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Fatwa Congratulating Christians on Their Holidays

Al-Azhar is one of the major Islamic centers in the world. It is highly specialized, and within its walls, the fundamentals of the sciences of religion are studied. It graduates many preachers and imams each year, and in its center issue monumental fatwas – religious verdicts – that affect millions of Muslims around the world. A fatwa of the Iftaa Center in Al-Azhar, which was published on December 30, 2018, stated the following: Islam called for the values of coexistence, tolerance, and respect, and raised its followers on these principles. Following Islam means having respect for others. Therefore, congratulating Christians on their holidays is an act of benevolence and honor. Al-Azhar continued to say: the permissibility of congratulating Christians on their holidays is consistent with the purposes of religion and highlights tolerance and moderation. It’s common for leaders of Western and Christian countries to honor Muslim holidays out of respect. Every year, they host Islamic scholars and notable community leaders, for honorary celebrations of Muslim events. These celebrations don’t mean that the congratulator believes in the religious principles of the religious holiday he is honoring. When a Christian congratulates a Muslim, he doesn’t accept upon himself the prohibition to eat pork or drink alcohol. He doesn’t pray five times a day, fast in Ramadan, or commit himself to a pilgrimage in Mecca. Therefore, it would be equally absurd to say that when a Muslim congratulates a Christian for the new year, he accepts upon himself laws or principles contradictory to Islam. It must be known that offering peace or congratulations, as well as sharing condolences, with Christians, Jews, and others, has nothing to do with issues of faith or piety. There are tens of millions of Muslims who live and work in Christian countries. Is it wise to prevent them from congratulating their Christian colleagues and friends on one of their most important holidays? –Sami Al-Nisf (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)