QUESTION ABOUT: Islamic adaptation to various cultures/norms


Junior Member
Salam to all viewing this thread.

I'm aware that Islam can adapt with certain cultural norms (whether they be African, Asian, European etc), as long as those cultural norms are not Haram. However, can someone guide me as to where this is supported by Quran and Hadith?

Jazak Allah.


ربنا اغفر لنا ذنوبنا
Staff member
Wa`alaikum salaam warahmatullaah.

Praise be to Allaah.
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever imitates a people is one of them.’” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, al-Libaas, 3512. Al-Albaani said in Saheeh Abi Dawood, (it is) hasan saheeh. No. 3401).
Al-Munaawi and al-‘Alqami said: i.e., dressing as they dress, following their way of life in clothes and some of the things they do.
Al-Qaari said: i.e., whoever imitates the kuffaar, such as in how one dresses, etc., or imitates the evil and immoral people, or the Sufis or the righteous, is one of the people whom he imitates, whether they are good or bad.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said in al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem: Imaam Ahmad and others quoted this hadeeth as evidence. This hadeeth at the very least implies that it is haraam to imitate them, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“... And if any amongst you takes them [Jews and Christians] as Awliyaa’ [friends, helpers]), then surely, he is one of them…”
[al-Maa’idah 5:51]
This is similar to the view of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr who said: “Whoever settles in the land of the mushrikeen and celebrates their Nawroz (new year) and Mahrajaan (festival) and imitates them until he dies will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” This may be interpreted as referring to absolute imitation which implies kufr and as meaning that imitation in part is therefore haraam; or it may be interpreted as meaning that he is one of them to the extent that he imitates them, whether it is in ideas of kufr, sin or partaking in a ritual. It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade imitating the non-Arabs and said, “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” This was also mentioned by al-Qaadi Abu Ya’laa. This was quoted by more than one of the scholars to show that it is makrooh to imitate forms of dress of the non-Muslims which are not known among the Muslims.
See ‘Awn al-Ma’bood Sharh Sunan Abi Dawood.
Imitating the kuffaar falls into two categories:
Imitation that is haraam and imitation that is permitted:
The first type is imitation that is haraam: this means knowingly doing things that are unique characteristics of the religion of the kuffaar and that have not been referred to in our religion. This is haraam and it may be a major sin; in some cases a person may even become a kaafir by doing that, according to the evidence, whether a person does that because he agrees with the kuffaar, or because of his whims and desires, or because of some specious arguments which make him feel that doing it will being him benefit in this world and the next. If it is asked, is the one who does that out of ignorance a sinner, such as one who celebrates Christmas? The answer is that the one who is ignorant is not a sinner because he was unaware, but he has to be told, and if he persists he becomes a sinner.
The second type is imitation that is permissible. This means doing something which is not originally taken from the kuffaar, but the kuffaar do it too. This does not involve a prohibition on resembling them, but one may miss out on the benefits of differing from them.
Imitating or resembling the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) and others with regard to worldly matters is permissible only when the following conditions are met:
1 – That should not be any of their traditions or rituals by which they are distinguished.
2 – That should not be part of their religion. A matter can be proven to be part of their religion though a trustworthy source, such as an aayah of the Qur’aan or a hadeeth of His Messenger, or via well-established reports, such as the prostration of greeting which was permitted to the previous nations.
3 – That should not be anything in Islam which refers specifically to that matter. If there is a specific reference in Islam, either approving or disapproving of it, then we must follow what our religion says about it.
4 – This resemblance should not lead to going against any of the commands of sharee’ah.
5 – That should not involve celebrating any of their festivals.
6 – The resemblance should be only according to what is needed, and no more.
See al-Sunan wa’l-Athaar fi’l-Nahy ‘an al-Tashabbuh bi’l-Kuffaar by Suhayl Hasan, p. 58-59
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said:
With regard to the phrase “imitation of the kuffaar”, that does not mean that we should not use anything that they have manufactured. No one says such a thing. At the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and afterwards the people used to wear clothes made by the kuffaar and use vessels made by them.
Imitation of the kuffaar means imitating their clothing and appearance, and the customs that are unique to them. It does not mean that we should not ride what they ride or wear what they wear. But if they ride in a specific way that is unique to them, then we should not ride in that way. If they tailor their clothes in a certain fashion that is unique to them, we should not do likewise. But if we have cars that are similar to theirs and fabric that is similar to theirs, there is nothing wrong with that.

[Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 12, question 177. ]

The definition of imitating is when the imitator does something that is unique to those whom he is imitating. Imitation of the kuffaar refers to when a Muslim does something that is one of their unique characteristics. With regard to that which has become widespread among the Muslims and is no longer something by which the kuffaar are distinguished, then this is not imitation of the kuffaar, and it is not haraam because it is an imitation, unless it is haraam for some other reason. What we have said is what is indicated by the meaning of the word tashabbuh (imitation).

[Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 12, question 198.]

Shaykh al-Shanqeeti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

Our attitude towards western civilization may be one of four things, and there is no fifth:
1- Ignoring this civilization, good points and bad alike.
2- Adopting it in whole, good points and bad.
3- Adopting the bad things and not the good.
4- Adopting the good things and not the bad.
The first three are undoubtedly wrong and only one of them is undoubtedly good, which is the last one.

Adwa’ al-Bayaan, 4/382.


Laa ilaha ilaa Allah
Staff member
wa alaikum asalaam wa rahmatullah

Ma shaa Allah! Sister, you may not have intended it so, but this really helped me with something. I was looking for this for some time.



ربنا اغفر لنا ذنوبنا
Staff member
wa alaikum asalaam wa rahmatullah

Ma shaa Allah! Sister, you may not have intended it so, but this really helped me with something. I was looking for this for some time.


Alhamdulillaah, I'm glad to be of help. I was just going through the fataawa section and saw a thread with a good question but no answers, so decided to go ahead and post one even though the OP isn't around.

Alhamdulillaah, good to know some good came out of it.

wa iyyaak. Wabaarakallaahu feeka, akhy.