How Political Correctness can Derail Meaningful Intra-Muslim Dialogue. By Imam Luqman Ahmad

offesnsively true

Political correctness in Muslim America is waning on Muslim American intelligence. Political correct verbiage is still crippling meaningful dialogue within the American Muslim community. We are not as hush hush as before, but there is still resistance in getting to the nuts and bolts of our problems.

Can American Muslims freely and candidly discuss issues without crossing the boundaries of political correctness? The simple answer to that is; no, no we can’t. Now pay attention. Political correctness is incompatible with moral correctness. Although it’s probably politically incorrect to say that, it is the hard truth and we need to recognize it.

If we as Muslims living in America want to engage in honest discourse amongst ourselves as American Muslims, then we cannot continue to gloss over the obvious and take the bogeyman approach to problems as if they do not exist, or cast aside our deep-seated dysfunctional malaise as if it were figments of our imagination. We’re making headway though but we have to be spiritually and emotionally mature enough to have the open and candid dialogue that we need, and we need to be brave too because it won’t be a walk in the park. No, we need not get personal by calling each other names and blasting leaders personally. There is no one person responsible for our condition, and as it stands today, there are no individuals that I can think of who are standing out front taking responsibility as a National Muslim leader of the Muslims in America. The responsibility for opening up dialogue is a shared responsibility

Additionally, morally correct candid dialogue means that we have to open up about racism and the issue of the two Muslim Americas. We’d have to talk about Muslim-owned liquor stores and how that impacts the call to Islam and the neighborhoods which house inner city masjids where liquor stores abound. It will be a difficult, grown-up conversation. However, to make the big-boy move and go beyond the surface in addressing our problems as a Muslim people, we are going to have to dismiss with some of this political correctness. There is no way we can get around it.

One of the reasons that Muslims who knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate marginalization have very little to say is that their argument cannot hold to a legitimate discussion. Our scriptures unequivocally reject marginalization or oppression of one Muslim people by another. This is one reason why the issue of Muslim owned liquor stores is a muted discussion in Muslim America despite its devastatingly harmful effects on our inner city neighborhoods. The neighborhoods where many of us live, try to raise our families, and where we do da’wah. Such a terrible blemish on the legacy of Islam in America.

Political correctness will mask the truth like like a Hollywood make-up artist masks a pimple. The Prophet (SAWS) spoke wisely, but he did not adhere to the politically correct status quo of the society in which he was raised. Tawheed (monotheism), by nature, resists political correctness because it assigns supreme will and final authority to the word of Allah and assigns all other words beside it to a secondary station. The only people with complete and unconditional authority to speak on the Lords behalf are His Prophets and in the case of Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).

These realities alone make political correctness incompatible with moral correctness in any absolute sense. Now does what I just said mean that we should not use wisdom in our words, or not follow rules of civility, and use good speech in how we express ourselves? Absolutely not. Allah says” “invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and good rhetoric”[1]. In order to move ahead spiritually, we have to speak religious truths according to scripture whether they are politically correct or not. Truth according to orthodox Muslim belief is not, and cannot be subject to the constraints of human beings, nor society.

If the Prophet (SAWS) were alive today, people, even some Muslims would probably label him controversial, even radical. During the time that the lived (SAWS), he was called worse than that, but the Prophet (SAWS) was never described, or thought of as, politically correct. The word Islam, which for fourteen-hundred years has meant submission to Allah, now simply means peace in the minds of many Muslims, and as articulated in modern-day Muslim nomenclature. When people understood Islam to mean submission, they associated the word with action and doctrine beholden to a higher authority; Allah.

When people, Muslims included, understand Islam simply as peace, it devaluates Islam from a world faith resulting from revelation and renders it into a simple human trait that requires no action but is instead characterized as passivity and inaction. It takes doing something to be a Muslim, but it takes doing nothing to be peaceful. This not so subtle lexical lunge into la la land regarding the word Islam is just one casualty of modern-day political correctness. The religion of Islam is built upon divine truths, not politically engineered truisms.

Imam Luqman Ahmad

American born Luqman Ahmad is a life long Sunni Muslim, the son of converts to Islam. He is a writer, consultant, patriot, and author of the book; “Double Edged Slavery“, a book about how Black American Muslims and converts are marginalized in Muslim America. Imam Luqman Ahmad is is also a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation, a founding member of COSVIO, (the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations), and the author of the book “The Devils Deception of the Modern day Salafiyyah Sect”, a detailed look at salafiyyism the ideology which forms the mindset of ISIS. He has written blog posts challenging ISIS, Anwar Awlaki, and BOKO Haram on his blog, imamluqman.wordpress.com. Currently he serves as an Associate Imam at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. The sentiments shared in this article are his own and not representative of any of his professional affiliations. He can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com

Du’aa (Invocation) for Global Change – Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Du'aaIt breaks my heart that as Muslims we bear witness to so much killing, injustice, destruction of lives, unconscionable atrocities committed against Muslim and non-Muslim peoples, and yet, as we call upon the created to save us, to help, us, to give us dignity, to give us justice, we seem to forget that we have a Lord, that we must turn to, and answer to, and who we all shall find ourselves standing before Him. Allah is the Living, The Self-Subsisting, He is never overtaken by sleep or slumber, and He must be called upon in times of need. If any of us think that we do not need Him, then surely we do not know Him

The atrocities mount, the injustices, prejudices, continue by us, and against us. The annihilation and murderous rampage in Syria, and Iraq is just the latest in a long list of human savagery against its own kind. It’s time to call upon Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala

There is no solution to our problems, without Allah be He Exalted and Glorified

I believe that the many problems facing the Muslim world, is beyond us. I believe that the fitna that sweeps across many continents, is outside of our power to solve. I believe that the modern day dilemma of the Muslims, requires divine intervention by The One who never sleeps, Who hears every prayer, Who keeps every promise, Who is Just, and commands justice and who has power over all things.

It is the way of Prophets (AS) that in times of urgency, they call upon Allah; that they acknowledge their wrongs, and turn to Him. Starting with the Prophet Adam and his wife; “Oh our Lord, surely we have wronged our own souls and if you do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, then surely we shall be amongst the losers.“1

Think beloveds, how the Prophet Jonah; “And he cried out in the darkness, there is no God but thee, glory to Thee, surely I have been among the wrong doers.”2 Thus Allah said of him; “And had he not been of those who glorify (Me) he would have dwelt in his belly until the day that they are resurrected.”3

And remember beloveds how our Lord heard the cry of the pleading woman from above seven heavens: “Verily Allah has heard the word of the woman who argued with you regarding her husband and she complained to Allah, and Allah heard your discourse, surely Allah is the All Hearing and All Seeing.“4 Let us remind ourselves how the Prophet Zakariyya , called upon His Lord and asked for a son in old age: “Oh Lord grant me from you a righteous progeny, verily You hear prayers; and the angels called him while he was praying in his niche (saying) verily Allah gives you glad tiding of Yahya as a confirmation and a word from Allah.”5 Our beloved Prophet (SAWS)

I am ashamed to my Lord that we seem to be asking for everyone’s help, when we have a Lord who merely has to say “be” and it becomes a reality. I am suggesting that we suspend all appeals for a moment, and appeal to the One Who hears all prayers, Who knows all events and Who has complete control over all things.

Therefore dear Muslims, I suggest that for a moment, that instead of press conferences, boycotts, pleas for sympathy, demands for justice, cries for help, and petitions for dignity, we should turn our attention to Allah . I am confident that if we show Allah that we are willing to change, that we put our trust in Him, and turn collectively, to Him for help, He will help us. If we demonstrate to Allah that we are patient with adversity, that we call on Him in times of need, that we look to Him for dignity, for respite, for protection, then surely our Lord is a Good Lord; He will send glad tidings upon us. “So give tidings to the patient, those who when affliction befalls them they say; Surely we are from Allah and surely to him we shall return, upon such are the salawaat from their Lord and such are those who are rightly guided.” I swear by Allah, in whose hand is my soul, I am confident that if we as a global Muslim community, call upon Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, He will answer our prayers. I’m not naïve, I know that the divine, and irresistible will of Allah is that He will do and allow whatever He wishes. However, this I an certain about Allah; that He Loves those who purify themselves, and repent to him.

Verily, Allah loves those who repent and those who purify themselves.” [Al-Qur’an 2:222]

Thus, I am advising myself first, and all believers across the earth that we all repent to Him, and instead of collecting signatures, we collect trash from the street, sandwiches for the needy, money for the children in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Darfur, Watts, Harlem, and the ghettoes of Europe, Africa and Asia. Instead of political discourse during our Jum’ah prayers should we talk about Allah. We should glorify His Holy name, we should praise Him, call upon Him, pray together and beg Him for mercy, for forgiveness, for change. I advise, starting with myself that we stop for a moment, and look at ourselves, correct our own wrongs, rectify our own souls, and humble ourselves before the Lord be He Exalted and Magnificent, then Surely Allah hears those who praise Him. We are at a defining moment in our history, and the history of mankind upon this planet, and the time to turn to Allah is now.

Has not the Time arrived for the Believers that their hearts in all humility should engage in the remembrance of Allah and of the Truth which has been revealed (to them), and that they should not become like those to whom was given Revelation aforetime, but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard? For many among them are rebellious transgressors”.{57:16}

I was inspired to write the following supplication, and I am confident that if millions of us around the world, say this or something similar to it, with sincerity, we shall see a change in our condition very shortly. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Wa Allahu Must’taaan, a bihi tawfiq. اللهم أشهد

Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Quranic Notes:

  1. 7:23 Al-Aaraaf
  2. 21:87 al-Anbiyaa
  3. 37:144 As-Saaffaat
  4. 58:1 al-Mujaadila
  5. 3:37-38 al-Imraan

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DUAA (INVOCATION) FOR GLOBAL CHANGE

Yaa Allah, we bear witness that there is no God except You and that Muhammad is your Messenger,

Yaa Allah, I have wronged my own soul and I beg for your forgiveness,

Yaa Allah, we the Muslims have wronged ourselves and if You do not forgive us and have mercy on us, then surely we shall be of the lost.

