Many Muslims, especially those living in America and Canada, are still confused about whether, as Muslims, they can celebrate Thanksgiving. Luckily this article will explain this so that we as Muslims do not violate the rules of our religion in doing an act.
Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in several countries, especially the United States and Canada. There are differences in the date of Thanksgiving in these two countries, where Thanksgiving is usually celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada, while in the United States,
Thanksgiving is made a national holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. This celebration was originally intended to give thanks for the harvest’s blessings and the preceding year, which were associated with religious and cultural traditions. However, it is now primarily celebrated as a secular holiday.
Celebrating or imitating the believers in any of their religious festivals (holidays) is impermissible, and we as Muslims are prohibited from doing it. In this case, Thanksgiving as a day provided to give thanks is a foreign matter in Islamic teachings. Prophet Muhammad SAW also warned us from adopting the ways of non-Muslims.
Ibn Umar narrates: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever imitates a people, he is among them.”
But not all practices that were initially foreign remain impermissible. Mirqāt al-Mafātīḥ, Mulla `Alī al-Qārī further explains the hadith as applying to those aspects of a people that are particular to them.
He said that distinguishing traits are what is intended by imitation and not other than it. It means that when a trait or celebration is no longer specific to a group of people but has been adopted by an entire nation such that people of all religions practice them, then it no longer falls under the purview of this hadith.
Likewise, most Americans currently celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday that does not have any religious significance. It is more likely to be seen as a way to bring people from different cultural and religious backgrounds together.
Because Thanksgiving is considered a national holiday in the United States, most businesses, shops are closed, and people are neither working nor going to school. It is celebrated by spending time with family by eating together. Thus Muslims residing in the United States can also enjoy the holiday in the same way.
To be concluded, Thanksgiving is permissible (mubāḥ) if we as Muslims enjoy it just as a holiday and free from any impermissible elements such as practices originating and specifically from other religions, consuming haram food, fights between relatives, and the like.
Introducing any such practices would alter an otherwise permissible act to an impermissible one. Therefore, we as Muslims are also expected to be careful in this matter. And keep in mind that if a Muslim celebrates Thanksgiving intending to imitate other groups, it is not permissible.