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Is Thanksgiving Haram in Islam? | Essence of thanksgiving and celebrations in Islam

Islam embraces diversity while Muslims adhere to Islamic principles. We explore thanksgiving in Islam in this article.

Islam accepts “The other” very tolerably and graciously; that is evident in all aspects of worship and life.  Islam being “The Last Message from God to humanity”, there should be tolerance concurrent with resoluteness. That being said; Muslims have to deal with all other religions, beliefs and convictions of the rest of the world to the end of time. So, there must be “Resilience” along with “strict governing rules and rulings.”

In this article, we will go through the meaning of thanksgiving in Islam and the Islamic rules of celebrations so that we understand why celebrating Thanksgiving Day is haram (illegal) in Islam. Also, the article illustrates the wide concept of thanksgiving and its applications in Muslim life.

What is Thanksgiving Day?

Nowadays; traditional Thanksgiving Day festivities include parades, American and Canadian professional football games, and families and friends gathering for a meal of roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Linguistically, thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude, especially to God.

Macmillan Dictionary states; “The word thanksgiving dates back to the 1530s and is formed by combining the noun ‘thanks’ — taken from the Old English ‘þanc’ — meaning ‘grateful thought’, and the present participle of the verb ‘give’. This is from the Old English ‘giefan’ meaning ‘to bestow or grant’”.

Technically, it is an annual national American/Canadian holiday marked by religious observances and a traditional meal.

For more about man-made festivals, read these articles:

Dark but real history of thanksgiving!

History of Christmas

Is Christmas haram?

What is thanksgiving in Islam?

Thanksgiving is an Islamic way of life and worship. In Islam, thanks and thankfulness to Allah are integral aspects of a Muslim’s relation with His Lord.  thanks and thankfulness to Allah are done both verbally (by utterance) and actively (by obedience and by using every grace in the way of Allah and to His pleasure).

Thanksgiving in the Quran

The very First chapter of Quran; after naming The Almighty; starts with Thankfulness to God,

“[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds –”  


This chapter is recited in each unit of each prayer on each day; that is at least seventeen times per day every single day in obligatory prayers alone (not counting voluntary prayers).   

The word “[All] praise is [due] to Allah” has been mentioned in Qur’an twenty-three times. Moreover, the messenger of God has commanded Muslims to maintain thankfulness at all times, as it’s a way to Please The Lord and to summon His continuous Grace.  Allah says in Qur’an,

“And as your Lord has notified (you), “Indeed in case you thank (Him), indeed I will definitely increase you…”

[Quran, 14/7]

Is thanksgiving haram in Islam?

Yes, thanksgiving in its popular concept as a specific day to celebrate in by the non-Muslims is haram in Islam. Still, the general idea of thanksgiving is recommended in Islam. To illustrate, Muslims are permitted to celebrate only two days legislated by the Only One God. Otherwise, Muslims are not allowed to celebrate any other recurrent festivals innovated by humans.

In the following hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sets the law of festivals in Islam:

كَانَ لَكُمْ يَوْمَانِ تَلْعَبُونَ فِيهِمَا وَقَدْ أَبْدَلَكُمُ اللَّهُ بِهِمَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُمَا يَوْمَ الْفِطْرِ وَيَوْمَ الأَضْحَى

“The people of the Jahiliyyah had two days each year when they would play. When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came to Al-Madinah he said: ‘You had two days when you would play, but Allah (SWT) has given Muslims something instead that is better than them: the day of Al-Fitr and the day of Al-Adha.'”

(Sahih Sunan an-Nasa’i)

Moreover, thanksgiving is an “Innovated day of festivities” that has no bases (evidence) in Christianity or any other religion for that matter, and the only relation it has with religion is that “thanks” being given to God; which originally must be given at all times for all the graces He has bestowed upon us.

What are Muslim thanksgiving food Rules?

The main rule for Muslims at that day is not to imitate non-Muslims in their celebration or eating, even if this food is legal at the rest of the year, like eating turkey for example. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asserts this fact saying:

“He who imitates any people (in their actions) is considered to be one of them.”

Related by Abu Dawud and Ibn Hibban graded it as Sahih.

