Allowing non-Muslim staff to Celebrate Holidays


Assalam `alaykum,

I would really ask for an opinion from Sheik Hisham as this is a very big problem for me.  I live in a Buddhist country and as of yesterday , I am a public listed company. My Buddhist staff at this establishment are celebrating the birth of Buddha and the whole country is as it’s the 2600 year of his birth. If I tell my staff not to hang just pandals, with no pictures whatsoever , there would be communal sentiments and I think this is just not right that we impose ourselves on the joy of other religions.  Now my Board has got a fatwa from a Mufti which is attached herewith and I would like to please urgently get a reply from my Sheik on this matter as I would only follow what he says .

I am sorry to trouble you but would more grateful If you could get an opinion or fatwa for our Sheik overnight or if he is travelling from Gabriel Haddad or anyone with quote from hadiths or Quran, whatever.  Thank you so much

Best regards


`Alaykum salam,

As far as we know the vesak lantern does not symbolize anything that contradicts tawhid or decency but rather stands for thankfulness, simple living and other shared values.

Regardless, non-Muslim staff has a right to express their religious sentiment within recognized bounds of custom. Allah Most High said:

لَآ إِكۡرَاهَ فِى ٱلدِّينِ‌ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ ٱلرُّشۡدُ مِنَ ٱلۡغَىِّ‌ۚ فَمَن يَكۡفُرۡ بِٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ وَيُؤۡمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَا‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

{There is no compulsion in religion, the true path stands clear from error} Surat al-Baqara 2:256.

This in no way implies an endorsement of such religious beliefs, nor alliance (wala‘) with non-Muslims at the exclusion of Muslims, nor “inclining toward the wrongdoers” nor imitation (tashabbuh) of non-Muslims by a Muslim employer or staff. Rather it signifies (i) mature and conscious tolerance of others’ beliefs for the sake of common welfare and, (ii) implicitly, invitation to Islam, just as the Prophet Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace) tolerated the Trinitarian Christians of Najran to hold their prayers in his Mosque in Madina. Thus non-Muslim staff can put up such decorations or flags or burn incense without any demand of Muslim participation, patronage or support other than usual everyday civility and courtesy.

This is the basic makeup of peaceful co-existence in pluralistic societies, whereas intolerance fosters anger among communities and is a path to sedition and fitna, as took place when Vietnamese Christian authorities tried to block Buddhist celebrations in the sixties, which precipitated six months of civil unrest known as the Buddhist crisis of 1963. Therefore prominent Southeast Asian Muslim countries with Buddhist minorities such as Malaysia (where Wesak Day is a national public holiday) and Brunei Darussalam strive to practice societal and individual tolerance and that is clearly the correct way in Islam – even more so in a Buddhist-majority country. Indeed it is an opportunity for re-learning the high manners and self-confidence that once were conducive to the successful long-term and large-scale da`wah of our Salaf as-Salih in that region, without feeling threatened in our beliefs, and Allah knows best.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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