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Non Muslim Religious Celebrations and the Ruling on Participating in Them
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Article ID: 840 | 6165 Reads

The conflict between truth and falsehood is ongoing and will last as long as this world remains. The fact that some groups among the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) are following the people of falsehood such as the Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, idol-worshippers and others, whilst a group is remaining steadfast to the truth despite the pressures, is all part of the decreed system of the universe. But this does not mean that we should give in and follow the ways of those who are astray, because the one who told us that this would inevitably happen also warned us against following this path, and he commanded us to adhere firmly to Islam no matter how many people deviate from it and no matter how strong they become. He told us that the blessed one is the one who adheres steadfastly to the truth no matter what the distractions, at a time when the one who does righteous deeds will earn the reward of fifty men whose deeds are like those of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) – as was reported in the hadeeth of Abu Tha’labah al-Khushani (may Allaah be pleased with him).

Among the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) there will be people who deviated from the truth and went towards falsehood, changing and altering things. Their punishment will be that they will be kept away from the Hawd (Cistern) whilst those who adhered to the Straight Path will come and drink from it.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:


“I will precede you to the Cistern, and men from among you will be brought to me, and when I stretch forth my hand to them, they will be pulled away. I will say, ‘O Lord! My followers!’ and it will be said: ‘You do not know what they innovated after you were gone.’”

According to another report: “I will say: ‘May he be doomed, the one who changed (the religion) after I was gone.’”

One of the most obvious manifestations of this altering of Islam and disdainfully treating the religion of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is the way in which people follow the enemies of Allaah – may He be exalted – in everything, major or minor, in the name of development, progress and civilization, under the banners of peaceful coexistence, human brotherhood, new world order, globalization and other dazzling but deceitful slogans. The caring Muslim can spot this dangerous problem among the majority of Muslims, except for those on whom Allaah has mercy, to such an extent that they even follow them in their religious rituals and in their most unique traditions and customs, such as the festivals which are part of their belief systems. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings)

“and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way” [al-Maa’idah 5:48]

“For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow”
[al-Hajj 22:67]which means, a festival which is for them alone.

Many Muslims have been led astray by the dazzling attractions of the enemies of Allaah, especially the Christians with their major festivals such as the celebration of the birth of the Messiah (peace be upon him) – i.e., Christmas – and the Christian New Year. They attend Christian parties on these occasions in their (Christians’) countries, and some of them have brought these things back to Muslim countries – we seek refuge with Allaah. A great disaster is the huge preparations which are being made on an international scale and at the level of the major Christian countries to celebrate the end of the second millennium and the beginning of the third millennium since the birth of the Messiah, son of Maryam (peace be upon him). If the world is teeming with Christian celebrations during a regular New Year, how will it be at the end of a Christian century (the twentieth century) and the end of a millennium (the second millennium)? It is a major event for which the Christians are preparing in a manner appropriate to its huge significance.

This Christian event will not be like a usual New Year’s Eve celebration taking only in the Christian countries and in their focal point, the Vatican. Preparations are afoot to make the focal point of the celebrations in Bethlehem, the place where the Messiah – peace be upon him – was born. The political and religious leaders of the Christians will go there – evangelicals and moderates alike, and even the secularists, to celebrate this millennium of which the world press is talking more and more as it approaches day by day. It is expected that more than three million people will be present in Bethlehem, led by the Pope John Paul II. Some of the neighbouring Muslim countries are also taking part in this global event, on the grounds that some of the symbols or major events of the Christian festival took place in their land – namely the baptism of the Messiah (peace be upon him), when he was baptized by John the Baptist (Yahyaa, peace be upon him) in the River Jordan. Indeed, many Muslims will also take part in these celebrations on the basis that they are an international event which concerns all the inhabitants of the earth. These people do not know that celebrating this millennium is a celebration of a Christian religious festival (the birth of the Messiah, i.e. Christmas, and the Christian New Year), and that taking part in it involves taking part in the rituals of their religion, and that rejoicing in it means rejoicing in the symbols of Kufr when they are made manifest and they prevail. This poses a great danger to the ‘aqeedah (belief) of the Muslim, because “Whoever imitates a people is one of them” as was reported in a saheeh hadeeth from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). So how about one who actually joins in with them in the rituals of their religion?! This obliges us to discuss the rulings on the festivals of the kuffaar, how the Muslim should deal with them and how they should differ from them – which is one of the basic principles of this pure religion of ours. Moreover, we need to know some details about their festivals and rituals so that we can avoid them and warn others about them.

