At the start of the month, the believers get busy exchanging special greetings and happy salutations, using all sorts of joyful expressions. They convey these salutations in person and through various other means, like greeting cards, phone calls, e-mails, SMS messages, and video messages. These messages contain the sweetest words, often along with prayers of blessing and gentle advice.
Festive greetings are customary for all joyful occasions, as well as for occasions when something harmful is avoided. Sheikh `Abd al-Rahmān al-Sa`dī explains:
Issues like these [greetings] are governed by an important and beneficial principle, which is that all customary practices, whether words or deeds, are assumed to be permissible. None of these customs should be considered forbidden or disliked in Islam unless they are expressly prohibited by Allah, or bring about bad consequences that contradict with Islamic teachings. The Qur’an and Sunnah attest to this essential principle many times, which has been enumerated by Ibn Taymiyah and others... Some customs and general practices can bring about benefits and good consequences that Allah loves, while others can bring about bad and harmful consequences that make them worthy of being forbidden. This principle has many practical examples.
We can consider the occasion when the boycott was lifted from three people who had stayed behind without an excuse and Allah revealed to the Prophet that He had accepted their repentance. The Prophet congratulated Ka`b b. Malik about it, saying “Be joyful. Allah has accepted your repentance.” Ibn al-Qayyim comments on this, saying:
It shows that it is desirable to congratulate someone when something good happens to them in their religious life. It is good to go to them and shake their hand. This is a recommended Sunnah practice. It is likewise a permissible act when something good happens to someone in their worldly life. It is best to say something like: “May you find every good in what Allah has given you and what He has blessed you with.” In this way, we give credit to Allah for the blessing and offer a supplication for the person who has received it.
The vast majority of Islamic jurists agree that there is nothing wrong or objectionable with the likes of Eid greetings. This is the most well-known opinion of Ahmad b. Hanbal. Some scholars have gone further to assert that Eid greetings are a confirmed religious practice. Ibn Qudāmah writes in his great Islamic legal encyclopaedia, al-Mughnī
Ahmad said: “There is nothing wrong with one person saying to another on the day of Eid: ‘May Allah accept it from us and from you’.”
Harb mentions that Ahmad was questioned concerning people saying this phrase to each other on the two Eid days. He answered: “There is nothing wrong with it. This has been related from Abū Umamah by people of Syria.” He was asked whether it was also related from Wāthilah b. al-Asqā, to which he replied in the affirmative. When asked if it was disliked to say this on the day of Eid, Ahmad said: “No, it isn’t.”
Ibn `Aqīl mentions some hadīth that provide direct evidence for such greetings. For instance, he mentions that Muhammad b. Ziyād relates from Abū Umāmah al-Bāhilī and others from among the Prophet’s Companions that when they returned from the Eid prayer, they would say to each other: “May Allah accept it from us and from you.” Ahmad regarded its chain of transmission to be a good one.
`Alī b. Thābit tells us that he asked Mālik b. Anas thirty-five years before about this matter, and Mālik replied: “This has always been the practice in Madinah.”
There can be no doubt that the arrival of Ramadān is one of the greatest of blessings, and we should rejoice in it and proclaim it out loud.
Have a blessed Ramadān!