Originally published in November 2010
Can I celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents? I converted a few years back and it is very important to them. Things haven’t been great since my reversion. What are your thoughts?
There is a legitimate scholarly difference surrounding this issue. Those who hold such celebrations as forbidden do so contending that such celebrations are “religious in nature” and amount to imitating the religious rites of others. One of my teachers, Shaykh `Abdul Jalil al-Mezgouria told me, “There is nothing religious about this celebration.” In fact, I remember him giving a khutbah (sermon) about it a number of years back.
Those who contented that such celebrations are permissible, do so contending the opposite: such celebrations are not religious in nature and that the origin of things is permissible unless explicitly forbidden. Sheikh al-Qaradawi stated, concerning Mother’s Day, there is no way he considered it forbidden. He based his contention on the legal axiom: “Nothing is made forbidden except with a clear text.”
It is well known that al-Rajabiyah was a holiday observed by the Arabs before for the time of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) up until the third century A.H. and the jurist differed on its ruling. The Hanabalis considered it permissible, while the Malikis held it to be disliked.
Those who hold it permissible also note that the statement of the Prophet ﷺ, “Our holidays are two” is not a prohibition to celebrate other holidays outside of the religious sphere.
The Indigenous Imperative
As a convert to Islam and based on my humble legal training, I agree with the second opinion. Many of us, those of us who have converted to Islam, can use these moments to share the beauty of our faith with our families and loved ones in an non-hostile environment. Perhaps, by giving gifts to our parents we can heal wounds, build relationships, and move forward. At the same time, such celebrations are based on the foundations of our faith: honoring one’s parents. Therefore, we should engage such holidays with the intention of fostering noble relations and spreading the beauty of our faith with others.
Allah knows best.
Time for some Halal Turkey!
brother webb is wrong it is a christian holiday. on youtube search for the Real Story Of Thanksgiving Part 2-3 . Its a history channel documentary. Also search for What Are You Really Celebrating? Thanksgiving … on youtube
Brother, with no direspect intended, Sheikh Webb has acquired more knowledge than you have in order to make a decision. Try to do more research as to the rulings of other Sheikhs rather than your own decision.
Actually, brother you are incorrect about Thanksgiving, History Channel show notwithstanding. Just because the pilgrims who celebrated it that day happened to be Puritans kicked out of England (therefore Christians)does not mean the holiday or celebration itself had or has anything to do with Christianity. If anything, if you object to the celebration of that holiday based on its history, it should be because of an ethical disagreement (those same Puritans were responsible for massacring Natives they had to thank for the food).
there is another distinction to be made here. If a Christian says, “I love the God of Abraham with all my heart and I want to celebrate the God of Abraham,” that person is talking about a religious celebration honoring Allah. I am no scholar (the ignorant Muslim keeps saying), but that is entirely different from saying or trying to say Thanksgiving celebrates Jesus. It clearly does not. Jesus worship is Christmas. Thanksgiving is we give thanks to the God of Abraham. These subtle differences are lost on Christians, but as Muslims, it is our duty to know the difference. That is, in my unlearned mind, a big difference.
Your ability to see beyond the fragmented and stringent opinions that are being strained upon us, gives me hope, that one day, our sheykhs will understand us, because our times really are frantic. For the 12th time, Imam Suhaib, please come to the UK and deliver the double weekend course you promised your students, in “approaching the Quran and Sunnah.”
Yours in Islam.
Gobble Gobble! if anybody’s down for some Turkey Biryani, Holla at me!
LOL @ turkey biryani!
When i’ve said this opinion i’ve been told that Eid means something that repeats every year. So fixing a date every year and celebrating that is problematic. ex. birthdays or anniversaries.
How would you respond to that Imam Suhaib?
There is nothing problematic about it; it is not borrowed from Christianity. It is social in nature the practice of which does not compromise your Islam. Rather, as Imam Shuaeb did indicate, it can be used as a tool to spread and beautify your Islam.
Hell yeah, I’m in! Where you at? I want me some of that Turkey Biryani!
this is what i appreciate:
“As a convert to Islam and based on my humble legal training, I agree with the second opinion. Many of us, those of us who have converted to Islam, can use these moments to share the beauty of our faith with our families and loved ones in an non-hostile environment. Perhaps, by giving gifts to our parents we can heal wounds, build relationships and move forward. At the same time, such celebrations are based on the foundations of our faith: honoring one’s parents. Therefore, we should engage such holidays with the intention of fostering noble relations and spreading the beauty of our faith with others.”
even for those who do not agree with the opinion that it is permissible to celebrate, how can anyone not agree with the noble aims of the shariah especially in light of the above?
So Imam Suhaib, what’s your favorite Thanksgiving menu item?
I personally like the stuffing, turkey gravy with mashed potatoes, leftovers being made into sandwiches, and pumpkin desserts (like pumpkin pie).
Man, just because of this post, I’ma hit up Culvers and get me a pumpkin flavored frozen custard treat. Maybe the caramel one?
Br. Saqib, you dun ask the Shaikh the wrong question…c’mon now…what’s your favorite thanksgiving item, item??, thats like asking Kobe what Arena he likes dunkin’ at….all of em! hehehe
I’m in northern California, I’ll ask the wife if she can setup an extra plate of the TB! (with Raitha of course)
what are you plans? are you staying in Egypt? We all miss you here at the MCA.
As salaami alaikum
Subhan Allah! I would differ with you all on several points. Firstly, to say thanksgiving is “merely” an ” ‘aada ” or custom with no religious conotation is far from the reality. We know in the Shari’a things are looked at in terms of the reality of the thing being looked at. The reality of thanks giving is that its roots are either from a previous Indian tradition of giving thanks (to whatever false God/s a particular tribe worshiped) or the settlers’ way of giving thanks to their God (Jesus alayhi as salaam) for the safe passage from the old world to the new world. Any internet search would probably give you more detailed info. Also, just in terms of the name “thanks giving” this obviously means giving thanks or being thankful. Then the question poses itself, who is being thanked? So it is definately religious in nature, although it may not be considered a formal religious holiday by some christian legislative bodies. I remember growing up as a non-muslim and the most important thing about the thanksgiving meal was the prayer that preceded it, which is common practice in most households across the U.S.
Secondly, thanks giving is specific to non-muslims, so it would fall under the hadith of the Prophet (man tashabaha bi qawmin fahuwa minhum) “the one who imitates a people is from them). And many of the ulama like Sheik ul Islam Ibn Tayimiya in his book Iqtida Siraatil Mustaqeem bi Mukhalafati Ashaabi Jaheem) mentions that imitating them (kuffar) is necessitated by following those things that are specific to them and their culture/history/religion etc. And he goes on to say that “muslims resembling them in their celebrations leads to them (kuffar) being happy with the falsehood that they are upon.” Also, Ibn Qayyim states that congratualating them in their holidays (specific to them) is haram by consensus of the ulama.
Thirdly, to say “such celebrations are based on the foundations of our faith: honoring one’s parents. Therefore, we should engage such holidays with the intention of fostering noble relations and spreading the beauty of our faith with others.” is a very broad way of looking at it to say the least. Thanks giving isn’t strictly to thank parents nor do most people who celebrate it think it to be strictly for that matter. There is a very broad application of most non muslims as to what one is being thankful for and who is thanked. Also, most holidays have some sort of “good moral” that is focused on, which may possibly correspond to the noble valuse of Islam, does that mean we should celebrate them? These maxims in qawaaid fiqhiya have dawaabit (checking points) stemming from other texts or maxims that put them in their proper place. Also, the sheik’s understanding of the maxim, ” the origin of things is permissible unless explicitly forbidden” is for those things which are not religious in nature and that point is disputed, therefore leaving room for doubt as to the origins of thanksgiving and we know that the Prophet (layhi as salaam) has said, “leave those things that are doubtful for those things that are not doubtful”. And he has also said, “the person who leaves the doubtful matters has protected his religion and honour.”
Lastly, why would a muslim who Allah has commanded to enjoin the good and forbid the bad and to be fair and just feel comfortable celebrating a holiday that is filled with lies and oppression? The Indians were massacred by the pilgrims or early Europeans and much of what the avg. Joe thinks about Thanksgiving is a bunch of lies. The reality is that these Euro. came and butchered the indians, leaving no room for thankfulness on the part of the Indians. How can a muslim feel comfortable celebrating something so baatil? For more info on the reality of thanksgiving look at the website You can go to http://www.oyate.org/resources/shortthanks.html which i came accross and sheds some light on thanks giving.
As the link you provided does not allow me to check if the authors of this site are of Native American origin I would advise not to trust any info unless it comes from a Native American. There seems to be so much hate filled info on the net. I do not think that when Americans celebrate Thanksgiving that they rejoice in what the brits, and others who colonized their lands did to the natives. Majority of Americans do not agree with what happened nor do they agree with how the government of America treats the Native on the reservations, but it is the government who controls what happens to the reservations, not the people. Some lands were bought from the Indians, some were stolen. I am sure that the large cities that are now these lands would not be willing to say, ” Give it all back to them.” Humans, no matter their nationality are that unselfish. Best example of this would be the Jews and the Arabs and Israel and Palestine. Certainly, the environment of the world would be much better if all the lands all over the world were not so ‘civilized.’ But then the royals of Arabia would never have made all the moneys they have made from the oil under the ground because the world would never have progressed to a point to pump it up from the ground. This means Islam would not be as wealthy a religion as it is today. Do you get my point, kind sir?
