Is it permitted for Muslims to celebrate Easter?



Islamic Text

No, it is not permitted for Muslims to celebrate Easter, since it is not permitted for Muslims to engage in the religious events or holidays of non-Muslims.

عَنْ أَنَسٍ، قَالَ: قَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْمَدِينَةَ وَلَهُمْ يَوْمَانِ يَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا، فَقَالَ: مَا هَذَانِ الْيَوْمَانِ؟ قَالُوا: كُنَّا نَلْعَبُ فِيهِمَا فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَبْدَلَكُمْ بِهِمَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمَا: يَوْمَ الْأَضْحَى، وَيَوْمَ الْفِطْرِ

(Sayidina) Anas ibn Malik said, when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came to Madinah, the people (of Madinah) had two days on which they engaged in games. He ﷺ asked, ‘What are these two days?’ They said, we used to play in them (the two days) in the pre-Islamic period (al-Jahiliyyah). So the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Indeed Allah (Most High) has substituted them for something better, the day of sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) and the day of ending the fast (Eid al-Fitr).’ (Abu Dawood 1134, Sahih).

As we see in the Hadith above, as Muslims we have our own days of Eid and do not engage in those of other communities. This ruling is strictest when it relates to days of religious celebration. Therefore, the day of Easter or other similar days will be considered normal days by us. We will not do anything specific to commemorate such occasions. Thus, it is not permitted for Muslims to celebrate Easter.

وَقَالَ فِي الْجَامِعِ الْأَصْغَرِ رَجُلٌ اشْتَرَى يَوْمَ النَّيْرُوزِ شَيْئًا لَمْ يَكُنْ يَشْتَرِيهِ قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ إنْ أَرَادَ بِهِ تَعْظِيمَ ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ كَمَا يُعَظِّمُهُ الْمُشْرِكُونَ كَفَرَ، وَإِنْ أَرَادَ الْأَكْلَ وَالشُّرْبَ وَالتَّنَعُّمَ لَا يَكْفُرُ. (تبيين الحقائق شرح كنز الدقائق)

And he said in al-Jami al-Asghar, on the day of al-Nayrooz a man purchased something that he would not normally purchase. If he intended veneration of the day, like the idolaters venerate it, then he has fallen into Kufr. However, if he intended to eat, drink and enjoy himself then it is not Kufr. (Imam al-Zayla’i, Tabyeen al-Haqaaiq).

As we see in the Nass above, the greatest sin and threat of falling into Kufr is when one is venerating the religious holidays of disbelievers. However, it remains a concern even if one is not venerating the day.

وإن أهدى يوم النيروز إلى إنسان شيئا ولم يرد به تعظيم اليوم وإنما فعل ذلك على عادة الناس لا يكون كفرا، وينبغي أن لا يفعل في هذا اليوم ما لا يفعله قبل ذلك اليوم ولا بعده وأن يحترز عن التشبه بالكفرة، وعن الإمام أبي جعفر الكبير رحمه الله تعالى إذا عبد الرجل خمسين سنة ثم جاء يوم النيروز وأهدى إلى بعض المشركين بيضة يريد به تعظيم يوم النيروز فقد كفر بالله وحبط عمله. (فتاوى قاضيخان)

And if he gifts a person something on the day of al-Nayrooz and did not intend to venerate the day, rather he done it because it is the habit of the people, then it is not Kufr. However, he should not do on this day anything he does not do before it or after it. And he must avoid imitating the disbelievers. And Abu Hafs al-Kabeer – May Allah Most High have mercy upon him – said, if a man worshipped Allah (Most High) for fifty years and then gifted an idolater (as little as) an egg on the day of al-Nayrooz, intending thereby to venerate the day, indeed he has disbelieved (committed Kufr) in Allah (Most High), and his good deeds have been nullified. (Imam Qadi Khan, Fataawa Qadi Khan).

In the Nass above Imam Qadi Khan makes it clear that one must avoid special practices on the religious holidays of disbelievers even if he does not intend veneration. The holy Prophet (peace be upon him) placed great emphasis on this Ummah remaining distinct from others regarding religious issues. Muslims must keep this in mind and understand the importance of following the Sunnah.

This concern of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was so great that even acts that are normally encouraged were adjusted to remain distinct from other communities.

عَبْدَ اللهِ بْنَ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا، يَقُولُ: حِينَ صَامَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ وَأَمَرَ بِصِيَامِهِ قَالُوا: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ إِنَّهُ يَوْمٌ تُعَظِّمُهُ الْيَهُودُ وَالنَّصَارَى فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: فَإِذَا كَانَ الْعَامُ الْمُقْبِلُ إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ صُمْنَا الْيَوْمَ التَّاسِعَ

(Sayidina) Abdullah bin Abbas (May Allah Most High be pleased with them both) said, when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ fasted on the day of ‘Ashura and commanded others to fast it, they (his Companions) said to him ﷺ, ‘ O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), it is a day which the Jews and Christians venerate. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘When the next year comes, In sha Allah, we will fast on the ninth (too).’ (Sahih Muslim, 1134 – 133).

Fasting is encouraged in Islam. However, we see in the Hadith above, it was adjusted to remain distinct from disbelievers. Hanafi scholars applied the lesson learned in the Hadith above to other religious holidays too.

وَيُكْرَهُ صَوْمُ يَوْمِ النَّيْرُوزِ وَالْمِهْرَجَانِ لِأَنَّ فِيهِ تَعْظِيمَ أَيَّامٍ نُهِينَا عَنْ تَعْظِيمِهَا، فَإِنْ وَافَقَ يَوْمًا كَانَ يَصُومُهُ فَلَا بَأْسَ بِهِ (فتح القدير)

And it is disliked to fast on the days of al-Nayrooz or al-Mihrajaan because it leads to veneration of the days. But we have been prohibited from venerating them. However, if it coincides with a day he normally fasts (e.g. Mondays) then it is permitted. (Imam Ibn Humaam, Fath al-Qadeer).

Therefore, it is clear that Muslims are not permitted to celebrate Easter, Christmas or any religious Holidays of disbelievers. Muslims must maintain a strong identity and must refuse to be influenced by culture or other pressures. We must recognise that Barakah resides in following the Sunnah. There are many ways of us engaging with our non-Muslim neighbours without engaging in their religious events or holidays.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (08.03.2022)

See also:
Saying Merry Christmas

See also (video):