What a Muslim Should Be Reminded Regarding “New Year” of The Modern Gregorian Calendar


In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

What is said about New Year

New Year’s Day is a festival observed in most of the world on 1 January, the first day of the year in the modern Gregorian calendar. 1 January is also New Year’s Day on the Julian calendar, but this is not the same day as the Gregorian one. Whilst most solar calendars (like the Gregorian and Julian) begin the year regularly at or near the northern winter solstice, cultures that observe a lunisolar or lunar calendar celebrate their New Year’s Day (such as the Chinese New Year and the Islamic New Year) at less fixed points relative to the solar year.

In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, the day was dedicated to Janus, god of gateways and beginnings, for whom January is also named. From Roman times until the middle of the eighteenth century, the new year was celebrated at various stages and in various parts of Christian Europe on 25 December, on 1 March, on 25 March and on the movable feast of Easter. In the present day, with most countries now using the Gregorian calendar as their civil calendar, 1 January according to that calendar is among the most celebrated public holidays in the world, often observed with fireworks at the stroke of midnight following New Year’s Eve as the new year starts in each time zone. Other global New Year’s Day traditions include making New Year’s resolutions and calling one’s friends and family. (1)

The earliest known record of a New Year festival dates from about 2000 BCE in Mesopotamia, where in Babylonia the new year (Akitu) began with the new moon after the spring equinox (mid-March) and in Assyria with the new moon nearest the autumn equinox (mid-September). For the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians the year began with the autumn equinox (September 21), and for the early Greeks it began with the winter solstice (December 21). On the Roman republican calendar the year began on March 1, but after 153 BCE the official date was January 1, which was continued in the Julian calendar of 46 BCE.

In early medieval times most of Christian Europe regarded March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year, although New Year’s Day was observed on December 25 in Anglo-Saxon England. William the Conqueror decreed that the year begin on January 1, but England later joined the rest of Christendom and adopted March 25. The Gregorian calendar, adopted in 1582 by the Roman Catholic Church, restored January 1 as New Year’s Day, and most European countries gradually followed suit: Scotland, in 1660; Germany and Denmark, about 1700; England, in 1752; and Russia, in 1918. (2)

Therefore, based on what has been stated above, the New Year celebration is something specific to either the polytheistic, innovated or abrogated religions. Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] was asked the following in a question: “What is the Islamic ruling on the statement “Merry Christmas?” How to reply when someone wishes us merry Christmas? Is it permissible to go to those places where events related to Christmas are held, and is a person guilty of sinning if he unintentionally does this; but rather he did so either out of courtesy, shyness or other reasons? Is it permissible to imitate the disbelievers in this affair?”

Response: The scholars of Islam hold a clear consensus that it is forbidden to wish “A merry Christmas” to the disbelievers or other than it with regards to those holidays of theirs that are related to their religions, as reported by Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] when he stated in his book [titled Ahkaam ahl adh-dimmah – The Islamic Rulings Related to non-Muslim Citizens]: “As for congratulating with the rituals that are specifically theirs, this – based on consensus of the scholars – is unlawful, such as congratulating them during their festivals and fasts, saying, “A blessed festival to you” or “May you have a nice festival” and what is similar to these statements. And (even) if the one who utters this is safe from what would be tantamount to disbelief in Islam, then it is still forbidden (to utter these statements), because it is similar to congratulating a person for prostrating to the cross; but rather it is a more severe sin and more hated in the Sight of Allaah than congratulating a person for consuming alcohol, murder, illegal sexual relations and other similar sins. (see footnote a) Many of those who do not give the religion its rightful status do fall into this affair, whilst being unaware of the repugnance of that which has been committed. Whoever congratulates a person for disobedience, a religious innovation or an act (a belief, view, ritual etc) that is tantamount to Kufr (disbelief), then he has exposed himself to Allaah’s displeasure and anger”.

Therefore, congratulating the disbelievers – in this manner mentioned by Ibnul Qayyim- during their religious festivals is unlawful, because indeed it is tantamount to approval of their [Shi’aar Al-Kufr – acts, festivals, creeds] that are tantamount to disbelief (in Allaah) and being pleased with that for them, even if a person is not pleased with this for himself; however, it is unlawful for a Muslim to be pleased with the rituals that are tantamount to disbelief or congratulating someone else for it, because Allaah [The Exalted] is not pleased with this. Allaah said:

[إِن تَكْفُرُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَنِىٌّ عَنكُمْ ۖ وَلَا يَرْضَىٰ لِعِبَادِهِ ٱلْكُفْرَ ۖ وَإِن تَشْكُرُوا۟ يَرْضَهُ لَكُمْ -If you disbelieve, then verily, Allah is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you]. [Surah Az-Zumar from the verse:7]

Allaah [The Exalted] said: [{ٱلْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلْإِسْلَـٰمَ دِينًۭا – This day (i.e. during the farewell pilgrimage of the Prophet) I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion]. [Surah Al-Maa’idah. ASayah 3]

