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.
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 [may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him] up until the third century A.H. and the jurist differed on its ruling. The Hanabali’s considered it permissible, while the Malikis held it to be disliked.
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
JazakumAllah khair for the honest, balanced approach to the topic. With all due respect, I would like to ask if the origins of a holiday are pagan or religious, but they change over time to no longer being of religious nature, does this make the holidays are simply cultural customs that are acceptable? I ask because other events like Halloween are no longer pagan in nature, and very questionable Islamically.
In my research of Mother’s Day, I found the following information showing that Mother’s Day was pagan and Christian in orignal until the US started practicing it for other reasons (noted below). Even the original woman who began the movement for Mother’s Day was disgusted with how it became a materialistic, corporate opportunity for profit.
Mother’s Day in Various Times and Cultures:
A number of ancient cultures paid tribute to mothers as goddesses, including the ancient Greeks, who celebrated Rhea, the mother of all gods. The ancient Romans also honored their mother goddess, Cybele, in a notoriously rowdy springtime celebration
• Ancient Greeks – Mother Worship – paid tribute to mothers as goddesses.
• Ancient Romans – Matronalia Holiday, dedicated to Juno, Roman goddess of marriage and queen of the gods, though mothers were usually given gifts on this day.
• Europe, UK, Ireland – Mother’s Day began not as a celebration for individual mothers but rather for Christians – for kids to visit their moms at church while being away from home as a result of being servants in distant cities. Mothering Sunday featured reunification of mothers and their children at their “mom’s church”
• US, women wanted more sanitary conditions for work.
• 1914 President Woodrow Wilson – day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.
• “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit,” Anna Jarvis (one of the founders of Mother’s Day in America)
Anyway, I don’t think its a big deal, but at least research of the origins of various practices should go into effect before fatawa are passed.
Regardless of the ruling, may Allah make us from those who honor and respect our parents the way we have been commanded.
i just found this
I would like to know if it is permissible in Islam for a married couple to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Answered by Sheikh Sâmî al-Mâjid
After a careful study of the rulings pertaining to unlawful festivals and holidays, it appears to me that these rulings concern those occassions that have a single date for all the people in society – like all of the people residing in the country or who are attibuted to it – so that the day that is specified for the festival is a conspicuous, public event where the people make a public show of joy and celebration. Such festivals and holidays resemble the `îd days in Islam, and such are the holidays that are prohibited, in my opinion.
The prohibition of such days is evidenced by the hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) arrived at Madinah and found that they had two festive days wherein they would play and enjoy themselves. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah – Most Blessed and High – has replaced them with what is better: `Îd al-Fitr and `Îd al-Adhâ.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (1134) and Sunan al-Nasâ’î (1556)]
It is only such festivals that are celebrated by everyone on a particular day that have the qualities that resemble the `îd celebrations.
As for a person celebrating the occasion of his wedding anniversary with his wife, I do not see this as coming under the ruling of prohibited festivals. Its day is different for different couples. Therefore, it is in no way comparable to the `îd days of Islam. Each couple celebrates their marriage on a different day.
The difference between general public festivals and such particular, personal days is that with respect to the personal days, the days themselves are generally not sanctified and considered sacrosanct and there is not a wholesale public display of festivity.
Therefore, I tend to the view that there is nothing wrong with a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary as long as they do not copy the particular practices of the non-Muslims in doing so, like lighting candles for each year that they were married.
And Allah knows best.s
Assalamualaikum Imam Webb,
What would be said regarding the origins of the days with Sheikh Qaradawi’s opinion?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Day – for mother’s day.
Although the father’s day history, at least for the US date, seems fine:
Sorry If I come across as interrogative, but I’m just curious.
Imam Webb, based on your logic, wouldn’t celebrating Birthdays, wedding anniversary’s, and every other ‘non-religious’ holiday be justified?
I would appreciate a response to this.
It is interesting to note that according to the Maliki’s offering non-Muslims greetings for their holidays is disliked. It is well known that Dr. al-Qaradawi holds it permissible as do a large number of contemporary fuqaha.