Salamalaikum Abu Jenaan,
Out of all the answers to the above issue, I favour urs simply becoz u followed the Sunnah of Prophet SAW (‘THE ONE WHO IMITATES A PEOPLE IS FROM THEM’). We make mistakes and innovations (bid’ah) when we do not take our knowledge from proper scholars (the Jama’ah), so I would advise everyone to follow the proper scholars.
Salamalakum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu.
There is nothing in Christian or Jewish or Native American texts which mandate gathering different peoples and having a joint feast of indigenous crops and turkeys. Therefore, it is not a religious holiday and does indeed squarely fit into the definition of ‘aadah.
I suspect that some people oppose it simply because its an *American* ‘aadah. Such attitudes like, “I want to benefit by living here but I don’t want to become here” is a type of nifaaq, I say.
As muslims we do not divide our lives into sections of religious or non-religious activity – our whole way of living is for the sake of our Creator.
Secondly when we have the best way of living laid out for us according to the Sunnah of Prophtet SAW – the American way simply does not cut it !!
Lastly, I am glad that u took the time to state ur response – even if it contradictory to mine, I am sure we can teach each other to look at things from a different perspective.
If you asked a Christian, what would his or her answer be if you asked them who they are thanking? This is critical. You say haram, just because Christians are offering thanks, but you ignore that we worship the same God. The difference is, they have given God a partner. When they embrace the God of Abraham, it is our duty to encourage them in the right parts of their religion. Christianity is not a total lie. They are the people of the book. We can marry their women and eat their food. Jesus says in their Bible, Love God with all your heart mind and soul. When they do this, we stand with them. When they are in error we stand away. We don’t stand away because they are not perfect. We pray five times a day because none of us is perfect.
Well said Greg. As an Australian I do not celebrate thanksgiving, as we believe it is an American tradition. My family however, get together on set dates throughout the year (I have 9 siblings spread across Australia…. A huge distance to travel), we meet on the first Sunday of every season (and other times as well) to eat, talk and generally celebrate being together and the gift Allah gave us of our family.
At Christmas the same thing occurs. Some members of my family attend church, others do not. Some celebrate “Jesus Birthday” others celebrate Turkey. All of us celebrate that God gave us a family to eat, sit and laugh with.
If I were American I would celebrate with turkey and pumpkin pie (I learned to cook it to see what all the hype in American movies was about!) thanking Allah for my family.
Thanksgiving, regardless of its origins brings families together. Thank Allah for that.
Imam Suhaib, I understood this to mean that there is leeway for reverts. However, what about those of us who are born Muslims and have Muslim relatives? How wise is it for us to have Turkey and gatherings at home? Is it better to avoid it in our case?
The ruling is not for reverts it is for anyone. If you are born in the US it is your culture and fine to celebrate. If you are not from the US then many scholars who would say it is a permissible non-religious holiday for US Muslims that it would be Makrooh for Muslims to import foreign customs from a majority non-Muslim country.
I have struggled with this issue. I too see that it is not a religious holiday, but recently I have heard from different sources that the pilgrims really took it to the natives shortly after the meal and slaughtered them. If this is true, than for this reason alone, the issue of celebrating TGiving should be looked at a bit deeper.
With all due respect, which you are not giving to the tradition of Thanksgiving, it means just what it says, families come together in thanksgiving. People who pray to God give him thanks for what they have or have not. It is based on the story of the pilgrims,which is a horrific story, and is truthful, the brits and folks who came from other countries to the colonies, and I might add, that according to President Obama, Muslims were there as well, but of course I was not taught this fact at school, I have no reason to doubt President Obama’s knowledge as he has knowledge of Islam from his childhood until he converted to Christianity, after college, he would be more wise than I when it comes to Muslims being in the colonies and helping with the building of what is today America. The Reservations all over America is proof that they were(the natives) , to say the least, were treated badly, lands were stolen from them, brits and others are living on their lands today. It is also true that today they live in poverty on the reservations, I abhor this fact but there is nothing I can do, that is up to Obama and his folks to handle that as he is in control of their lively hood. But all the above being true the tradition of thanksgiving is a time for folks to take time from work, visit their families, and give thanks. I cannot see that the Prophet Muhammad, a very wise and intelligent man, indeed, would find fault with families coming together in love and respect and thanksgiving. In Islam, I am beginning to see, there are different opines as to what is accepted and what is not. It is the same in Christianity. I am finding that Islam is not so different from Christianity if you look at the people and their different opines. There seems to be some individuality in Islam I like this. I am gaining respect for Islam. Thank you for expressing yourself in a forum where the ignorant can learn about Islam and gain respect. We need more of this. It is a time for thanksgiving for what we have or have not.
I understand that you are saying that it is a time for thanking, however you for got the true meaning of what these Christians are celebrating. the brits that came here celebrated the blood shed and massacre that they did. also a person had asked rasullallah if they can celebrate a holiday that the people before them celebrated he told that man shall we celebrate like the ignorant celebrate. there is more to this but the point being is that we are unique and different if people are taking this one day to give thanks what about the other 364 days that we have it should be thanksgiving everyday we should be giving thanks everyday for waking up and having our limbs working and having a job to go to so that we may provide for our families and alhamdullilah that we have one for those who don’t have for the life that they are givin. besides we have our own thanksgiving it is called eid in case people have forgotten we should not follow in the steps of the people of paigen holidays. just becareful in what you say and ask for because it will come back to you ten fold. for those of you who did participate in this act only allah know what will be instored for you. inshallah I hope that this had shined a little bit more light on the topic of thanks giving. inshallah may allah keep us far from the evil shytan and more closer to the right path and continue to guide us in that path.
This is false; the meal was part of a treaty between the pilgrims and the Native American tribes in the area. There was obviously some tension, but in the end, an Indian chief decided it was better/more in line with their own traditions to help the Pilgrims learn how to grow indigenous crops. The year before, the Pilgrims had tried to grow English crops which nearly all failed. Half of them died. Some Pilgrims decided to rob some Indians of their supplies which almost led to a war. Saner head prevailed, and Thanksgiving was celebrated a year later after the Pilgrims first successful and bountiful harvest in America. The invited the chief and his tribe to share in what they helped make happen.
Good story, isn’t it?
Wake up and stay awake
-O Heart- and say Labbayk
Say: Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk
Say it with every seed and grain
Say it with every drop of rain
Say it and say it again and again
Say it with the stars in the skies
Say it with the light in your eyes
Say: Labbayk O Lord, O Wise!
Say it and let your tears,
Let them translate your hidden fears—
For only Allah hears
All that are on earth and in the skies.
Say Labbayk to Him Alone
Whose boundless mercy shone
Even in the heart of him
Who once worshipped a stone,
But then heard Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk
And his heart shook as with earthquake
And said: Yes, I made a mistake;
But now I say Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk!
Mohamed Ali Lagouader
Lol, i live in Chicago. I don’t think I can make it to Northern California.
Subhanallah the same issues keep poppin up!
– meaning of imitating non Muslims/identity/contextualising hadith
– Muslims retaining their identify amidst a dominant society (obviously this sentence assume that somehow muslims are lossing their identity hence a need to “retain”
– The issue of celebration in Islam and whether the contemporary understanding of something is given weight over how something originated and upon which one is the ruling based
– Priorities and Objectives and its role in the over simplified approach of “leaving doubtfull matters ”
– Dealing with the actual situtaion at hands vis a vis a long term established practice and which way one ought to go, whether deal with the actual issue at hand which may not be the overall practice of the Muslim community, or go the other way and make the converts “fix into” existing ways of Muslims who do not necessarily base everything on textual evidences i.e. cultural ways
Suffice it to say that in each area scholars have and will continue to differ, and so long as that is so, it proves only one point, that it is a gray area and so long as each individual acts within his/her conscious he is free of blame. We do not need a “police attitude” in this matters, relax guys Allah has power of all things, and if he wanted he could have made all this plain clear but he didnt due to his wisdom so we might as well deal with in a mature way.
The first hadith in Sahih Bukhari deals with the intention of actions. If the intention of any Muslim, during a specific ‘celebration’ outside the two Eids is to create a venue to join people together, to build mutual understanding, to retain kinship, as guided by the teachings of Prophet Muhammad(S)and is doing it to please Allah(SWT) keeping in mind it is to Allah we submit, then there is more good in this action that out ways the bad of it. But we must remember to stay within the guidelines taught by our Prophet. If the intention is to follow what the crowd is doing just because you live in that type of society (especially for those who are Musliim by birth and have Muslim families), then it is a form of minor ‘shirk’…you are doing it to please others and to fit in. Allah(SWT) looks into our hearts and at our intentions of actions so let us make our intentions pure and pleasing to Allah alone. ‘Iyyaaka na’-budu wa ‘iyyaaka nasta-‘iin’ Let us not forget what we repeat at least 17 times a day in our salah..’Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help’
muslim converts/reverts are a great gift Allah gives to this Ummah.
This is a very peculiar assertion, especially as it relates to the United States. In particular, George Washington said:
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”
George Washington Papers at Library of Congress. Library of Congress
Since that time, the holiday was on again off again observed by different presidents. Some states took the holiday, others rejected it as throwbacks to the ill-regarded puritans. Lincoln eventually made it permanent in the middle of the civil war with the following statement:
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.””
While I understand that there is no biblical basis for thanksgiving, I would argue there is also no biblical basis for much of christian celebrations and tradition that is still unique to them – that they have their own bid’ah that isn’t part of their texts and is only loosely connected to general themes and events appears irrelevant, when you consider our agreed upon stances on Christmas and Easter.
