Celebrations and Ruling on participataing of non-Muslim Religious

No doubt imitating them is one of the grestes indications that a person has befriended them and loves them, and this contradicts the idea of diavowal [baraa’] of the kufr and its people. Allaah has forbidden the believers to take them as friends, and He has stated that taking them as friends causes a person to become one of them – Allaah forbid. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliyâ’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Auliyâ’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Auliyâ’), then surely, he is one of them” [al-Maa’idah 5:51]

“You (O Muhammad ) will not find any people who believe in Allâh and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad ), even though they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred (people)” [al-Mujaadilah 58:22]

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Imitation generates friendship and love, and regarding them as allies in the inside, just as loving them on the inside generates imitating them on the outside.”

And he also said, commenting on the aayah from Soorat al-Mujaadilah: “Allaah tells us that there is no (true) believer who takes a kaafir as a friend, for whoever takes a kaafir as friend is not a believer. Imitation on the outside implies that a person loves (the one whom he imitates), and so it is forbidden.”

It was reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”

(Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Libaas, 1204; Ahmad, 2/05. Shaykh al-Islam classed its isnaad as jayyid in al-Iqtidaa’, 1/042. See also al-Fataawaa, 25/133. Al-Haafiz provided corroborating evidence in al-Fath, with a mursal report whose isnaad is hasan (6/89). Al-Suyooti classed it as hasan, and al-Albaani classed it as saheeh in Jamee’ al-Saheeh, 5206).

Shaykh al-Islam said: “This hadeeth at the very least implies that it is haraam to imitate them, even if it is only in external appearance, and it implies that the one who imitatest hem is a kaafir, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And if any amongst you takes them (as Auliyâ’), then surely, he is one of them’ [al-Maa’idah 5:51].” (al-Iqtidaa’, 1/732).

Al-San’aani said: “If a person imitates the kaafir in his dress, and believes that by doing so he will be like him, then he is a kaafir. If he does not belive this, then there is a difference of opinion among the fuqahaa’ in this case. Some of them say that he is a kaafir, which is the apparent meaning of the hadeeth; others say that he is not a kaafir, but he should be disciplined.” (Subul al-Salaam, 8/842).

Shaykh al-Islam said: “The reason why the religion of Allaah and its rituals is vanishing, and kufr and sin are prevailing, is because of imitation of the kaafireen, just as the means of preserving all good is by following the ways and laws of the Prophets. “ (al-Iqtidaa’, 1/413).

There is much that could be said about imitation of the kuffaar, but what we have said above is sufficient.

The forms of imitating the kuffaar in their festivals
The various sects and groups of the kuffaar have many kinds of festivals, some of them have a religious basis whilst others have been newly invented. Some of their festivals are like customs and events for which they have invented festivals, such as national holidays and the like. Their festivals may be grouped into different categories as follows:

Firstly: religious festivals by means of which they seek to draw nearer to Allaah, such as the Epiphany, Easter, Passover, Christmas, etc. They ways in which the Muslims imitate them in these festivals are two:

Joining in with them in these festivals, such as when some non-Islamic groups or minorities in Muslim countries celebrate their festivals, and some Muslims join in with them. This happened at the time of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah and al-Haafiz al-Dhahabi, and it is what is happening now in many of the Muslim countries. What is even worse than that is what some Muslims do by travelling to the kaafir countries for the express purpose of attending these festivals and joining in the celebrations, whether the motive is to fulfil their physical desires or in response to the invitation of some of the kuffaar – as some Muslims do who live in kaafir countries and are invited to join the celebrations, or some other who have capital to invest or are owners of large companies, so they accept these invitations for the sake of being friendly to the person who invited them, or for a worldly interest such as winning a contract, and so on. All of this is haraam, and there is the fear that it may lead to kufr, because of the hadeeth, “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” And the one who does this is aiming to join in some of the rituals of their religion.

Beinging the celebration to the Muslim countries. Those who attend the festivals of the kuffaar in their countries and who like them because they are ignorant and have weak faith and little knowledge, may be prompted to bring some of those festivals and rituals to the Muslim countries, as is happening now in many Muslim countries, where the Gregorian New year is celebrated. This category is worse than the former one for one reason, which is that the people whodo this are not content merely to join the kuffaar in their rituals, but they want to bring them to the Muslim lands as well.

Secondly: 
Festivals whose origins lie in the rituals of the kuffaar, and they have now become international customs and celebrations. This is like the Olympic festivals (the Olympiad) in Greece, which nowadays appears to be no more than an international sporting event in which participation takes two forms: 

Taking part in the games with their rituals in the kaafir countries, as many of the Muslim states do by sending athletes to participate in the different games. 

Bringing these festivals to the Muslim countries, such as some of the Muslim countries asking to host the Olympic Games in their countries.

In both cases, taking part or hosting the games in a Muslim country is haraam, for the following reasons:

The origin of these Olympic Games is one of the pagan festivals of the Greeks, as mentioned above. This was the most important festival for the Greek nation, then it was inherited by the Romans and, in turn, the Christians.  
It bears the same name as it was known by when it was a Greek festival.
The fact that it is now no more than a sporting event does not cancel out the fact that it is a pagan festival, because of its origin and name. The evidence (daleel) for that is the hadeeth narrated by Thaabit ibn al-Dahhaak (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said: “At the time of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), a man vowed to sacrifice some camels in Bawwaanah. He came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘I have vowed to sacrifice some camels in Bawwaanah.’ The Prophet Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘Were there any idols there that were worshipped during the Jaahiliyyah?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Did they hold any of their festivals there?’ He said, ‘No.’ The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Then fulfil your vow, for there is no fulfilment of any vow which involves disobeying Allaah, or with regard to something that the son of Adam does not own.’” (Narrated by Abu Dawood in al-Aymaan wa’l-Nudhoor, 3133. According to another report, the one who asked the question was a woman (2133). It was also narrated by al-tabaraani in al-Kabeer (1431). Shaykh al-Islam said: its isnaad is according to the conditions of al-Saheehayn. All of its narrators are thiqaat (trustworthy) and mashhoor (well known), and the chain is intact, with no ‘an’anah (none of the links of the chain are connected with the word ‘an, meaning ‘from’). See al-Iqtidaa’, 1/634. It was classed as saheeh by al-Haafiz in al-Buloogh, 5041).


The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) paid attention to the origins of things, and the origin of this sporting event is a (pagan) festival. 
Shaykh al-Islam said: “This implies that the fact that that spot was the place where their festival was held would have been a reason to forbid him to sacrifice there, as would also have been the case if had been the place of their idols. Otherwise, how else can we interpret the hadeeth, of course it would only have been to venerate the spot which the yvenerated, by holding the festival there os by joining them in there celebrations there, or reviving the symbols of their festival and other things that can only be related to that action in that place or at that time… If merely choosing the place of the festival is forbidden, then how about the festival itself?” (al-Iqtidaa’, 1/344)