of Al-Fatawaa for Ibn Taymiyyah have been “revised” and have seen the difference in one’s printed in Cairo/Lebanon. So i left that conclusion out in practice of the founding principle taught by our beloved messenger (pbuh) “Leave something that is doubtful to something that isn’t doubtful.”

  • wa alaikum as salam;

    my edition is not “saudi / strictly salafi”.

    secondly, the muhaqqiq (editor), wherever he be from or whatever his point of view, does not change the text, though he may in some cases add footnotes. this quotation is ibn Rajab’s, and it is in keeping with what can be found in all four madhabs’ major fiqh collections, as well as the major works of hadith exegesis; one need only look them up.

    thirdly, one must recognize the difference between a discussion on ‘ateerah, a jahiliyy celebration, and the major qiyas (analogy) that is being made here. Such a ruling would have to take into account a lot more material than these three or four hadith. If you look at the body of hadith literature as a whole one of the major acts of the Prophet, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was to distinguish himself and his community from other groups, in appearance, habits, speech, and so on; it is one of the signs of the day of judgment that they will follow previous nations, until, “even were they to enter a lizard’s hole you would enter after them”. This is not to say that one must purposely be different in everything, but adopting practices and “integrating” them into the deen is something that needs major consideration.

    as a small note, one thing the author seems to have overlooked is that the word ‘ateerah is used variously in the quoted hadith to denote the holiday as well as the act of slaughter; hadith scholars pointed out that in the hadith regarding the permissibility of ‘ateerah the permission is given not to the act of celebrating the holiday but to the act of making a sacrifice and distributing it to the poor, whether it happens to be on this day or not. ibn Rajab makes this clear with his final quotation, which is why it is important not just to quote sections of discussion but also to mention the conclusions scholars took.


  • As-Salamu alaikum Zakat,

    If we read closely Ibn Rajab is not negating the point many Fuquhaa and the established opinion of HIS madhaab about the permissibility of Ateerah, he is just reiterating the fact that as Muslims we reject any religious holiday seen as decreed by God and a means in itself of getting closer to Allah other than the two Eid’s

    The conclusion about Holiday’s all being subject to that ruling comes from a world before secularism existed. As i said, I agree with the Ulemah in that there are two Eid’s (religious holiday’s) that Muslims can celebrate as an act of worship.

    The fact is that there is a new reality where there are observances and celebrations of certain days which are not specific to one religion or another as it was for all holiday’s of the pre-secular world. In other words all holiday’s of the old world were originated and defined by specific religious beleifs.

    This is not some big analogy. All I am showing here plain and simple is that it is a strong opinion held by many noteworthy scholars of our historical tradition of law that the Prophet (pbuh) allowed an observance to be to made for 10 specific days of the year wihtout it being an Eid. That is a precedent that one of the premier scholars of our day pointed out and he is been given heat for making a solid Ijtihad based upon sound texts, usool and established madhabs.

  • Asalamu Alaykum

    I just wanted to address my opinion on some points made in prior comments, and please let me know what you think.
    As for celebrating birthdays, I would not celebrate them because I once heard a sheikh ask “why would you celebrate being closer to your death?”.
    We should be in rememberance of Allah and remember that we are indeed one day closer to dying so we should make the best of our time.
    Also, as for holidays such as independence days, I can see how it is good to support your country. But what if your country, which may seem to some as spreading peace and freedom, seems to others to spread oppression and injustice?

    These are my opinions. I’m sorry if I offend anyone.
    Anything good comes from Allah, and anything incorrect I may have said comes from me.
    JazakAllah khair

  • wa alaikum as- salamu wa rahmatullah Ali,

    I have heard the first contention too. That is a matter of opinion and not a legal (fiqh)proof as to why we shouldn’t celebrate birhtday’s. No one is saying that it is an obligation nor that you should celebrate any holiday other than the two eid’s. I am simply showing an opinion amongst our scholars -which is based in sloid texts- as to why these secular observances are permissible and not prohibted. But if you choose not to celbrate these days then that is your opinion and you are defintely entitled to it.

    With regards to your second issue with independence day, I would say that if you choose to live in America then you chouls embrace the good of it and work -according to the proper and legal means- to fix the corruption and oppression that is done in its name. This country was built on good principles and does allow people who work for it to have an influence and work to make it better. Instead of making fatwas making Muslims seem unpatriotic like no 4th of July, no voting and don’t stand of for the pledge of allegiance or natial anthem. These Fatwas are void f the big picture and the long run of Islam in America. We should be positive and proactive patriots and work to fix our country.

    If you don’t want to do that and you don’t like this country and what it stands for then why are you here???

