Can Muslims Touch Dogs? Can Muslims Wish Merry Christmas? Get Your Googled Questions Answered!

Millennial Asatizah answer your Googled questions on living in a plural society
by Muslim.Sg 2020-09-23 • 21 min read
Muslim.Sg is a one-stop online media platform that aims to inspire and empower millennial Muslims with powerful and engaging Islamic religious content.
2020-09-23 • 21 min read

is it haram to celebrate birthdays

All praises be to Allah s.w.t.

As Muslims, we believe that Islam is a religion that continues to be relevant across diverse contexts and localities. The rich Islamic tradition is not fossilised with the context of the past. 

On the contrary, it is a living and active tradition that continues to evolve accordingly with the ever-changing context, guided by the lasting Islamic principles. 

hui muslim population in china

There are about more than 1.8 billion Muslims from different cultures and backgrounds around the world today. Each adding more colours to the vibrant and diverse global Muslim community. 

Read our article on Cultural Diversity in Islam here!

Likewise, in Singapore, the Muslim community has its own unique identity befitting the unique Singapore context. Singapore is a multi-racial and multi-religious society with the Muslim community making up the minority of the total population.

muslim Chinese new year

Many of us are asking questions on Google, on how best we can be faithful Muslims observing our religious rituals while being proactive and ethical members of our society. 

Here, our millennial Asatizah (religious teachers) will provide you with bespoke answers on some of the most searched questions on social life.

Can Muslims attend a non-Muslim funeral?

muslim attend funeral of non-muslim relatives

Surely, we can attend funerals of those of other faiths. Especially so, if the deceased is someone we know or a loved one of our friends or colleagues.

It is a basic human courtesy to share our grief and provide support in the bereavement process. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. taught us to respect the living and the dead regardless of one’s faith. This can be seen in a narration where the Prophet s.a.w. stood up displaying a sign of respect of a Jewish funeral.

 إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَرَّتْ بِهِ جَنَازَةٌ فَقَامَ فَقِيلَ إِنَّهُ يَهُودِيٌّ فَقَالَ أَلَيْسَتْ نَفْسًا

A funeral passed by the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. and he stood up. It was said to him, “It is a Jew.” The Prophet said, “Was he not a soul?”

(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

We just need to avoid participating in the ritual activities. However, giving our mark of respect and conveying our condolences are acts that we can extend to our non-Muslim friends.

Read Can Muslims befriend non-Muslims?

Can Muslims deliver non-halal food?

is it haram to deliver non halal food

Doing delivery jobs that also requires you to deal with non-halal products such as alcohol is allowed when those are not considered to be your primary job scope.

For example, working for a delivery company, you have to deliver various types of food based on the order, and the food can be halal and non-halal. Similarly, if you are working at a supermarket, where you would need to handle the packaging of both halal and non-halal items. 

In fact, a view within the Ḥanafī mazhab has allowed for such a concession to be made especially in a country where a majority of its population are non-Muslims. This can be seen in books from the Hanafi mazhab such as Raddul-Muhtar and Al-Ikhtiyar Fi Ta'lili Al-Mukhtar, where Al-Imam Abu Hanifah considers the act of delivering non-halal food without any intention of partaking in it is not an act of prohibition (ma'siyah).

For more information, refer to Contemporary Irsyad Series by Office of The Mufti.

Can Muslims go to church?

can muslim visit vatican city

Yes. Muslims can visit other houses of worship. Many of us have Christian friends and we can attend their weddings held at churches. 

Visiting other houses of worship can be a part of learning and maintaining ties with other faith groups. Ibn Khaldun cited an episode from Islamic history where Sayyidina Umar r.a. accepted the offer to be shown around a church in Jerusalem. In essence, it was a visit, not to partake in any religious ceremony, but to foster peaceful relations between two religions. 

This also applies to visits to Vatican City. There is nothing wrong with visiting houses of worship for cultural learning and to appreciate the architectural marvel. Muslims can visit not just churches but also other places of worship such as temples and synagogues.

Can Muslims donate organs?

can muslim donate organs after death

The Fatwa Committee in Singapore has issued a fatwa that it is permissible for Muslims to donate their organs under the Human Organ Transplant Act (HOTA). 

Islam encourages one to be beneficial to all of humanity. Amongst the various kinds of benefits a person can offer is to save lives which is one of the Maqasid (objectives) of the Syariah.

This is reflected in the religion such as the hadith:

 أَحَبُّ النَّاسِ إِلَى اللَّهِ أَنْفَعُهُمْ لِلنَّاسِ

The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to people.

(Al-Mu’jam Al-Awsat)

For a more detailed read, you may refer to fatwa here.

Can Muslims celebrate Mother’s Day? 

