Guidance and advice to all the public speakers and preachers who ascend the pulpit of…
What Should I Do? – Attending the Religious Commemorations of Other Religions
I. Details about the situation
Khalil is a devout 19-year-old Muslim-American who was born and raised in a small town in the Midwest, he still lives there with his family. There have always been very few Muslims in his hometown. Thus, while growing up, and even to the present, most of his friends have been non-Muslims. Michael, a young Christian, is one of Khalil’s closest friends, who knows and respects the fact that Khalil is a devout Muslim. Michael always invites Khalil to attend church services and religious events because they have been friends for so long, know each other’s families, and always like to hang out together and share in one another’s happiness. Khalil has always politely declined, but one Christmas, he suddenly begins to wonder whether it would be permissible for him to attend Christmas mass or any other Christian religious gatherings (e.g., funeral) and even give Michael a gift. What should he do?
The Holy Quran states, “God does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with those who have not fought against you about the religion or expelled you from your homes. God does not love the unjust people.”1 Islam teaches us to adopt the highest character and ethics, as well as compassion and warmth towards others, especially when interacting with people of other religions. This includes respecting their beliefs and customs and fulfilling the duties of friendship. At the same time, Muslims must maintain their religious identity and not compromise their own beliefs and practices.
There is no objection to attend a church service, whether for Christmas or any other commemoration, as long as one’s Islamic identity is maintained, there is no fear of being affected by information that may conflict with Islamic beliefs, a weakening of religious adherence, or adoption or promotion of beliefs and practices that are not a part of Islam. Moreover, there is no problem in giving gifts to non-Muslims, especially if it fulfills a good friendship.
Khalil can attend the church service and other such events if Michael invites him, and he feels confident that it will not affect him as a Muslim. Also, there is no problem if he gives him a suitable gift on various occasions. As such, it is important for Khalil, and Muslims in the West in general, to show compassion to their fellow citizens and share appropriately in their happiness, which may even be encouraged in certain circumstances.
1. The Holy Quran, 60:8.
قال الله تعالى: ((لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ))
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