Singling out the festivals of the disbelievers for fasting
so as to be different from them
The scholars differed with regard to this:
It was said that it is not Makrooh to fast on their festivals for the purpose of being different from them. This view is Dha’eef (weak).
The correct view is that it is not permissible to single out the days of their festivals for fasting, because their festivals are occasions which they venerate, and fasting on these days and not others coincides with them in their veneration.
Ibn Qudaamah, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:“Our companions said: it is Makrooh to single out the day of Nawrooz and the day of Mahrajaan to fast, because these are two days which are venerated by the disbelievers, so fasting only on these days and not on others is agreeing with them in their veneration of those days. This is like the case of Saturday, so by analogy this ruling applies to every festival of the disbelievers and every day which they venerate.” (Al-Mughni, 4/924; see also Al- Iqtidaa’, 2/975)
This ruling applies in cases where one singles out that day to fast because it is their festival. But if it happens to coincide with a vow or a voluntary fast, without intending to fast because it is their festival, then there is nothing wrong with that. (See Haashiyat Ibn Qaasim ‘ala ar-Rawdh al-Murabba’, 3/064) The guideline in being different from them with regard to their festivals is that one should not innovate anything at all; one should treat the days of their festivals as being like any other day. (See Al-Iqtidaa’, 2/815) So one should not take the day off work, or rejoice on that occasion, of single that day out for fasting, expressing grief, etc.
Shaykh al-Islaam, may Allaah have mercy on him, mentioned something which may be taken as guidelines with regard to the matter of imitation. He said:
“Tashabbuh (imitation) includes those who do something because they do it, which is rare; and those who follow others in what they do for some purpose of his own even though the action is originally taken from those others. As for the one who does something that happens to be done by others as well, but neither of them took it from the other, it is open to debate as to whether this is is imitation or not. But the person who does this may be rebuked so that there will be no excuse for imitation, and because this will reinforce the idea of differing from them.” (Al-Iqtidaa’, 1/242)
On the basis of what Shaykh al-Islaam has said, actions that happen to coincide with what they do may be divided into two types:
One, imitation of them; this is where the person who imitates them wants to be like them, for whatever reason. This is Haraam.
Two, resembling them; this is when a person is not deliberately aiming to be like them. In this case it should be pointed out to him, and if he stops, all well and good; otherwise he is guilty of the kind of imitation that is Haraam. ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al- ‘Aas, may Allaah be pleased with them both, said: “The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, saw me wearing two garments that had been dyed with safflower. He, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘This is the clothing of the disbelievers; do not wear them.’” According to another report: “He, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘Did you mother tell you to wear this?’ I said: ‘Should I wash them?’ He, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘No, burn them.’” (The two reports were reported by Muslim in al-Libaas wa az-Zeenah, 2077)
Al-Qurtubi, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “This indicates that the reason he told him not to wear them was that by wearing them he was imitating the disbelievers.” (Al-Mufhim lima Ashkal Min Talkhees Muslim 5/993)
It seems from the Hadeeth that ‘Abdullaah, may Allaah be pleased with him, did not realize that he was imitating the dress of the disbelievers, but the Prophet of Allaah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, still told him off for that and explained the ruling of the Sharee’ah (Islamic law) on this matter.
If something originated with the disbelievers, and it is done by them and by others, then this is not imitation, but Shaykh al- Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy on him, was of the opinion that it should be stopped so as to leave no room for excuses and so as to protect the Muslims from falling into
imitation of the disbelievers, and because this serves the purpose of differing from them.
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