Hi. So I was wondering if it's okay for us as Moslems to say "Merry christmas" to our Christian friends. There's a lot of people around me, including my parents, who told me to not say it because it's haram. If it's not okay, how do we explain it to our Christian friends without offending them?
According to a fatwa by the European Council for Fatwa and Research (which has the famous scholars Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Abdullah bin Bayyah as members) it is permissible to say “Merry Christmas” to non-Muslims. The Quran does not forbid us from being kind and civil to non-Muslims, and there is no clear evidence in the Quran or the sunnah to forbid such greetings.
Question from a reader:
is it fine if muslims give christmas presents to christian friends with the intention of giving them a little treat of kindness (not exchanging gifts)?
According to a fatwa by Dr. Abdul Sattar Fathullah Saeed (professor of tafseer and the Quranic sciences at al-Azhar University) it is permissible to give presents when congratulating Christians on their holidays, since there is nothing in the Islamic texts to prohibit this.
What is prohibited is taking part in the celebrations as if you yourself are a Christian, such as attending church on Christmas Eve.
- IslamOnline fatwa (Arabic PDF)
Question from a reader:
I don't want to come of as rude but wishing someone a merry Christmas while knowing its based on a pagan belief that has been bent to fit the Christian standards as a Muslim that knows that its illogical to say them to have a lot of fun sinning.If someone tells you happy holidays and you reply with you too or something is another thing. But in my opinion you shouldn't start it. Not congratulating a celebration we don't celebrate isn't rude. Its not our religion,so we should act as every other day
It very much depends on context. A Muslim convert to Islam who still lives with his or her non-Muslim family can set a good tone on Christmas day by saying “merry Christmas” to his/her family. There are circumstances where a Muslim is moved by some feeling to say “merry Christmas” to a non-Muslim, Wahhabis will say that is a sin since to them the personal is always political, I am saying that it is not a sin and that it is a matter of personal choice.
If for you it would be strange to say “merry Christmas” because you do not live in such a context, then it is perfectly fine for you not to say it. The point is that instead of holding to a rigid “it is haram” line, a Muslim can instead use their own judgment to decide if it is appropriate to say it.
I agree with you that in most cases a Muslim can simply say “you too” and that would be the end of it.