Yaa Allah, we believe in You, and in Your Book that you have sent, and in Your Prophet that you have dispatched to mankind,

Yaa Allah we bear witness that we are all paupers compared to you and that You are without need.

Yaa Allah, we bear witness that there is no mercy except Your mercy, and there is none more Merciful than You

Yaa Allah, we bear witness that there is no safety except that which You grant, that there is no refuge except that which You give.

Yaa Allah, we bear witness that there is no humanitarian aid except that it comes from Your khazaa’in (storehouses), send sustenance to our hungry for you are Khairul Raaziqeen (The Best Sustainer).

Yaa Allah we bear witness that no one has power greater than Your power,

Yaa Allah, we bear witness than none is to be feared except You, yaa Rabbanaa, free us of our fear.

Yaa Allah we reject the tyrants and believe in you; for You are the Just, and You command justice, send justice to those who suffer injustice. .

Yaa Allah, we bear witness that no one holds our future in their hand except You, we entrust our affair to You, oh Wisest of the Wise, free us from our dependence except upon you.

Yaa Arrahmaan You are the Guardian of those who believe, guard us,

Yaa Haadi, You are the Guide and without You there is no guidance, guide us,

Yaa Allah, make us so that we do not ask except of You.

Yaa Allah, it is You that hears every cry, make us so we do not beg except from You.

Yaa Allah make us so that we do not seek to be loved, except by those whom you love, and show us the path to Your love.

Yaa Muqallib al-Quloob, turn our hearts to You, and make our faith firm in Your Word and in Your promise for surely Oh Beneficent One, You do not break Your promise. Free our hearts of illness, free us of our arrogance, free us of our haughtiness, free us of our blindness, free us of our worry, free us of our hate of one another for You are the One Who comes between a person and their own heart

Soften our hearts with your remembrance, make us so that we shall not be stingy, free us of greed, free us of consumerism, free us of our addiction to the marketplaces, free us of our attachment to this world. Save us from ourselves, and from the whispers of Satan

Yaa Allah, make us so that we do not seek to be accepted by anyone except You, and so we do not seek honor except from You, and that we do not seek approval except from You

Yaa Allah, make us so that we see Your signs and believe in them, and make us not of those who turn a blind eye to Your signs. O Lord of all that exists, make us not of the neglectful

Yaa Allah, we bear witness that there is no life except that which You granted, and that no soul is taken except that You send for it, no disease except that You have sent down a cure for it, no adversary except that You can repel it

Yaa Allah, You are the King of the Dominion, You give of it to whomever You please, You take it from whomever You please, You exalt whomever You please and You humble whoever You please, in Your Hand is all good, and You have power over all things.

Yaa Allah, we bear witness that there is no glory except Your Glory, that there is no healing except Your Healing, heal us yaa Rabb, heal our hearts, heal our communities, heal our wickedness, heal our dependence on other than You, Glorious and forever Exalted be Thy Name.

Yaa Allah, You are the Lord of the East and the West, and you are the Lord of the North, and the South, andthere is not a speck of dust that floats in the air, except that You have full knowledge of it, for thou art the Knower of the seen and the unseen.

Yaa Allah, you are the Lord of the righteous and the wicked, you are the Lord of the weak, and the Lord of the strong, you are the Lord of the healthy and of the feeble, and even those who do not know You, You are still their Lord.

Yaa Allah, you are the Lord of the Arabs and the Jews,

Yaa Allah, you are the lord of the Palestinians, and you are the Lord of Israelis,

Yaa Allah, You are the Lord of the Iraqis, you are the Lord of the Iranians, You are the lord of the Kurds, you are the Lord in turkey, You are the Lord in Jordan, you are the Lord in England, You are the Lord of the Scots, You are the Lord of the Mexicans, You are the Lord.

Yaa Allah, You are the Lord of the Sunnis, you are the Lord of the Shiites, you are the Lord of the Christians, and You are the Lord of the Jews, O Master of the creation, there is no place in the galaxies except that You are the Lord, and your throne is above all.

Yaa Allah, you are the Lord of the Canadians, you are the Lord of the Americans, you are the Lord of the French, and You are the Lord of South Africa,

Yaa Allah, You are the Lord of Malaysia, You are the Lord of India, You are the Lord of Pakistan, you are the Lord of Chechnya,.

Yaa Allah, You are the Lord of Bosnia, You are the Lord of the Philippines, You are the Lord of the deserts, and you are Lord of the oceans

Yaa Allah, you are the Lord of Darfur, You are the Lord of New Orleans, You are the Lord of Indonesia, and You are the Lord of Afghanistan,

Yaa Allah, there is no creature in this universe except that You are their Lord and Master and to this we bear witness,

Yaa Rabbil Aalameen. Send relief to those who are suffering, send food to those who are hungry, send security to those who live in fear, send shelter to those who must sleep outside, send clothes to those who are naked, send heat to those who are cold, and send light to those who are in darkness. .

Yaa Allah, there is no man or woman who walks, crawls, rides, or flies upon this earth except that they will come before You on the Day of Judgment, and You will judge them in truth.

Yaa Allah, change the hearts of those who kill the helpless, of those who persecute the blameless, and of those who imprison the innocent.

Yaa Muntaqim, if you avenge the innocent, then You are the Lord of the innocent, if You punish the wicked, then surely they are Your servants, and if You forgive them for surely you are the Forgiving and the Merciful

Yaa Mutakabbir, rid me of my arrogance, rid us of our arrogance, for the arrogant shall not be granted entry into Your Garden

Yaa Jabbaar, humble the tyrants of the earth, teach those who have power not to abuse the power that You have given them. Show those who wear badges and carry guns that they need not gun don the innocent, and give those who stand for justice from amongst them the courage to stand up against the unjust.

Yaa Malikul Mulk, you are the King of Kings, you give Your Kingdom to whomever you please, and You take it away from whomever You please, and You exalt whom You please, and you belittle whom you please and it is You who has power over all things.

Yaa Allah, it is You who turns the night into day and it is You who turns the day into night and it is You who takes life from the dead and it is You who take death from the living and you sustain whomever You please without measure.

Yaa Allah, the sun and the moon is under Your command, the wind and the rain move by your decree, and the heat of the sun compares naught to the heat of the hell fire.

Yaa Rabb, save us from the torments of hell, from the pain of death and from the punishment of the grave

Yaa Allah, make us not a trial for those who do not believe in you and forgive us for our sins, verily You are the Knower and the Wise

Yaa Allah, join the hearts of the believers for if we spend everything that was on the earth, held a thousand conferences, and uttered a thousand slogans, it would not join our heart, but is You and only You, who joins hearts

Yaa Allah resurrect us as brethren in faith, upon pillars of light on the day when neither money nor our children will benefit us naught, except he who comes to You with a clean heart.

Yaa Allah, our condition is bleak, we have disobeyed Your commands, we benefit from usury and withhold charity, we live in luxury and desert your houses of worship, we emulate the arrogant and despise the poor.

Ya Allah, We have been fooled into believing that we can change our condition without changing ourselves. Forgive us for our foolishness, and show us the right way

Yall Allah, guide our scholars, and blind the tyrants, for whoever is blind in this world, he shall also be blind in the next world.

Yaa Allah, we have acknowledged our wrongs, we have repented for our actions and we have learned that it is you we must ask for help in our time of need, for surely You are the Hearer of all supplication.

Help us oh Lord of the worlds, guide us in our time of ignorance, and shower Your mercy upon the victims of unwarranted bloodshed for none despairs of Your Mercy except those who have gone astray.

Yaa Allah, disable the bombs of tyranny, the weapons of wickedness, and the car bombs that don’t care, we seek refuge in you from the punishment of the grave, from the punishment of hell, from the trials of life and death, and from the trials of the Anti-Christ.

Yaa Allah, when thy servants ask us about You, we shall say that you are close, that You answer the call of the caller when he calls upon You, and we shall seek you, and we shall believe in You, that perhaps You will guide us aright.

Yaa Allah, extend Your peace and Your blessings to Your last Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullah, the truthful one, and to his family, as You have extended such to Your Prophet Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. For amongst the entire universe, You are the Praiseworthy and the Majestic.

Yaa Allah, let this du’aa reach You with haste, and make it a testimony for me on the Day when my possessions, my children, and all of my family will not benefit me, except that I come to you with a clean heart. O Allah, I acknowledge before You my wrongdoing, and my need for Your forgiveness you’re your mercy. Always your humble, needy servant, Abu Laith Luqman ibn Abdulkarim Muhammad Ahmad

And our last cry shall be Praise to Allah, Lord of all the worlds

وآخر دعوانا أن الحمد لله رب العالمين

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is an Associate Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo, Ohio. You can reach him at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

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Audio Khutba: Explanation of the Hadith: “The Most Beloved People to Allah”, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

waterdrops2The Prophet said: “The most beloved people to Allah are those that bring most benefit to other people, and the most beloved of deeds to Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, is bringing happiness upon a Muslim or removing a worry from him, or to pay his debt, or to remove his hunger, . It is more beloved to me that I walk with my brother to fulfill his need, than if I performed i’tikaaf for a month in the masjid, and whoever holds back his anger, Allah will cover his faults, and whoever keeps his anger to himself, and if he wants to just let it go and lets it go, Allah will fill his heart with satisfaction on the Day of Judgment”. And whoever walks with his brother to fulfill his need until he secures it for him, Allah will secure his feet for him on the day when feet are unsteady, and bad character will spoil a deed just like vinegar spoils honey”. [ Hasan, Collected by Abu Ya’lah]

Click on the link to listen to a very nice explanation of this hadith by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center, Sacramento California.

