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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Ruling on congratulating one for Hijiri new year.

All-Praise is due to Allah,
It is common amongst many Muslims in this era to congratulate one another upon reaching another Hijiri new year. Without a doubt this is an act that was not performed or said by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) or his Companions nor the following generations after them from amongst the Salaf. We have no reports of it being a celebration nor an act of worship that has been prescribed by the Sharia', but yet we still have Muslims that persist to prescribing acts and sayings of worship with no basis in accordance to Allah and His Messenger.

It is necessary as a Muslim that we follow the commands of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) as they were prescribed upon us and not to our whims and desires. So we turn to our honorable Scholars in this matter to seek their advise and to see what they have to say in regards to this issue.

It was asked in a Fatwa from Lignat Ad-Daaimah:

Is it permissible to congratulate non-Muslims on the occasion of the new Gregorian year, the "new Hijri (lunar) year", and the Mawlid (the Prophet’s birthday)?

They repled: It is not permissible to offer congratulations on such occasions; for it is not Mashru‘ (Islamically permissible) to celebrate them.
May Allah grant us success! May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions!

(Lignat Ad-Daaimah, Fatwa: 20795)

They also mentioned in another Fatwa:

As for a person who enjoins on himself acts that Allah has not, in the first place, legislated or ordained e.g. celebrating the birthday of the Prophet, the beginning of a new Hijri year, and the birthdays of righteous people, etc., then such a person is committing Bid‘ah. By the same token, a person who observes the acts of worship which Allah has originally ordained yet does not perform them in the way that Allah has ordained is committing an abominable Bid‘ah as well, for he is offering the act in a way that Allah did not prescribe for His servants.

(Lignat Ad-Daaimah, Fatwa: 5961)

It was stated in a Fatwa:

As for celebrating the new Hijri year, it is not reported from the Prophet that he ever celebrated his Hijrah (migration to Madeenah); neither is this reported from his companions who undoubtedly were keen on enjoining the good and getting the most reward possible. The Muslim should follow the Prophet and stick to his Sunnah and keep away from innovations in religion.

(See Islamweb Fatwa: 80321)

Muhammad al-Mahmoud al-Najdi said,
It seems to me that these days which are repeated every year and the gatherings held to mark them are innovated festivals and ways for which Allaah did not reveal any authority. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is an innovation (bid’ah) and every innovation is a going-astray.” (Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi and others).

He also said: “Every people has its festival (‘Eid) and this is our festival.” (Agreed upon)

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) spoke at length in his book Iqtidaa’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem li Mukhaalifat Ashaab al-Jaheem (The Requirements of the Straight Path in Differing from the People of Hell), condemning the innovated occasions and festivals that have no basis in the pure Sharee’ah and the ways in which they corrupt people’s religious commitment. Most if not all of the people have no understanding of the damage caused by this kind of bid’ah, especially when it has to do with acts of worship, but those who are blessed with insight and understanding realize something of the damage that it can do.

What people have to do is to follow the Qur’aan and Sunnah, even when they do not entirely understand the issues of benefit and harm that are involved.

Whoever innovates something on a certain day, such as observing a fast, performing a prayer, preparing certain foods, putting up decorations, spending on his family and so on, will be affected by this and it will create some kind of belief in his heart, because he must believe that this day is better than other days, since if he and those who follow him did not have this belief in their hearts, they would not make the effort to do these things.

“Celebration” or “festival” involves three things: place, time and gathering, in any of which things may be innovated.

With regard to time, there are three kinds of innovation, which may overlap with issues of place and actions.

The first kind is a day which is not venerated at all in Sharee’ah, which was not mentioned by the Salaf and nothing happened on that day to indicate that it should be held in any kind of esteem.

The second kind is a day on which some event happened that also happened on other days, but that does not mean that it should be regarded as a special occasion, and the Salaf did not venerate this day.

Whoever does such a thing is imitating the Christians, who took the days of events in the life of Jesus (peace be upon him) as festivals, and the Jews. But festivals are part of Sharee’ah, and whatever has been prescribed by Allaah should be followed, but whatever has been innovated in the religion is not a part of Islam.