I remember, 13 yrs ago asking one of my teachers, who encouraged us to do as the advice above states, “Isn’t this holiday founded on pagan customs?” His response was, “Yes, but it is not pagan anymore.”
We need to be careful brothers/sisters in engaging legal issues. A text based legal discourse is very dangerous since, without the usol, one could interpret the text, or apply it in a fashion that goes against the current of the Law Giver. It is not enough to merely bring dalil or statements from classical texts, what is needed, as noted by Dr. ‘Ali Guma, is a critical legal analysis, that not only takes the texts into consideration, but looks at the situation through the objectives of Shari’ah, the presence of needs and necessities and give credence to the environment of the questioner.
Sufyan al-Thawri said, “Making things burdensome and difficult on people is the realm of the masses. Facilitation and ease is the realm of the Faqih.”
Aby Hamzah, the question about birthdays and other “non-religious” holidays was answered in one of the earlier posts by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah:
wa Alaykum Salaam
Jazak Allahu Khair. I have a question. How do we understand the permisibillity of what you are saying in light of the fact that it is called in arabic eid of the mother. There is a hadith stating that the prophet stated that we have only 3 eid’s. To do something other than that would constitue doing something which the prophet did not legislate. I really think the principle of ease can be very dangerous. Sheikhuna Suhaib could you please respond.
Jazak Allahu Khair Sheikhuna
I think some people are not really understanding the actual basis of the opinion meted out by Shaykh Qaradawi and others. The basic claim is that that which is not contradicting Islam/Shariah and is not clearly refuted with text is permissable.
Arabs call all festive days ‘Eid’ – this is a generic term, I think the Prophet was referring to Eid’s that are religious in nature.
So, if you have a celebration that does not have its original/founding meanings attached and does not contradict Islam – then it would not be wrong to observe it – for it may hold good Islamic values (such as Mothers day). However if it promotes or encourages that which is un-Islamic, then clearly it is wrong (even if it is not religious/pagan in nature anymore) – such as Halloween.
I could be wrong, but that is how I look at it. I do not believe that we should look at things black and white and apply one fatwa across everything. Every situation or issue must be looked at individualy and assessed carefully. The scholars have taken far longer to think and study these things, they have even backed them up with textual evidence or proofs (most of which we, the ‘awam, cannot interpret), so for us to question them straight off is an insult to their effort and ‘ilm.
Here’s al-‘Allamah Bin Bayyah’s position on celebrating other holidays that use the name ‘Eid:
“Independence Day” Sh. Abdullah Bin Bayyah
“Is it allowable to celebrate a holiday that commemorates the independence of my country?”
“A holiday [that commemorates] the independence of a country is not a [religious] holiday. The holidays which are forbidden [for Muslims] to observe are those with religious overtones [such as Christmas and Easter*] not the festive gatherings people observe due to certain events. Therefore, people are allowed to celebrate wedding anniversaries, birthdays or any occasion as such celebrations are not related to religious holidays. It is imperative that we work to remove the confusion surrounding this misunderstanding and the doubts that have affected many people [regarding this issue]. [Because of this misunderstanding] people find hardship and difficulty in their religion. Especially when a religious minded person holds [such non religious celebrations] to be from the major sins or rejected acts when, in fact, they are not.
Understanding an Important legal maxim [The origin of things is permissibility unless there is a text to the contrary]
The origin of things is permissibility so there is no problem with you attending such an event. The school of Ahmed [Hanabliah] allowed the celebration of al-’Atirah which was a sacrifice, during the month of Rajab, observed by the people who lived prior to the advent of the Prophet [may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]. Although the school of Imam Malik [Malikis] considered it disliked, since it was a practice from those days, the school of Ahmed allowed this practice since there was no text [from the Qur’an, Sunna or Consensus] that explicitly forbade it. Thus, this practice remained upon its original ruling, permissibility [here the sheikh is showing us how the scholars utilized the legal maxim mentioned above]. So, if people gather together to sacrifice there is no objection for them to congregate, celebrate, enjoy themselves and commemorate the independence of their country. Therefore, there is no hardship in celebrating such occurrences.