I’m interested in hearing other responses in the “mubah” camp, given what was presented above.
I agree sir. Most holidays were invented by the government to generate the economy. Why is it that a holiday should be associated with a religion? We celebrate our births and the births of our children each year, and this is wrong, to celebrate the day we were born? Why is it necessary to follow blindly words written in a book by another flawed human being, and all human beings are flawed. And what proof is there that there is even a God, except for words written in a book by a mortal human and ones own experiences, and FAITH? And birth and death is something given to us by God? We only think this because it is written in a book that has been labeled holy by other men. So, we follow blindly as our ancestors did. Why do you pilgrimage to Mecca? Because it is written in your holy book to do so or you are not a good mulsim. What proof is there that this is fact other than words written in a book by man same with the Bible. Religion was invented by man to control man and his EVIL ways. What would the world be like without the restrictions that religion places on man? Human nature, free will, carnal nature, would run wild. Some folks need this more than others. I would never say that your choice to follow Islam was irrelevant because I do not believe that. I believe that all religions are a necessary evil to control carnal nature of man. Animals seem to have this built into their nature and do not need controlling. Without the interference of man the world would be a peaceful place. Religion does not seem to be able to change this fact. But I do believe that with humans in the world, without the restrictions of religion, the world would truely be an unfit place to live for all creatures, created by God, or not.
When Prophet Muhammad(S) finally entered Mecca and cleaned the Kaaba of the idols, and opened the city of Mecca as a blessed city for the Muslims, was this not such a milestone in history that he could have had a feast and called it a day of celebration of ‘thanksgiving’? Allah(SWT) has shown us by way of the Rasul, it is not one day we take out in a year to show ‘thanks’ but it is at the minimum 5 times in one day that we show ‘thanksgiving’. And if our prayers are correct then all our actions between the prayers enhance our behaviour with ourselves and with interactions with those around us.
I asked this question to the head of fatwa in Egypt, Dr. Muhammad Wisaam. He noted that the axiom on tunasi [the rhetoric of something changes] applies to any of these holidays. Meaning, that mufti is not concerned with what its what it meant in the past, but what it means now. When I explained the concept of this holiday to him ,and what it has grown to mean today, he stated that there is nothing wrong with this at all. This was also the answer of Dr. Muhammaad Rifat ‘Uthman who sits on the board of fatwa for the country as well as Dr. Sad Hilali a professor of comparative fiqh in al-Azhar and instructor at Dar al-Ifta.
So, while Thanksgiving meant something to those who started it, it does not to many today (my family as an example) carry the same meaning. This is also applicable to the actions of the salaf, who did not censure some of the celebrations that began before the time of the Prophet and continued after his death (sa). Such as Atirah, the opening of the K’aba (which still happens today) and cleaning it as well as other celebrations. al-Dhabi mentions that Ali (ra) said, “Every day of ours is Nayruz. When he was served and ate Ice Cream on that day.” [See Siyar ‘alam al-Nubala under Abu Hanifa and his birth].
And Allah knows best,
Man, I wrote that post over a year ago 🙂
I have a question, but it’s more of tangent to this topic than directly on it, and I hope insha’Allah it gets to the heart of the matter – where is the line drawn between a holiday that is acceptable to celebrate with the nonMuslims vs those which are unacceptable, as understood by the respected ‘ulamaa quoted above? I think understanding the evidences and principles that delineate acceptable from unacceptable will make the specific cases easier to digest (pun intended 🙂
Soon it will be halal for me to take that ‘Santa Claus’ gig at the mall…….or it is already????
Imam Suhaib, if the origins of a religion do not matter and what is important is how it’s practiced today, then doesn’t that compromise the ruling on other holidays? How about Halloween–It has origins in religion (paganism) but now most families practice it as a social holiday and a chance for kids to have fun.
Why are scholars not concerned about the meaning of Thanksgiving in the past but are concerned about the meaning of Halloween in the past?
Brother Siraaj, As-Salamu alaikum,
The president is talking as the president of the US which is a secular state that doesn’t represent one religion. He does not represent a religion but a country which is founded on secular values. If he was the pope or a rabbi you would have a point. The closest this country is to a religious concept is that of freemasonry which accepts only monotheistic faiths namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The majority of the folks here are Christian but the Saudis are wrong for portraying this as a Christian state to their unwaivering muqallids. His speech can be accepted by any religion.
After reading this which is the origin of the day I fail to see that George Washington was the founder of the day or that it was built on religion.
Walaykum as salaam Abu Majeed,
You are correct that George Washington was not the founder of the holiday, and I apologize if that is what you saw in it – what was meant in showing that was that it was recognized as a religious holiday and first officially state-sanctioned by him.
The origin is religious in nature, and there is no doubt about that – please read the following:
In that link, you will note that the holiday was rejected by many states in the late 18th century both for political reasons, and for its religious origins (likely one motivation drove another, and multiple interests were at play). Please also note in Lincoln’s speech that he refers to thanking “the Father”, of the trinity. I’d agree that on legal grounds it was wrong since it’s a secular country, but it passed congress, and it was what it was.
However, it appears strong consideration must also be given for the status of the holiday now, so insha’Allah we’ll learn more about how that works.
Peace be with you,
Once again bro, when they talk about it being religious in nature they are talking secular jargon not comparative theology. They are simply saying that it originally wasn’t appealing to the atheist population, rather it had general religious overtones, whereas now it is void of that, so you see all Americans the faithful and the unfaithful enjoying this occasion. The meaning they intended was that it was instituted with faith overtones not by a specific faith like Christmas, Eid or Hannukah, but forall Americans of faith in Almighty God. It was not instituted by a specific religion or for one but something all who believe in the Creator can cherish as a n interfaith holiday for people and as Muslims it will remain for us that see the (Al-ateerah issue/fasting Ashoorah). Some people tried to claim the same thing about halloween and in research we find that it was originally instituted as a specific pagan ritual by the Celtic pagan people of old Ireland. The tunasi axiom doesn’t apply because the religion of Wicca which is still practiced in the world by hundreds of thousands most of whom are here still worship the spirits on that day which is called Samhain e.g. Oct 31. thus this is different.
[…] on non religious, national holidays like memorial day, fourth of july, labor day and thanksgiving. An answer from Imam Suhaib Webb, an american convert studying at al Azhar […]
[…] are forbidden, even in the privacy of the home, said Rossi in his presentation to the committee. …Can I give Thanks and Throw Down on Some Turkey this Week …Those who hold such celebrations as forbidden do so contending that such celebrations are religious […]
JazakAllahu khayran Sh. Suhaib for the exposition. I tend to disagree about the secular nature of Thanksgiving, both for the reasons mentioned above, as well as due to the fact that it is almost always associated with a prayer and a day set aside for “giving thanks to God.” Therefore, although we agree that we should give thanks to Allah every day of our lives, to set aside a day for doing so, seems indeed to be a religiously oriented custom, even be it without scriptural basis, as Siraaj mentioned (like many other Christian holidays).
This point aside, I found the following from your article quite interesting:
I have heard some scholars use the statement of the Prophet (SAWS) “Our holidays are two” to prohibit the celebration of any periodic holidays, religious or otherwise, taking the apparent meaning of the word ‘Id in the hadeeth to mean “that which is returned to,” i.e. a periodically celebrated event, whether or not religious. I am elated to here that this discussion has occurred among the classical scholars with respect to al-Rajabiyyah, and I am curious which, if any, of the madhahib or classical jurists generalized the above prophetic statement to any periodic celebration (including those non-religious in nature), thereby viewing al-Rajabiyyah and holidays like it as prohibited, and which did not make such a generalization, there by maintaining the permissible nature of such holidays. You mentioned both Hanbalis and Malikis as falling in the latter category (as makrooh is still a subset of halal), I am curious if this was a consensus among them or if any viewed otherwise.
I think I remember some Hanafi/Deobandi scholars prohibiting celebrating the mawlid on a particular day each year due to the very same fiqhi reason mentioned above, and precisely not because of the aqadi reasons for which many “salafi” scholars prohibit the celebration of the mawlid. This leads me to infer that perhaps the ahnaf opined that the prophetic statement in discussion generalized to any sort of periodic celebration?
Any input or references to further discussion on this topic is greatly appreciated shaykh 🙂 . wa jazakumullahu khayran!
Does this also apply to christmas? Some of our non muslim relatives celebrate christmas and know that we do not celebrate. However breaking bread at christmas is sometimes the only time we get to see some of them…?
I think the Sheikhs point is clear, especially for those who are perhaps the only muslims in their family… If you’re invited to thanksgiving dinner with your non-muslim family then go, smile, laugh, and ask Allah to guide them and you.
We know how much most americans hate to be preached to, even by people of the same faith, so sometimes the only Dawah we can really give to our family members without creating massive problems is good companionship and love, which should be the basis of all our Dawah efforts anyways, but is often lost by those who only look at the kufr and shirk that their ‘loved ones’ are in. This mentality wasn’t that of The Prophet (SAW), and I think we forget that.
اللهم اهـدنا و اهـد بـنا
Salamu alaikum Br. Ahmad,
By the way if you read the following link closely you will see that even an Islamicizable minor issue like giving proper thanks is part of the analogy. I will also have you refer to the hadith of the Prophet when he saw Jews celebrating Ashoorah by fasting and he joined them saying we are more rightful of it than you. Notice in the later hadith he still permitted that day but just added a day before or after to be different. Even the Fuquhaa allowed simply just fasting that day since it was done by the Prophet. I guess some of these rigid haram police of today would have condemned him as not on the Sunnah or an innovator mimicking the People of the Book!
