1. Joining in Christmas and other celebrations :
It is not permissible to join in the kaafir festivals for the following reasons:
Firstly: because this entails imitating or resembling them, and “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” This is a serious warning.
3Abd-Allaah ibn al-3Aas said: Whoever lives in the land of the mushrikeen and celebrates their Nawrooz (New Year) and their Mahrajaan (festivals), and imitates them until he dies, he will be a loser on the Day of Resurrection.
Secondly: taking part in their festivals is a kind of befriending them and showing love for them. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliyaa’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Awliyaa’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Awliyaa’), then surely, he is one of them… ” (1)
“O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies (i.e. disbelievers and polytheists) as friends, showing affection towards them” (2)
Thirdly: festivals are the matter of religion and beliefs, not the matter of worldly customs, as is indicated by the hadeeth: “Every nation has its 3Eed, and this is our 3Eed.” Their 3Eed or festival reflects their corrupt beliefs of Kufr and Shirk. (3)
2. Congratulating on Christmas :
Greeting the kuffaar on Christmas and other religious holidays of theirs is haraam, by consensus, as Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said in Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah:
Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is haraam by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on.
Congratulating the kuffaar on their religious festivals is haraam to the extent described by Ibn al-Qayyim because it implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of kufr, even if one would not accept those things for oneself.
So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise. (4)
3. Attending the celebrations of Christian festivals :
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
It is not permissible for the Muslims to attend the festivals of the mushrikeen, according to the consensus of the scholars whose words carry weight.
The fuqaha’ who follow the four schools of thought have stated this clearly in their books… Al-Bayhaqi narrated with a saheeh isnaad from 3Umar ibn al-Khattaab that he said: “Do not enter upon the mushrikeen in their churches on the day of their festival, for divine wrath is descending upon them.”
And 3Umar also said: “Avoid the enemies of Allaah on their festivals.”
Al-Bayhaqi narrated with a jayyid isnaad from 3Abd-Allaah ibn 3Amr that he said:
Whoever settles in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their new year and festival and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” (5)
4. Holding Parties & Decorating Houses:
Decorating the house with balloons at this time is obviously joining in with the kuffaar and celebrating their festival. Shaykh Ibn 3Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: It is forbidden for the Muslims to imitate the kuffaar by holding parties on these occasions, or exchanging gifts, or distributing sweets or other foods, or taking time off work and so on, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (6)
5. Giving gifts on Christmas :
It is not permitted as it involves celebrating this festival, which is something that is haraam according to sharee3ah, including offering gifts on this festival.
Secondly, it involves imitating the kaafirs in these customs on the day of their celebration of that innovated festival.
“And those who do not witness falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass it by with dignity” (interpretation of the meaning) (7)
The scholars interpreted this aayah was referring to the festivals of the mushrikeen. It is not permissible to give any of them cards for their festivals, or to sell them cards or any of the other things they need for their festivals such as lights, trees or food – including turkey, candy canes, etc. (8)
6. Accepting gifts from the kuffaar or giving them gifts, if they are relatives :
With regard to gifts given on their festivals, it is not permissible to give or accept them, because that is venerating their festivals and expressing approval of them and helping them in their kufr.
Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
If someone gives a gift to the Muslims on these festivals and that is contrary to his habit at all other times apart from this festival, then his gift is not to be accepted, especially if the gift is something that is used to imitate them, such as giving candles and the like at Christmas. (9)
7. Eating or accepting food (gifts) that the people of the Book prepare for their festivals :
It is not permissible for the Muslim to eat foods that the Jews, Christians and mushrikoon make for their festivals. It is not permissible either for a Muslim to accept such things that are given to them on the occasion of their festivals, because that implies honouring them and cooperating with them in manifesting their symbols and propagating their innovations and sharing their happiness on the days of their festivals. That may also lead to taking their festivals as festivals for us too, or to exchanging invitations to meals or to give gifts on one another’s festivals at the very least. (10)
8. Greeting or returning the greeting on New year :
It is not permissible to greet or congratulate the kuffaar on the occasion of Christmas, New Year or any of their other holidays, and it is not permissible to respond to them when they greet us on those occasions, because they are not festivals that are prescribed in our religion, and returning their greeting is an affirmation and approval of them.
So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise.
If they greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to Allaah. (11)
And Allaah knows best.
========================================================References: (1) soorah Al-Maa3idah, v:51 (2) soorah Al-Mumtahanah, v:1 (3) http://islamqa.com/en/ref/1130 (4) http://islamqa.com/en/ref/947 (5) (Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah, 1/723-724) http://islamqa.com/en/ref/11427 (6) Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 3/44 (7) soorah Al-Furqaan 25:72 (8) http://islamqa.com/en/ref/1130 (9) Iqtida’ Siraat al-Mustaqeem, p. 227 http://islamqa.com/en/ref/82860 (10) (Al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 22/398) Read more here: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/12666 (11) Majmoo3 Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 3/44 http://islamqa.com/en/ref/69811/