With regards to the statement [of the Prophet may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] that “Allah [The Exalted] has given you better than those (feasts): Eid al-Adha (Sacrificing) and the ‘Eid al-Fitr”, then “those feasts” were those with strict religious over tones: one a Christian holiday and the other a pagan one. In addition, the Prophet [may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him] mentioned that the Islamic holidays were two: ‘Eid al-Fitr and ‘Eid al-Adha. But it is not understood from this that he [may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him] forbade people from gathering and celebrating [other non-religious occasions]. Even if a person considered [such gatherings] disliked there is no need for him to bother others by making things difficult that were not prohibited by the Qur’an, the Sunna, the consensus [of the scholars] and where no agreement was reached within the schools of Islamic law.
This is because ease in matters [such as these where there is no prohibition and the origin is that of permissibility] is a must, and those statements that create hardship and burden [related to such matters], that are not based on explicit texts [that prohibit them], are weak. Thus, there is nothing that prohibits us from facilitating such matters for the people and giving them some breathing room because ease and facilitation are from the foundations of Islam: Allah says, “And He did not make any hardship for you in religion.” [Surah al-Hajj 78] and “Allah wants to lighten your burdens.” [Surah al-Nisa V. 28] and “Verily, with hardship there is ease. Verily with hardship there is ease.” [Surah al-Sharh V. 5-6]. The Prophet [may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said, “Facilitate [things] and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings, and do not cause others to flee.” In closing, we reiterate that the foundation of Islam is ease and the independent interpretation of the legal sources [ijtihad of scholars] is respected but is not [equal to] texts from the Shari’ah [Qur’an and Sunna].”
May peace be upon you
Dr. Abdullah Bin Bayyah
*according to the Maliki school it is disliked to offer congratulations to other faiths during their religious holidays. Thus, it is a permissible act. See Sharh al-Saghir of Sidi Ahmed al-Dardir and Fiqh al-Malikiyyah wa Adilatuhu by Habib Tahir. [translator]
Sh. Abdullah bin bayyah has a very amazing writing style, masha-Allah!
People often remark that every day should be Mother’s Day, and indeed that is true. It is a shame that mothers are not given the respect they deserve all year round, so instituting Mother’s Day is an effort to revive this sentiment and encourage us to appreciate their innumerable favours upon us. While not a religious festival, it’s something we should approve of in sentiment.
Imagine one day they realise that nobody is worshipping God, and decide to have an annual “God Day” – I wonder how we would deal with that!
Regarding the annual celebrations such as Mother's Day and non-religious holidays, here's my 2 cents:
As you know other scholars hold the opinion that celebrating these nonreligious holidays is imitating the kuffar and we not only should not imitate them, and the same way that the Prophet (s) told us be different from Jews and do not close your eyes when you pray or do not fast just of Saturdays or Sundays for those are days of worship for the Jews and Christians, we also do not want to imitate them in their way of life, customs, and rituals.
Since Islam is a way of life there really is not religious and non-religious celebrations. Either the annual recurring celebration is in the Islamic way of life or not. For example, Iranians celebrate first day of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. They also celebrate independence day and few other such non-religious holidays. In America we have 4th of July, Thanksgiving, everyone's birthday, President's day, MLK day, wedding anniversaries, mother's day, father's day, grandmother's day, grandfather's day, secretary's day, boss's day, etc. So as Muslim Iranian Americans we will be so busy preparing for and celebrating all these annual holidays that there will be very little time for much else. To make it even more complicated if an Iranian American marries an Arab or Pakistani American they be celebrating something every day of the year. Once you open this door there is no way to limit it. All nonreligious celebrations can be included.
Islamic way of life is clear and unique. Once we begin to dilute it with other ways of life, we will end up wasting our time and resources on such trivial matters and can astray from the straight path. And Allah knows best.
Where did you study?
Hmmm…. interesting. * I came across this statement, recorded by Al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan, with a jayyid isnaad.
It is a statement of a Sahaabi, ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr. * 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.”
