AL-AFKAR #104: THE RULING OF ACCEPTING AND EATING FOOD IN CONJUNCTION WITH NON-MUSLIM RELIGIOUS CELEBRATIONS

 Al afkar 104

 

Question:

Assalamualaikum wrm.wbt.,

Sorry but I want to ask a question. I live in a residential area and on the left of my house is a Chinese who is a Buddhist and on my right is an Indian who is a Christian. Whenever they celebrated their religious celebrations, they would send me fruits, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, bread, KFC, McDonalds and others. In the spirit of unity, I would accept their gifts and eat them together with my family. My question is, is it permissible for us to eat the food given? Is accepting and eating the food considered as if I acknowledged their religion and celebrating together with them? Hope for the opinion from Mufti. Thank you.

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wrm. wbt.

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Every Muslim is evaluated by Allah SWT through his deeds and actions. Furthermore, before these deeds or actions are performed, the main consideration is the intention of the Muslim himself. Regardless of whether it is a good or bad deed, it is surely preceded by one’s intentions. This is as stated by the Prophet PBUH in a hadith.

From Amirul Mukminin Abi Hafs, Umar bin al-Khattab RA said, I heard the Prophet PBUH said:

إِنَّمَا الأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَاتِ، وَإِنَّمَا لِكُلِّ امْرِىءٍ مَا نَوَى فَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُوْلِهِ فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى الله وَرَسُوْلِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَتْ هِجْرَتُهُ لِدُنْيَا يُصِيْبُهَا أَوْ اِمْرَأَةٍ يَنْكِحُهَا فَهِجْرَتُهُ إِلَى مَا هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِ

“Deeds are but by intentions and each man will have but that which he intended. If a man's migration was for the sake of Allah, then his migration was for that for which he migrated, but if his migration was to achieve some worldly aim or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated.”

Sahih Muslim (1907)

Referring to the question presented, there are two questions that were asked. First, is it permissible to eat food given by non-Muslims? Second, is the acceptance of food given by non-Muslims on their days of celebration means that we acknowledge their religion and are celebrating with them?

For the first question, it has already been answered in several of our articles and can be accessed through our official website and social media. The following are the list of related articles that has answered the issue for reference:

  • AL-KAFI #564: The Ruling of Eating Food Cooked by non-Muslims (Not from the People of the Book)
  • AL-KAFI #285: Food Gifted by Non-Muslim Friend

Thus, through our current research, we will discuss the second question which is “Is Accepting and eating food given a sign that a person agrees and celebrate the religious celebrations of non-Muslims?”

In answering this question, we present a hadith from Ibn Umar R.Anhuma, where the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ

“He who imitates any people (in their actions) is considered to be one of them.”

Sunan Abu Daud (4031)

Imam al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir said this hadith shows great prohibition and warning for anyone who resembles the disbelievers in terms of their speech, actions, clothing, celebrations, worship and others that is not sanctioned for us.

(Refer Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 1/87)

Hence, it is clear from the hadith that celebrating any religious celebrations of non-Muslims is a transgression for Muslims. Indirectly, a Muslim who celebrates non-Muslim religious celebrations acknowledges the eminence of their religion. While Allah SWT has clearly stated:

وَمَنْ يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَنْ يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

“And whoever desires other than Islam as religion - never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.”

Surah Ali Imran (85)

However, does accepting and eating food given on the day of their religious celebrations is considered as the act of tasyabuh?

To answer this question, we cited a story similar to this situation. During the times before Islam, there are two famous celebrations celebrated by the Zoroastrians. The celebration is called Nowruz / Nairuz / Niruz dan Mihrajan. After the arrival of the Prophet PBUH who brought Islam, Muslims are commanded to leave the celebration. It is replaced with two celebrations which are Eidul Fitri and Eidul Adha.

A hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik RA stated:

كَانَ لأَهْلِ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ يَوْمَانِ فِي كُلِّ سَنَةٍ يَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا فَلَمَّا قَدِمَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْمَدِينَةَ قَالَ "‏ كَانَ لَكُمْ يَوْمَانِ تَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا وَقَدْ أَبْدَلَكُمُ اللَّهُ بِهِمَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمَا يَوْمَ الْفِطْرِ وَيَوْمَ الأَضْحَى

"The people of the Jahiliyyah had two days each year when they would play. When the Messenger of Allah () came to Al-Madinah he said: 'You had two days when you would play, but Allah (SWT) has given Muslims something instead that is better than them: the day of Al-Fitr and the day of Al-Adha.'"

Sunan al-Nasai’e (1556)

It’s a glorious celebration celebrated by the Zoroastrians. Likewise, various food and dishes are prepared for the illustrious event.

However, one day a woman came and meet Saidatina Aisyah R.Anha to ask something:

إِنَّ لَنَا أَطيارًا مِنَ الْمَجُوسِ، وَإِنَّهُ يَكُونُ لَهُمُ الْعِيدُ فَيُهْدُونَ لَنَا؟ فَقَالَتْ: أَمَّا مَا ذُبِحَ لِذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ فَلاَ تَأْكُلُوا، وَلَكِنْ كُلُوا مِنْ أَشْجَارِهِمْ

We have a Zoroastrian neighbour and when they celebrated their religious celebrations, they would gift some of it for us? Saidatina Aisyah R.Anha answered: “Don’t eat anything that is slaughtered that day, but eat from their trees (fruits).

(Narrated in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, No. 24737)

Likewise, it is stated in an athar from Abu Barzah:

ابي برزة أنه كان له سكان مجوس ، فكانوا يهدون له فى النيروز والمهرجان ، فكان يقول لأهله: ما كان من فاكهة فكلوه ، وما كان من غير ذلك فرده

Abu Barzah lives in an area of the Zoroastrians, every time the Nowruz and Mahrajan was celebrated, his neighbours would gift him with food, then he said to his family: If they give us fruits then eat them, but if it is something else then return them.

(Narrated in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, No. 24738)

Hence, the conclusion from this issue is, it is clear from the athar that accepting and eating food given during certain religious celebrations is permissible on the condition that the food is not any animal that is slaughtered by non-Muslims. Furthermore, the intention of the person accepting and eating the food must not be to acknowledge nor uphold their religious celebrations.

The gifts in the form of food should be accepted with the intention of dakwah of which to soften their heart towards Islam. Moreover, Allah SWT has commanded us to do good and be fair towards the disbelievers who are not against the Muslims.

لَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.”

Surah al-Mumtahanah (8)

Wallahua’lam.


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