    It was narrated that when the Prophet went on HIjrah he turned to Makkah (the polytheist oppressive corrupt land that it was at the time and said
    والله إنك لأحب بلاد الله إلى الله وأحب بلاد الله إلي ، ولولا أن أهلك أخرجوني ما خرجت
    “O Makkah In Verily you are the most beloved land to Allah and teh most beloved land to me. If your people didn’t kick me out i wouldn’t have left.”

  • Assalamu alaikum,

    I am very surprised that, because of Ateerah, we can celebrate the 4th of July. How can one be proud of a country that fights Islam? How can one support Nationalism, which celebrating any national day is? Suhayb (radhi Allahu anhu) was known as Ar-Rumi because he came from there but did he ever celebrate anything connected to his country? Salman (radhi Allahu anhu) was known as Al-Farisi because he came from there but did he ever celebrate something connected to his country?

    Al-Ateerah was made part of Islam. How can the 4th of July made part of Islam? How can praising the troops that defend the country and invades Muslim countries be islamicised? How can being proud of one’s country part of Islam, especially if that nation is not a Muslim one? I have seen first hand how being proud of one’s country (in this case Egypt and Algeria) can have such negative effects. Even without that event, you can see all over the world, in Muslim communities, the effect of being from one country or another and the racism that comes with this. Was al-Ateerah a nationalistic event? How did Rasulullah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) react when the Sahabah said “O Ansar” “O Muhajireen”. Didn’t he get upset and call that a call of the Jahiliyyah?

    I am proud of belonging to the Muslim nation, yes. Am I proud of being Belgian? No. Is my husband proud of being Algerian? No. Is being proud of one’s country helping to unite Muslim? No, on the contrary.

  • As Salamu laykum

    This is why I love fiqh!!!!!!!,

    This was vary interesting but after contemplating it, for me it is way to doubtful so i pass. One thing I observed is that this allowance was done after the hijrah(correct?), when the Muslims had the upper hand in Medinah, a state that was ruling with the shariah, so there was no danger of the Muslims going to excess in imitating the disbelievers and losing their Islamic identity. Today is the opposite we have the lower hand and no state that complete enacts the shariah so there is a grave danger of losing our Islamic identity, so based on that wouldn’t it be more wise to leave this off and stick to he confirmed Islamic holidays?

  • Although, this article was written in July, it was just shared on facebook again to justify New Years. This is my response:

    Paganism is worse than a certain Religion, most of our Prophets came to destroy idolatry, not other Religions. We need to get our priorities straight. Shirk is the number One sin. And all Western holidays are Pagan except one: Thanksgiving. However, some associate Thanksgiving with genocide of a people and should be avoided also.

    Talk about control of the masses by teaching them to worship false gods,
    1) People – (Santa Clause, all president days, and famous people, infamous people)
    2) Money – (every holiday based on capitalist sales and receipt),
    3) Flag & Country(nationalism)- (Fourth of July)
    4) Animals (Easter, Tooth Fairy),
    5) Pagan origins and Practice(anything blatantly based on worshiping a Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Hindu, etc. god)- (New Years, Xmas, Birthday, Easter, Halloween, Valentines Day, Aprils Fool)

    And if you are celebrating a holiday other than Eid, why do Muslims make that one bigger than their own. I hardly saw any Muslim status say Happy New Year for the Islamic New Year. Yet, everyone is talking about it now.

    Western New Years:'s_Day

    I understand the need to not push away Muslims from the Deen. I just think it should be said, “It is wrong, you are being ma’asiyah, but the final decision is up to you” Because in the end we all sin, but Insha’Allah we will not help each other to sin. . . or make excuses for them to sin.

  • I need clarification on the following quote: “there is nothing wrong with celebrating occasions and holidays which are customary and are not representing a certain religion.” Based upon what was explained about al-Ateerah, it seems as if al-Ateerah was a religious holiday in that they were sacrificing to their gods. The argument is that our Prophet allowed for the people to Islamicize that holiday. What if a Muslim chose to do the same for Christmas, Halloween, or Diwali? Would it be acceptable to Islamicize those holidays on the basis of the above arguments and evidence?

  • I would like to seek clarification on the following. I live in a multiracial society with different religions. How about attending our neighbours religious celebrations? We are often invited and many neighbours go to painstaking lengths to ensure that the food served is halal. There might be alcohol served but it is no offence if we refuse it (in fact they expect us to refuse and usually they will not offer it to us). How about wishing them ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Deevali’? I have no intention of celebrating other religious holidays but wish to maintain good relationships with neighbours and colleagues. Is there any ‘shirk’ in this?

  • Thsi is not a new question and it’s been discussed in other websites. As such it seems obvious that it is ‘shirk’ and at most we can wish them ‘happy holidays’.

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