Why do we need to know about the festivals of the kuffaar?

One of the things that the scholars agreed on is that the Muslim does not need to concern himself with the ways of the kuffaar, or their rituals and customs (unless he wants to call them to Islam), except when their customs and rituals are becoming widespread ignorant Muslims, whether deliberately or unintentionally. In such cases Muslims need to know about them so that they can avoid them. In recent times this has become more of an issue for the following reasons:

      More mixing with the kuffaar, because Muslims go to their countries to study, take vacations, do business or for other reasons. Those who go there witness some of their rituals and they may like them, so they follow them. This is especially the case with those who are suffering from an inferiority complex and who look at the kuffaar with strong admiration which robs them of the power to resist, corrupts their hearts and weakens their commitment to religion. In addition to this, many westernised, educated people regard the kuffaar as advanced, progressive and civilized even in their most mundane customs and habits. Or else this comes about through the open celebration of these festivals in Muslim countries by some groups and non-Muslim minorities, so some ignorant Muslims are influenced by this.

      The matter is made more serious by the media which can transmit everything with sound and living pictures from the farthest corners of the earth. No doubt the media of the kuffar is stronger and more capable of transmitting their rituals to the Muslims than the other way round. Many satellite channels broadcast the rituals of other religions’ festivals – especially Christian festivals. The matter becomes more serious when the secular systems in some Muslim countries have adopted the celebrations of the kaafirs and some of the people of bid’ah and the Arabic satellite channels broadcast this to the world, so some Muslims are deceived by the fact that this is coming from a Muslim country.

      Throughout their history, the Muslims have suffered from the problem of being influenced by the rituals of others through mixing with them. This prompted the imaams (scholars) of Islam to warn the Muslim masses against imitating others in their festivals and rituals. Among these scholars are Shaykh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah, his student al-‘Allaamah Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Haafiz al-Dhahabi and al-Haafiz ibn Katheer. They lived at the same time, when there was a lot of mixing between Muslims and others, especially Christians, and ignorant Muslims were influenced by their (Christians’) religious rituals, especially their festivals. So these scholars spoke a great deal about these things throughout their books, and some of them devoted books to the particular topic, such as Ibn Taymiyah (Iqtidaa’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem li Mukhaalafat Ashaab al-Jaheem) and al-Dhahabi (Tashbeeh al-Khasees bi Ahl al-Khamees), and others.

Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) spoke at length about their festivals and what they do on those occasions, and he described the extent to which the ignorant Muslims were influenced by this. He described their various festivals and the rituals and customs that were involved - which Muslims do not ordinarily need to know about, but now it is necessary because many Muslims are following the People of the Book in those rituals.

Shaykh al-Islam described their festivals and discussed them in the context of warning against them. After speaking in detail about them, he said: “Our aims are not limited just to knowing the details of their falsehood, but it is sufficient for us to know what is munkar (evil) in such a way that we can distinguish between it and that which is mubaah (permissible), ma’roof (good), mustahabb (encouraged) and waajib (obligatory), so that by means of this knowledge we will be able to protect ourselves and avoid it, just as we know (and avoid) other things that are haraam, as we are obliged to do. Whoever does not know about what is munkar, either in general terms or in details, will not be able to avoid it. A general knowledge is sufficient, unlike with waajibaat (duties) [where it is essential to know details – translator].”

He also said:

“I have counted so many things that are munkar in their religion when I noted that some groups of Muslims are influenced by some of them, and many of them do not know that this comes from the Christian religion which is cursed, it and its followers. I do not know all the things that they do, but I have mentioned what I have seen Muslims doing, which is taken from them.”