Similarly, the innovation followed by some people (in celebrating the Prophet’s birthday), whether it is done in imitation of the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, peace be upon him, or it is done out of love and respect for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), is not something which was done by the Salaf, even though the reason for doing it was there and there was nothing to stop them doing it if it was good…

The third kind is days which are venerated by Sharee’ah, such as the day of ‘Aashooraa’, the day of ‘Arafaah and the two Eid days, etc., but the people who follow their own desires innovate things that they think are good but which in fact are wrong and are not allowed – such as when the Raafidis go without water and express grief on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ etc. These are innovated matters which were not prescribed by Allaah or by His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) or by any of the Salaf or the members of the household of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

As regards holding regular gatherings, whether weekly, monthly or annually, apart from the gatherings that are prescribed in Sharee’ah, this implies that one is making them as important as the gatherings for the five daily prayers, Jumu’ah, Eid and Hajj, and this is a newly-invented innovation.

The principle in question here is: the Islamic acts of worship which are repeated at certain intervals and are thus special occasions, have been prescribed by Allaah and are sufficient for mankind. If any other gatherings are invented in addition to these gatherings, it means that they are being given a status equal to that of the occasions prescribed by Allaah, which leads to the adverse effects referred to above. This is in contrast to what a person or a small specialized group may undertake on their own sometimes.

(Masaa’il wa Rasaa’il by Muhammad al-Mahmoud al-Najdi, p. 31)

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the ruling on congratulating people on the occasion of the Hijri new year, and how should one reply to a person who offers congratulations?

He replied: If someone offers you congratulations, then respond to him, but do not initiate such greetings. This is the correct view concerning this matter. So if a person says to you, for example, “Happy New Year”, then you can say, “May Allaah make it a good and blessed year for you.” But you should not initiate such a greeting, because I do not know of any report that the salaf [early generations of Islam] congratulated one another on the occasion of the new year, rather the salaf did not regard the first of Muharram as the first day of the new year until the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him.)

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr said concerning offering congratulations on the occasion of the hijri new year:

Praying for another Muslim in general terms, in phrases that are not meant as a kind of ritual on special occasions such as Eid, is acceptable, especially if what is meant by this greeting is friendship and to show a friendly face to one’s fellow Muslim. Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “I do not initiate the greeting but if someone greets me I return the greeting, because responding to the greeting is obligatory. But being the first to offer congratulations is neither Sunnah nor forbidden.

Furthermore in regards to people prescribing certain worships in this time, a Fatwa was issued as followed:

The Sunnah does not report any tradition on performing acts of worship specially on New Hijri Year’s Eve, and a Muslim must beware of any innovation in religion. The Prophet, , said: "Whoever introduces something into our religion which does not belong to it, it will be rejected." In another narration, he, , said: "Whoever does an act which does not belong to our religion, it is to be rejected." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Scholars defined a religious innovation as any act of worship that the Prophet, , did not do while there was the possibility and a need for doing it with no impediment preventing him, , from performing it. Also, the prohibition from performing acts of worship specially on Friday night was reported. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet, , said: "Do not perform special voluntary prayers on the night of Friday." [Muslim] Since this prohibition to perform special voluntary prayers on a specific night, whose excellence over the other nights is established, it would with even greater reason be prohibited to perform special voluntary prayers on other nights that have no virtue established.
Moreover, an attachment to New Year Eve pertains to the traditions of the unbelievers and we are commanded not to imitate them. Thus, this is prohibited based on that reason, too. There is no harm in inviting Muslims to perform voluntary prayers at night in congregation if the purpose is worshipping, teaching people how to perform it and making them accustomed to it. However, if they do this only for the purpose of congregation believing that it would be more virtuous and better than any other occasions, the invitation will be impermissible for the reason mentioned above. End of quote.

(See IslamWeb Fatwa: 57818)

Undoubtedly the Scholars have made this issue clear in the light of the Quran and Sunnah so it is– for fair-minded and objective readers – this summary will make it clear that congratulating one for Hijiri new year and connecting to it certain worships has no firm basis. So we must advise in the best manner, to denounce such actions and turn to the way of Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions and generations that followed them.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, "I have left you upon clear proof , its night is like its day, no one deviates from it except one who is destroyed, and whoever lives long from amongst you will see great controversy. So stick to what you know from my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the orthodox, rightly-guided caliphs - cling to that with your molar teeth, and stick to obedience even if it is to an Abyssinian slave, since the believer is like a submissive camel, wherever he is led, he follows"

(Related by Ahmad (4/126), Ibn Maajah (no. 43), al-Haakim (1/96) and this Hadith was graded Hasan)

And Allah knows best...

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