Audio Khutba: The Importance of Simplicity in Religion, and Sincerity to Allah, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

angels amongst usThere is nothing that is simpler, more gratifying and more useful to the servant in this life and in the hereafter, than ikhlaas lillaah (sincerity to Allah). This is the topic of this khutba recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, California. Click on the link to take a listen wal Allahul Musta’aan

15 Of the Most Beloved Deeds to Allah , by Imam Luqman Ahmad

6/21/19 I’m selling my car to visit my terminally ill brother in the hospital. See details at the end of the this blog post.

allah
1.      The most beloved deen: The Prophet said: “The most beloved religion to Allah is the Al-hanafiyyatu sam’ha”. (Easy going religion). [Collected by Ahmad]

2.      The salat in its proper time. The Prophet said, “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are: the salat in its proper time, goodness to the parents, and striving in the way of Allah”. [Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim]

3.      Belief in Allah: the Prophet said: “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are: belief in Allah, then, keeping your ties with family, then, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil”. [Collected by Abu Ya’lah]

4.      Consistency in good deeds: The Prophet said, “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small”. [Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim]

5.      The remembrance of Allah: The Prophet said: “The most beloved of deeds to Allah is to die while your tongue is moistened with the remembrance of Allah”. [Collected by Tabaraani}

6.      The masaajid: The Prophet said: “The most beloved places to Allah are the masaajid, and the most hated places to Allah are the marketplaces”. [Collected by Muslim]

7.      Speaking the truth in the presence of an unjust ruler: The Prophet said: “The most beloved jihaad to Allah is speaking the truth in the presence of an unjust ruler”. [Collected by Ahmad].

8.      Truthful speech. The Prophet said: “The most beloved of speech to me is that which is most truthful”. [Collected by Bukhaari]

9.      The fast of David: The Prophet said: “The most beloved fast to Allah is the fast of David; he used to fast one day, and break fast one day, and the most beloved prayer to Allah is the prayer of David; he used to sleep half the night, pray a third, and sleep a sixth”. [Bukhaari and Muslim].

10.   Plentiful hands in the food plate: The Prophet said: “The most beloved meal to Allah is that in which many hands partake from the plate”. [Collected by Ibn Hibbaan]

11.   Saying Sub’haana Allah: the Prophet said: “The most beloved of speech to Allah is for a servant to say; Sub’haana Allah wa bi hamdi’hi”. [Collected by Muslim].

12.   The four most beloved words: The Prophet said: “The most beloved words to Allah are four; sub’haanallah, al-humdu lillaah, wa laa ilaaha illa Allah, wa Allahu Akbar”.  [Collected by Muslim].

13.   Good character: The Prophet said: “The most beloved servant to Allah is he who has the best character”.  [Collected by Tabaraani]

14.   The best names: The Prophet said: “The most beloved names to Allah are, Abdullah and Abdul-Rahmaan”. [Collected by Muslim]

15.   Benefiting people:  The Prophet said: “The most beloved people to Allah are those that bring most benefit to other people, and the most beloved of deeds to Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, is bringing happiness upon a Muslim or removing a worry from him, or to pay his debt, or to remove his hunger, . It is more beloved to me that I walk with my brother to fulfill his need, than if I spent i’tikaaf for a month in the masjid, and whoever holds back his anger, Allah will cover his faults, and whoever keeps his anger to himself, and if he wants to just let it go and lets it go, Allah will fill his heart with satisfaction on the Day of Judgment”. And whoever walks with his brother to fulfill his need until he secures it for him, Allah will secure his feet for him on the day when feet are unsteady, and bad character will spoil a deed just like vinegar spoils honey”. [Collected by Abu Ya’lah]

Righteousness does not have to be complicated. Consider all these good deeds beloved. All of these actions are sanctioned by our beloved Prophet (SAWS) and loved by Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, and all of these are easy to accomplish in sha Allah.  Wal Allahul Musta’aan

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

imamabulaith@yahoo.com

The Islamic Ruling Regarding Celebrating Thanksgiving Day, by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

thanksgiving dinnerToday’s scholars, are faced with a task, that scholars of previous times, did not have to reckon with; before the age of globalization, scholars would render religious edicts (fataawa), about their own people, and their own cultural affairs, and their own countries and lifestyle, about which they were uniquely familiar.  Today, scholars face, and sometimes simply take upon themselves, the colossal assignment of electronically rendering religious edicts, about people, places, and cultures, sometimes thousands of miles away, where they have not lived, do not have an intimate working knowledge of, and are woefully unfamiliar with.

Fatwas, that apply to well-known, and necessary matters of worship, aqeeda, theology, and religious practices, can be applied globally, across all nations and people. With regard to such issues, all Muslims are the same, and they all have the same obligations, and responsibilities. For example, in issues of salat, fasting, inheritance, and the like, all Muslims must adhere to the same ah’kaam. However, in matters that has to do with tradition,  cultural norms, and regional circumstances, Muslim scholars should refrain from making rulings which prohibit the cultural practices people in faraway lands.

It is not common, and virtually unheard of, for scholars of Egypt to render fatwas against the people of Syria for what they do in their country, or for the scholars of Saudi Arabia to render fatwas against the People of Bahrain for what they do in their country, or for the scholars of Lebanon, or Algeria, to render fatwas against the Muslims of Sudan, for what they do in their country.

Were they to do that, people would be insulted and take hyperbolic umbrage over it. There is a certain respect, and acknowledgement of scholars, to respect the boundaries, intelligence, and independence of Muslim peoples in other countries, to understand their own condition, and to handle their own affairs accordingly. This gentleman’s understanding and respect, should also extend to Muslims, and Muslim converts living in America.

Muslim Americans have lived on this continent, since the 1600’s, long before this country even became a republic. They have endured under slavery, torture, illiteracy, and being bought and sold like cattle, and still managed to hold on to their faith. So to think that American Muslims of today, do not know how to maintain or practice their faith in the midst of a country like the United States of America, is untenable, and untenable is a soft word because it’s more like, ludicrous. It would be unthinkable for an American Muslim scholar or Imam to render a ruling about practices in another country, and be taken seriously.

The Prophet , and his learned companions, knew how to navigate their way through their society in a way as to avoid what was prohibited upon them. This is true for most Muslims, once they know what is prohibited upon them according to the Quran and the Sunna. If we can accept, as the majority of scholars do, that the companions of the Prophet were able to navigate through Arab society using the guidance of the Quran and the Sunna, then how can we not accept the possibility that American Muslims could do the same, without outside help? The reason the Prophet migrated from Mecca to Madinah, was not because they were unable to conduct their affairs morally and comprehensively in an un-Islamic society; the reason he made the Hijra, was because the Muslims were under persecution. It is a historical fact that the first Hijra was because of persecution, and the same went for the second Hijra. This is why the Prophet “said the best of you in jaahiliyyah are the best of you in Islam if they understand (the religion)”. In order for people to understand the religion, the focus has to be upon the primary texts of the Quran and the Sunna; not the secondary opinions, that are inconsistent with the original intentions (maqaasid) of Islam.

During the last four or five decades, millions of Americans have converted to Islam, and their families and extended families were not Muslim. People have used Thanksgiving Day for a day of strengthening family ties, keeping in touch with their relatives whom normally, they would not have the opportunity to visit because of work obligations and distance. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, the non-Muslim families because of love and attachment to the Muslim, accommodates them in every possible way.

It would be grossly irresponsible to say that Thanksgiving, or any observance of it, is prohibited. Because to do so, is to say that people gathering to eat, to be amongst their family and loved ones, and to express their thanks to God, is an abomination, and something that angers God. To render the holiday and all of the practices haraam would say that it is evil, an abomination, and something that God hates. “Say: My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye associate with Allah that for which no authority hath been revealed, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not”.[1]

Thus, when a convert to Islam is now told that eating with his family, visiting his grandma, and keeping ties with his family is a shameful, hateful thing to God, is sends a dangerous psychological message, that is antithetical to our faith. To say that doing these things are permissible on other days but not permissible on the day that it is easiest to accomplish keeping ties, goes directly against the standards of our Prophet in fulfilling godly obligations. Which was to prefer ease. “This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him”.[2] It is easy for scholars from abroad to prohibit something when they have no direct experience upon the matter. This is why we seek to clarify the whole issue of Thanksgiving so that people will be upon clarity بينة.

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day is an American cultural holiday that is marked by family gatherings, cooking and feasting, being thankful, watching football, parades, staying home from work, and discounts in the malls on the following day. For many American families, thanksgiving dinner represents a day when the family comes together. For some, it is the only day where so many of the family are present on the same day and in the same place. Maintaining family relationships is prescribed in our scripture, and it is the Sunna of our beloved Prophet .

 Is sitting down to a meal with one’s family prohibited on Thanksgiving? Some modern-day scholars of Islam are adamant that participating in any part of thanksgiving; going to dinner, taking off from work, eating turkey, visiting the family, taking advantage of the discounts in the malls,  is expressly prohibited. Some have even likened such behavior as disbelief. However, the evidences from the Quran and the Sunna seems not to support that notion.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, not a religious holiday

Although Thanksgiving was originated by Christians, it was not born of pagan origin; amongst some of the early Christians in this country, special blessings viewed as coming from God, called for days of thanksgiving.  In its current form as practiced in the United States, it is not a religious holiday; it is an American holiday observed in one way or another by people of all faiths. A person if they like, can use the occasion to reflect upon the blessings of their Lord, and thank Him. However, observing Thanksgiving Day does not require that a person worship, thank, or show gratitude to other than Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, nor does it require that a person worship other than Him be he Exalted and Glorified.

Contrary to some opinions, there is nothing in the Book or in the Sunna of the Prophet that prohibits a person from being American living like an American or behaving like an American or engaging in American culture as long as the lifestyle, behavior or actions do not contradict the Book of Allah, or the Sunna of the Prophet . If America, being American, living like an American or thinking like an American contradicts the wishes of some of the scholars, then the Muslim is not answerable to them in that; we are answerable to Allah for our actions first and foremost.

Operative principles of Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day centers around five points, all of which are prominently placed values in the religion of Islam.

