During his Friday sermon on December 28 in Chouhada Mosque in Rabat, an imam stated that celebrating the New Year is sinful and haram (forbidden in Islam), “because it is a Christian holiday.” The remarks earned him a ban from preaching by the Moroccan Ministry of Endowment and Islamic Affairs.
The imam, like many Muslim scholars, stressed that Muslims should only celebrate the Islamic holidays, Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice.
Although the imam reportedly sent a message to the ministry arguing that his sermon was founded on hadiths (stories about the prophet) and sermons by major religious scholars, the Islamic affairs minister, Ahmed Taoufiq, insisted that it was incompatible with Moroccan and Islamic principles of tolerance and cohabitation between religions.
The topic of whether it is haram to celebrate the Gregorian New Year has regularly been a subject of debate in the Muslim world, especially when New Year’s Eve approaches
A few days before New Year’s Eve a similar controversy emerged in Morocco.
Moroccans on social media criticized a bakery owner and called him an “extremist” for deciding not to make or sell Christmas and New Year’s cakes.
Adding to the controversy, the bakery, called “Rayhana,” wrote a post on its Facebook page: “We do not celebrate the Christian holidays.”
Many social media users reminded others of the Qur’anic surah, al-Mumtahanah (60:8) which reads: “Allah does not forbid you (as regards) the ones who have not fought you on account of the religion and have not driven you out of your residences that you should be benign to them and be equitable towards them; surely Allah loves the equitable.”