On the first of Muharram, many people are in the habit of offering greetings and salutations for the Islamic New Year. Is this practice valid or is it an innovation?
Exchanging greetings on the first of Muharram for the new Islamic year is something permissible.
The best opinion that has been expressed about the question is that whenever someone gives you a greeting, you are supposed to reply with some good words in a similar manner. You do not need to initiate such greetings.
This is identical to the view expressed Ahmad b. Hanbal regarding the holiday greetings on the occasion on `Id. Whenever someone else offered him an `Id greeting, he returned it accordingly. However, he would not initiate an `Id greeting on his own.
I know of nothing authentically established regarding `Id greetings. Nevertheless, scholars, including those of the Hanbalî school of law, say that there is nothing wrong with greeting someone else on the occasion of `Id by saying: “May Allah accept it from me and from you.
It follows that there is nothing wrong with people offering each other greetings on the occasions where it has become customary for them to do so.
Evidence for this general permissibility can be seen in the general permissibility of offering the prostration of thanks. It can also be seen in the permissibility of offering consolations to he bereaved.
We have the glad tidings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) concerning the arrival of Ramadan. [Sunan al-Nasâ’î (2106)]
Also, Talhah b. `Ubayd Allah greeted Ka`b b. Mâlik with a salutation in the Prophet’s presence without the Prophet (peace be upon him) voicing any objection to it. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (4418) and Sahîh Muslim (2769)]
Ibn Taymiyah observes: “It has been narrated about a number of Companions that they used to offer one another such greetings. The principal jurists, Ahmad b. Hanbal among them, regarded it as something permissible.”
Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî also asserts the permissibility of the practice. There are numerous narrations from scholars of a similar nature.
Ahmad said: “I do not initiate such things, but if someone else does so with me, I return his greeting.”
This is because returning someone else’s salutations is obligatory. Allah says: ‘If you are greeted with a salutation, then reply with something better or similar.’ [Surah al-Nisâ’: 86]
There is no prohibition against greeting someone else with salutations of the New Year. Therefore, the command to return the greetings of others with what is similar or better applies to it. And Allah knows best.
The question of heretical innovation (bid`ah) does not even come up, since this is a matter of what is deemed to be accepted customs and good manners. It is not something that is intended as a formal act of worship.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today
-- Al Arabiya Digital