1.      Thanking Allah: “And remember! your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed”.[3]

2.      Being grateful: “He showed his gratitude for the favours of Allah, who chose him, and guided him to a Straight Way”.[4]

3.      Reminding yourself of His favors: “Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny”?[5]

4.      Keeping family ties: “Those who join together those things which Allah hath commanded to be joined, hold their Lord in awe, and fear the terrible reckoning

5.      Feeding food. The Prophet was asked; what is the best type of Islam? He answered, “Feeding food, and spreading the salaams”.[6]

If the Prophet wanted to make it prohibited for a Muslim to visit his or her family during certain days of the year, then he would have done so, especially since the overwhelming majority of the companions of Rasoolillaah had relatives who continued to engage in pagan worship. Even if they converted to Islam, their family members continued to observe pagan rites, rituals and functions. It is confirmed in authentic hadith that the Prophet himself, as well as numerous companions were present at the Ka’ba while people were engaged in idol worship. However, they themselves, did not participate in anything of idol worship, nor did they engage in prohibited activity.

The Prophet , and his learned companions, knew how to navigate their way through their society in a way as to avoid what was prohibited upon them. This is true for most Muslims, once they know what is prohibited upon them according to the Quran and the Sunna. Thus, is our view that scholars, who are not intimately informed about people’s daily lives, and exchanges with their environments, cannot and should not, attempt to micro-manage people’s interactive navigation through life, as they pursue the religious ideals and values for which God holds them accountable.

Errant Islamic rulings which prohibit Thanksgiving

A surprising number of religious edicts or fataawa rendered upon people, events and circumstances which occur in the United States are made by scholars who are qualified and astute in their own regard, but are distressingly uniformed about the details and social-cultural minutia of life in the United States of America. Subsequently, many rulings are made that are faulty, and harms the Muslim in areas of their faith, rather than benefit them. It is common that a fatwa is rendered, usually from abroad, which ends up requiring the Muslim to disobey Allah and His Messenger , or to hate something that Allah loves, or to ignore a basic principle of deen in order to comply with the ruling of an uninformed scholar. This phenomenon is one of the causes of American Muslim moral dysfunction. This problem is further exacerbated when we see that in many Muslim countries, holidays commemorations, and events, other than the two Eids are celebrated with the consent of the scholars while some of the same scholars, render prohibitions against Muslims celebrating anything besides the two Eids here in the United States.

There is hardly a single Muslim country on earth that does not celebrate their National Day, or their Independence Day, or the Prophet’s Birthday or their Revolution Day, or their Election Day, or million man marches as was held in Egypt recently. In Saudi Arabia they celebrate, in addition to the two Eids, the June Solstice on June 21st, the September Equinox on September 22nd, and the New Year on the first of Muharram, or November 5th, and the scholars are silent about that.  There are millions of Muslims who came to America, applied for citizenship and then went to the citizenship celebration held by the U.S government, and the scholars are silent about that. In fact, many of them participate in it every year.

When the Abbasid Dynasty came into being, it started with a huge celebration and feast for the leading Umayyad princes, and ended with them all being slaughtered. Muslims celebrate victories in battle. They celebrated for days when Mu’ammar Qadafhi was killed, they celebrated in the streets of Egypt when Husni Mubaarak was deposed, and they celebrated in the streets of Kuwait, after the Gulf war and the scholars sanctioned it. Even the Muslims, who cry about thanksgiving being haraam, commemorate it every year by arguing about it, so they still participate in the holiday; they just do it by arguing about it. In Pakistan they celebrate Pakistan Independence day on the 14th of August, Pakistan day on the 23rd of March, and Labor Day on the 1st of May, and the scholars are silent about these things and participate in them

Thus many of the fatwaawa (Islamic legal rulings) which prohibit thanksgiving are biased and use a double standard, or are issued by people who may mean well but who do not fully understand western society and how we celebrate our holidays. They are unaware of how we differentiate between the religious and the cultural and they are uninformed about how we navigate our affairs so and sift through the prohibited actions in order to engage in that which is permissible. Some scholars are also uninformed about the operative meaning of the word ‘celebration’ in the modern American context; they infer that by celebration, we mean worship, or that we mean partying, from morning to night, dancing in the streets, and making a spectacle of ourselves. Additionally, the notion of a holiday to many scholars is that it is religiously incumbent, and that participation is mandatory, not optional.  This is not the case not only for Thanksgiving but for many American holidays, even the religious ones.

People in America celebrate thanksgiving differently. There is no one way that the whole population; all 311,591,917 of us, observes the day. For some it is merely a paid or non-paid day off from work, which is permissible in either case. For others, it is a time when shopping bargains are available in the stores and online which is also permissible in Islam since there is no prohibition in purchasing an item that has been discounted.  For others it is a day of preparing a feast for the family and serving it to them which is a praiseworthy action in the religion of Islam. Or spending quality time with the family which also a praiseworthy action according to the Quran and the Sunna. Still for others it is no different from any other day at all. Some people abhor the thought of Thanksgiving, and others simply sleep through the whole day and don’t wake up until the next day. So anyone can see the obvious difficulty and absurdity in rendering any acknowledgement, involvement, celebration or participation in anything that has to do with Thanksgiving as prohibited

Many scholars of Islam, (may Allah bless and strengthen them), are also unfamiliar with the operative meaning and concept of the term ‘holiday’ means in the United States. Holidays in America can be religious, political, cultural or environmental (like earth day), historical (like Presidents Day), or patriotic in nature, like Veterans Day. Since the United States, thus far, is a free society, people generally are free to observe them any way they like. It’s not like religious holidays in the Muslim world whereas on the Eid for example; you aren’t considered to have observed the Eid unless you attended Eid prayer. If a woman is menstruating, she would be considered to have observed the Eid if she attended the prayer even if she didn’t pray.  30,000 people in the city where I live, observed Thanksgiving today by running a 5k race to raise money to feed the homeless, and it’s hard to find an argument that makes raising money to feed homeless people haram.

A Muslim is not obligated to live his or her life based upon the ignorance or misinformation of a well intending scholar.  Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya alluded to this issue very succinctly; when commenting of the necessity of understanding people’s cultural practices, he said: “This is a major foundation that every mufti (legist) or ruler needs; he must be both well-versed (in people’s traditions) as well as matters of command and prohibition and then apply them both simultaneously. Otherwise he will do more harm than good. If he is not intimately aware of an issue in which people have particular understanding, a transgressor will appear to him as the transgressed and the truth will appear to him as falsehood and vice versa.”

Ibn Qayyim went on to say: “Because of his ignorance of the people, their traditions, their conditions and their habits, he (a scholar) will not be able to distinguish (between truth and falsehood), Thus, it is imperative that he understands the machinations of the people, their deceptions, their cultural traditions and their habits because fatwa (religious rulings) change with the changing of time, place culture and condition, and all of this is part of the religion of Allah”.[7] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya.  There is a fatwa floating around, attributed to our esteemed Shaykh bin Baaz, (RA) that prohibits celebrating any festivals, holidays, or special occasions of non-Muslims. I regret that during my time of study with him, I did not ask him specifically and in detail about Thanksgiving in America. Had I done so, I doubt if he would have found it prohibited but Allah knows best.

The correct Islamic ruling on celebrating Thanksgiving Day

Deeds are reckoned according to intentions, based upon the hadith; “surely deeds are reckoned by intention”.[8] There are several Sunnan and Quranic injunctions that are found in the observance of thanksgiving such as the Prophet’s exhortation upon the believers to feed food; when asked what is the best type of Islam, he replied: “feeding food, and spreading the salaams”[3]. Thanksgiving also is marked by gathering with family and strengthening family bonds, which is a praiseworthy act; “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.[4]”additionally, it is not prohibited in Islam to visit the homes of your relatives, and eat there; “It is no fault in the blind nor in one born lame, nor in one afflicted with illness, nor in yourselves, that ye should eat in your own houses, or those of your fathers, or your mothers, or your brothers, or your sisters, or your father’s brothers or your father’s sisters, or your mother’s brothers, or your mother’s sisters, or in houses of which the keys are in your possession, or in the house of a sincere friend of yours: there is no blame on you, whether ye eat in company or separately. But if ye enter houses, salute each other – a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah. Thus does Allah make clear the signs to you: that ye may understand”.[9]

There are no verses in the Quran or authentic ahaadeeth of the Prophet that expressly prohibit celebrating thanksgiving. Even though there are scholars who triangulate different ahaadeeth and verses and interpret them to make Thanksgiving prohibited, this is without warrant according to our understanding.

It is not possible to prohibit an entire day, since all the days of the year belong to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. However, activities that occur on any given day can be prohibited if there is sufficient proof. So based upon the evidences that we have provided, observing Thanksgiving Day by itself, is not prohibited, and just like every other cultural occasion, the activities that one participates in on that day, should be looked upon on a case by case, compartmental basis.

It is permissible for a Muslim to prepare a meal on Thanksgiving Day, or any other day in their own homes, and eat thereof. It is also permissible to invite guests to your home on that day or any other day of the year to eat your food. It is permissible to cook turkey, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, or any other meat that is allowable according to the Book and the Sunna. It is also permissible to go vegetarian if one likes. Allah has made no restrictions on which days people can feast and which days they cannot except in the case of Ramadan.

Likewise, If one sees benefit in taking a paid day off from work to spend with their family or to rest then they should do so. If they see benefit in spending that time with their families over grandma’s house and enjoying a good meal of allowable food, then they should do so. If the see benefit in spending halal money, on permissible items that are discounted in the mall, then they should do so. However, if going to grandma’s house for dinner or preparing a special meal in your own home will cause problems in the family, sour relations with the relatives, or somehow cause you to lose your religion, or disobey Allah and His Messenger, then you should not participate. Likewise, if a person wishes to avoid everything about that day, pay full price instead of the discounted price at the mall, return to their employer, their day’s pay when they took off, and behave as if it is just another day, then they are allowed to do that according to the Kitaab and the Sunna.

Another important point is that, if we can accept that scholars can make ta’weel (interpretation) of divine ordinances so as to render an affair like Thanksgiving to be prohibited, despite that that there are no direct texts that say such, then it should be more acceptable that the opinions of scholars are also subject to interpretation, as to render their opinion erroneous, or invalid. Scholarly opinions are not divine writ. If the Book of Allah, and the ahaadeeth of the Prophet , are subject to interpretation, then so are the opinions of scholars.

Conditions for celebrating thanksgiving:

·        That you thank Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala first for the good that He has given you.   It is permissible to thank others as well according to the hadith; “whoever does not thank people, does not thank Allah”.