Ease up with the imported fatwas that are making us outsiders here man. Nobodys saying celebrate Christmas and nobody should as it makes perfect sense why not to. We need to use the deen as it is to deal with reality here instead of this utopian caliphate dreams Fatwa import system we’ve had as a result of a lack of home grown scholarship.
Assalamu alaykum akhi,
Jazakumullahu khayran for the link. I wasn’t looking up any imported fatwas, I was just asking academic questions in an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue, as I have heard differing opinions on this issue (from homegrown scholars). I did think it was really awesome that there is a classical context in which this issue has been discussed (Al-Rajabiyyah), and I am certainly interested in learning more about the opinions of different classical scholars around this event.
Anyways, I too am a convert, and, for the reasons mentioned above, have always felt Thanksgiving to be “spiritual” or religious in nature, so I respectfully differ on the secular nature of Thanksgiving. Siraaj also mentioned some good background reference. wa Allahu ta’ala a’lam.
Not sure what you mean by utopian caliphate dream Fatwa import system 🙂 but sounds like the stuff of possibly quite interesting Islamo-Sci-Fi book 😉 . (“… and Abdullah, with his newly invented Utopian Caliphate Dream Fatwa Import Machine (UCDFIM) accidentally presses the wrong button, and, KAZAAM, he’s suddenly lost the ability to initiate greetings with non-Muslims! What will he do when he faces his friends at school tomorrow?!”)
Sorry, that’s my 2 am study-break humor 🙂
Very well put Sheikh!
Salaam alaykum brother Abdul Majeed,
I find that when anyone says, “stop the imported fatwas”, they’re referring to fatwas from regions and people they don’t like. For example, you’ll note that Imam Suhaib’s fatwas are coming from respected ‘ulamaa in Egypt, but I don’t see you protesting this 🙂
I hope to be, insha’Allah, among those who can read the differences of opinions among our scholars, and the principles and evidences they use to come to their conclusions, and respect the rich diversity in scholarship, even if our conclusions and how we practice may differ in the end.
I like to read the fatwas on hijrah, and what those scholars think, and I like to read the fatwas not mandating it as well, and understanding it. I don’t care so much for the hyperbolic name calling that occurs on either side about “the other guy’s” fatwa.
I think we need to recognize our weakness as human beings in “knowing” the truth of everything. No group does, and no person does. We have a short amount of time to live, we make due with our resources and time the best we can to please Allah, and we ask Him to forgive us our shortcomings, both intentional and unintentional.
If thanksgiving is truly wrong, I don’t think the scholars are “wrong” (or western sellouts, or government stooges) in making their call, and I don’t think people are wrong for following them. And if thanksgiving is truly mubah, then I don’t think those avoiding it are utopian minded fanatics. Instead, I see one group working to keep their religious practice safe from harm by following one understanding of the evidences from the scholars they follow, and I see another group trying to maintain the ties of kinship and please Allah with another understanding of the evidences from the scholars they follow.
Dear Brother Siraaj,
When I object to imported fatwas, I am talking mostly about fatwas that were issued to a certain people by a scholar from among them. Whether this be a totalitarian ideologue state like SA and/or other Muslim nations that are taking a strong stand against globalization like say India and the Deoband. Even though some of the scholars have realized they are issuing fatwas to the western minority Muslims, I feel that they are -as a result of not being born and raised here or spent most of their life here- they are not looking for facilitations in the deen which indeed facilitate the da’wa which is the bigger benefit (maslahah). The difference between the SA/Deoband approach and dar al-Iftaa al-masry, Qaradawi, Abdullha ibn Bayyah and Salman al-Oudah is that one is paying strong attention to the texts and a literal interpretation (which in my opinion has more to do with the state of the time/people when revelation was revealed rather than taqwa) and the other is first paying close attention to the one who the ruling is applied (Mustaftee) and then looking into the spirit and objectives of the texts and seeing if they may be accomodated. I encourage you to look at the difference in the attitude of revelation from makkah to Madinah. Our Ummah is in an early Makkan state with knowledge and practice. The utopian seeking Mufti who is caught up in reading the books of the great early generations wants to treat the Ummah like it is in the state of caliphate as it was in the end of Madinah and thereon.
the difference between the two groups has been present since teh comapnions. Of course you know of the famous story when the Prophet told the companions, “don’t pray Asr till you reach bani Quraytha.” the “Azhari” style of companions prayed when Asr was looking to expire saying that the Prophet was simply encouraging us to hurry but because we know the prayers are at set times we must pray. The “Saudi” style of companions said no the Prophet said don’t pray till you reach there so we will pray there when we get there even in the time of maghrib. Later they asked the prophet and he affirmed that they both were right.
I’m not blaming those who take what they perceive to be the Taqwa path simply for taking that path because Allah is my witness i love them and accept them for that. Indeed I am blaming them for not accepting the other side and blaming them as modernized and false opinions which are unacceptable and not on the Sunnah. I am for unity among both sides, but as a convert i was brainwashed to believe that America is this and that and I alienated most of my family and those I was making da”wa to. After studying formally i had to change most of that rhetoric and I regret it.
قدر الله وما شاء فعل
Now I’m working hard to bring balance so please don’t get me wrong in my criticism in disagreeing with the imported politically frustrated rhetoric that has defamed Islam so much worldwide.
In principle, I agree with what you have said. In practice, I have seen flame-throwing from both sides about the others’ fatwas. For example, most of what you said, I love and agree with. But then in the middle of your excellent post, you interject the following:
Our Ummah is in an early Makkan state with knowledge and practice. The utopian seeking Mufti who is caught up in reading the books of the great early generations wants to treat the Ummah like it is in the state of caliphate as it was in the end of Madinah and thereon.
I like your thought process and analysis – I don’t like the name-calling and don’t see it conducive to your goal of bringing balance. I think what contributes to the imbalance is, indeed, the name-calling, the assumptions, the treating of the other side as a monolith with one idea in mind.
Because when you do that, you polarize – it becomes us vs them. You’re facing off. What we, the masses of laypeople, need from you and others is a mindset where you are not on the opposite ends opposing one another, but you are on the same side of the table, looking at a problem, and together bringing all your intellectual tools to bear in solving an issue.
I don’t claim that when you do that, the other person has the same perspective – likely they won’t. But as I understand it, when people go on Hajj, there is a great trial of patience, of not being irritated, of making excuses, and not overreacting with anger, and perhaps we need the same attitude when opposing perspectives jostle, shove, and push for our attention.
When our students of knowledge, our imams, and our scholars can embody this spirit of cooperation and good thinking of ahlul whatever (ra’y or hadeeth), then insha’Allah it will come down to those of us who are unlearned of the masses. And when you see us, the masses, become partisan, we desperately need to see an example of a person who both takes a strong stance and is secure and mature enough within himself or herself that they acknowledge the other person’s stance with good speech about them while maintaining the choice they have made for themselves.
May Allah give us all success in this life and the next, and the wisdom to know and the endurance to follow what is most pleasing to Him.
May the Peace of Almighty God be upon you akhi,
You are right and I was wrong and contradicting my own philosophy. I’m glad i have brothers like you to remind me. 🙂 I need to phrase my frustrations with dissenting opinions in a more respectful and intellectual manner so as to give more credit to my argument.
Assalamu alaykum Sh. Suhaib and all,
I believe that within the replies, people have gotten the impression that your answer does imply that Muslims should not have a problem celebrating Thanksgiving indefinitely, and thus the objection (especially in Abu Jannah’s response and others).
What I believe you were saying – Allah knows best – is that the person asking this question may participate within this celebration as a form of social event to bring his parents closer to him and hopefully convey the message to them over the time. I don’t believe that your answer implies that this individual – or any other Muslim for that matter – should initiate the celebration within his household and practice it as a regular form of celebration.
If you could possibly emphasize that – if I have gotten it correctly – then I believe a greater part of the argument would vanish.
Jazakom Allah kol khair for the great work …
It would be really interesting to read a response to the comment posted above by brother Siraj!
To be honest, after reading about the purpose of Thanksgiving (to show gratitude for the success of young America, and to pray for its continuing success), I find the only way to do that is to make a supplication to Allah such as the following:
“O’ Allah, I praise You and thank You for everything, particularly for the success of our national government in the past and in the present; and o’ Allah, I ask you to guide our government to rule with wisdom and fairness” referring of course to the government of the United States.
Now I don’t see anything wrong with that du’aa itself, but what interests me is whether it’s permissible to designate one specific day during the year to make this specific du’aa (isn’t this an innovation of a religious action?)
Secondly, it’s important to note Lincoln’s reinforcement of Washington’s proclamation. Lincoln invited people to give “Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Although George Washington himself did not say we should be thankful to Jesus Christ (rather, he generally advised people to pray and thank Almighty God), Washington still signed the Proclamation “in the year of our Lord,” Doesn’t that imply that he believed in Jesus as God, and does that even matter, since he only generally asked people to pray to Almighty God?
Those are the only two points that hold me back from completely accepting Thanksgiving as a permissible holiday, but I’m honestly not sure.
Again, the two points are:
1) Would making the above du’aa be considered an innovation in the religion, considering that a specific day is designated for it?