Everyday is mothers day in Islam

This is one of the commonly searched questions on google. What it actually means is - can Muslims celebrate Mother’s Day?

The answer is yes, most definitely. There is nothing wrong for us to commemorate one day to celebrate our mothers, by going out for a meal or giving gifts to our mothers, the one we owe our life to in this world. As long as we celebrate it within the boundaries of our faith, we can celebrate this day with our beloved mum. 

In fact, the Prophet s.a.w. emphasised the significant stature of mothers within our religion. This is narrated in a hadith by Abu Hurairah r.a:

جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ مَنْ أَحَقُّ النَّاسِ بِحُسْنِ صَحَابَتِي قَالَ أُمُّكَ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ثُمَّ أُمُّكَ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ثُمَّ أُمُّكَ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ثُمَّ أَبُوكَ

A man asked the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. “Who is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who?” The Prophet said “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet said, “Your father.”

(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Beside Mother’s day, we can similarly celebrate Father’s Day. The Prophet s.a.w. did not prohibit Muslims from celebrating pre-Islamic events that do not contradict Islamic values and ethics. Just ensure we celebrate these days moderately, and do not let consumerism define the celebration of these beautiful days. 

Can Muslims celebrate birthdays?

Is it haram to celebrate your birthday

There is no prohibition in celebrating a birthday. It is to celebrate our milestones in life and a reminder for the blessings of our existence. You may also celebrate the birthdays of your loved ones to appreciate them being a part of your life.

The Prophet s.a.w. also commemorated his birthday by fasting. In a hadith, 

تُعْرَضُ الْأَعْمَالُ يَوْمَ الِاثْنَيْنِ وَالْخَمِيسِ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُعْرَضَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ

The deeds are presented on Monday and Thursday. Thus, I love for my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.

(Sunan At-Tirmizi)

From this hadith, we can see how the Prophet s.a.w. commemorated the day of his birth with an act of worship. As long as we ensure that the celebration does not contravene Islamic law such as throwing parties that include vice activities, it is permissible.

Can Muslims touch dogs?

why muslim cannot touch dog and pig

Touching a dog is not prohibited and you can touch it. Dogs are part of Allah’s creation. It should not be smeared nor defiled. A famous story narrated in a hadith tells us a story of a prostitute who fed a thirsty dog. The thirst nearly killed it. Because she gave the dog water, she was rewarded with forgiveness.

is dog haram to touch

Read ‘This Nasyid Song Showcases Sunnah Acts Of Love And Mercy’.

However, there are different views in our Fiqh regarding the need for cleansing upon coming in contact with a dog. Imam As-Syafie states that if we touch the wet surface of the dog, we need to cleanse ourselves 7 times, 1 of which by using soil and 6 times with clean water - a process we call sertu. This is in accordance with the hadith:

طُهُورُ إِنَاءِ أَحَدِكُمْ إِذَا وَلَغَ فِيهِ الْكَلْبُ أَنْ يَغْسِلَهُ سَبْعَ مَرَّاتٍ أُولاَهُنَّ بِالتُّرَابِ

Cleanse your vase which the dog licked by washing it seven times and the first (wash) is with earth (soil)

(Sahih Muslim)

Of course today, there are soaps with the necessary clay ingredients that can be used for this purification process. 

This ruling, however, differs when dogs are used out of necessity such as guide dogs, security dogs and hunting dogs. According to the Maliki Mazhab, and scholars from the Syafie Mazhab, these types of dogs are not considered to be impure. Therefore, if a blind person were to touch his guide dog even on a wet surface or its saliva, the person will not have to go through the cleansing process called sertu as mentioned above.

For many of us, we live where our neighbours may have dogs as their pets. It is not a problem for us to walk on the same path that the dog walks.

For more information regarding this issue, do read the advisory by the Office of the Mufti.

Can Muslims wish Merry Christmas?

wishing non muslim merry christmas

Yes, we may. There have been various fatwas issued that say we can, such as Darul Ifta' in Egypt and Malaysia National Fatwa Committee Council. One does not profess nor subscribe to the belief of the other religious communities by merely wishing them well on their religious or traditional festivals.

Just ensure that you do not partake in any religious rituals in the celebration. This applies to other religious celebrations like Deepavali as well.

Congratulatory expressions on the celebration of other faiths are meant to cement better social relationships among Muslims and non-Muslims. The Prophet maintained good relations with the just and fair Christian King Negus by exchanging letters, accepting gifts and celebrating each other’s respective victories, as narrated by in many hadiths such as the ones reported by Imam Ibn Majah and Imam Abi Daud.

