As Salaamu Alaikum
Although we Muslims don’t make a celebration of birthdays, is there anything wrong with a simple acknowledgment of the fact that a person is another year older and extending Best Wishes, or simply saying “Happy Birthday”(no gift, no card, no cake with candles, no balloons…etc.)? If a Muslim gets an invitation to a non-Muslim’s birthday party, would it somehow be un-Islamic to attend?
What about giving a gift for no particular reason, as a random act of kindness, or giving a gift of something useful that you know the recipient can appreciate and use, or maybe even something that he/she actually needs?
Time: Tuesday April 13, 2010 at 12:14 am
وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته
Answer is specific to a new Muslim, not for all to take it and run! Our answer is based on understanding the beginning days of Islam, doing the best as new Muslims, and not being overwhelmed with the new faith while not sacrificing one’s new-cherished core values.
Point 1) new Muslims need to go easy and slow with their non-Muslim counterparts. One can say politely: “John, it’s your birthday. You are a year older. You have done well/or it’s my wish you would do better this this year. My best wishes.” A true Muslim, new or otherwise, would not say:” Jenny, you are a year older, still a disbeliever, I hope you would see the light so as to avoid hellfire!” or anything vaguely similar
If both are new to Islam, they can say the following: “wow, an added year. As much as we would like to celebrate birthdays, let us look for a better day to celebrate, the Eid! Allah takes away one-thing to give us something better. This is the beauty of our religion al-Islam.”
Point 2) Muslims being invited to birthday parties are not a new occurrence. They can go early and politely state, “I appreciate being invited.” Make a polite excuse for not being able to attend. If it is a job security issue, etc. then a polite gift would be appropriate with the intent to soften the heart of the recipient and also as an invite to that which is good.
Point 3) Gift-giving builds love between people. It should not be totally random and needless. Nor something that can be used against the spirituality of another. It should have the element of fulfilling a valid need, building healthier relations, etc. This is part of sunnah and derived form hadith. These gifts must have an element of need. In Islam the following builds greater affection between people: saying salam to people, feeding people (more so the needy), keeping family ties in a healthy manner, (fasting) and praying when others are sleeping. (derived from one or more hadith.)
As said on another response:
In the age of cultural diversity, many are sensitive to individual wishes. You would be helping people to attain greater level of cultural sensitivity by sharing your point of view and yet be accepted as a result of the information you have passed. This is one of the greatest forms of dawah (inviting people), dawah with moderation and sensitivity to Islam and the west in general is best and most appreciated.
Allah Certainly Knows Best.