4. Some of their festivals nowadays revolve around large gatherings, and still bear some of the features of their ancient festivals. Many Muslims take part in these events without realizing that. This is the case with the Olympic Games, whose roots lie in a festival that was celebrated by the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Christians; and with the “Mahrajaans” (“festivals”) which are organized to promote trade, culture etc., even though the Mahrajaan was originally a Persian festival. Most of those who organize these gatherings and call them “Mahrajaan” are unaware of this.

      Knowing evil is a means of avoiding it and keeping away from it. Hudhayfah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The people used to ask the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about good things, but I used to ask him about bad things, fearing that I may fall into them.” It is a great problem that Muslims fall into observing some of the rituals of the disbelievers without realizing that this is part of their rituals and unique customs, which we have been commanded to avoid because it is an abomination and misguidance.

      There are so many calls made by the strong voices of hypocrisy who want to cut the Ummah off from its roots, destroy its identity and assimilate it into the methodology of the kuffaar, and want people to follow them step by step, under the banners of humanity, globalisation, universalism, openness towards others and receptiveness towards other cultures. This makes it essential for us to know about the others’ (the kaafirs’) misguidance and deviation so that we can expose it and point out the faults that lie beneath the attractive exterior that covers these abhorrent ideas, “so that those who were to be destroyed (for their rejecting the Faith) might be destroyed after a clear evidence, and those who were to live (i.e. believers) might live after a clear evidence” [al-An’aam 8:42 – interpretation of the meaning] – and so that proof may be demonstrated to the followers of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), so that they will not be cheated or deceived.

Festivals of the Pharaohs

Among the Pharaonic festivals is the festival of Shimm al-Naseem (lit. “smelling the breeze”), which involves venerating some days as a good omen or drawing nigh to the gods who were worshipped instead of Allaah – may He be exalted. Shaykh Mahfooz – during his own time – mentioned some of the shameful and immoral practices that would make one's hair stand on end, whereby farms and open spaces were filled with groups of immoral people of bad conduct, and groups of young and old, men and women, went to the orchards and rivers to commit zinaa (fornication, adultery) and to drink intoxicating substances, thinking that on that day all evil actions were permissible for them.

Among the superstitions connected to this festival was the placing of onions beneath the head of a sleeping person, or hanging them in doorways, claiming that this would take away laziness and sloth. This event is counted as one of the Pharaonic festivals, and it was said that it was invented by the Copts; there is nothing to suggest that it did not belong to both of them, and that it was not passed down from the Pharaohs to the Copts. Many Egyptians – especially the Copts – still celebrate this festival, and many Muslims join in with them. In recent years a number of secular writers have called for it to be made an official holiday, in order to revive the Pharaonic legacy, at the time when they describe the rituals of Islam as being backward, reactionary and uncivilized!

The festivals of the Greeks

The months of the Greek year were many, and were named after the festivals. The costs of these festivals were financed by the rich among them. Most of their festivals were connected to the rituals of their pagan religion which was based on polytheism. They had so many festivals which were aimed at reducing the tedium of daily life, and it reached the extent that no month was free of one or more festivals, except for one month which was called Mamkitrion.

Their festivals were characterized by obscenity, promiscuity, drunkenness and giving free rein to their animalistic desires, so that they did whatever they wanted, as is reflected in many of their misguided myths, such as their claim that they summoned the souls of the dead, then they sent them back or expelled them again after the festival was over. The most important of their festivals included the following:

The festival of the Olympiad, or the Olympic feast. This was held in Elis every four years. It was first officially recognized in 776 BCE. The Olympiad was one of their most important festivals and seasonal gatherings. From that far-off date, these games were historically called the Olympiad. It has nationalistic features and aims, so much so that it was said that the Greeks used to boast about their Olympic victories more than their conquests on the battlefield. This was the greatest festival of the Greeks at that time.

These games are still held and supported by the Christian nations under the same ancient name and with the inherited rituals such as lighting the Olympic flame in Athens and bringing it to the country where the Games are being held, and so on. Unfortunately many Muslim countries also take part in these games and boast about doing so. Many of them do not know that their origin lies in the festivals of the kuffaar and the sacred days of their pagan religion. We seek refuge with Allaah from deviation, misguidance and blind following.