·        That you thank Him on all of the other days of the year as well, and not pick only that one day to be grateful to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.

·        That you do not participate in any activity that is prohibited in the religion, such as drinking alcohol, using intoxicants, or displaying lewd, and unlawful behavior.

·        Thanksgiving dinners sometimes invite to overeating or gluttony, so a Muslim must be mindful of that, not just during thanksgiving but during the whole year.

·        That you do not waste food, and if there is excess, then you should feed others with it, or refrigerate it until a later time. But you already knew that.

·        That you do not eat in the name of other than Allah, or eat an animal that was killed in the name of other than Allah.

·        That you do not sit at a table where alcohol and intoxicating beverages are served.

Follow-up question: Is celebrating Thanksgiving imitating the kuffaar?

There is no evidence in the Book or in the Sunna that everything that a non-Muslim does is prohibited. It is impossible for Muslims to not imitate anything at all that a non-Muslim does. They are all; both Muslims and non-Muslims, human beings and inhabitants of this earth. They shop at the same stores; they wear the same brands of clothes, eat the same kinds of foods, use the same types of utensils, use the same brands of computers, and sport around in the same types of automobiles as the so-called unbeliever. Muslims use the same types of tools that non-Muslim use; power drills, electric saws, lawn mowers, and weed whackers.

We also use the same weapons as the non-Muslims use; in fact, Muslims don’t even manufacture weapons; all the advanced weaponry that Muslims use in today’s modern warfare are imitations of the non-Muslim types of weapons.  If you turn on any television (which by the way was invented by the non-Muslim, you will see Muslims in all parts of the world, wearing thobes made in China (atheists), eating on dishes made in France,  wearing diamonds mined in South Africa, bearing military ranks (general, captain, lieutenant , sergeant) invented by the so called kuffaar. So it would seem that 99% of the Muslims in the world have entered into what some scholars would characterize as disbelief.  I’m not buying it. The only one who is free from error and whose opinion must be accepted without question is Rasoolillaah . When we see textual evidence which prohibits virtually every product, action, celebration, festivity, or cause of joy that exists on the planet, as the fatwa prohibiting Thanksgiving seems to say, then we will accept it. Otherwise, we must look at all actions on a case by case basis. And Allah knows best.

Second follow up question: Does Muslims have to celebrate Thanksgiving Day?

No one is saying that you have to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, or to be any way involved in it. People do not have to eat with their family on that day, they don’t have to cook, or even think about cooking if they don’t want to. They don’t have to take off from work, (unless their job is closed that day), or participate in any Thanksgiving related activities. They don’t have to answer the phone when their auntie calls them to ask are they coming, and can they bring some extra plastic cups for the kids. They don’t have to take advantage of 20-50% off, in any Thanksgiving Day sale, and they don’t have to watch the parade, watch football on television, or finger through the big Thanksgiving edition of their city’s newspaper. They don’t even have to get out of bed, except to perform their prayer. They don’t have to get dressed, like they are going somewhere, and if a woman is menstruating, she can sleep through the whole day, and wake up the next day if she wants. They do not even have to mention the word; Thanksgiving, if they choose not to.

Participating in Thanksgiving in any way, is not a religious obligation. The deen of Allah is easy, and the Lord that we worship is above pettiness of any kind. He is also very clear about what He wants us to do, and about what He wants us to stay away from. ‘He hath explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you’.[10] Thus, if someone wants to declare something haram, and declare that anyone who participates in a thing is committing a sin against Allah, then they need to bring clear evidence, otherwise, they risk forging a lie against Allah sub’haanahu wata’ala, and that’s what we have an issue with.

When someone, says that something is haram, then they are speaking on behalf of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and they need to bring conclusive proof, and not just their dislike for something or dislike for a certain people. It is not permissible in Islam for anyone to render something prohibited on their own accord. 7:32 “Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand”.[11]

Personal sentiment by itself, is not enough to manufacture law. Law is made by the use of textual evidence, or decisive proof, not merely that people do not like Christians, or don’t like America, or don’t like the kuffaar, or don’t like the Pilgrims, or don’t like the idea of families getting together and expressing their gratitude for each other on that day, or don’t like turkey, or don’t like what some people did in celebration of Thanksgiving, or don’t like the oppressors of hundreds of years ago. A Muslim should not let their dislike for a people, prevent them from being just.  “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you, make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is closer to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do”.[12]

A Muslim may engage in any activity that is not expressly prohibited by Allah, or His Messenger, or by a unanimous consensus of Muslim scholars. They can engage in any activity that does not compromise their faith, does not require from them that they ascribe partners with Allah, does not require or encourage that they disobey Allah or His Messenger (SAWS), and that does not place them or their religion, or the practice thereof, in harm. They can engage in any activity that does not invite to haram, or leads to haram, or that glorifies something that is haram. Muslims are not allowed to engage in any activity that promotes or glorifies, kufr, shirk, disobedience to Allah and His Messenger, or that makes a mockery of our noble religion. We don’t do Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, since all of these celebrate, commemorate, or invite to disbelief, or glorifies evil, as in the case of Halloween. . If you don’t want to have anything to do with the Thanksgiving Day, then leave it alone completely; there is no blame in that, as long as you fulfill your other obligations to Allah. Wal Al-humdu lillaahi Rabbil aalameen.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad in the Imam and Executive Director of Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento California, you can reach him at imamluqman@masjidibrahim.com, or visit the Masjid website at http://www.masjidibrahim.com


[1] Quran, 7:33.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

[3] Quran, 14:7

[4] Quran, 16:121

[5] Quran, 55:49.

[6] Collected by Muslim.

[7] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (D. 751 A.H.) quoted from: “Ii’laan al-Muwaqqi’een an Rabbil aalameen” vol. 4, p. 157

[8] Collected by Muslim.

[9] Quran, 34:61.

[10] Quran, 6:119.

[11] Quran, 7:32.

[12] Quran, 5:8.

A Fatwa About Celebrating Your Country’s National Day [By Sheikh `Abd Allah b. Bayyih]

Every country has its National Day. This day is not a religious festival. The new holidays that we as Muslims are prohibited from introducing into our lives are new religious holidays. We are not prohibited from other occasions where people get together for one reason or another. People celebrate their marriages, they celebrate the birth of a new child. They might celebrate any number of other occasions, and there is nothing wrong with this, as long as their celebration is not a religious observance.

It is essential to clear up the misunderstanding that many people have about this issue. Due to this misunderstanding, people have been placed in great difficulties, since so many religious people have been made to think that by observing these non-religious holidays they are committing some sort of sin.

Observing these days is not sinful. In Islamic Law, the default ruling for an activity – barring any evidence to the contrary – is that of permissibility. We should consider how scholars related to such events in the past. There was a tradition that hailed to before the time of Islam known as `Atîrah. It was a day in the month of Rajab where an animal would customarily be slaughtered. Scholars of the Hanbalî school of law regarded it as permissible. Mâlikî scholars disliked it, since it was a practice from the times of ignorance before Islam.

Nevertheless, Hanbalî scholars saw no problem with it. They argued that there is no text forbidding it. The fact that people from since bygone days had a day in Rajab where they would traditionally slaughter an animal – called a rajabi or an `atîrah – is something that is permissible by default. If people want to get together on a day in the month or Rajab or Sha`bân or any other time that of the year that suits their customs to slaughter an animal and have a feast, then that is up to them.

The same can be said for the anniversary of a country’s independence – which is usually what is meant by the “national day” in the countries of Africa and Asia that used to be colonial possessions. There is nothing in Islam to prohibit this.

We need to properly understand the hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him), upon his arrival in Madinah, found that the people there had two festive days wherein they would play and enjoy themselves and said: “Allah – most blessed and exalted – has replaced them with what is better: `Îd al-Fitr and `Îd al-Adhâ.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (1134) and Sunan al-Nasâ’î (1556)]

These were pagan religious holidays tied in with their idols. The Prophet (peace be upon him), therefore, mentioned to them the two religious holidays of the Muslims, `Îd al-Fitr and `Îd al-Adhâ. This does not imply in any way that people are forbidden to engage in any public assembly or celebration whatsoever. As long as participating in these celebrations does not entail any sinful conduct, people should be allowed to celebrate. It is unwise to raise objections, disturb people in their traditions, and cause division in society when there is no text form the Qur’ân and Sunnah to forbid those traditions, nor any scholarly consensus even within the schools of thought. Islamic Law is easy with regard to matters wherein there is no clear objection and where the disapproval that is expressed is not based upon any unequivocal evidence. People should be allowed the scope to express their customs. The principle of maintaining ease and facilitation is an essential principle of Islamic Law. Allah says: “He has not placed any difficulty upon you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78] He says: “Allah desires that He should make light your burdens.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 28] Anas relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not become divided.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (69) and Sahîh Muslim (1734)] We say again that the religion of Islam, essentially, seeks to make things easy for the people. The other opinions and views that scholars have on this matter should be treated with respect. Nevertheless, those opinions are not sacred scripture.

And Allah knows best. By Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Bayah

Audio Khutba: Call Yourselves into Account Before You Are Called into Account, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

scales and gavelIt is an expectation from Allah that the Muslim Ummah police itself and call itself into account, and that we as a ummah, stand up for what is right. It is also expected that we as individuals stand up for what we believe, and put it into practice to the best our ability. It is unacceptable that during these times, Muslims abandon its role as an ummah that stands up for righteousness, even it’s against our own-selves. This is the topic of this khutbatul Jum’ah recorded at Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento Ca. Click on the link below to take a listen.

Why Allah (God) Always Wins, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Allah 3dHere it is folks; the key to really benefiting from your Islam is to simply submit. Everything in the universe submits to Allah either willingly or unwillingly. So you might as well surrender. When you submit, your Islam works in your favor. When you fight it, it works against you. And remember that without fail, Allah always wins. Always… –

No matter how influential you are, how smart you are, how healthy you are, how strong you are, how many friends you have, how many degrees you have, how well you eat, how much you exercise, what color you are, what you family background is, what country you come from or what your IQ is, you will find yourself one day soon, at Allah’s mercy. He will have His way with you, He will test you, He will manifest His glory to you, and you will be required to recognize Him, and submit to Him. He will be patient with you if He so wills, and He may even hasten your punishment or your reward as He often does, but without a doubt, you shall submit to Him wither willingly or unwillingly.