May Allah safeguard us all, آميــن
A few points:
1. A statement of the companions is not considered a source for Islamic law according to the majority.
2. This statement appears to have an important aspect to it and that is the threat of being raised in an evil state. This should be enough to raise it to the Prophet (sa).
3. Ibn al-Qayyim mentions this hadith in correlation with entering their churches, places of worship and it mentions nayruz, which till this day, has a strong religious connection.
4. Thus, usage of possession (Mudaf Mudafun Ileh) shows takhsis, which would imply that these were their holidays only, religious in nature.
5. As for holidays that are free from religious overtones, or those that no longer do, this is an area of difference amongst the scholars. I recently talked with Dr. Muhammad Rafat ‘Uthman who is head of the Islamic Research Dept here in Egypt and he said such holidays are permissible.
Imam al-Dhahabi added something to this is well when he said
قال الذهبي رحمه الله في رسالة “التمسك بالسنن والتحذير من البدع” :
” أما مشابهة الذِّمة في الميلاد ، والخميس ، والنيروز ، فبدعة وحشة.
فإن فَعلها المسلم تديُّناً فجاهل ، يزجر وُيعَلَّم ، وإن فعلها حُبّاً [لأهل الذِّمة] وابتهاجاً بأعيادهم فمذموم أيضاً، وإنْ فعلها عادةً ولعباً، وإرضاءً لعياله، وجبراً لأطفاله فهذا محل نظر، وإنما الأعمال بالنيَّات، والجاهل يُعذر ويبين له برفق، والله أعلم ” انتهى نقلا عن “مجلة الجامعة الإسلامية” عدد 103، 104 .
والخميس : عيد من أعياد النصارى ، ويسمونه الخميس الكبير .
It is also well known in both the Hanbali and Maliki schools that this difference is recognized and respected. For those of us with non-Muslim families, there is a great opportunity to use these times to build relations and talk about our faiths. Perhaps, since you have a Muslim name, this is something that you’ve never experienced?
[…] … is it this jug's shock after finding out that it's mother and father are one in the same? …Should we Celebrate Mother's Day/ Father's Day? Suhaib Webb …Can I celebrate Father's day? There is a legitimate scholarly difference surrounding this issue. […]
From my enquiries with local respected, well educated ulema; I have been guided accordingly – non-Muslim customs should not be practised by Muslims, this includes Birthdays, Anniversaries, Mothers/Fathers day, Bridal/Baby showers…my own analysis is such…we stand to gain nothing by celebrating as these are not from within the sunnah and are not amongst the Muslim celebrations mentioned by the Prophet (pbuh) (the two Eid’s). We stand to loose alot as perhaps Allah may become angry with our imitation of Jews, Christians and non-Muslims in general. For me every day is a day to treat my mother/father/wifeneighbours and self good…which by the standards outlayed by Islam far surpass what a non-Muslim may exhibit on a special occasion.
As salaamu alaikum,
Here is what I found on the origins of Mother’s Day: Only recently dubbed “Mother’s Day,” the highly traditional practice of honoring of Motherhood is rooted in antiquity, and past rites typically had strong symbolic and spiritual overtones; societies tended to celebrate Goddesses and symbols rather than actual Mothers. The personal, human touch to Mother’s Day is a relatively new phenomenon. The maternal objects of adoration ranged from mythological female deities to the christian church itself. Only in the past few centuries did celebrations of Motherhood develop a decidedly human focus.
Here is what I found on the origin of Father’s Day: The very first Father’s Day celebration took place in Spokane, Washington in 1910. A woman named Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon. Having lost her mother at an early age, Sonora was raised primarily by her father and thought he deserved a day of appreciation. Because her father was born in June, she chose June 19, 1910 to hold the first Father’s Day celebration. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made it official, proclaiming the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
Interestingly, if one is Muslim, Mother’s Day should not be celebrated because of it’s religious and spiritual overtones since it’s inception.
On the other hand, Father’s Day does not seem to be based on any religious or spiritual ideas. So, it seems as if Father’s Day is no problem.
After all that being said, I’m still not convinced. I think i’ll stick to the first “opinion” for the reasons stated above and others. Funny how if anyone wants to justify something new starts off with “different of opinions”. I think the question shouldn’t be is “mother’s day permissible” but rather the general aspects of the celebrations being permissible or not.