The Greeks also had other major festivals such as the festivals of the Hellenic league, the Ionic league and others.

The festivals of the Romans

One of the nations which had the most festivals was the Romans. They had more than one hundred holy days in the year, days which they regarded as festivals, including the first day of each month. Some festivals were devoted to the sanctification of the dead and the souls of the underworld, and on many of their festivals celebrations were held to placate the dead and appease their anger – or so they claimed.

As it is known, the Roman Empire prevailed after the Greeks, so they inherited many of the Greek rituals, customs and festivals.

Among the most famous Roman festivals:

The festival of love, which they celebrated on February 14 each year, as an expression of what they believed, in their pagan religion, to be divine love. This festival was invented more than 1700 years ago, at the time when paganism was still prevalent among the Romans. Whilst their state was still idolatrous, they executed Saint Valentine, who had converted to Christianity after having been a pagan. When the Romans converted to Christianity, they made the day of his execution an occasion to celebrate the martyrs of love. This festival is still celebrated in America and Europe, to declare feelings of friendship and to renew the covenant of love between spouses and lovers. This festival now has great social and economic significance.

It seems that another practice stemmed from the concept of this feast, which is the anniversary celebrated by spouses or friends who love one another, where the couple celebrate the anniversary of their marriage each year, to confirm the love between them. This custom has passed to the Muslims because of their mixing (with the non-Muslims), so that couples celebrate the night of their marriage in a special way in many Muslim countries, imitating the kuffaar. Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa Billaa il-‘Aliy il-‘Azeem (there is no strength and no power except with Allaah, the Exalted and Almighty).

The festivals of the Jews

      The (Jewish) New Year, which is called the festival of Heesha [Rosh Hashanah]. This is the first day of Tishreen al-Awwal. They claim that it is the day on which the sacrifice Ishaaq (peace be upon him) was ransomed. This is according to their mistaken belief – in fact the one who was to be sacrificed was Ismaa’eel, not Ishaaq. This festival has a similar status to that of ‘Eid al-Adhaa for Muslims.

      The festival of Sumaria or Yom Kippur, which for them is a day of forgiveness.

      The feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) on the fifteenth of Tishreen. On this day they stay in the shade of the branches of trees. It is also called the Festival of the Fast of the Virgin Mary.

      The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is the Passover, on the fifteenth of Nisan. This commemorates the flight of the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt in the thirteenth century BCE. This story is told in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus. The festival lasts for eight days in occupied Palestine, and the Reform Jews celebrate it in their own countries for seven days. During this festival they have a celebration called the Seder, where they read the story of the flight of the Children of Israel in a book called the Haggadah and they eat unleavened bread, as a reminder that when the Children of Israel fled, they ate this kind of bread, because they did not have time to make leavened bread. The Jews still eat unleavened bread during this festival to this day.

5. The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Shavuot). They claim that this is the day on which Allaah – may He be exalted – spoke to Moosa (peace be upon him).

      The Day of Atonement, in the tenth month of the Jewish year, when a person goes into seclusion for nine days to worship and fast, This is called the days of repentance.

      The new moon. They used to celebrate the birth of each new moon, when they used to blow trumpets in Jerusalem and light fires in celebration.

      The Jubilee, which is described in the Book of Leviticus.

They also have other festivals, among which the most well known are: the festival of victory, or Purim, and the festival of Hanukkah, which is also known as the festival of blessing.

The festivals of the Christians

The festival of the resurrection, which is called Easter. This is the most important annual Christian festival, which is preceded by the long fast (Lent) which lasts for forty days before Easter Sunday. This festival commemorates the return of the Messiah (peace be upon him) or his resurrection after his crucifixion, two days after his death – according to their claims. It marks the end of many different kinds of rituals, which include:

      The onset of the long fast of Lent, which lasts for forty days before Easter Sunday. They start fasting on a Wednesday known as Ash Wednesday, where ash is placed on the foreheads of those present and they repeat the words, “From dust we came and to dust we shall return.”

