In the Western country where I live, gifts are customarily distributed to the needy around Christmas time. These gifts include food, clothing, and other charitable offerings. These gifts are given to anyone whose income is low. Is it unlawful for Muslims to accept such gifts? The gifts are given out the week before Christmas and do not have to be taken as Christmas gifts. If they invite a Muslim to take a gift, should the Muslim accept it?
As a general rule, Muslims may freely accept the gifts given to them by non-Muslims. The Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted gifts from non-Muslims. He accepted, for instance, a gift given to him by the Egyptian ruler al-Muqawqas.
Muslims may also accept the gifts and food given by non-Muslims at their festivals, as ruled by more than a few scholars, Ibn Taymiyah being one of them. Therefore, this is not an issue.
However, the acceptance of any gift, regardless of who the giver is, requires an indication of acceptance on the part of the recipient. It makes no difference whether the giver is Muslim or non-Muslim. The recipient may reject the gift if he feels that accepting it might be in any way detrimental to him physically or to his reputation.
This may be because the recipient feels that it elevates the giver to an exultant status over him or that it puts the recipient into an embarrassing, demeaning, weakened or otherwise compromising position with respect to the giver. Acceptance of the gift might cast the recipient into the role of someone who has to depend on others’ assistance and of being the focus of others’ sympathy.
In such situations, a person may reject a gift, since rejection under these circumstances may be better for the person than acceptance.
This is something that must be determined on a case by case basis, and it varies from place to place, from time to time, and from person to person. The person may reject a gift from another Muslim if the implications of accepting it are as what we have described earlier. A gift from a non-Muslim could be also rejected for the very same reasons.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today
-- Al Arabiya Digital