Giving Gifts to non-Muslims
It is perfectly permissible to offer gifts to unbelievers who are at peace with Muslims. But the permissibility excludes giving them gifts at their religious feats as this would be an approval for their unbelief.
Giving Gifts to non-Muslims
• Giving a gift to an unbeliever;
• Exchanging gifts with unbelievers.
Residence in a non-Muslim country may require that a Muslim should give a gift to a non-Muslim to maintain good social relations with non-Muslims. Since maintaining good relations and exchanging gifts are part of normal processes in society, is this permissable?
It is permissible to give gifts to unbelievers who are not at war with us to win their hearts over and to incline them towards Islam. This is the view of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. Ibn Taymiyyah states the permissibility but excludes giving them gifts on their religious feasts, which he considers forbidden. The Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League expresses the same view.1
‘God does not forbid you to deal kindly and with full equity with those who do not fight you on account of your faith, nor drive you out of your homes. God loves those who behave equitably. God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards those who fight against you because of your faith and drive you from your homes, and help others to drive you out. Those of you who turn towards them in friendship are indeed wrongdoers.’
These verses make a clear statement of the permissibility of maintaining good and peaceful relations with unbelievers who are at peace with Muslims. Needless to say this includes exchanging gifts with them.
Both al-Bukhari and Muslim relate a hadith reported by Asma’ bint Abu Bakr who said that she went to see the Prophet and said to him: ‘Messenger of God, my mother has come to me and she is still an idolater, but she is after some gift. Should I give her [something]?’
The Prophet said to her:
‘Give [a gift] to your mother.’
(Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 2,620; Muslim, hadith No. 1,003)
An authentic hadith mentions that
‘the Prophet received a number of suits and he gave one to 'Umar. 'Umar said to him: “Messenger of God, how come that you have given me this gift yet you had expressed disapproval of the Utarid’s suit?” The Prophet said to him: “I have not given it to you so that you should wear it.” 'Umar sent it as a gift to a brother of his in Makkah who was an idolater.’
(Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 886; Muslim, hadith No. 2,068)
Several hadiths suggest that exchanging gifts in this way is perfectly permissible, such as the hadith where 'A’ishah said:
‘God’s messenger used to accept gifts and reciprocate them.’
(Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 2,585)
The hadith suggests that the Prophet used to give similar or better gifts.
It is forbidden to give unbelievers gifts on their religious feasts because this is a gesture that implies respect of their unbelief and helps them to persist in their erring ways.
• Ibn Taymiyyah, Iqtida’ al-Sirat al-Mustaqim.
• Decisions of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
• Decisions of the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League.
• Khalid Abd al-Qadir, Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah.
- Decision 3-6 of the European Council for Fatwa and Research; Ibn Taymiyyah, Iqtida’ al-Sirat al-Mustaqim, vol. 2, p. 15; Decision 3-6 of the Islamic Fiqh Council.