      Fifty days after Easter Sunday, they end with the Feast of Pentecost or Whitsuntide.

      The Week of Sorrows (or Holy Week), which is the last week of the fasting period of Lent, which refers to the events that led up to the death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him) – as they claim.

      Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter. This is a commemoration of the triumphal entry of the Messiah into Jerusalem.

      Maundy Thursday, which is a commemoration of the Last Supper of the Messiah, and his arrest and imprisonment.

      Good Friday (“the Friday of Grief”), which is the Friday before Easter, which refers to the death of Jesus on the cross – or so they claim.

      Easter Saturday (the “Saturday of Light”), which comes before Easter and refers to the death of the Messiah. It is a day of watching and waiting for the resurrection of the Messiah on Easter Sunday. The Easter festivities conclude with the Thursday of Ascension, when the story of the Messiah’s ascension into heaven is recited in all the churches. They have different kinds of celebrations and festivals, according to the different denominations in different Christian countries. The Thursday and Friday before Easter are known as the Great Thursday and the Great Friday, as was mentioned by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him). This is the Thursday (al-Khamees) referred to in the book of al-Haafiz al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him): Tashbeeh al-Khasees bi Ahl al-Khamees. This Thursday is the last day of their fast, and is also known as the Thursday of the Table or the Feast of the Table. It is mentioned in Soorat al-Maa’idah where Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“‘Eesaa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), said: “O Allaah, our Lord! Send us from the heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us — for the first and the last of us — a festival and a sign from You…” [al-Maa’idah 5:114]

They also do many strange things during these festivals, as was mentioned by many historians, such as gathering the leaves of trees, soaking them, then washing with the water, or putting kohl on their eyes. The Copts of Egypt used to bathe in the Nile on certain days, claiming that this was healing. Easter is the day when they break their long fast. They claim that on this day, the Messiah (peace be upon him) was resurrected three days after the crucifixion, and Adam was saved from Hell, and other myths. Shams al-Deen al-Dimashqi al-Dhahabi mentioned that the people of Hama would stop working for six days on this occasion, and they would dye eggs and make ka’k [a kind of biscuit], and other kinds of corrupt deeds and mixing that they engaged in at that time. He said that the Muslims used to join in that as well, and that they outnumbered the Christians. We seek refuge with Allaah.

Ibn al-Haaj mentioned that they openly committed immoral actions and engaged in gambling, but no one denounced them for doing so. This is probably what prompted Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) to denounce what he saw of Muslims imitating Christians in their festivals and rituals, for he mentioned a great deal of this in his excellent book al-Iqtidaa’ . Al-Dhahabi also wrote a book on this topic, as mentioned above.

Until the present, all the Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the moon become full in spring, in the period between March 22 and April 25. The Eastern Orthodox Christians observe it later than the other Christians. Its rituals, fasts and days occupy an entire season in the Christian year.

2. The festival of the birth of the Messiah (may peace be upon him). The Europeans call this Christmas, and it is on December 25 for the majority of Christians. For the Copts it is the day which corresponds to the twenty-ninth of Keehak (the fourth month of the Coptic year). This celebration is ancient and was mentioned in the books of the historians. Al-Maqreezi said: The time of Christmas came whilst we were in Cairo, and it is a major event in all the regions of Egypt, when they sell candles in the shape of flowers, which they call lanterns.

For Christians, this festival is an annual reminder of the birth of the Messiah (peace be upon him). They have many rituals and acts of worship at this time, when they go to the church and hold special prayers and services. The story of the birth of the Messiah is mentioned in their Gospels – Luke and Matthew. It was first celebrated in 336 CE. The festival is influenced by pagan rituals, when the Romans used to celebrate the god of light and the god of the harvest. When Christianity became the official religion of the Romans, Christmas became the most important festival in Europe. Saint Nicholas became a symbol of gift-giving at this festival in the European countries, then Father Christmas (Santa Claus) took the place of Saint Nicholas as a symbol of the giving of gifts, especially to children (1). Many Muslims in different countries have been influenced by these rituals and customs, and the giving of gifts by Santa Claus has become well known in many Muslim-owned stores and shops. How many houses have these gifts entered, and how many Muslim children know about Santa Claus and his gifts! Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa Billaa il-‘Aliy il-‘Azeem (there is no strength and no power except with Allaah, the Exalted and Almighty).

