Q&A (Fatwa)

#335: Ruling on Christmas Food given as Gifts


“Assalamu alaykum_ _ Please admin is it allowed for a Muslim to eat Christmas food during their ceremony?__ Jazakumullahu khayran
In other word, what is the ruling on eating the food (rice, meat, chicken or cake) that is given to us by a Christian friend that he made for his birthday or for Christmas or the Christian New Year? What is your opinion on congratulating him by saying, “Insha Allaah you will continue to do well this year” so as to avoid saying Kull ‘aam wa antum bi khayr. Jazakallahu khayran”


It is important to know that in Islam, the default ruling on the gifts that are given to us by the Kuffaar is that it is permissible to collect them as long as that does not in anyway affect our hearts and make us sympathetic towards their religion and does not in anyway strengthen them in their kufr.

It is known in the Prophetic Seera that the Rasul – salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam collected the gifts sent to him by the Kuffar as a way of bettering the relationship between them and softening their hearts towards Islam. He received gift from Muqawqis, and Imaam Al-Bukhaari – rahimahullaah – made the heading of a Chapter in his Sahih: ‘Chapter on collecting Gifts from the Mushrikin’.
The Ulamaa are at a consensus on the permissibility of accepting gifts from the Mushrikin or any of the Ahlu Al-Kitaab unless when collecting them assists them to further their path in Kufr.

Secondly, it is also important to realise that it is permissible for a Muslim to give gifts to the Kuffaar – Mushrikin and Ahlu Al-Kitaab alike. This is rewarding if the essence of such gifting is to soften his heart towards Islaam or to invite him towards it.

Examples of this are numerous in the Seera and the Biographies of the Companions.

Imaam Al-Bukhaari recorded in the Sahih that Umar bn Al-Khattaab – radiyallaahu ‘an hu – gave a mushrik brother of his in Makka a robe as gift.

Gifting to Kuffaar for the purpose of drawing them towards Islaam is so important that majority of the Fuqahaa say that it is permissible to grant them large shares from the Ghana’I’m to achieve that.

But it is not permissible to give gifts to them for the purpose of their yearly celebrations and festivities. This is because such an act takes the form of strengthening them in their kufr and assisting them to transgress the limits of Allaah.

And again, if what is gifted to them is of those things which are primarily used to make the celebration such as raw food for cooking, animal for slaughter, candles for lighting, etc, then it becomes worse and more grievous as a sin.

Majority of the Hanafis declare the later a kufr.

Imaam Az-Zayla’i said in his ‘Tabyinu Al-Haqaa’iq’:

“And to gift out in the name of Nayruz (festival for the Majus) and Mahrajaan (religious festival) is not permissible’ meaning to gift out in the name of these two occasions is not permissible and is a kufr. Abu Hafsu Al-Kabir – rahimahullaah – said: ‘if a man were to render worship to Allaah for fifty years and then the day of Nayruz comes and he gave an egg to any of the Mushrikin, aiming by that at magnifying such a day, then he has become kaafir and all of his deeds have been rendered void.’
The author of ‘Al-jaami Al-Asghar’ said: ‘if on the day of Nayruz he (a Muslim) were to give another Muslim an unusual gift, without even the intention of magnifying such a day. But it is an unusual gift, he doesn’t become a kaafir by so doing but it is very wrong for him to do that on that day specifically and he may do that before or after that day so that he does not by so doing emulate those people and the Rasul – salallaahu alayhi wasallam – has said “whosoever emulates a people becomes one of them”
He said also in the Jaami Al-Asghar:
‘A man who buys on the day of Nayruz that which he doesn’t buy on other days, if he intends by that to magnify that day just as some of the Mushrikin do, becomes thereby a kaafir. But if he merely intend by so doing to eat, drink and entertain himself, he doesnt become kaafir threby…'”
End quote

As for the Maalikis and the Shaafi’is, they hold it to be Haraam anyway.

The Author of ‘At-Taaju Wa Al-Iklil’ who is Maliki said:

“Ibn Al-Qaasim detested that gift be given to the Christian on the Day of his festivity so as to recompense him. The same applies to gifting Palm leaves to a Jew on his festivity.”

What is meant by detest is Haraam.

The same applies to the Hanbalis.

It is said in ‘Al-Iqnaa’:
“It is haraam to witness a festivity among the Ids of the Jews and the Christians, selling (what they will use to celebrate) and gifting it to them.”