2) Does the fact that Lincoln invited people to praise JESUS on Thanksgiving nullify Washington’s original recommendation that people pray to ALMIGHTY GOD? And does it matter that Washington himself seemed to believe in Jesus as the Lord?
Would really appreciate some answers. Jazaakum Allahu khayr!
I am so glad I read this article, because in the morning it will be the first Thanksgiving dinner I’ve shared with my parents since I became Muslim…..
I followed so strongly the opinions that we only recognize the two Eids to the “t”, and as a result, I was not able to visit with all of my family anymore, for YEARS, because in many American families, the only time people can get off work, and get together are on holidays.
So I became Muslim, hoping my family would notice some spiritual enlightenment, only to suddenly reject all family events, pretty much drop out from the family as a result, and ignore everyone’s birthdays, mothers day, father days, and all holidays. They could understand logically xmas and easter…but not the rest. (and ditching 4th of July….you try to explain THAT to someone without losing and offending them in the same sentence…)
Sometimes, when Muslims are SO QUICK to respond with all their daleel, they are failing to understand the big picture. (and I mean come on, as if Imam Suhaib isn’t aware of the commentary of Ibn Taymiyyah or others?)
What I can tell you is that my own children know we don’t celebrate this holiday as a tradition, and historically speaking, it’s not even an accurate holiday, and an insult to the Native Americans in my opinion, BUT, they know this year, we came, so for once, they can be with their grandparents, great aunt, their uncle, aunt and cousin, all under one roof, because it WILL NOT happen any other time of year except xmas in my family which I will not compromise on at all.(and I feel sad at the years they missed then their great grandmother….)
Alhamdulellah, I purchased a kosher and organically raised Turkey, and spent the night helping my mom make pumpkin pies. She turned and looked at me this evening and said “wow, this has been such a pleasure having you here. I haven’t prepared Thanksgiving dinner with anyone else except my own mother.”
My advice to all converts, and everyone out there is to always remember the hearts of people, and to speak gently, and move slowly with decisions on such matters, and to weigh out the greater damage. Do not be hasty to become a scholar over night, or post fatwas, because each person and situation may call for a different fatwa.
Thank you again for posing this article, and I ask Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, to guide all of us and make things easy for us, and grant us reward for our intentions, and forgive us our shortcomings in actions. Ameen.
As-salaamualaykum wa rahmatullah.
We need a book that deals with these type of convert issues for Westerners. New Muslims need Islamic literacy as they grapple with many issues upon conversion. We need to put a book in their hands that can give them solid answers grounded in scholarship with awareness of Western cultural norms. In an effort to follow Islam, we converts often make many mistakes that damage our relationships with other (escpecially our parents and close relatives). May Allah grant you success in your efforts and reward you.
Just because scholars differed over a matter and some say it is permissible, does not mean that you have to disregard that ‘doubtful’ feeling in your heart and jump right into thanksgiving celebrations.
Maybe it is halal , maybe not. but if a person feels doubt in their heart, they aren’t gona be sinning by not participating in thanksgiving. so don’t do it 🙂
i’m talking to born muslims in this comment by the way who have muslim families.
I’m not eating a big meal today! Temperance, my brothers and sisters! Plus, I gotta eat light so that I can get up at 4am tomorrow to get in line for the sales at Macy’s tomorrow. Insha Allah.
[…] This is not only an issue for converts but born Muslims also face these issues, which are rarely talked about in our communities. Much like so many of the important issues that get swept under the rug as we put our collective heads in the sand and pretend like they don’t exist. I can understand and respect the arguments of those who wish to dissociate from Thanksgiving Day as a matter of faith and principle but I can also understand and respect the arguments of those who take the opposite view. I’ve had both in my journey in Islam and I’m thankful for the blessing of Islam this day and every day. Suhaib Webb speaks about it here. […]
[…] So often, in the discussion points the issue of the hadith about the “two eids” was raised but rarely was the issue of joining ties with our families raised. One might say, this oversight could be in part due to the fact that many of the people we listened to, only had Muslim family and were not born and raised here in the States. Many of us had this feeling that the imported scholars and students of knowledge fresh from their studies over there and the fatawa from there was “real Islam.” And this feeling left many of us rejecting our culture, even parts that did not contradict the shariah from our names to our clothing to our food to our habits that were perfectly acceptable cultural variations. But where’s the daleel, there is some discussion about the origins of the holiday and its supposed halal-ness or haram-ness over at Suhaib Webb’s blog. […]
I’m gonna enjoy my thanksgiving meal w/ the family right now…
…and then come March 20/21, I’m gonna celebrate Now Roz w/ them too.
…’cause to my saying the Shahada makes me a Muslim, not an Arab.
99.9% of people use Thanksgiving to get together w/ family and also enjoy a four day weekend..period. If we set out on this mission to “eradicate” everything the prophet didn’t celebrate than EVERY non-Arab Muslim will be left with NOTHING of their native culture. It’s a completely ridiculous discussion…
Islam filters away that which doesn’t agree w/ Islamic precepts in the RELIGIOUS sphere. If non-Arab customs and festivals don’t contravene those limits the way they are celebrated TODAY, it’s fine in my opinion.
This is just like the total NONSENSE w/ “Islamic” clothes or “Islamic” names…
Assalamu alaykum Zai,
Are you Persian or Afghan? I am actually a Persian convert myself; my family is non-Muslim, but they love celebrating Nowrooz. But I always thought that celebrating Nowrooz was much more problematic than, say, celebrating Thanksgiving, because, as I understand, Nowrooz is actually a specifically delegated Zoroastrian religious day/festival. Even though it is celebrated more by Persian Muslims than it is by Zoroastrians now a days, that is simply more because there aren’t that many Zoroastrians left anymore. Thus, I always thought celebrating Nowrooz was always more like celebrating Christmas (a specific Christian religious day), not like celebrating Thanksgiving (which there is debate as to whether it is a religious day or not).
I would be very interested to know what you have read about this, as, from my understanding, since Nowrooz is a Zoroastrian religious festival, celebrating it would be just as bad as celebrating Christmas, and both would be prohibited. There is room for difference for celebrating something like Thanksgiving, but not for Christmas nor (as I understand) Nowrooz.
See this link about the origins of Nowrooz:
Very interested in hearing your thoughts.
Salaam. In regards to the fatwa, how about Valentines day? It used to be religious in nature but now it is just a commercialized holiday like Thanksgiving to send your loved ones chocolate and flowers. As Muslims we are encouraged to love each other and Valentines day is just a day to rejoice in expressing your love.
We can now also have an xmas tree because it is not religious in nature. I mean when did Peter or Paul ever have a tree in their house to celebrate the birth of Jesus? How do we even know that Jesus’s birthday was even on December 25th? Xmas is just a day to exchange gifts and as Muslims we are encouraged to give gifts to each other.
Basically the fatwa is opening the door for all major U.S. holidays except for Hannukah, Easter, and Rosh Hannah.
Christmas is a day Christianized by the catholic church after its pagan origins, but till today it is widely a day of Christian worship celebrating the birth of Jesus. Their songs and sermons for this occasion are filled with the Lord is born, son of God etc… It is clearly a Christian Holiday.
Read the end of this about valentines day- http://www.virtualmosque.com/personaldvlpt/purification-heart/love-in-islam/
The Muslims of News Jersey were feeding the poor some halal turkey. There is no deviant religious doctrine involved in this celebration. It is a time for everyone of all faiths to be thankful for what God has given them. I do not believe it is forbidden in Islam. Allah knows best.
In Islam, the intention is more important than the deed. Is avoiding one’s parents, neglecting their wishes, being a source of their discontent and happiness being true to the values of Islam? Is eating turkey somehow a violation? With the right intention, it can be a wonderful event.
If anyone tries to turn the day into something akin to a religious observance not including anything Islamic (!) then that bad intention will have bad consequences.
I pray for Muslims who think that spending Christmastime with their non-Muslim families is something that should be decided by a third party.
tauseef: I think two issues are being conflated here. Namely (1) actually visiting your family when they happen to be gathering at any time of the year (whether or not it happens to fall around Christmas time, Thanksgiving time, or any other time) and (2) celebrating holidays. I view the 2 as completely different issues, which should not be mixed together, but in many of the comments above, they have. I wrote the following comment on a related post at muslimmatters.org:
I think an important distinction needs to made here, one which seems to have been overlooked at the discussion over at virtualmosque.com. Namely, the distinction about whether one visits his non-Muslim family on some day during the year when they happen to be gathering and whether one actually celebrates.
For me, whenever I am able to (have the time off from work/school etc), I make an attempt to visit my (non-Muslim) family. If they all happen to be gathering around Thanksgiving or Christmas time, then that is the time that I go visit. And if they happen to be eating dinner at home, I join them in eating a pretty delicious dinner (keeping it halal, of course). If this happens to occur on the days around Thanksgiving or Christmas (or on those days themselves), it certainly does not mean I am celebrating those occasions! It just means I am eating dinner with my family 🙂 .
Of course, we don’t join in the “rituals” of their celebrations, if they happen to be participating in any. So on Thanksgiving, if they say a Thanksgiving prayer, or if they go around the table saying “what I am thankful for” (they don’t really do that), we generally don’t join in such things. Likewise, if they go to church for Thanksgiving (which they do sometimes), of course we do not go with them. And likewise, we don’t join in any Christmas prayer, or opening up of Christmas gifts, or anything like that. Of course, if we haven’t seen them in a while, we would out of courtesy bring a gift with us, but we would give it to them on the day we arrive, and they’d open it right away. We wouldn’t let the fact that Christmas is around the corner prevent us from bringing them gifts.