The Christians have many rituals on this day. The Christians of Palestine and neighbouring regions gather on the night of this festival in Bethlehem, the city where the Messiah (peace be upon him) was born, to attend Midnight Mass. Among their other rituals, they celebrate the nearest Sunday to the date of November 30, which is the feast day of Saint Andrew. This is the first day of Advent – the advent of the Messiah (peace be upon him). The festival reaches its peak when they stay up for Midnight Mass, when the churches are decorated and the people sing Christmas carols. The Christmas season ends on January 6. Some of them burn part of the trunk of the Christmas tree, then they keep the part that is not burned, believing that this burning will bring them good luck. This belief is widespread in Britain, France and the Scandinavian countries.


3.      The feast of the Epiphany (ghattaas), which is on January 19. For the Copts it is on the eleventh of Toobah. The origin of this festival, according to them, is that Yahyaa ibn Zakariya (peace be upon them both), whom they know as John the Baptist, baptized the Messiah son of Maryam (peace be upon him) in the River Jordan, and when he was washed, the Holy Spirit came upon him. Because of this, the Christians dip their children in water on this day, and all of them immerse themselves in the water. Al-Mas’oodi mentioned that this day – during his time – was a major event in Egypt, attended by thousands of Christians and Muslims, who would bathe in the Nile, believing that this offered protection from sickness and was a healing. This is what is celebrated by the Orthodox churches, but the Catholic and Protestant churches have a different concept of this festival, whereby they commemorate the “adoration of the Magi”, where the three men who came from the east venerated the infant Jesus.

The origin of the word ghattaas (baptism) is Greek, meaning “emerging.” It is a religious term, referring to the emergence of an invisible being. It was mentioned in the Tawraat that Allaah – may He be exalted – appeared to Moosa (peace be upon him) in the form of a burning bush – exalted be Allaah far above what they say.

      The Christian New Year celebration: this has become a major celebration in these times, which is celebrated by Christian countries and by some Muslim countries. TV broadcasts of these celebrations are transmitted live to all parts of the world, they appear on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, and they occupy a large part of the news broadcasts on satellite channels. It is noticeable that many Muslims in whose countries these Christian celebrations are not held travel to Christian countries to attend them and enjoy the forbidden things that are involved in them, unaware of the sin committed by indulging in the rituals of those who disbelieve.

The Christians have many false beliefs and myths about New Year’s Eve (December 31), as is the case with all their festivals. We hear of these beliefs from the makers of modern civilization and those who are described as civilized, those whom the hypocrites among our people want to follow in even the smallest detail, even in their myths, so that we can be assured of a position in the ranks of those who are advanced and civilized and earn the approval of those who have blond hair and blue eyes!

Among their beliefs (with regard to New Year’s Eve) is that the one who drinks the last glass of wine from the bottle after midnight will have good luck, and if he is single, he will be the first one among his friends who are present to get married. It is regarded as bad luck for a person to enter the house at New Year without bringing a gift; sweeping out the dirt at New Year means that one is also sweeping away good luck; washing clothes and dishes on this day will bring bad luck; they try to keep the fire burning all night on New Year’s Eve so that it will bring good luck… and other such myths and superstitions.

They also have other festivals, some of which are ancient and others have been invented recently. Some of them were taken from the Greeks and Romans who came before them, and others were part their religion but have now vanished. Some of these festivals are of major significance to them, and others are of limited importance, being confined to a few churches or denominations.

Each denomination and church has festivals which are unique to them, and are not celebrated by other denominations. The Protestants do not believe in the festivals of the other churches, but they do agree on the major festivals such as Easter, Christmas, New Year and the Epiphany, even though they differ as to the rituals and practices involved, or some of the reasons and details, or the time and place.

