Is it permissible to congratulate non-Muslims on their religious festivals (like Christmas, Diwali, etc.)?
What follows is the view of Egypt Dar al-Ifta regarding congratulate non-Muslims on their religious festivals:
Allah Almighty says,
Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Qur’an 60: 8).
In Islamic law, there is no objection to Muslims congratulating and sharing the peaceful non-Muslim citizens their religious occasions that do not violate the fundamentals of Islam. This falls under the concept of righteousness that Allah Almighty did not forbid, especially if they are from among one’s family members and relations, neighbors, colleagues and the like of human relations. This is encouraged especially if they exchange congratulations with their fellow Muslims on the Islamic occasions as per the words of Allah Almighty,
And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. (Qur’an 4: 86)
Exchanging congratulations with non-Muslims does not mean acknowledging their disbelief nor is it tantamount to prostrating before the cross or declaring the Lordship of the Christ (peace be upon him) as some scholars claim. Rather, this is from among the forms of righteousness and justice that Allah Almighty loves.
A Muslim is commanded to speak good words and treat others kindly in a manner that is conducive to loving Islam and introducing its tolerant nature and comprehensiveness. Allah Almighty says,
And speak to people good [words]. (Qur’an 2: 83)
And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.” (Qur’an 29: 4)
If we add to this that the occasion celebrates the birth of the Christ, regardless of the corrupt Christian beliefs, it is deemed lawful since it is a form of expressing joy over the birth of one of the Prophets.
When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) arrived in Medina, he found that the Jews fasted on the 10th of Muharram [‘Ashura]. Therefore, he told them, “We [Muslims] have more right to Prophet Musa more than you.” Consequently, the Prophet observed fasting on the day of ‘Ashura and commanded us to fast on that day too. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said about Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him), “I have the most right to honor Isa (Jesus), son of Mary, in this world and the Hereafter because there was no prophet between me and him.”
In Islamic law, it is permissible and lawful to express joy over the birth of the Christ according to the sound Muslim creed that considers him a servant and Messenger of Allah, which in turn contradicts the corrupt Christian belief. This is allowed provided Muslims refrain from engaging in any rite which contradict the Islamic creed.
Concerning the opinion transmitted by some scholars who agreed on the prohibition of congratulating non-Muslims on their religious occasions, their prohibition only pertains to the words which show acknowledgment of disbelief whether explicitly or implicitly, or the words that show acceptance of any of their invalid acts such as prostrating to the cross.
It is known that being righteous to non-Muslim and treating them with kindness does not in any way necessarily comprise accepting their disbelief. Moreover, the tranquility, mercy and love between a Muslim husband and his wife from among the people of the Book does not oblige him to accept her beliefs which contradict the rulings of Islam.
Based on the above, congratulating non-Muslims on their occasions and accepting invitations to attend their churches do not necessitate acknowledging their disbelief or corrupt convictions.
Allah Almighty knows best.