I think a clear distinction needs to be made between these two concepts: (1) getting together with your family when they happen to be getting together (whether or not it is around holiday time) and (2) actually celebrating the holiday. We do number (1) whenever we can; we don’t do number (2), and they understand, alhamdulillah. I feel the two issues got heavily conflated over at the discussion at SW.com, and that probably added to the confusion of many. Allah knows best 🙂
Thank you for your concerns and important points. I’m not sure I understand what you are using to as usul to come to this conclusion- a distinction between celebrating this day and visiting one’s parents? I simply hold that this day is permissible for a Muslim to observe without an restrictions unless they do something against the fundamentals of our faith or an established consensus. However, I found great benefit in your contention and was hoping you could build on it more? I acknowledge the validity of the opinion of those who oppose this since it was held by many great scholars- Majdu Din Ibn Taymiyyah, his grand son and others (ra). However, based on what I was taught and the reality of my circumstance, I do not follow their opinion.
I assume you’re are busy, but I appreciate you taking the time to bring up his point.
Assalamu alaykum Imam Suhaib,
JazakAllahu khayran for your response. When I was making the distinction between visiting one’s parents and celebrating the holiday, that was more with regards to the comments being made here, not the original post. That is: it seems many people are interpreting the opinion of “it is not allowed to celebrate Thanksgiving” as being equivalent to “it is not allowed to visit your family and eat dinner with them on Thanksgiving if they happen to be celebrating it that day.” I was endeavoring to make a clear distinction between those two points, because it seems many people in the comments have been conflating the two, whereas, at least to me, it is clear that it is always allowed to visit your family and eat dinner with them, no matter what day of the year.
With regards to whether or not it is permissible to actually celebrate Thanksgiving, the reason I personally feel wary about calling it permissible is because of the religious overtones I feel when I see people celebrating it. As such, my guess is that this has less to do with the different classical opinions among scholars, and more to do with one’s judgment of reality. i.e. if the verdict on Thanksgiving hinges on whether or not it is a ‘religious’ celebration, then different people with differing experiences of the celebration of Thanksgiving by others (perhaps due to living in different parts of the country) can very easily arrive at differing conclusions. Person A may have always seen his American friends celebrate in a secular manner, and thus arrive at the conclusion that it is a secular day and permissible to observe. Person B may have always seen other Americans celebrating it as a religious day (complete with “Thanksgiving Church dinner and worship”) and thereby reach the conclusion that it is not permissible to observe since he has seen it as a religious holiday. Thus, it seems that one very important factor is one’s experiences and judgments of reality, in coming to a conclusion about whether or not it is permissible to celebrate this day.
A second, independent point, would be about whether or not it is permissible to celebrate a holiday that is indeed totally secular, due to interpreting the prophetic statement “Our celebrations our two” as generalizing to any ‘Eid or periodic celebration (where Eid is taken at its literal import as “that which is returned to.”) The discussion on the permissibility of celebrating AlRajabiyyah (presumably a secular holiday) seems pertinent here. As I understand the scholars have differed on this second point, and I am not venturing to guess or decide which is the correct opinion here, Allah knows best (as always). But I am interested in learning about how the different madhahib have viewed this issue and the relevant evidences for each side. It is my guess, from your comment, that Sh. ibn Taymiyyah (rh) held the view that observing a non-religious holiday would not be permissible? Again, I do not really adhere to one opinion or the other on this second point, but am interested in learning what the differences have been (which is why I was also asking about al-Rajabiyyah as a classical example).
In summary, I see really 3 different points in this issue, which should be separated to give the best total understanding of the issues at hand:
(1) Can you visit your family and hang out with them on a day that they are celebrating some holiday? (where I think the answer is, of course, always yes, even at Christmas).
(2) Is Thanksgiving a religious or secular holiday? From the above discussion, the answer to this question is debatable and seems to depend on an individual’s (or group’s) experiences. If it is a secular holiday, then there would be room for saying it is permissible to observe, but if it is deemed to be a religious holiday, then my understanding is that observing it would be impermissible without a doubt (so, for example, celebrating Xmas could not be permissible).
(3) Is it permissible to celebrate/observe non-religious, secular periodic holidays (such as alRajabiyyah or July 4th)? (My guess is there is difference of opinion between scholars here, which I would like to learn more about)
I think the three points above summarize the way I perceive the issue. Anyways, jazakum Allahu khayran again Imam Suhaib for your response. If you did enjoy turkey on Thursday, I hope it was delicious :). (You’re right that I am pretty busy, so apologies if I don’t see your response right away)
As a human being born into the American culture (not a vacuum), I celebrated Thanksgiving and I did say what I was thankful for (isnt it called Thanksgiving for a reason?). I find this whole fear of people making it a religious holiday completely unfounded–I have never met a Muslim who said Thanksgiving was fard or part of Islamic ritual (myself included). At the end of the day we need to consult our conscience. This whole debate represents our schizophrenic approach to culture as Muslims. We are so confused about its place in our lives that we prefer to dismiss all culture as the antithesis to Islam. We lack a critical mass of indigenous ulama who can give us a refined view of culture that distinguishes blameworthy from admirable cultural practices. Umar Faruq Abdullah, Imam Suhaib, and a few others are the light just now appearing through the cracks. Now hopefully the pseudo-intellectuals among us will not plug up the cracks in the name of “identity Islam.”
[…] being discussed is the validity of celebrating Thanksgiving on sites including Muslim Matters and Suhaib Webb. Only ten years ago there would have been no question as to the impermissibility of participating in […]
Shaykh al-‘Allaamah Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen:
[Ruling on celebrating non-Muslim holidays and congratulating them.]
Can a muslim celebrate a non muslim holiday like Thanksgiving?
Praise be to Allaah.
Greeting the kuffaar on Christmas and other religious holidays of theirs is haraam, by consensus, as Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said in Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah: “Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is haraam by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on. Many of those who have no respect for their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or bid’ah or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allaah.”
Congratulating the kuffaar on their religious festivals is haraam to the extent described by Ibn al-Qayyim because it implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of kufr, even if one would not accept those things for oneself. But the Muslim should not aceept the rituals of kufr or congratulate anyone else for them, because Allaah does not accept any of that at all, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“If you disbelieve, then verily, Allaah is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you. . .”
“. . . This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion . . .”
So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise.
If they greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to Allaah. These festivals are innovations in their religions, and even those which may have been prescribed formerly have been abrogated by the religion of Islaam, with which Allaah sent Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to the whole of mankind. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]
It is haraam for a Muslim to accept invitations on such occasions, because this is worse than congratulating them as it implies taking part in their celebrations.
Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the kuffaar by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtidaa’ al-siraat al-mustaqeem mukhaalifat ashaab al-jaheem: “Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak.”
Whoever does anything of this sort is a sinner, whether he does it out of politeness or to be friendly, or because he is too shy to refuse, or for whatever other reason, because this is hypocrisy in Islaam, and because it makes the kuffaar feel proud of their religion.
Allaah is the One Whom we ask to make the Muslims feel proud of their religion, to help them adhere steadfastly to it, and to make them victorious over their enemies, for He is the Strong and Omnipotent.
Majmoo’ah Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, (3/369)
I am glad someone said this. JazakaAllaah kul khair for posting this Slave of Allaah.
Can you comment on this Hadith:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr: “Whoever lives in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their New Year and their festivals, and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.”
قال عبد الله بن العاص من بنى بأرض المشركين وصنع نيروزهم ومهرجاناتهم وتشبه بهم حتى يموت خسر في يوم القيامة
It is not a Hadith, but the opinion of a man about which other men disagree. There is no solid text against celebrating Thanksgiving, just Ijtihad of scholars. Whichever opinion you feel is stronger then you may follow. If you aren’t sure then take the easier as Aishah said, The Prophet was never faced with two options except he took the easier of the two as long as their was no sin. There is a consensus among scholars that to follow a Mufti is permissible thus no sin in it either way. Some of these posts seem to want to invalidate the other. Its not going to happen!
Or you know what, the easiest way for everyone is to just stick to what Prophet Muhammad said regarding us Muslims having two celebrations. Now isn’t that even safer than what any Mufti anywhere at any point in time says?
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allāh have mercy upon him) said: it is not permissible for the Muslims to attend the festivals of the mushrikīn, according to the consensus of the scholars whose words carry weight. The fuqahā’ who follow the four schools of thought have stated this clearly in their books… Al-Bayhaqī narrated with a sahīh isnād from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattāb that he said: “Do not enter upon the mushrikīn in their churches on the day of their festival, for divine wrath is descending upon them.” And ‘Umar also said: “Avoid the enemies of Allāh on their festivals.” Al-Bayhaqī narrated with a jayyid isnād from ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr that he said: “Whoever settles in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their new year and festival and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahkām Ahl al-Dhimmah, 1/723-724).
Ive read all the posts made to this article, and i am fascinated by all statements. Weather their for or against thanksgiving.
But both discussions weather for or against thanksgiving sort of equals a draw, between the evidence against thanksgiving stated with clear hadiths and consensus of the scholars or thee evidence stated with some evidence and more of a opinionated flow. I believe it sort of like a draw.
I’d would personally just follow the simple hadith.
“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.”
And obviously thanksgiving is a discussion which leaves people at doubt, b/c at the end of the day we as humans beings dont know the “100%” of truth, and have to be careful of what decisions we make.
P.s im not the “haram police” and there’s nothing like em.