You will not outlive Allah, you will not get ahead of Him, you will never outsmart Him, and you will never overpower Him, or even come remotely close to it. Long before any of us were brought into existence, there was Allah, and long after we are gone, there will be Allah. You may think that you are in control but in reality, you are not; Allah controls everything. In fact; He is complete control. And a day will come when there is no one left standing on the planet earth, and on that day, Allah will still be God, He will still be the King, He will still be the Supreme being, and whether you like it or not, you will be resurrected.

If Allah wishes harm for you, there is nothing that you can do to stop it and if He wishes good for you, there is nothing than anyone can do to prevent it. Allah does whatever He pleases, and there is nothing that you, I or anyone else can do about it. He is a God that is always Victorious. Sometimes people do things that they say are for sake of Allah (God) maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. However, in the long run, Allah will bring out the truth of that action and we will find that many of the things that people say they do for Allah (killing, raping, unlawful plunder, terror), were not really for Allah. Then they will have to pay the price, because it is Allah who will always win.

Allah always wins because He is Allah, He is God, He is the only God, and He is the Wisest, Holiest, Strongest, and Most Powerful Being that ever existed and that ever will exist. He is Allah, and there is no other rightful god besides Him. If you are a Muslim, then you submit to Allah, plain and simple. So don’t be one of those people who convert to Islam, and then tries to re-write the rules about what it is to be a Muslim, as if you’re going to enlighten somebody. Those who submitted have already found their light.

Imam Luqman

Audio Khutba: The Keys to Mental and Emotional Health from The Quran and the Sunna, Part Two, by Imam Luqman Ahmad

mental healthMental and emotional wellbeing are two important elements necessary for one’s Islam to be healthy and morally functional. Many times, mental and emotional imbalances are spiritual ailments and the Quran and the sunna are full of directives for how to achieve mental and emotional health. Anger, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and psychopathic behavior can all be factors in moral dysfunction. To learn about the clinical solution, visit your health professional. To hear about the Islamic solution, click on the link to this khutba.

001_A_005_abulaith_The keys to psychological and emotional health part two_2012_12_28

The Islamic Ruling regarding Celebrating Thanksgiving Day by Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Today’s scholars, are faced with a task, that scholars of previous times, did not have to reckon with; before the age of globalization, scholars would render religious edicts (fataawa), about their own people, and their own cultural affairs, and their own countries and lifestyle, about which they were uniquely familiar.  Today, scholars face, and sometimes simply take upon themselves, the colossal assignment of electronically rendering religious edicts, about people, places, and cultures, sometimes thousands of miles away, where they have not lived, do not have an intimate working knowledge of, and are woefully unfamiliar with.

Fatwas, that apply to well-known, and necessary matters of worship, aqeeda, theology, and religious practices, can be applied globally, across all nations and people. With regard to such issues, all Muslims are the same, and they all have the same obligations, and responsibilities. For example, in issues of salat, fasting, inheritance, and the like, all Muslims must adhere to the same ah’kaam. However, Muslim, in matters that has to do with tradition, and cultural norms, and regional circumstances, Muslim scholars should refrain from making rulings which prohibit the cultural practices people in faraway lands.

It is not common, and virtually unheard of, for scholars of Egypt to render fatwas against the people of Syria for what they do in their country, or for the scholars of Saudi Arabia to render fatwas against the People of Bahrain for what they do in their country, or for the scholars of Lebanon, or Algeria, to render fatwas against the Muslims of Sudan, for what they do in their country.

Were they to do that, people would be insulted and take hyperbolic umbrage over it. There is a certain respect, and acknowledgement of scholars, to respect the boundaries, intelligence, and independence of Muslim peoples in other countries, to understand their own condition, and to handle their own affairs accordingly. This gentleman’s understanding and respect, should also extend to Muslims, and Muslim converts living in America.

Muslim Americans have lived on this continent, since the 1600’s, long before this country even became a republic. They have endured under slavery, torture, illiteracy, and being bought and sold like cattle, and still managed to hold on to their faith. So to think that American Muslims of today, do not know how to maintain or practice their faith in the midst of a country like the United States of America, is untenable, and untenable is a soft word because it’s more like, ludicrous. It would be unthinkable for an American Muslim scholar or Imam to render a ruling about practices in another country, and be taken seriously.

The Prophet , and his learned companions, knew how to navigate their way through their society in a way as to avoid what was prohibited upon them. This is true for most Muslims, once they know what is prohibited upon them according to the Quran and the Sunna. If we can accept, as the majority of scholars do, that the companions of the Prophet were able to navigate through Arab society using the guidance of the Quran and the Sunna, then how can we not accept the possibility that American Muslims could do the same, without outside help? The reason the Prophet migrated from Mecca to Madinah, was not because they were unable to conduct their affairs morally and comprehensively in an un-Islamic society; the reason he made the Hijra, was because the Muslims were under oppression and persecution. It is a historical fact that the first Hijra was because of persecution, and the same went for the second Hijra. This is why the Prophet “said the best of you in jaahiliyyah is the best of you in Islam if they understand (the religion). In order for people to understand the religion, their focus has to be upon the texts.

During the last four or five decades, millions of Americans have converted to Islam, and their families and extended families were not Muslim. Many converts have used Thanksgiving Day for a day of strengthening family ties, keeping in touch with their relatives whom normally, they would not have the opportunity to visit because of work obligations and distance. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, the non-Muslim families, because of love and attachment to their Muslim relative, accommodates them in every possible way.

It would be grossly irresponsible to say that Thanksgiving, or any observance of it, is prohibited. Because to do so, is to say that people gathering to eat, to be amongst their family and loved ones, and to express their thanks to God, is an abomination, and something that angers God. To render the holiday and all of the practices haraam would say that it is evil, an abomination, and something that God hates. “Say: My Lord forbiddeth only indecencies, such of them as are apparent and such as are within, and sin and wrongful oppression, and that ye associate with Allah that for which no authority hath been revealed, and that ye tell concerning Allah that which ye know not”.[1]

Thus, when a convert to Islam is now told that eating with his family, visiting his grandma, and keeping ties with his family is a shameful, hateful thing to god, it sends a dangerous psychological message, that is antithetical to our faith. To say that doing these things are permissible on other days, but not permissible of the day that it is easiest to accomplish keeping ties, goes directly against the standards of our Prophet in fulfilling godly obligations. Which was to prefer ease. “This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him”.[2] It is easy for scholars from abroad to prohibit something when they have no direct experience upon the matter. This is why we seek to clarify the whole issue of Thanksgiving so that people will be upon clarity بينة.

What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Day is an American cultural holiday that is marked by family gatherings, cooking and feasting, being thankful, watching football, parades, staying home from work, and discounts in the malls on the following day. For many American families, thanksgiving dinner represents a day when the family comes together. For some, it is the only day where so many of the family are present on the same day and in the same place. Maintaining family relationships is prescribed in our scripture, and it is the Sunna of our beloved Prophet .

Is sitting down to a meal with one’s family prohibited on Thanksgiving? Some modern-day scholars of Islam are adamant that participating in any part of thanksgiving; going to dinner, taking off from work, eating turkey, visiting the family, taking advantage of the discounts in the malls,  is expressly prohibited. Some have even likened such behavior as disbelief. However, the evidences from the Quran and the Sunna seems not to support that notion.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, not a religious holiday

Although Thanksgiving was originated by Christians, it was not born of pagan origin; amongst some of the early Christians in this country, special blessings viewed as coming from God, called for days of thanksgiving.  In its current form as practiced in the United States, it is not a religious holiday; it is an American holiday, observed in one way or another by people of all faiths. A person if they like, can use the occasion to reflect upon the blessings of their Lord, and thank Him. However, observing Thanksgiving Day does not require that a person worship, thank, or show gratitude to other than Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, nor does it require that a person worship other than Him be he Exalted and Glorified.

Contrary to some opinions, there is nothing in the Book or in the Sunna of the Prophet that prohibits a person from being American, living like an American, behaving like an American, or engaging in American culture as long as the lifestyle, behavior or actions do not contradict the Book of Allah, or the Sunna of the Prophet . If America, being American, living like an American or thinking like an American contradicts the wishes of some of the scholars, then the Muslim is not answerable to them in that; we are answerable to Allah for our actions first and foremost. It is interesting to note that many of the people who deride other Muslims for even acknowledging Thanksgiving, celebrate it themselves by arguing about it every year.

Operative principles of Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day centers around five points, all of which are prominently placed values in the religion of Islam.

1.      Thanking Allah: “And remember! your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favors) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed”.[3]

2.      Being grateful: “He showed his gratitude for the favours of Allah, who chose him, and guided him to a Straight Way”.[4]

3.      Reminding yourself of His favors: “Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny”?[5]

4.      Keeping family ties: “Those who join together those things which Allah hath commanded to be joined, hold their Lord in awe, and fear the terrible reckoning

5.      Feeding food. They asked the Prophet ﷺ what was there best type of Islam, he said: “feeding food and spreading the salaams”.

If the Prophet wanted to make it prohibited for a Muslim to visit his or her family during certain days of the year, then he would have done so, especially since the overwhelming majority of the companions of Rasoolillaah had relatives who continued to engage in pagan worship. Even if they converted to Islam, their family members continued to observe pagan rites, rituals and functions. It is confirmed in authentic hadith that the Prophet himself, as well as numerous companions were present at the Ka’ba while people were engaged in idol worship. However, they themselves, did not participate in anything of idol worship, nor did they engage in prohibited activity.

The Prophet , and his learned companions, knew how to navigate their way through their society in a way as to avoid what was prohibited upon them. This is true for most Muslims, once they know what is prohibited upon them according to the Quran and the Sunna. Thus is our view that scholars, who are not intimately informed about people’s daily lives, and exchanges with their environments, cannot and should not, attempt to micro-manage people’s interactive navigation through life, as they pursue the religious ideals and values for which God holds them accountable.

