Fatwa ID: 76988
Title: Is there anything wrong with holding Islamic activities over Thanksgiving break?
Category: Inviting others to Islam
Scholar: Dr.Salah Al-Sawy
Date: 2008-12-01
Question:

Is it permissible to take advantage of vacation time for religious and national holidays to have Islamic social events, lectures, etc.? I went to a conference at Masjid al-Nour and I found it to be a good and blessed event, and may Allah reward them all. However, this conference took place over Thanksgiving break.

 

My question is: I know that specification, as some of the scholars hold, is not permissible, especially if it agrees with the Jews or Christians in their holidays. A month ago, the families got the idea to gather the kids at the masjid during the time of Halloween to keep them from participating in non-Muslim holidays, by having some food and candy for them. The idea started off good, but I was afraid that by trying to escape one prohibited act, we would be falling into another: preserving the basic elements of celebration (candy and food on the same day, or even at the same time of day). Wouldn't that be preserving the basic elements of celebration, but just in a different way?

 

Please advise, and may Allah reward you well.

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful,

 

All praise is due to Allah, and may peace and blessing be upon the Messenger of Allah, upon his household, his companions and true followers. To proceed:

 

May Allah increase you in avidity and protectiveness of the Sunnah, and may Allah benefit the Ummah through you. Oh Allah, ameen!

 

It appears to us, dear brother, that the matter differs from one case to another, according to the goals and objectives and the means and instruments used to achieve them. Thus, when the objective is to take advantage of the opportunity presented by these occasions to benefit from the vacation time and do activities we wouldn't otherwise be able to do on other days or shorter vacations, whether these activities are religious or non-religious, then this situation would be different than the situation of preserving the external framework of the occasion and filling it on the inside with Islamic content!

 

It is not part of the non-Muslims' rites for the Thanksgiving holiday that people gather in their churches to present a series of theological lectures over the course of the week-end vacation in which this holiday takes place. Were that the case, there would be a sound basis for your fears. On the contrary, what they do is invite one another to eat turkey and give thanks to God for ending their wars with the Native Americans and for starting a new stage of life and peace, as they say. So, if any of the Muslims call for something like this to be done on these days, he has guided people away from the Straight Path, but if the aim is to take advantage of this vacation to finish some work that has gotten backed-up, to visit relatives, to hold conventions, Islamic conferences or the like activities which our normal schedules or regular commitments keep us from doing without vacations like this, I hope there would be no blame in that, insha'Allah.

 

The best of what has been said on the matter is that, whoever calls people to gather on this day, serves the same food and participates in the same rites, has entered the door of imitating non-Muslims more than any other. Before all else, the hadith [prohibiting imitation of non-Muslims] applies to him. He must repent to Allah (Mighty & Majestic) and quit doing this, for it has been reported that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "Whoever imitates a people is from them," and this implies the prohibition of imitating them completely. Then there is also the saying of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace), "Oppose the polytheists," and their holidays are one type of their deeds, which comprise their religion or are a symbol of their false religion.

 

Whoever calls for people to gather for food, but he opposes the people [non-Muslims] in the food he serves, for instance, or in some other way, arguing that it is just a vacation day, we say to him: this deed of yours is not devoid of some share of imitation, for the vacation lasts several days and it would be possible for you to move this gathering to another day. Allah has not restricted you, so choose another day during the break in order to be farther from imitation, lest confusion befall the common people, most of whom do not distinguish between one intention and the other and who may move gradually from the lawful to the prohibited. If only this day were simply chosen due to the circumstances of travelers or the circumstances of friends and relatives! If only it would not be possible to move the gathering to another day for that reason! And if only the intention of imitation would be completely and totally negated!

 

As for those who take advantage of the Thanksgiving break to do some religious or non-religious activities which bear no resemblance to this occasion and which are totally unrelated except for the fact that one makes use of the vacation time to do them, there would be no blame in that, insha'Allah. We call on you, dear brother, to visit this link on our site for more information:

 

http://amjaonline.com/ar_d_details.php?id=22

 

And may Allah reward you well.

 

Allah Almighty is the Most High, and He knows best.