“…I believe it sort of like a draw….”
“…I’d would personally just follow the simple hadith…”
When it comes to the Deen of Allah, there is nothing like a draw. The Deen is not a “opinion poll” but it’s about submitting to the Revelation of Allah.
( وَمَا ٱخۡتَلَفۡتُمۡ فِيهِ مِن شَىۡءٍ۬ فَحُكۡمُهُ ۥۤ إِلَى ٱللَّهِۚ ذَٲلِكُمُ ٱللَّهُ رَبِّى عَلَيۡهِ تَوَڪَّلۡتُ وَإِلَيۡهِ أُنِيبُ )
“And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allâh (He is the ruling Judge). (And say O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم to these polytheists:) Such is Allâh, my Lord in Whom I put my trust, and to Him I turn (in all of my affairs and) in repentance.” [Ash-Shura 42:10]
‘Allamah as-Sa’adi rahimahullah commented on this, “This verse is an obvious evidence that the consensus of the Ummah on any thing is a valid proof that should be applied, because Allah [may He be Glorified] did not command us to return to His Book except when there is a difference regarding anything. Whatever the Ummah agreed upon should therefore be adopted because the entire Ummah cannot agree on an error or on something that contradicts the rulings of the Book of Allah or the Sunnah of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم).”
The hadeeth that is used to prove Ijmaa’ is the saying of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) “My Ummah will not unite upon error.” [Reported by Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Majah, Haakim and others – Sahih)
“And obviously thanksgiving is a discussion which leaves people at doubt, b/c at the end of the day we as humans beings dont know the “100%” of truth, and have to be careful of what decisions we make.”
‘Ulama’, as I quoted earlier above, have already made ijmaa’ (consensus) that it is haraam for us to attend the festivals of the mushrikīn. So this should not leave us doubting the impermissibility of attending their festivals.
So at the end of the day we as Muslims do know the “100%” of truth!
Imam Ahmad said before his long later student Ibn Al-Qayyim that whoever claims a consensus has lied. Other than among the companions there can hardly be the means in our history to claim an authoritative consensus. So what he means is that all of the scholars I know said haram. All scholars in saudi say Niqab is fard so to them it is a consensus, but if they traveled next door to Egypt they would see quite different.
I find it strange that people have forgotton that the Prophet salallahu alahy wa salam told us to be kind to our parents and respectful to them and to uphold the ties of kinship, BUT if they asked us to disobey Allaah subhana wa taAllah then we should not listen to them in that, rather we obey Allaah swt first and foremost.
I hope all the folks giving thanks remember the drones that are killing their muslim brothers and sisters in far away lands too. so when you sit down to that turkey maybe think about them a little, and also think about the other muslims being killed by those thankful people sitting down to their turkeys, those in Iraq, i wonder if they would feel happy about their muslim brothers and sisters sitting down for turkey on that day.
You can keep in touch with family without falling into doubtful matters, it will take more time and effort but at least you wont have those doubts about ‘is it ok? is it not? am i sinning?’ etc
The fact that the natives were almost wiped out, i wonder do they sit down for the turkey with a big smile on their faces?
maybe if it had been our land that was taken and our families killed we might feel a little different.
Has anyone stopped to realize that Thanksgiving is just the American cultural/popular name given to the same, generic human being practice of celebrating the harvest? I see many people associating Thanksgiving with the story of the white European colonization of the Americas, but why do we have to buy into the mythology that this is what it is really about? People all over the world celebrate the harvest in some way or another, this is not an inherently “non Muslim” thing to do, it is an inherently HUMAN thing to do .
As for “whoever imitates a people is one of them”… well, hmm… what would I be “imitating” here… a human being who is dependent on the harvest is what I am, a person who thanks God for that harvest that I am too… a person who lives in an area where the harvest takes place in October-November…check… an American by culture, check. Some of you are creating a false dichotomy by suggesting that to “imitate Americans” automatically means “imitating un-Islamic practices”. Many of us need to get out of the rut of the idea that to be a Muslim means to have no culture whatsoever, that by becoming Muslim we automatically become bland, standardized robots.
Maybe a lot of these people do not live in the USA – Thanksgiving is not a holiday for a specific holiday for any religion, rather it is for all religions to be thankful for what they have from whoever they like. So, Muslims would be thankful to Allah SWT for his bountiful blessing. Also, their needs to be a line drawn when it comes to imitating the “mushrikeen.” For example, Thanksgiving is a holiday that encourages many good things. Now if we are forbidden from celebrating it, then we should forbid ourselves from doing anything they do good or bad. For example, if they have a national volunteering day, we shouldn’t do it because that would be imitating the mushrikeen. Obviously this makes no sense, and the rules in Islam ALWAYS make sense. Only Allah knows best and I hope him to accept whatever we believe is right from all sides.
“There is a legitimate scholarly difference surrounding this issue.”
If folks would have ponder on this and understood it well, a lot of time would have been saved.
Assalamualaikum brothers and sisters,
Islam is a very humane and compassionate way of life sent to us by The Creator, the Most Compassionate. So I take this matter in a very diplomatic way.
I believe there is a freedom for everyone to follow whichever rulings (fiqh) that they feel strongly for based on Al-Quran and the Sunnah and also taking into matter of the opinions of many muktabar scholars. Choose whichever rulings that you feel best to please Allah, and respect the decisions of those who have a different set of opinions.
If you are doubtful about this, then leave the matter alone for it is best for your iman. So there’s no need to fight. May Allah have mercy on us and may He guide all of us to the right path.
Thanks to all brothers and sisters for thoughtful and helpful discussion. I am a revert born in America to a Christian mother and an unbelieving Jewish father. When I reverted I stopped participating in Christmas and Easter entirely, recognizing them as religious holidays although they had never been religious for me. I still go to Thanksgiving sometimes, not eating forbidden food; it was never religious in my family, and it carries less meaning for me now that I am thanking Allah many times every day. I always thought of Thanksgiving as a very flexible American holiday, for immigrants as well as those born here, and having a lot more to do with the harvest than with national mythology. I say “God” when I am speaking English and thinking of Allah. When my mother was sick and weak, dependent on me to take her wherever she needed to go, and she wanted to go to church, I went to church with her, pushing her wheelchair and fetching a hymn-book for her. Of course I did not say the Credo or take communion or worship Jesus as God; I looked for the parts of the service that we share with them — don’t think there is nothing! — and ignored the rest. As far as I know, if I sit in a church and say sura el-fatiha Allah can still hear me, and I don’t stop reaching for Allah no matter where I am. May God forgive us our sins and help us to be and do right.
If anyone would just read about the origins of Thanksgiving one would come to the conclusion that is a religious holiday based upon the fact that it is a mix of Native American and European traditions for giving thanks to God for a good harvest.
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My exact opinion.
sweet potato pies, from scratch – what!?! I’m getting downnnn in the kitchen today alhamduliilah!! hahha, thanks for this!
Oh my God. Listen people. I am a revert too. I was born into an American household and with an American family that celebrates all kinds of holidays. If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving then do so; but the fact that people make it okay and make it something that looks like it’s okay to do is completely wrong. Many people already stated evidence that celebrating Thanksgiving is haraam; what more is there to say?
It’s really time for people to stop making excuses. I actually cannot believe that people are actually having a debate over this; sorry if I am being offensive, but it’s true. And if nobody is telling you now, I am. For something that can be easily be in the category of ‘doubt’ or in most cases, easily put in the case of ‘haraam’, people still want to find ways to make themselves feel better about it.
It’s really really time for people to stop making excuses. If you want to celebrate a holiday, no one is allowed to judge you by your actions. But giving excuses and making reasons why it shouldn’t be haraam just so it can please you and whoever want to celebrate is not the answer. People always just want to hear what they want to hear.
I want to celebrate Christmas. I want to celebrate Mother’s Day. I wish I could celebrate my own birthday, Halloween and Thanksgiving. But you know what? I don’t. I don’t have to use those days and those excuses to spend time with my non-Muslim family. These holidays are NOT the only way for people to connect with their family so please stop making it the excuse.
“Thanksgiving is just a holiday of harvest and/or giving thanks to Allah (swt) and everyone you love.”
^ People, we should be giving thanks to Allah (swt) every day of our lives, not just one day. Just like Mother’s Day, we’re supposed to be kind to our mother all the time, not just one day. Why should there be this one exclusive holiday for you to give thanks to Allah (swt) for everything when as a Muslim, one should be giving thanks any time of the year? Again, excuses.
“It was not EXPLICITLY stated that it was haraam.”
^ Well, it wasn’t EXPLICITLY stated that gelatin made of pork is haraam. We were only told to avoid pork. Does it make it okay? It wasn’t explicitly stated that Muslims should not chat with the opposite sex like on dating websites, we were only told to avoid speaking with the opposite sex. Does it make it okay to join these websites? And besides, there is ENOUGH doubt for one to really make the right conclusion.
Seriously, if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving, it is wrong for anyone to judge you, but if you try to make excuses and make it okay just to make yourself feel relieved about whether or not it’s haraam, then you’re doing something wrong.
May Allah guide use all, May Allah guide us to the straight path.
ppl. quit arguing, and go do something that will actually benefit you like dhikr or memorize Quran. i think the Shayhks’ points are very clear and it does not behoove us to argue so much over them. some people here are so against celebrating thanksgiving. okay. well, what have you done to share Eid, our celebration, with others and make it accessible? My Christian neighbors used to bring me a plate of sweets at Christmas. how bout sharing some of that biryani and baklava with your neighbors so that Eid would become a point for sharing and “breaking bread”, the way that Thanksgiving is.