عَنِ ابْنِ بُرَيْدَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، أَنَّ النَّجَاشِيَّ، أَهْدَى لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ خُفَّيْنِ سَاذَجَيْنِ أَسْوَدَيْنِ فَلَبِسَهُمَا

It was narrated from Ibn Buraidah, from his father, that an-Najashi sent a pair of pure black Khuff as a gift to the Prophet s.a.w, of which he wore.

(Sunan Ibn Majah)

We live harmoniously. We also exchange gifts as part of our peaceful co-existence.

Can Muslims celebrate Chinese New Year?

Muslims celebrate Lunar New Year

Yes of course. Living in Singapore, some of us have Chinese family members and friends and some of us are Chinese Muslims. Being a Muslim does not mean we have to forgo our cultural expressions and traditions.

chinese muslim singapore

Islam acknowledges the rich and various cultural diversity. This diverse strands in humanity are acknowledged in Quran,

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

O humankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted

(Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:13) 

Chinese New Year is an important cultural event for the Chinese. In essence, it is a cultural celebration. There is no cultural hegemony in Islam. Islam celebrates cultures and traditions as long as it does not contravene Islamic principles. 

Can Muslims eat at non-halal restaurants?

Can Muslims eat at restaurants that serve pork

For this question, we assume that it refers to restaurants that are not halal certified. While it is most comfortable and assured for us to eat in restaurants that are halal certified, in some cases, some companies may organise work functions at a restaurant that is not halal-certified. 

It is important not to exclude ourselves from work gatherings in the spirit of camaraderie and being part of a bigger team, while also being discerning in the food we consume. If you are comfortable, you may attend an important event in a restaurant that may not be halal-certified, especially if you have no option to choose for the event to be held in a halal-certified establishment. Read The Importance of Social Cohesion in Islam

We have to take note of the menu we consume. If there is no specific halal menu, we may choose either seafood or vegetarian options. Request for no alcohol or animal fat to be used in the cooking and preparation of the meal.

With regards to utensils, when there is a clear and direct contact with pork, we may choose views from other mazhab such as the Hanbali mazhab which does not necessitate the ritual cleansing called sertu. Similarly, when we travel, we can apply this option as it may not be easy to find halal eateries. 

Can Muslims say ‘God bless you’?

Can you say bless you to a non Muslim

This usually happens when someone else sneezes and we reply them with a common gesture “God bless you”. This is part of the Sunnah of the Prophet s.a.w. for the person who sneezes to praise Allah (Alhamdulillah) in which the other person would then say (Yarhamukallah) which means may Allah bestow His mercy upon you.

 إِذَا عَطَسَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَقُلْ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ وَلْيَقُلْ لَهُ مَنْ عِنْدَهُ يَرْحَمُكَ اللَّهُ وَيَرُدُّ عَلَيْهِمْ يَهْدِيكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيُصْلِحُ بَالَكُمْ

When one of you sneezes, let him say: all praises are due to Allah in every circumstance. Those (others) with him should say: may Allah bestow His mercy upon you. He should respond to them by saying: may Allah guide you and rectify your affairs.

(Musnad Imam Ahmad)

Another way to say it is “God bless you” which has the same meaning. there is nothing wrong in saying it as it is also a prayer for the other person, whether it is meant for a fellow Muslim or a non-Muslim. Allah’s blessing could mean many things such as guidance, forgiveness or even gifts.

Conclusion

can muslim friend kafir

Living in a multi-religious and multi-racial society, it is even more important to continue to remind ourselves to be good neighbours for one another. The Prophet s.a.w. reminded us that it is part of our faith to do good to our neighbours. 

Quran do not take disbelievers as friends

Photo credit: Chef Bob/Facebook

Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا وَبِذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ وَالْجَارِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْجَارِ الْجُنُبِ وَالصَّاحِبِ بِالْجَنبِ وَابْنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ مَن كَانَ مُخْتَالًا فَخُورًا

Worship Allah (alone) and associate none with Him. And be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, near and distant neighbours, close friends, (needy) travellers, and those (bondspeople) in your possession. Surely Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful

(Surah An-Nisaa’, 4:36)

The Prophet s.a.w. reminded us of the status of neighbours in our religion in many of his hadiths such as:

وَمَنْ كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ فَلْيُكْرِمْ جَارَهُ 

Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, he should treat his neighbours kindly (with respect)

(Sahih Muslim)

And the hadith:

مَا زَالَ جِبْرِيلُ يُوصِينِي بِالْجَارِ ، حَتَّى ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّهُ سَيُوَرِّثُهُ

Jibril a.s. kept advising me to treat neighbours with kindness until I thought he would assign for them a share of inheritance

(Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Quran friendship with non Muslims

May Allah s.w.t. bless us with good character and continue to bless this place we call home with peace, security and success. 

And Allah knows best.

P.S. The answers provided are in consultation with the Office of the Mufti, Singapore.

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