Errant Islamic rulings which prohibit Thanksgiving

A surprising number of religious edicts or fataawa rendered upon people, events and circumstances which occur in the United States are made by scholars who are qualified and astute in their own regard, but are distressingly uniformed about the details and social-cultural minutia of life in the United States of America. Subsequently, many rulings are made that are faulty, and harms the Muslim in areas of their faith, rather than benefit them. It is common that a fatwa is rendered, usually from abroad, which ends up requiring the Muslim to disobey Allah and His Messenger , or to hate something that Allah loves, or to ignore a basic principle of deen in order to comply with the ruling of an uninformed scholar. This phenomenon is one of the causes of American Muslim moral dysfunction. This problem is further exacerbated when we see that in many Muslim countries, holidays commemorations, and events, other than the two Eids are celebrated with the consent of the scholars while some of the same scholars, render prohibitions against Muslims celebrating anything besides the two Eids here in the United States.

There is hardly a single Muslim country on earth that does not celebrate their National Day, or their Independence Day, or the Prophet’s Birthday or their Revolution Day, or their Election Day, or million man marches as was held in Egypt recently. In Saudi Arabia they celebrate, in addition to the two Eids, the June Solstice on June 21st, the September Equinox on September 22nd, and the New Year on the first of Muharram, or November 5th, and the scholars are silent about that.  There are millions of Muslims who came to America, applied for citizenship and then went to the citizenship celebration held by the U.S government, and the scholars are silent about that. In fact, many of them participate in it every year.

When the Abbasid Dynasty came into being, it started with a huge celebration and feast for the leading Umayyad princes, and ended with them all being slaughtered. Muslims celebrate victories in battle. They celebrated for days when Mu’ammar Qadafhi was killed, they celebrated in the streets of Egypt when Husni Mubaarak was deposed, and they celebrated in the streets of Kuwait, after the Gulf war and the scholars sanctioned it. Even the Muslims, who cry about thanksgiving being haraam, commemorate it every year by arguing about it, so they still participate in the holiday; they just do it by arguing about it. In Pakistan they celebrate Pakistan Independence day on the 14th of August, Pakistan day on the 23rd of March, and Labor Day on the 1st of May, and the scholars are silent about these things and participate in them

Thus many of the fatwaawa (Islamic legal rulings) which prohibit thanksgiving are biased and use a double standard, or are issued by people who may mean well but who do not fully understand western society and how we celebrate our holidays. They are unaware of how we differentiate between the religious and the cultural and they are uninformed about how we navigate our affairs so and sift through the prohibited actions in order to engage in that which is permissible. Some scholars are also uninformed about the operative meaning of the word ‘celebration’ in the modern American context; they infer that by celebration, we mean worship, or that we mean partying, from morning to night, dancing in the streets, and making a spectacle of ourselves. Additionally, the notion of a holiday to many scholars is that it is religiously incumbent, and that participation is mandatory, not optional.  This is not the case not only for Thanksgiving but for many American holidays, even the religious ones.

People in America celebrate thanksgiving differently. There is no one way that the whole population; all 311,591,917 of us, observes the day. For some it is merely a paid or non-paid day off from work, which is permissible in either case. For others, it is a time when shopping bargains are available in the stores and online which is also permissible in Islam since there is no prohibition in purchasing an item that has been discounted.  For others it is a day of preparing a feast for the family and serving it to them which is a praiseworthy action in the religion of Islam. Or spending quality time with the family which also a praiseworthy action according to the Quran and the Sunna. Still for others it is no different from any other day at all. Some people abhor the thought of Thanksgiving, and others simply sleep through the whole day and don’t wake up until the next day. So anyone can see the obvious difficulty and absurdity in rendering any acknowledgement, involvement, celebration or participation in anything that has to do with Thanksgiving as prohibited

Many scholars of Islam, (may Allah bless and strengthen them), are also unfamiliar with the operative meaning and concept of the term ‘holiday’ means in the United States. Holidays in America can be religious, political, cultural or environmental (like earth day), historical (like Presidents Day), or patriotic in nature, like Veterans Day. Since the United States, thus far, is a free society, people generally are free to observe them any way they like. It’s not like religious holidays in the Muslim world whereas on the Eid for example; you aren’t considered to have observed the Eid unless you attended Eid prayer. If a woman is menstruating, she would be considered to have observed the Eid if she attended the prayer even if she didn’t pray.  30,000 people in the city where I live, observed Thanksgiving today by running a 5k race to raise money to feed the homeless, and it’s hard to find an argument that makes raising money to feed homeless people haram.

A Muslim is not obligated to live his or her life based upon the ignorance or misinformation of a well intending scholar.  Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya alluded to this issue very succinctly; when commenting of the necessity of understanding people’s cultural practices, he said: “This is a major foundation that every mufti (legist) or ruler needs; he must be both well-versed (in people’s traditions) as well as matters of command and prohibition and then apply them both simultaneously. Otherwise he will do more harm than good. If he is not intimately aware of an issue in which people have particular understanding, a transgressor will appear to him as the transgressed and the truth will appear to him as falsehood and vice versa.”

Ibn Qayyim went on to say: “Because of his ignorance of the people, their traditions, their conditions and their habits, he (a scholar) will not be able to distinguish (between truth and falsehood), Thus, it is imperative that he understands the machinations of the people, their deceptions, their cultural traditions and their habits because fatwa (religious rulings) change with the changing of time, place culture and condition, and all of this is part of the religion of Allah”.[6] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya.  There is a fatwa floating around, attributed to our esteemed Shaykh bin Baaz, (RA) that prohibits celebrating any festivals, holidays, or special occasions of non-Muslims. I regret that during my time of study with him, I did not ask him specifically and in detail about Thanksgiving in America. Had I done so, I doubt if he would have found it prohibited but Allah knows best.

The correct Islamic ruling on celebrating Thanksgiving Day

Deeds are reckoned according to intentions, based upon the hadith; “surely deeds are reckoned by intention”.[7] There are several Sunnan and Quranic injunctions that are found in the observance of thanksgiving such as the Prophet’s exhortation upon the believers to feed food; when asked what is the best type of Islam, he replied: “feeding food, and spreading the salaams”[3]. Thanksgiving also is marked by gathering with family and strengthening family bonds, which is a praiseworthy act; “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.[4]”additionally, it is not prohibited in Islam to visit the homes of your relatives, and eat there; “It is no fault in the blind nor in one born lame, nor in one afflicted with illness, nor in yourselves, that ye should eat in your own houses, or those of your fathers, or your mothers, or your brothers, or your sisters, or your father’s brothers or your father’s sisters, or your mother’s brothers, or your mother’s sisters, or in houses of which the keys are in your possession, or in the house of a sincere friend of yours: there is no blame on you, whether ye eat in company or separately. But if ye enter houses, salute each other – a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah. Thus does Allah make clear the signs to you: that ye may understand”.[8]

There are no verses in the Quran or authentic ahaadeeth of the Prophet that expressly prohibit celebrating thanksgiving. Even though there are scholars who triangulate different ahaadeeth and verses and interpret them to make Thanksgiving prohibited, this is without warrant according to our understanding.

It is not possible to prohibit an entire day, since all the days of the year belong to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. However, activities that occur on any given day can be prohibited if there is sufficient proof. So based upon the evidences that we have provided, observing Thanksgiving Day by itself, is not prohibited, and just like every other cultural occasion, the activities that one participates in on that day, should be looked upon on a case by case, compartmental basis.

It is permissible for a Muslim to prepare a meal on Thanksgiving Day, or any other day in their own homes, and eat thereof. It is also permissible to invite guests to your home on that day or any other day of the year to eat your food. It is permissible to cook turkey, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, or any other meat that is allowable according to the Book and the Sunna. It is also permissible to go vegetarian if one likes. Allah has made no restrictions on which days people can feast and which days they cannot except in the case of Ramadan.

Likewise, If one sees benefit in taking a paid day off from work to spend with their family or to rest then they should do so. If they see benefit in spending that time with their families over grandma’s house and enjoying a good meal of allowable food, then they should do so. If the see benefit in spending halal money, on permissible items that are discounted in the mall, then they should do so. However, if going to grandma’s house for dinner or preparing a special meal in your own home will cause problems in the family, sour relations with the relatives, or somehow cause you to lose your religion, or disobey Allah and His Messenger, then you should not participate. Likewise, if a person wishes to avoid everything about that day, pay full price instead of the discounted price at the mall, return to their employer, their day’s pay when they took off, and behave as if it is just another day, then they are allowed to do that according to the Kitaab and the Sunna.

Another important point is that, if we can accept that scholars can make ta’weel (interpretation) of divine ordinances so as to render an affair like Thanksgiving to be prohibited, despite that that there are no direct texts that say such, then it should be more acceptable that the opinions of scholars are also subject to interpretation, as to render their opinion erroneous, or invalid. Scholarly opinions are not divine writ. If the Book of Allah, and the ahaadeeth of the Prophet , are subject to interpretation, then so are the opinions of scholars.

Conditions for celebrating thanksgiving:

·        That you thank Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala first for the good that He has given you.   It is permissible to thank others as well according to the hadith; “whoever does not thank people, does not thank Allah”.

·        That you thank Him on all of the other days of the year as well, and not pick only that one day to be grateful to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala.

·        That you do not participate in any activity that is prohibited in the religion, such as drinking alcohol, using intoxicants, or displaying lewd, and unlawful behavior.

·        Thanksgiving dinners sometimes invite to overeating or gluttony, so a Muslim must be mindful of that, not just during thanksgiving but during the whole year.

·        That you do not waste food, and if there is excess, then you should feed others with it, or refrigerate it until a later time. But you already knew that.

·        That you do not eat in the name of other than Allah, or eat an animal that was killed in the name of other than Allah.

·        That you do not sit at a table where alcohol and intoxicating beverages are served.

Follow-up question: Is celebrating Thanksgiving imitating the kuffaar?