Ibn Taymiyah said:

“Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak.”

أن مشابهتهم في بعض أعيادهم يوجب سرور قلوبهم بما هم عليه من الباطل، خصوصا إذا كانوا مقهورين تحت ذل الجزية والصغار، فرأوا  المسلمين قد صاروا فرعا لهم في خصائص دينهم، فإن ذلك يوجب قوة قلوبهم وانشراح صدورهم، وربما أطمعهم ذلك في انتهاز الفرص، واستذلال  الضعفاء، وهذا أيضا أمر محسوس، لا يستريب فيه عاقل، فكيف يجتمع ما يقتضي إكرامهم بلا موجب مع شرع الصغار في حقهم؟ 

اقتضاء الصراط المستقيم مخالفة أصحاب الجحيم  – ابن تيمية  (1/546)

Thus, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the disbelievers by having parties on such occasions, exchanging gifts, giving out sweets or food, or any other form of celebration.

However, if you meet your family on that day with no intention of celebration and eat with them any meal not popular for Thanksgiving Day, it’s allowed.

How do Muslims celebrate their festivities?

Muslims have two annual days of festivities; Eidul-Fitr, and Eidul-Adha; and a weekly day that is every Friday. Those two feasts are uniting Festivals of all Muslims all over the world, as well as Fridays, decreed by God.  No Muslim should or could innovate a day of festivities that was not decreed by Allah or allowed by His messenger, nor should or could he celebrate it. 

Moreover, Muslim celebrations have external appearances and internal aspects. Festiveness in Islam translates to being happy while; keeping and maintaining times and forms of worship acts, remembrance of Allah, ordaining good, negating evil and strengthening family ties. 

In fact, feasts are usually associated with so many acts of obedience that Muslims offer which are mentally-conditionally-associated with happiness and festivity. 

For more about Muslim ruling on celebrations and wishes, read:

What are the Prophetic traditions in Muslim festivities?

Also, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has commanded his companions to dress their best, use perfume, sacrifice the best animals possible, glorify Allah on the roads (say Allahu Akbar) and walk in tranquility and dignity. On the other hand, being happy does not entail committing sins, or evil acts.  

How to express thanksgiving in its true sense?

Giving thanks to God can be done in so many ways, for example: by performing acts of obedience (remembrance of Allah, prayers, animal sacrifice, charity, strengthening family ties, bringing happiness to fellow Muslims, volunteer fasting, and other acts of worship), ordaining good, forbidding evil and using all God’s blessings for His pleasure.  

Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,

“Allah Almighty has said… And the most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (prayer or doing extra good deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him.”     

[Al- Bukhari] 

Muslims’ thanksgiving is not only to God!

Muslims’ thanksgiving is not only to God, but to people as well.  Abu Hurayrah (a companion) Narrated:

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “He who does not thank the people is not thankful to Allah.”   

[Sunan Abi Dawud]

So, saying thank you to a person is being thankful to Allah.

What is thanksgiving prayer in Islam?

There is no specific prayer in Islam called thanksgiving. However, there is a worship called Sujood ash-Shukr (prostration of thanks) that the Muslim is recommended to do to express gratitude to the Creator for a favor He grants to the Muslim.

Also, the Muslim is allowed to pray generally to express gratitude for Allah Almighty (the only One True God). the role model for Muslims in this expression is their Prophet (PBUH):

“‏ أَفَلاَ أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا ‏”‏‏.‏

The Prophet (ﷺ) used to stand (in the prayer) or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, “should I not be a thankful slave.”

(Sahih al-Bukhari)

Conclusion – Thanksgiving concept in Islam

To conclude, Muslims do not celebrate Thanksgiving Day because in Islam, thanksgiving is at all times. It’s not only during times of easement and luxury, but also during hardship; which brings blessings and ease.  

Indeed, the best way to express your thanksgiving to your Creator is to worship Him only with no other partner and to accept Islam the religion of all Prophets and Messengers sent by God to humanity. Explore Islam now to reach guidance and happiness!

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About Abeer Eltahan

Abeer El Tahhan is a pediatrician and a Quran and Arabic tutor. Abeer is deeply involved in Islamic studies and dawah activities. She is fluent in Arabic and English.