Can I participate in non-Muslim celebrations?

My mother was born and raised Catholic but converted to Islam when she married my father. Although she embraced Islam as her religion it didn’t affect her very close relationship with her family. So, whenever there are occasions like Christmas, All Saint’s Day, and birthdays we would usually go as a family. Even after my mother’s passing we still continue the tradition. Are we committing any sin?

Being kind and courteous to your family and relatives is something that Islam emphasizes a lot, even if the family is non-Muslim. What Islam warns against is participation in Zoor (lies and falsehood). God says in the holy Quran,

“And those (worshipers of the Beneficent) who do not witness falsehood, and when they pass by frivolity, they pass dignified” (25:72)

The reason for this warning is that participation in such activities, sooner or later, affects one’s beliefs and may taint his faith. Islam has made it clear that Muslims must express Walaa’ (allegiance) to the truth and Baraa’ (detachment) from falsehood.

It is because of Baraa’ that Asmaa’ bint Abi-Bakr, may God have been pleased with both, refused to receive her mother, Qateela bint Abdil-`Uzza, who was a polytheist, who traveled from Mecca to Medina to see her and brought her a gift. Asmaa’ would not let her in her house and would not take her gift! Just then, God revealed verses 60:8-9,

“God does not forbid you from those who did not fight you because of religion and did not expel you from your homes – from being cordial toward them and acting with equity toward them. Indeed, God loves the equitable.
God only forbids you from those who fought you because of religion and expelled you from your homes and aided in your expulsion – [forbids] that you ally with them. And whoever allies with them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (60:8-9)

The Prophet (PBUH) promptly ordered Asmaa’ to receive her mother, accept her gift and be kind and hospitable to her. These verses correct the misunderstanding that some Muslims have about Walaa’ and Baraa’. These teachings do not imply hatred of non-Muslims; they teach that Baraa’ is the separation from hostile enemies of Islam and that Walaa’ is the allegiance with those who testify to the truth about God.

So, to answer your question, you are not committing a sin if the celebrations you attend are free from falsehood. If a celebration starts to take a religious inclination in which false theology is uttered or blasphemous acts are practiced, then you should immediately excuse yourself and leave, after wishing your relatives well.

One Response to “Can I participate in non-Muslim celebrations?”

  1. morwen says:

    Thank you very much for the answer. This is very helpful to me.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.