[…] traditions, such as Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving — some say no while others say there’s no prohibition to celebrate other holidays outside of the religious […]
JazakAllah Khayr for the information.
[…] of our faith. For those of you who are still on the fence about Thanksgiving and Islam, here is Imam Suhaib Webb’s opinion along with the opinions of some different madhabs on the topic of T…. If you are a revert to Islam, use this time to spend being a part of your family even if your […]
[…] interested in finding out more about our relationship to this holiday as Muslims, Imam Suhaib wrote an article you might […]
It’s Muharram. The month in which Allah’s Final Messenger fasted the most outside of Ramadhan. It’s a Thursday. One of the days we are recommended to fast on a regular basis. I look forward to feasts on our ‘Eids, the days in which our Prophet stated substituted for other eids. I am an American convert of over 30 years. Our Messenger would fast differently than others who were also ordered to fast before us, and to make it a POINT to differ from those previous communities. My non-Muslim family and the culture that I grew up in has me in a position since I am living in the US that their practices already have a greater impact on my life than I do on theirs. Holding proudly and tightly onto Islam and standing out and up for it is getting like holding onto hot coals. I can invite my family for eids or other days if I really want them to come together or be with them or want my children to know them or want to give them da’wah on my terms or where I have a real say and a likelihood to be listened to. Such an event can be planned well in advance (years even) so they can take the day off or travel as can I. I want to put more effort into OUR ‘Eids than theirs. I fasted today and I pray it was accepted.
Why do we require a holiday like thanksgiving or any other non-muslim festival to forge better relations with our non-muslim family? Allah SWT has given us other days in which we can invite them or go to their place to sit, talk and enjoy with them and hence improve our relationships and consequently invite them to Islam.
I am no scholar like Imam Suhaib, but he did say, “a thing is permissible unless prohibited by a clear text.” I think that’s pretty clear. Too many of us want to be the haram police. We have to reach out to people and we have to reach out them in at least a little bit of the way and forum they used to bond. For example, I used to hear, “English is the language of the people of the fire….” So how is anyone who speaks “the language of hell supposed to learn about Islam? Even after we do get Islam as English speakers, how are we supposed to grow as Muslims, if our culture and even our language are ruled as haram? After I finish showing my relatives how I will not celebrate Thanksgiving with them, do you really think they will welcome me with open arms during the Eids? Islam is the middle path. Let’s stop the silly stuff. The tense moment we need guidance with is that they insist on praying at the dinner table. So the question is not whether we sit and dine with our relatives, but what our exact behavior should be when they insist on praying over the food. Let’s be grown up middle path Muslims and stop the extremism. We have enough problems just trying to reach out to people without creating unnecessary walls.
I agree…. In Australia we don’t celebrate thanksgiving. But any occasion to share and care with our parents should be encouraged and treasured.
“Nothing is made forbidden except with a clear text.” This is enough for the discussion.
I concur in part. The original intent of this day is not was not to give thanks with a turkey or raoming chicken. Instead it was a day resulting from landing on a land that wa thought to be non-existent. those who landed were sentence to death on the seas for crimes against the spanish government. they happened on this new land a apeople their and in their joy decided to take some of them back home to prove their clain to the sentencing government. this acquisition almost certainly meant enslavement. Methods were devised which resulted in the contless loss of lives… thereafter, the day became a day misnomered Discovery and then of Thanks. So god has very little to do with this day, and i see no reason you should equate the two. eating then, is not only fine, but normal…
If you look into the history of Thanksgiving day, you’ll find that the root of this day comes from a religious holiday. I don’t see how it is ok to take part in ANY celebration with the non Muslims! If you wanna give dawah or bond with the family, why not on the day of Jummah, the best day ever & it comes every week. Mother’s Day!? Really? As a Muslim woman & a Muslim mother, I find it an insult to pick one day out of 365 days to make me feel speceal considering Janna is under the feet of our mothers, SubhanAllah we mothers deserve much more!
Masha Allah. This is the true mindset of a Muslim.
S/he prefers to please Allah in place of set of rules, cultures, system, etc.
I understand your point of view brother but didn’t Allah command us to respect and love our parents? The people who want to celebrate this holiday with their parents are not doing so to put culture before Allah. In fact, they want to honor Allah by honoring their parents as He commanded. If you have ever witnessed Thanksgiving in a non-Muslim household you will find that, in most cases, it is simply a family gathering where a meal is shared.
It is not fair to cast doubt on whether these Muslims have a “true” Muslim mindset as well. You do not know the struggles they are facing with their non-Muslim family and insha’Allah their intentions are in the right place. May Allah protect us all from that which is displeasing to Him and give us ease in that which pleases Him. May He accept the efforts of the reverts to His path, to honor their parents and may he open the eyes and hearts of their family to Islam.
JAK to Imam Suhaib for this relevant topic and for showing both views and the supporting evidence. As the child of a revert I love all my family, my non-Muslim family included, for Allah’s sake. I had recently began wondering upon this topic myself so greatly appreciate this insight.
Alhamdu lillah, let me first thank brother Suhaib for all of his hard work in supporting the Muslim ummah. I would ask him to speak to the following hadith and how it relates to the permissibility of celebrating non-Islamic holidays:
Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrated: The Prophet (pbuh) came to Madinah during two days in which they played. The Prophet (pbuh) asked: What are these two days? They said: These are two days we used to play in, during the time of ignorance. The Prophet (pbuh) said: Allah has replaced them with two better days: Eid al-Adha and Eid al- Fitr.” (Abu Duwood, Ahmad and Ibn Hajar al-’ Asqalani)
That Lincoln speech was pretty good. If he just readjusted he Aqidah a little it would a be a nice model text.
I would like to say that I believe that Imam Suhaib Webb did a great job in answering this question, and indeed Allah allows for some legitimate difference for people with different situations. But a point I wanted to make was in regards to the Thanksgiving narrative, which undermines the oppression done on Native Americans. The cultural aspects people may celebrate is fine, but some of the ideas that are spread regarding this holiday should not be accepted by muslims. Many times they teach that the pilgrims ate with the native americans and that they gave thanks, the reality is far from it and as people who care about issues of justice and oppression we should be wary of these ideas and counter them.
[…] Can I Give Thanks & Throw Down on Some Turkey this Week? […]
Check the link below which is a fatwa by Dr.Salah Al-Sawy, who is the President of the Sharia Academy and the Secretary General for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America. I am sure he is well aware of the history of the holiday.
JazkAllah khayr O H for introducing me to this wonderful scholar. His name seemed to be familiar with me and I thought: Is this the scholar who contributed to Jumuah Magazine Fatwa Section and surely he was after a Google search.
This IS the real scholar that American Muslims should be taking Fatwas from not apologists.
I respect alot Imam Suhaib but I would not agree with all of his Fatwas especially on controversial issues like this one.
You guys have no idea what is like to be muslim in a Christian family! I thank ALLAH for enlightened, well educated scholars like suhaib webb.Subhanallah
“The thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in english traditions dating from the protestant reformation.” Wikipedia
How can a Muslim who takes the middle path of moderation between extemists and apologists engage in celebrations other than the two Eids?.
A Muslim may give in to desires and then soonafter asks for forgiveness from Allah but not to rituals or celebrations that are rooted in Kufr.
A Muslim, individually prefers to please Allah instead of set of rules or systems that contadict Islam.
Alhamdulilah for differing opinions. The prophet (s) said that differing opinions are a mercy for the ummah. We should accept the different opinions of the rightly guided scholars and the right to follow any one of them. We may not agree with each other but at least respect these rights.
I would just like to point out that haram is not a bad word. So folks thinking it haram should not be chastised here in the comments in such a dismissive way. Also agree 100% that you need evidence to state that something is haram.
Sheikh Suhaib said “There is a legitimate scholarly difference surrounding this issue.” That means that the view it is haram is accommodated within his view of what’s valid in Islam, though the details weren’t explicitly elaborated on.
Sheikh Suhaib also stated “Those who hold it permissible also note that the statement of the Prophet ﷺ, “Our holidays are two” is not a prohibition to celebrate other holidays outside of the religious sphere.” That means that the ‘other side’ of the argument viewed this evidence as prohibiting additional holidays. Also, the context of this hadith was a celebration that was occurring in Madinah that was unfamiliar to the Prophet saws.
Doesn’t need to be haram or halal to me, but let’s not dismiss the nuances because we take a view.
Well said Greg. As an Australian I do not celebrate thanksgiving, as we believe it is an American tradition. My family however, get together on set dates throughout the year (I have 9 siblings spread across Australia…. A huge distance to travel), we meet on the first Sunday of every season (and other times as well) to eat, talk and generally celebrate being together and the gift Allah gave us of our family.
At Christmas the same thing occurs. Some members of my family attend church, others do not. Some celebrate “Jesus Birthday” others celebrate Turkey. All of us celebrate that God gave us a family to eat, sit and laugh with.
If I were American I would celebrate with turkey and pumpkin pie (I learned to cook it to see what all the hype in American movies was about!) thanking Allah for my family.
Thanksgiving, regardless of its origins brings families together. Thank Allah for that.
Slm, denying visit your parents during their important festivals, because islam says so.. Now, there are differences of opinion regarding this, alhamdulilleh. Place yourself in your parents position, if you invited them on your festival and they refused – wouldn’t you be sad?