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    Is accepting gifts for baby while you are expecting acceptable in Islam? How about a baby shower?

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    • Is accepting gifts for baby while you are expecting acceptable in Islam? How about a baby shower?

    Question: Is accepting gifts for baby while you are expecting acceptable in Islam? How about baby shower? What does Islam advise us on this?

    بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم

    Answer: Giving and accepting gifts are from the Sunnah. Avoiding baby-showers is better and more cautious.

    Explanation:

    Gift-giving, in general, is encouraged in Islam as it is a powerful tool to bring people together and foster love between them. It is also sunnah to accept gifts when offered. In this sense, offering and accepting a gift on behalf of a child is permissible.

    A baby-shower is a party organized for the sake of gift-giving, often organized by a close friend or relative of the mother. It is foreign to Islam, but in recent times has gained traction among Muslims. Additionally, it is largely commercially driven by major retail outlets.

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا

    O Believers, do not be like those who do not believe. 3:156

    This statement outlines a general Qur’anic principle of Muslims being different than non-Muslims. We believe in a reality whose core is tawḥid and the messengership of Muhammad ﷺ. This necessitates setting ourselves apart in thought and in action. The Prophet ﷺ succinctly explained this by saying:

    مَن تَشبَّهَ بقَومٍ فهو منهم

    Whoever imitates a people, he is among them. (Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4031)

    Shaykh Qārī Ṭayyib explained in Al-Tashabbuh fī al-Islām about cultural practices that if a practice is vile in nature or based on a non-Muslim religious practice, it is impermissible for Muslims. If not but its practice is a particular trait of a group of non-Muslim people, it is also impermissible for Muslims. If it is not particular to a group of non-Muslims but Islam has a practice with a similar purpose, it is disliked (makrūh) to leave the Islamic practice for the un-Islamic one. For example, an `aqīqah is an Islamic practice involving the celebration and giving thanks for the birth of a child. If there is no substitute and the practice is copied intending imitation of non-Muslims, it is impermissible. If there is no substitute and the practice is done without intending imitation, it is permissible (mubā). According to some scholars, even then, refraining from outward imitation is better.[i]

    Currently, there are several concerns with this practice:

    1. Muslims mostly have not adopted it. Hence, it remains a practice associated mostly with non-Muslims. In theory, if Muslims adopted this practice en masse such that it became a practice of theirs as much as it is of non-Muslims, it would be permissible from this standpoint.
    2. Similarly, close friends and/or family feel obligated to throw a baby-shower for the mother. A woman who does not have a shower thrown for her is pitied and made to feel unloved. The obligation of a non-obligation is a mark of innovation in religion and impermissible.[ii]
    3. Often, people feel obligated to attend baby-showers and give gifts. In Islam, gift-giving should be done freely without any sense of obligation.
    4. Anything else contrary to Islam like extravagant spending, imitation of non-Muslims or sinners in some practices, music, gender mixing, and the like.

    For the reasons mentioned above, as currently practiced baby-showers are better avoided. One is encouraged to give gifts when convenient and without being asked.

    والله أعلم بالصواب

    And Allah knows best,

    Mufti Sulaiman Yusufi

    Shaykh Mateen Khan


    [i] Imdād al-Aḥkām 1:286

    [ii] Kitab al-Nawāzil 16:84-5