May Ustaz be in the best health and always being blessed by Allah SWT. My best friend asked me to ask you on the piñata game which is intended to be played during his grandchild’s birthday party. Based on the google search, piñata originated in China. Through Marco Polo, it is brought to Italy, Spain and then to Mexico. This game is then developed that it becomes an instrument for the Catholics. It seems like it is made by the non-Muslims. Is it haram to be played by our fellow Muslims?
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.
It is permissible to play the piñata game with the condition that there is no intention of resembling the non-Muslims and merely as a game.
We start with the following maxim. The maxim is:
الْحُكْمُ عَلَى الشَّيْءِ فَرْعٌ عَنْ تَصَوُّرِهِ
The ruling of something is built based on the whole picture of the matter
Al-Jurjani said: “Tasawwur is producing an image in one’s mind accurately.” See al-Ta'rifat (pg. 59).
Abu al-Baqa’ al-Kafawi said: “Tasawwur sometimes mean knowledge and understanding. And it is not merely based on fake depiction. Hence, tasawwur meant in this maxim is tasawwur which is filled with deep knowledge on something. This is because the tasawwur is measured by the intellect and mind which is safe from error.”
See al-Kulliyyat (pg. 290)
Based on the definition written in Wikipedia, piñata is:
“A piñata (/pɪnˈjɑːtə/, Spanish pronunciation: [piˈɲata] is a container often made of papier-mâché, pottery, or cloth; it is decorated, and filled with small toys or candy, or both, and then broken as part of a ceremony or celebration. Piñatas are commonly associated with Mexico. The idea of breaking a container filled with treats came to Europe in the 14th century, where the name, from the Italian pignatta was introduced. The Spanish brought the European tradition to Mexico, although there were similar traditions in Mesoamerica, such as the Aztecs' honoring the birthday of the god Huītzilōpōchtli in mid-December. According to local records, the Mexican piñata tradition began in the town of Acolman, just north of Mexico City, where piñatas were introduced for catechism purposes as well as to co-opt the Huitzilopochtli ceremony. Today, the piñata is still part of Mexican culture, the cultures of other countries in Latin America, as well as the United States, but it has mostly lost its religious character.”
This definition shows that piñata is a container filled with foods like candies which are prepared due to any celebration like birthdays in which it is struck to get the food inside it. Its origin is related to religious service in Mexico, but the passing of time makes it loses its religious value.
In our past articles, we already discuss on the ruling of tasyabbuh or resemblance in Islamic perspective. There are tasyabbuh which are makruh and haram. There are also things which originally a tasyabbuh with the eminence of other religion, but then loses its resemblance and becoming permissible.
It is narrated from Abdullah bin Umar R.anhuma that the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ
He who copies any people is one of them
Sunan Abu Dawud (4031)
Sheikh al-Azhim al-Abadi Rahimahullah in ‘Aun al-Ma’bud (11/51) said:
“Al-Munawi and al-Alqami said: in which physical adorning using their adornments, behaving like their behavior and using their sign in clothes and some of our actions. End. Al-Qari’ said, “which is whoever makes himself resembling the disbelievers, for example in clothing, and others, or with a fasiq, a bad person or with the ahl tasawwuf, pious and good people, (so he is among them) means in sinning and goodness”. Al-Alqami said, “in which whoever resembles the pious people will be honored the same as how honorable they are, and whoever resembles the fasiq, he will not be honored. Whoever signifies himself with the eminence of a gentleman, then he will be honored even if the characteristics of a gentleman are not apparent in him.”
Imam Ibn Salah Rahimahullah said in his Fatawa (2/473): “So indeed, whoever resembles a nation, he is likely among them. Resembling the disbelievers sometimes is makruh, and sometimes haram. The matter is in accordance with its noticeability, whether it is less or more. Wallahu a’lam.”
If the resemblance is less, and may be ta’wil (interpreted), then it is makruh. The examples are as the following:
- Qaza’ (cutting or shaving parts of the hair and leaving the rest of it). Refer al-Minhaj Syarh Muslim (10/101).
- Staining baby’s head with aqiqah blood after shaving the hair due to following Jahili custom. Refer al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhazzab (8/427).
- Fasting solitarily on Friday because the Christians and Jews specify worships on Thursday and Friday. Refer al-Iqna`(1/245).
While if the resemblance is apparent, then it is haram. For example, Imam Shihabuddin Ibn Ruslan said while commenting on the above hadith of Abu Dawud:
“that it is impermissible in our time to wear yellow and blue colored turban for a Muslim.”
This is because the Christians in his time wore that kind of fashion while celebrating their celebration. Refer Syarh Sunan Abi Daud 16/208).
There are situations where it originally has some resemblance with other religion, but its tasawwur has changed that the religious value has faded. So, its ruling is not haram and not makruh. For example:
- The ruling of wearing taylasan shawl for men. Imam al-Bujairimi cited in Tuhfah al-Habib(4/366) the words of Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani in Fath al-Bari(10/275): “And due to wearing al-tiyalisah nowadays is not their eminence (Christians and Jews), in fact, it has been elevated in today’s time and change into one of general permissible matter. This has been said by Ibn Abd al-Salam in permissible bid’ah.” Refer also Qawa`id al-Ahkam (2/205) by Imam Izz bin Abd al-Salam.
- The ruling of doing Atirah which is slaughtering specific animal in the month of Rajab. It is truly mentioned in texts of Imam al-Shafie that it is not Sunnah and not makruh even if the history behind it is slaughtering animals for idol worship. However, when the slaughtering is in accordance with Syara’ rulings, not for idols, but to give to the poor and needy, then the act is permissible, and even one will be rewarded with the rewards of doing good to other people and sadaqah. Refer al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhadzzab(8/445).
Based on the above facts and explanation, we are inclined to the opinion that the piñata game is permissible with the condition of not having any intention to resemble non-Islamic teachings and merely as a game. This is because, this game has not become exclusive for certain religious ritual and its purpose is not sinful. May this explanation give understanding to the one who asks.