146678: Joining Christians in a gathering for a meal one month after Christmas


I work as a teacher in an Islamic school, and we have with us some Danish teachers who are not Muslim. Every year on the occasion of Christmas we meet in a banquet hall and make halaal food, and there is no (alcoholic) drink. Please note that we deliberately have this gathering for a meal approximately one month or more after the Christmas festivities, so that we can avoid appearing to be joining them in their festival. Is it permissible for us Muslims to join them for this meal, even though we participate in making this food?

Praise be to Allah.

Firstly: 

Allah, may He be exalted, has permitted us to eat from the food of the people of the Book, whether we are invited by them, or they offer us food by way of hospitality, or it is a gift, or other scenarios that may occur, or according to people’s customs. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) accepted invitations from the Jews and ate their food 

But it is not permissible to do that by way of taking them as allies or close friends or taking them as an inner circle. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliya (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Awliya to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Awliya, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust)”

[al-Maa’idah 5:51]

“O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, consultants, protectors, helpers, friends, etc.) those outside your religion (pagans, Jews, Christians, and hypocrites) since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses) if you understand”

[Aal ‘Imraan 3:118]

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: If a Muslim eats with a Christian or other disbeliever, or drinks with him, is that regarded as haraam? If that is regarded as haraam, then what do we say about the verse in which Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “The food (slaughtered cattle, eatable animals, etc.) of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) is lawful to you and yours is lawful to them” [al-Maa’idah 5:5]

He replied:

Eating with a disbeliever is not haraam, if there is a need for that or there is some legitimate shar‘i interest to be served. But you should not take them as friends and eat with them for no legitimate reason or when there is no shar‘i interest to be served, and you should not be too comfortable with them and laugh with them. But if there is a need for that, such as eating with a guest, or seeking to call them to Allah and guide them to the truth, or for other legitimate purposes, then there is nothing wrong with it. 

The fact that the food of the people of the Book is permissible for us does not mean that we should take them as close friends and companions, and it does not mean that we may join them in eating and drinking when there is no need to do so and no shar‘i interest to be served by that. And Allah is the source of strength. End quote. 

Fataawa ash-Shaykh Ibn Baaz (9/329) 

Secondly: 

It is not permissible to celebrate Christmas or any other festival of the disbelievers, or to join their people in their celebrations, or to congratulate them on these occasions. Please see the answer to questions no. 947 and 145950 

One of the ways of celebrating and observing festivals is to come together for a meal on these occasions or to make food for the people who are celebrating. This is one of the manifestations of celebrating their festivals, as is well-known among them and others. 

As for delaying the date of this gathering for food, or bringing it forward, by a month or more or less, none of that changes the ruling in the slightest, so long as this food is connected to the festival of the mushrikeen, or is an alternative to compensate for not meeting with them on that occasion. 

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: 

The word ‘eid (festival) is a generic term which may be applied to any day or place on which they gather, and any acts that they do in these places or at these times. The prohibition is not specifically on their festivals only; rather it also applies to everything that they venerate of those times and those places for which there is no basis in the Islamic religion, and what they do of actions during those festivals is included in that. Also included in the prohibition on celebrating their festivals are the days before and after the festival on which they do things having to do with the festival, or the places around that place in which they do certain things having to do with the festival, or things that they do that have to do with the actions of that festival. These things all come under the same ruling, so none of those things should be done. Some people refrain from doing things on the days of their festival, such as Maundy Thursday and Christmas, and they say to their families: I will do that for you some other week or some other month, and what prompts him to do that is the fact that they are having that festival, otherwise he would not have decided to do that activity at a later time. This is a kind of imitation of the disbelievers. But he should compensate his family with the Eids that are prescribed by Allah and His Messenger, and he should take care of them during that day in such a way that they will no longer look to any other festival. If they are not content with that, then all you can say is: There is no power and no strength except with Allah. But if he angers his family for the sake of Allah, Allah will make him content and will make them content.

End quote from Iqtida’ as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem (2/5-6) 

To sum up: the gathering asked about is not permissible, and it comes under the heading of joining the Christians in their festivals that are based on falsehood. It makes no difference that the Muslims are the ones who are making the food or joining them in making it, because that does not alter the ruling in the slightest. 

And Allah knows best.

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