It is also haraam to gift to the Muslim on that day an unusual gift.

Shaykhu Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyya said:

“And whosoever gives out an unusual gift to the Muslims on such a day among these festivities should have his gift rejected especially if such item that is gifted is of those items that will make similar and emulate them such as giving out candles and its likes on Christmas or giving out egg, milk or sheep on Little Thursday which marks their last observation of fast. Also, it is not permissible to give out any gift to any Muslim a gift for the purpose of this festivity especially if that will make similar to the Kuffaar as we have mentioned…”
Iqtidaa’u As-Siraati Al-Mustaqim 1/227

It should be understood that the impermissiblity of giving them gifts also encompasses the impermissibility of greeting them ‘merry Christmas’ and so on. That is because in so doing, the impression created is that the one greeting felicitate with the one who is greeted.

The Muslim must always realise that he is an advocate of Islam and must try all he can go ensure that things that are tantamount to disbelieving Allaah are distanced from as much as he can.

Thirdly, as for the ruling of accepting their gifts on that day such as food, cakes, snacks, etc. Then the Ulamaa differed slightly on that matter.

The fatwa of the Ulamaa of Najd and some of the Salafi Scholars is Haraam anyway. In other words, they hold that it is impermissible to receive from them all kinds of their gifts on such a day be it meat that was slaughtered for that occasion, food, snacks, drinks, anything.

Their evidence for this is the obligation in Islam not to in anyway emulate the Kuffaar and the accepting and consumption of their gifts on that day will mean celebrating with them and may lead to kufr.

This is the verdict passed by the Ulamaa on the Permanent Committee for Fatwa in Saudi Arabia (Al-Lajnatu Ad-Daa’ima) where they said:

“It is not permissible for a Muslim to eat of what the Jews and the Christians or the Mushrikun prepare of food for their festivities and it is not likewise permissible for a Muslin to accept anything of their gifts on such day due to what that implies of honouring them and assisting them to display their symbols, the promotion of their innovation, assisting them to celebrate thier festivity and participating with them in displaying joy and happiness on a day of their celebration. Doing that may lead to taking their Ids as ours or to the exchange of foods and prayers or the exchange of gifts in our I’d or their I’d at least. And this is of the Fitnah and innovations in the Dīn (that cannot be compromised). It has been established from the Prophet – salallaahu alayhi wasallam – that he said: ‘whosoever innovates in this affair of ours that which is not of it will have it rejected’
Same way, it is not permissible to give gifts to them anything due to their Id.”

The same fatwa was passed by Shaykh Muhammad bn Ibrahim in his Fatwa Collection (3/105), and by Shaykh Abdullah bn Al-Jibrin in ‘Al-Lu’lu Al-Makin Min Fataawa Shaykh Jibrin’ pp27

Whereas Shaykhu Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyya – rahimahullaah – and many of the Ulamaa of the Madhaahib hold that it is permissible to accept gifts from them and to eat or drink them as long as it is not meat prepared solely for that occasion.

The evidence for this are Aathaar attributed to the Companions of the Rasul – salallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam – that they permitted that.

Ibn Abi Shaybah transmitted in his Musannif saying:

We were told by Jarir from Qaabus from his father that a woman asked A’isha saying: We are foster relations with some Majus and they used to have days of their Eid in which they used to send us gifts?

She answered: “As for that which is slaughtered for that day, then do not eat it but eat that which is of plants”

Commenting on this, Shaykhu Al-Islam in his book Iqtidaa’u As-Siraati Al-Mustaqim (2/52) went on to say that the reason for this permissibility is the fact that consuming that will not aid them in promoting their festivity.

In summary we say:

The later verdict is stronger than the first if it us accompanied by the following conditions:

1. One does not accept or consume the meat that was prepared for that occasion

2. One does not congratulate or felicitate with them on such a day.

3. That in accepting it, one does not give the impression to the ignorant Muslims that it is permissible for a Muslim to also celebrate that day

4. One does not consume the food by way of celebrating but by way of eating the gift of the People of the Book

Despite all we have said, it is safest and soundest for a Muslim who is scrupulous with his Dīn to try to avoid accepting and eating such a food as best as he can.

Allāh knows best.

As for birthdays and celebrations relating to it, we have answered on this platform questions relating to it. Please refer to it.

Bārakallāhu Fīkum
Jazākumullāhu Khayran

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