Thursday, 13 December 2012

Exchanging Gifts & Greeting Non-Muslims on Their Holidays

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from “Can We Exchange Gifts with & Greet Non-Muslims on Their Holidays?” by Shaykh ‘Ali Juma’ah.

Maintaining ties, giving gifts, visitation, and congratulating non-Muslims are from the acts of goodness.  Allah (s.w.t.) has Enjoined us to say good things to everyone without distinction.  He has Stated that we must speak fair to the people.  Allah (s.w.t.) also Commands justice and the doing of good.  Likewise Allah (s.w.t.) has not prohibited us from being good to non-Muslims, from visiting them, giving them gifts, and receiving gifts from them.  Allah (s.w.t.) States:


Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah Loveth those who are just. (Surah al-Mumtahinah:8)

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) implemented this in his personal life, as he was a walking Qur’an, making its moral code his code.  There are many ahadits that demonstrate that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) accepted gifts from non-Muslims.  These ahadits are also transmitted through diffuse congruence and are therefore of the highest authenticity.  For example, “The Messenger of Allah sent Hathib ibn Abi Balt‘ah to the Christian ruler of Alexandria with a message for him, and the Patriarch accepted the letter, honoured Hathib, and made his stay comfortable.  The Patriarch then sent him back with a garment for the Messenger of Allah, a mule with its saddle, and two slave girls as gifts.  One slave girl was Umm Ibrahim and the other one the Messenger of Allah gave as a gift to Jahm ibn Qays al-‘Abdari.”

Another anecdote occurred during the time when Salman the Persian (r.a.) became Muslim.  Salman the Persian (r.a.) came to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) when he first entered Madina and had with him a platter of dates.  He placed this in the hands of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.and the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) asked him, “What is this, Salman?”

He replied, “Charity for you and your companions.”

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “Take it since we do not eat from charity.”

Salman (r.a.) took it and returned the next day with a similar platter and gave it to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) who asked him again, “What is this, Salman?” and Salman (r.a.) replied, “Charity for you and your companions.”

Again the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) told him, “Take it since we do not eat from charity.”

So Salman (r.a.) took it and came the following day with a similar platter and gave it to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) who asked him, “What is this, Salman?” and he replied, “A gift.”

The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said to his companions, “Come and have refreshments.”

The ahadits master, Imam al-‘Iraqi (r.a.) commented on this hadits by saying that, “This is proof that accepting gifts from non-Muslims is permissible since Salman was still not a Muslim at this point in time.”  These texts demonstrate that receiving gifts from non-Muslims is permissible and is even considered a sunnah.  This accepting the gift is not only out of general kindness to humanity, but is also to follow the sunnah.  Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Answari (r.a.) mentioned that, “It is permissible to accept a gift from a non-believer, following the example of the Messenger of Allah.”

This is further emphasised by the words of Imam as-Sarakhsi (r.a.) who said, “It has been mentioned on the authority of Abi Marawan al-Khuza‘i (r.a.) who said, ‘I told Mujahid that there is a family relation between me and a certain person from the disbelievers and I owe him money.  Should I give it to him?’

And Mujahid said, ‘Yes, and you should keep family ties with him.’”

According to this we can deduce that there is nothing wrong with a Muslim maintaining family ties with non-Muslims, whether they be family or otherwise.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) also sent five hundred dananir to Makkah during their famine and he ordered that this amount be given to Abu Sufyan ibn Harb (r.a.) and Swafwan ibn Umayyah (r.a.) to disperse the amount amongst the needy of Makkah.  The two accepted the money but said, “Muhammad only seeks to trick our youth.”

Keeping family ties is a praiseworthy act according to every sound intellect and every religion, and giving gifts is from good acts as the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “I was only sent to perfect moral character,” so we have come to understand that this act is good as far as Muslims and non-Muslims are concerned.

Shaykh ibn Muflih (r.a.), the great Hanbali jurist, spoke about this verse:


Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah Loveth those who are just. (Surah al-Mumtahinah:8)

He said that Imam ibn Jawzi (r.a.) said, “The exegetes have stated that this verse is a dispensation to maintain ties with those who are not in hostility with Muslims, a dispensation to be kind to them even if there is no relationship between them.  Some have stated that this verse has been abrogated with the verse of the sword, however ibn Jarir says that there is no validity in this statement since Muslims treating those at war with them nicely, if these are family members or otherwise, is not prohibited as long as it does not aid the enemy in battle against the Muslims.  He then mentioned the two ahadits of ‘Umar (r.a.) giving a silk garment to his polytheist brother and the hadits of Asma’ (r.a.), he then said that, “These are examples of maintaining family ties with those at war with Islam.”

Shaykh al-Mardawi (r.a.) the Hanbalite has mentioned that concerning the issue of extending condolences to non-Muslims when necessary, or sending holiday greetings the sound opinion is that it is permissible.

It is also mentioned in Fatawa al-Hindiyyah that, “There is nothing wrong with being guests to non-Muslims and there is nothing wrong with having non-Muslims as guests even if the only thing between them is a simple acquaintance.  There is nothing wrong with a Muslim maintaining ties with a non-Muslim be they a close relative or not, a person at war with Islam and Muslims or a dzimmi.”

Based on the textual evidence as well as the opinions of the prominent jurists mentioned in this answer, we find that it is from goodness that a Muslim keep ties with non-Muslims during all conditions such as: sick visitations, sending condolences upon death, giving gifts, accepting gifts, and having guests over.  Such actions are a way of showing people Islam by demonstrating good character and Allah (s.w.t.) is Most High and All Knowledgeable.


2 comments:

  1. Salaam Terence, I read your beautiful post and would like to communicate with you if possible. I am a catholic but a friend to Muslims and to Islam and I believe in building bridges between Christians and Muslims. Could you please contact me at crescentandcross@gmail.com mg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wa as-Salaam,

      My FB is my name: Terence Helikaon Nunis (www.facebook.com/Helikoan)

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