It is unlawful to congratulate them for this whether the one congratulated is a colleague at work or other than that. If they greet us with their festival greetings, we should not respond to them in like manner (see footnote b), because these are not our festivals and they are festivals which Allaah is not pleased with; rather they are either innovated in their religion, or they were legislated, but have been abrogated by the religion of Islam through that which Allah sent Muhammad [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] to the entire creation [humankind and jinn]. Allah said: [وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ ٱلْإِسْلَـٰمِ دِينًۭا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِى ٱلْءَاخِرَةِ مِنَ ٱلْخَـٰسِرِينَ – Whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers]. [Surah Aal Imraan. Aayah 85]

It is unlawful for a Muslim to accept their invitations during these festivals, because that would be more severe than congratulating them, as it would be tantamount to participating in such festivals (of disbelief). Also, it is unlawful for Muslims to imitate the disbelievers by organizing parties during such festivals, exchanging gifts, distributing sweets, giving food, taking time off work and what is similar to these deeds, because the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said, “Whoever imitates a people is from them”. (see footnote c) Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated in his book [Iqtidaa As-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem Mukhaalifah Ashaab al-Jaheem – Following the Straight Path by Opposing The Path of The People of Hell]: “Imitating them in some of their festivals is tantamount to being happy with what they are upon of falsehood (i.e. beliefs and practices) and maybe this would make them hope that they can seize an opportunity and humiliate the weak (Muslims)”.

Whoever does anything related to these festivals has sinned regardless whether his deed was done out of courtesy, love, shyness or some other reason, because indeed it is tantamount to (unlawful) compromise in the religion ordained by Allaah, and it is one of the means to strengthening the hearts of the disbelievers in their religion and making them proud of it. (1)

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Footnote a: That is because these festivals – Christmas, Easter and New Year etc are founded upon beliefs that are tantamount to Shirk (polytheism), whereas illegal sexual intercourse, alcohol consumption, murder etc are major sin lesser than Shirk. Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah protect him] stated: My brothers and sisters, there’s a hadeeth qudsi collected by Imaam at-Tirmidhi (rahimahullaah) in which Allaah’s Messenger (ﷺ) mentions from Allaah (subhana wa ta’ala) some tremendous words that give hope to the hearts and raise the spirits of a person as it relates to its connection with Allaah (subhana wa ta’ala). Allaah said “O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” In that there is courage for the hearts and it puts into the souls a desire to turn to Allah and never give up hope, for indeed the believer does not give up hope in Allaah.
Seeking forgiveness is something to which we don’t give the attention it deserves. Allaah has forbidden us from becoming from those individuals who despair of the mercy of Allaah and there is not a crime that Allaah will not forgive except one if you die upon it and Allaah says in the Qur’aan “Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship (i.e. if one dies and fails to repent), but He forgives except that (i.e. anything else) to whom He pleases”. [Surah An-Nisaa. Aayah 48] – So any crime lesser than Shirk, Allaah (subhaana wa ta’ala) will forgive as long as you seek forgiveness, turn to Him and you are penitent. Like the Prophet or early Salaf used to say “tawbah is regret” meaning that tawbah is to feel regret, feeling regretful of the things you did and every time you disobeyed Allaah. This regret leads to the path of tawbah and when it is said regret is tawbah, it means the greatest portion of turning to Allaah in repentance is regret, knowing that you did something wrong and then you turn to Allaah.. https://abukhadeejah.com/do-not-cease-being-repentant-to-allaah/

Footnote b: Greeting and Interacting with the Jews, Christians and Pagans ―Even if they are oppressive: https://abukhadeejah.com/how-to-conduct-oneself-with-the-jews-christians-others-even-if-they-be-tyrants/

Footnote c: This hadeeth was reported by Imaam Abu Dawud. Number 4031:

Imaam Al-Albaanee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: From the perfection of Islam is that it laid down rulings and divine legislation in order for Muslims to preserve their Islamic personality so that they do not go along with the (un-islamic) character of another nation with the passage of time. https://salaficentre.com/2021/09/10/the-true-reality-of-mustafa-kemal-ataturk-discussion-between-imaam-al-albaanee-and-a-priest-edited-and-reposted/

Read: Muslim lifestyle choices, and adopting non-Muslim practices that conflict with Islamic teachings: https://abukhadeejah.com/muslim-lifestyles-choices-and-adopting-non-muslim-practices-that-conflict-with-islamic-teachings-islam-4-1/

Christmas Celebrations, Imitating the Unbelievers and Preserving Your Islamic Identity

Living With Non-Muslims In The West: With Fine Conduct:

Living With Non-Muslims In The West: With Fine Conduct

Alliance with the non-Muslims is of two types – misunderstanding this affair leads people astray:
https://abukhadeejah.com/having-alliance-with-the-non-muslims-is-of-two-types-misunderstanding-this-affair-leads-people-astray/


[Ref 1: Mehra, Komal (2006). Festivals Of The World. Sterling Publishers. p. 69. ISBN 9781845575748]

[Ref 2: https://www.britannica.com/topic/New-Year-festival ]

[Ref 3: An Excerpt from Majmoo Al-Fataawaa by Shaikh Uthaymeen. Vol 3. pages 44-46. slightly paraphrased]

 

 

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