There is no evidence in the Book or in the Sunna that everything that a non-Muslim does is prohibited. It is impossible for Muslims to not imitate anything at all that a non-Muslim does. They are all; both Muslims and non-Muslims, human beings and inhabitants of this earth. They shop at the same stores; they wear the same brands of clothes, eat the same kinds of foods, use the same types of utensils, use the same brands of computers, and sport around in the same types of automobiles as the so-called unbeliever. Muslims use the same types of tools that non-Muslim use; power drills, electric saws, lawn mowers, and weed whackers.

We also use the same weapons as the non-Muslims use; in fact, Muslims don’t even manufacture weapons; all the advanced weaponry that Muslims use in today’s modern warfare are imitations of the non-Muslim types of weapons.  If you turn on any television (which by the way was invented by the non-Muslim, you will see Muslims in all parts of the world, wearing thobes made in China (atheists), eating on dishes made in France,  wearing diamonds mined in South Africa, bearing military ranks (general, captain, lieutenant , sergeant) invented by the so called kuffaar. So it would seem that 99% of the Muslims in the world have entered into what some scholars would characterize as disbelief.  I’m not buying it. The only one who is free from error and whose opinion must be accepted without question is Rasoolillaah . When we see textual evidence which prohibits virtually every product, action, celebration, festivity, or cause of joy that exists on the planet, as the fatwa prohibiting Thanksgiving seems to say, then we will accept it. Otherwise, we must look at all actions on a case by case basis. And Allah knows best.

Second follow up question: Do Muslims have to celebrate Thanksgiving Day?

Understand; you cannot prohibit an entire day. No one can do that. The days, the months, the years and all millennia belong to Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala. If you are one of those people who want to see Thanksgiving Day abolished or want to prohibit it all together then before you get started, understand that you can’t prohibit a day, but you can prohibit an action that occurs on any given day, if there is sufficient proof. That’s the way the sharia works. You can’t prohibit time; you can only prohibit how you spend the time allotted to you. You can spend Thanksgiving Day doing anything that you want in eluding your five prayers, fasting [because it’s Thursday], or an other action.

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day by any method or means that indicate that you recognize it and an American holiday, is not wajib. It is not incumbent upon you in your religion and you don’t have to do it. However, whether on like it or not, if you live in the Unites States of America, unless some sort of cataclysmic event takes place, Thanksgiving Day will come in sha Allah [God willing], and many things will happen. Your disgust about Thanksgiving will not stop the day from occurring. Many people will have a day off from work. 75% of all Americans who would normally be at work on Thursday, do not work on Thanksgiving Day. Of those who do work that day, like nurses, emergency medical people, police and firemen, and retail workers, most of them will receive overtime pay. Banks, most state, local and federal agencies, as well as public and private schools will be closed for Thanksgiving Day.  How any individual feels about Thanksgiving Day will not stop the day from coming.

No one is saying that you have to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, or to be any way involved in it. People do not have to eat with their family on that day, they don’t have to cook, or even think about cooking if they don’t want to. They don’t have to take off from work, (unless their job is closed that day), or participate in any Thanksgiving related activities. They don’t have to answer the phone when their auntie calls them to ask are they coming, and can they bring some extra plastic cups for the kids. They don’t have to take advantage of 20-50% off, in any Thanksgiving Day sale, and they don’t have to watch the parade, watch football on television, or finger through the big Thanksgiving edition of their city’s newspaper. They don’t even have to get out of bed, except to perform their prayer. They don’t have to get dressed, like they are going somewhere, and if a woman is menstruating, she can sleep through the whole day, and wake up the next day if she wants.

Participating in Thanksgiving in any way is not a religious obligation. The deen of Allah is easy, and the Lord that we worship is above pettiness of any kind. He is also very clear about what He wants us to do, and about what He wants us to stay away from. Thus, if someone wants to declare something haram, and declare that anyone who participates in a thing is committing a sin against Allah, then they need to bring clear evidence, otherwise, they risk forging a lie against Allah sub’haanahu wata’ala, and that’s what we have an issue with.

When someone, says that something is haram, then they are speaking on behalf of Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala, and they need to bring conclusive proof, and not just their dislike for something or dislike for a certain people. It is not permissible in Islam for anyone to render something prohibited on their own accord. 7:32 “Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of Allah, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? Say: They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) purely for them on the Day of Judgment. Thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who understand”.[9]

Personal sentiment by itself, is not enough to manufacture law. Law is made by the use of textual evidence, or decisive proof, not merely that people do not like Christians, or don’t like America, or don’t like the kuffaar, or don’t like the Pilgrims, or don’t like the idea of families getting together and expressing their gratitude for each other on that day, or don’t like turkey, or don’t like what some people did in celebration of Thanksgiving, or don’t like the oppressors of hundreds of years ago. A Muslim should not let their dislike for a people, prevent them from being just. “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you, make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is closer to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do”.[10]

Summary;

It is not possible in Islam, to render a particular day haram. Just like it is not possible to render a particular week, month, or year haram. All of the days, all of the weeks, months, and all of the years belong exclusively to Allah (God) be He Exalted and Glorified. Each day, week, month, or year occurs by His will, according to His decree and in the measure that He ordains. Thus, for people who claim Thanksgiving Day itself is haram, such is a statement that has no logic, or legitimate Islamic legal consequence. Allah does not hold people accountable for the days in which they live; He holds them accountable for the action which they engage in during those days.

A Muslim may engage in any activity that is not expressly prohibited by Allah, or His Messenger, or by a unanimous consensus of Muslim scholars. They can engage in any activity that does not compromise their faith, does not require from them that they ascribe partners with Allah, does not require or encourage that they disobey Allah or His Messenger (SAWS), and that does not place them or their religion, or the practice thereof, in harm. They can engage in any activity that does not invite to haram, or leads to haram, or that glorifies something that is haram. Muslims are not allowed to engage in any activity that promotes or glorifies, kufr, shirk, disobedience to Allah and His Messenger, or that makes a mockery of our noble religion. We don’t do Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, since all of these celebrate, commemorate, or invite to disbelief, or glorifies evil, as in the case of Halloween. . If you don’t want to have anything to do with the Thanksgiving Day, then leave it alone completely; there is no blame in that, as long as you fulfill your other obligations to Allah. Wal Al-humdu lillaahi Rabbil aalameen.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad in the Imam and Executive Director of the Islamic center of Del Paso Heights, and the Executive Director of the Lotus Tree Institute, an American Muslim Think Tank, based in Sacramento California, you can reach him at imamluqman@icdph.com.

A Fatwa About Celebrating Your Country’s National Day [By Sheikh `Abd Allah b. Bayyih]

Every country has its National Day. This day is not a religious festival. The new holidays that we as Muslims are prohibited from introducing into our lives are new religious holidays. We are not prohibited from other occasions where people get together for one reason or another. People celebrate their marriages, they celebrate the birth of a new child. They might celebrate any number of other occasions, and there is nothing wrong with this, as long as their celebration is not a religious observance.

It is essential to clear up the misunderstanding that many people have about this issue. Due to this misunderstanding, people have been placed in great difficulties, since so many religious people have been made to think that by observing these non-religious holidays they are committing some sort of sin.

Observing these days is not sinful. In Islamic Law, the default ruling for an activity – barring any evidence to the contrary – is that of permissibility. We should consider how scholars related to such events in the past. There was a tradition that hailed to before the time of Islam known as `Atîrah. It was a day in the month of Rajab where an animal would customarily be slaughtered. Scholars of the Hanbalî school of law regarded it as permissible. Mâlikî scholars disliked it, since it was a practice from the times of ignorance before Islam.

Nevertheless, Hanbalî scholars saw no problem with it. They argued that there is no text forbidding it. The fact that people from since bygone days had a day in Rajab where they would traditionally slaughter an animal – called a rajabi or an `atîrah – is something that is permissible by default. If people want to get together on a day in the month or Rajab or Sha`bân or any other time that of the year that suits their customs to slaughter an animal and have a feast, then that is up to them.

The same can be said for the anniversary of a country’s independence – which is usually what is meant by the “national day” in the countries of Africa and Asia that used to be colonial possessions. There is nothing in Islam to prohibit this.

We need to properly understand the hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him), upon his arrival in Madinah, found that the people there had two festive days wherein they would play and enjoy themselves and said: “Allah – most blessed and exalted – has replaced them with what is better: `Îd al-Fitr and `Îd al-Adhâ.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (1134) and Sunan al-Nasâ’î (1556)]

These were pagan religious holidays tied in with their idols. The Prophet (peace be upon him), therefore, mentioned to them the two religious holidays of the Muslims, `Îd al-Fitr and `Îd al-Adhâ. This does not imply in any way that people are forbidden to engage in any public assembly or celebration whatsoever. As long as participating in these celebrations does not entail any sinful conduct, people should be allowed to celebrate. It is unwise to raise objections, disturb people in their traditions, and cause division in society when there is no text form the Qur’ân and Sunnah to forbid those traditions, nor any scholarly consensus even within the schools of thought. Islamic Law is easy with regard to matters wherein there is no clear objection and where the disapproval that is expressed is not based upon any unequivocal evidence. People should be allowed the scope to express their customs. The principle of maintaining ease and facilitation is an essential principle of Islamic Law. Allah says: “He has not placed any difficulty upon you in religion.” [Sûrah al-Hajj: 78] He says: “Allah desires that He should make light your burdens.” [Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 28] Anas relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Give glad tidings and do not become divided.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (69) and Sahîh Muslim (1734)] We say again that the religion of Islam, essentially, seeks to make things easy for the people. The other opinions and views that scholars have on this matter should be treated with respect. Nevertheless, those opinions are not sacred scripture.

And Allah knows best. By Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Bayah


[1] Quran, 7:33.

[2] Collected by Bukhaari.

[3] Quran, 14:7

[4] Quran, 16:121

[5] Quran, 55:49.

[6] Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (D. 751 A.H.) quoted from: “Ii’laan al-Muwaqqi’een an Rabbil aalameen” vol. 4, p. 157

[7] Collected by Muslim.

[8] Quran, 34:61.

[9] Quran, 7:32.

[10] Quran, 5:8.

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