Giving Gifts To Non-Muslims On Their Revered Days

Question

It is argued by family and friends that it is permissible to give presents to non-Muslims at the time of Christmas and Diwali as it is a social custom and not a religious act and their intention is to show courtesy to a fellow human being; not to celebrate their festival. Furthermore, the gift is non-religious in nature. 

On this basis is it permissible to give presents to non-Muslims at these time. The rationale, prima facie, seems sound but if not, would you be kind enough to explain why?

Answer

Firstly, we will quote the verses of the Quraan Sharif wherein Allah Ta’aala prohibits us from befriending the Kuffar. These verses are as follows:

O you who have Imaan! Do not take My enemy and your enemy as friends, offering your friendship to them when they reject the truth (of Islaam) that has come to you.

The one who does this (befriends them) from amongst you has certainly strayed from the
straight path.

You will not find people who believe in Allaah and the Last Day befriending those who oppose
Allaah and His Rasool sallallahu alaihi wasallam even though they (those who oppose Allaah and
Rasulullaah sallallahu alaihi wasallam) are their fathers, their sons, their brothers or their families

O you who have Imaan! Do not take the Jews and Christians as friends (confidantes). They (all
Kuffaar) are only the friends of each other (and cannot be your friends). Whoever of you befriends
them, then he is surely from among them (because al the Kuffaar are one community)

There are many such verses in the Quraan Sharif wherein we have been prohibited from befriending the Kuffar by taking them as our bosom friends which is termed as Muwaalaat. By looking at these verses, due to lack of understanding a doubt may occur amongst the non-Muslims that the Muslims do not tolerate other religions; in fact they do not even display good character to people of other faiths. On the other hand we find such incidents in the life of the Sahaaba radhiallahu anhum giving preference to non-Muslims that is difficult for one to imagine such character in this day and age.

A simple Muslim that is void of insight will also regard the above as a contradiction. This is the consequence and result of merely having an outward look at these verses and due to insufficient research. If all the verses mentioned in the Quraan Sharif discussing this issue are gathered and pondered about then neither will the non-Muslims have any scope to complain nor will there remain any contradiction whatsoever. We will therefore explain in detail the different types of relationships with the Kuffar, indicating which type of relationship is permissible and which is impermissible.

The relationship between two groups or individuals is of different categories:

The first category is where one individual loves the other from the heart which is termed as Muwaalaat. This type of friendship and love is specifically reserved and permitted only for the believers amongst themselves.

 The second category of friendship is termed as Muwaasaat. This means that a believer is a well wisher to a Kaafir, sympathizes with him and even benefits him. Such a relationship is permitted with the Kuffar except for those Kuffar with whom the Muslims are at war. This has been explained in the eighth verse of Surah Mumtahina:

Allaah does not forbid you from behaving cordially and justly towards those (Kuffaar) who do not
fight you for (reason of your) religion and who do not drive you out from your homes.

The third category is termed as Mudaaraat. This literal meaning of ‘Mudaaraat’ is expressing good character and maintaining a friendly relationship. This is permitted with the non-Muslims when one intends to pass over some Deeni benefit to the Kuffar or a Kaafir is a guest at one’s home (a Muslim’s home), or one maintains such a relationship in order to protect himself from the harm of the Kuffar.

The fourth category is termed as Muaamalaat. This is where a Muslim enters into business transactions with the Kuffar. Such transactions are permitted except if there is harm being caused to the Muslims by transacting with the non-Muslims. The dealings of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, Sahaaba Radiallahu Anhum and Khulafaa-e-Rashideen Radiallahu Anhum explicitly prove this point. It is on this basis that the Fuqaaha have prohibited the sale of weapons to the Kuffar that are at war with the Muslims (as this will entail harming the Muslims).

Now coming to your question, if a Muslim on a casual everyday basis, wants to share a gift on the basis of Muwaasaat or Mudaaraat then it will be permissible to do so. However, a gift shared with a Hindu on the occasion of Diwali is generally considered as a Diwali gift according to the Urf (common understanding) of the people, or a gift shared with a Christian during their Christmas period is regarded as a Christmas gift. Likewise, a gift sent to us by a disbeliever on the occasion of Eid is considered as a Eid Gift.

Now, as Muslims we totally disassociate ourselves from their religious celebrations as these celebrations are filled with beliefs of Kufr and Shirk. We should therefore not share any gifts with them on these occasions due to the common understanding of the people even though we are certain that we are totally free and disassociate ourselves from their beliefs. One should rather let such a religious occasion pass by and share a gift at a later stage so that there is no doubt in the gift being totally permissible (to share).

Checked and Approved By:

Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.

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