The problem I have with these celebrations from a “non-religious” – logical point of view – is that what happens by celebrating? We make our mothers happy for a “whole” day? Or maybe we’re showing how important our mothers are to us.. etc.. But, let me ask you this, tell me how many people that celebrate those “non-religious” celebrations as they say and, yell back to their mothers on daily bases. How many throw their moms to adult senior houses but only visit them once every year. How many Muslims don’t seek dua’ from their mothers and deal with them as slaves. I say, without making any of those celebrations, if you wanna make your mom happy, make so in Eid, make so in Jumua’hs why get a new EID and minipulate/modify Islam?
I find it hilarious that everyone has to have their say after what Sheikh Suhaib said was pretty clear. Always having a stance is not necessary, however respecting those with more knowledge than us is.
Most succinct response thus far.
That is not the case. Much respect for the Shaykh. My reply was just looking at the issue from a different angle. If it came out the other way I apologize. After all, even Musa (as) asked “وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي * يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي”.
“I find it hilarious” that “Should we celebrate mothers/fathers day?” is a legitimate question.
From driving to working, wearing bright colors, having a diversity of friends, watching movies, t.v., listening to clean music like jazz or old school, playing sports, visiting places like the the museum and even SMILING…some Muslim’s literally try to suck the joy out of everything. This is why there are so many Muslims walking around with a fixed frown on their face. I am a member of the outreach committee of my masjid, I’m starting a halaqa insha’Allah and I teach Islamic Studies to grade school children and across the board they all think that being Muslim is “boring.” The youth in particular are being lost in the dunya and some of them are battling depression for these reasons among many others.
In the words of William Shakespeare :
“A light heart lives long.”
Lighten up people.
I waded through all the comments. I like engaging questions for clarity. I like authentic discussions and self-defining processes as much as anyone else… This is not in defense of Imam Suhaib; he is very capable of that and I am certain he is not the least threatened or offended by such questions – it is the norm for him I am certain.
However, when Fulan states his ‘preferred’ (and personal) opinion in the presence of the opinion of those who are qualified and learned, and in the presence of established scholarly positions, then it speaks of a greater “imitation” that has far-reaching implications.
There was a reverence for people of knowledge and those who possess knowledge. This “sunnah” is definitely lost… Question for understanding; this is good; this should not be stifled. However, the pressing need to offer a personal opinion (by the unqualified) is a cancer that continues to spread. If statements of Sahabah are insufficient to determine law, how can personal opinions be sufficient to determine legality of practice and implementation? The “injection” of this debilitating habit is truly limiting the extent to which our Islam can be transformative in society and in people’s lives.
My apologies for stating my personal opinion in such a critical manner. I pray that the benefit of it outweighs the harm of it. Ameen.
Thank you dear brother for this useful article. Not only is the info very helpful (my daughter has been trying to understand why some of her Muslim friends celebrate birthdays and others don’t), but also your wisdom in knowing which comments to respond to and which to ignore is equally instructive. Allahumma baarik sidi.
I honor my parents every single day, I don’t need a dedicated day to show them the love, and I am lucky enough and have parents, what if I was born with no parents or I lost one of my parents, what I should really feel every year
Too much thinking/talking about something so petty.. if you’re doing it to copy pagans, that might be a problem, but if you’re giving your mom/dad a bit of extra attention on a day that is now just considered “mother’s day” without caring about the ideology behind it, what’s so wrong about that? she’ll feel special along with all the other mommies without threatening your faith/principles.
Is it not true that some Islamic rituals, practices and even names are rooted in previous Christian, Jewish and/or pagan traditions? For example; tawaf of the Kaaba, wedding celebrations, circumcision, names, etc.
Assalaam alai kum, I’m a mother of a toddler. As a mother I feel this is a good idea to celebrate “mothers day” but I feel the other day my child would wish to celebrate “birthday” what would be your say in the given situation? Plz answer me ASAP …. Jazzak Allah Khair
Imitation. Not into it.