Festivals of the Persians

1. The festival of Nawrooz. The word ‘Nawrooz’ means new. The festival lasts for six days, when at the time of Chosroes they used to fulfil the needs of other people in the first five days, and the sixth day was devoted to themselves and the people to whom they were closest. This day was called the great Nawrooz, and was the most important of their festivals. The book Ashaab al-Awaa’il mentioned that the first one to celebrate Nawrooz was Jamsheed the king, in whose time Hood (peace be upon him) was sent, after the religion had been changed. When the king Jamsheed renewed the religion and established justice, the day on which he had ascended the throne was named Nawrooz. When he reached the age of seven hundred years, and he had never gotten ill or suffered a headache, he became an oppressive tyrant. He made an image of himself and sent it to the provinces for it to be venerated, and the masses worshipped it and made idols in its image. Al-Dahhaak al-‘Alwaani, one of the Amaaliqah (Amalekites) attacked him in the Yemen and killed him, as is stated in the books of history. Some of the Persians claim that Nawrooz is the day when Allaah created light. Nawrooz is considered to be the festival marking the Persian solar New Year. It coincides with the twenty first of March in the Gregorian calendar. The masses used to light fires on this night and sprinkle water in the morning.

Nawrooz is also celebrated by the Baha’is, coming at the end of their fast which lasts for 19 days, on March 21. (3). Nawrooz is also the first day of the year for the Copts, who call it Shimm al-Naseem. For them it lasts for six days, starting on the sixth of June. We have already discussed Shimm al-Naseem under the heading of Pharaonic festivals above. It is possible that the Copts took it from the Pharaonic legacy, since they were all in Egypt.

2. The festival of Mahrajaan. The word Mahrajaan is composed of two words: mahar, meaning loyalty, and jaan meaning authority or power. So the word means, the authority of loyalty. The origin of this festival was the celebration of the victory of Afridoon over al-Dahhaak al-‘Alwaani, who killed Jamsheed, the king who has started Nawrooz. It was also said that it was a celebration of the onset of cooler weather in the fall. It is possible that it originally started for the reason mentioned above, but as that coincided with the onset of cooler weather in the fall, so they continued to celebrate that. It is celebrated on the twenty-sixth of the Syriac month of Tishreen al-Awwal. Like Nawrooz, it lasts for six days, the sixth of which is the Great Mahrajaan. On this occasion and on Nawrooz they used to exchange gifts of musk, amber, Indian ‘ood [a kind of perfume or incense], saffron and camphor. (5). The first person to make this exchange of gifts official in Islamic times was al-Hajjaaj ibn Yoosuf al-Thaqafi, and this continued until it was abolished by the rightly-guided Khaleefah ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez (may Allaah have mercy on him).

One of the greatest problems that the Muslims are suffering from is the use of the word Mahrajaan (festival) to describe many social, cultural and economic gatherings, celebrations and events. The word is even used to describe da’wah events. So people speak of mahrahjaan al-thaqaafah (cultural festival), Mahrajaan al-tasawwuq (marketing festival), Mahrajaan al-kutub (book festival), mahrahjaan al-da’wah (da’wah festival) and so on, as we see in advertisements and hear in many phrases which use this idolatrous term. Mahrajaan is the name of the festival of the fire worshippers.

Hence using this idolatrous Persian term to describe Muslim gatherings is clearly one of the things that are prohibited. We must avoid doing this and tell others not to use this word. There are sufficient permissible expressions that we do not need to use this word, for the Arabic language is the richest of all languages in words and meanings.

Definition of imitation.

Imitation (tashabbuh in Arabic) means resembling. If we say that someone imitates someone else, we means that he looks like him and acts like him. Likening a things to something else (tashbeeh) means saying that it is like it. The word tashabbuh has many counterparts in Arabic which carry meanings such as being like, imitating, looking like, following, agreeing with, taking as an example, copying, etc. They all have shades of meaning of their own, but they also overlap with the meaning of tashabbuh. In terms of the terminology of Fiqh, al-Ghuzzi al-Shaafa’i defined tashabbuh as describing a person’s attempt to be like the one whom he is imitating, in appearance, characteristics, wqualities and attributes. It implies making an effort to achieve this and deliberately taking action for that purpose.


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