Kurdistan religious authority denounces Iraqi mufti’s Fatwa against New Year celebrations

The Kurdistan region’s ministry for religious affairs on Saturday denounced a recent fatwa by a prominent Sunni Iraqi cleric forbidding Muslims from partaking in the New Year’s celebrations.
author_image Kosar Nawzad

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan region’s ministry for religious affairs on Saturday denounced a recent fatwa by a prominent Sunni Iraqi cleric forbidding Muslims from partaking in the New Year’s celebrations.

Sheikh Abdul-Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, Iraq’s self-styled Grand Mufti or highest religious authority of all Sunnis in the country, made the statement on Thursday and repeated it during his Friday sermon.

Stating “it is not permissible to celebrate the New Year or congratulate it or participate in it,” Sumaidaie cited a 14th-century scholar of Islamic jurisprudence, who considered congratulating Christians on their various festivals to be one of the gravest sins a Muslim could commit.

Although New Year’s celebrations around the world are primarily secular, they are sometimes associated or confused with Christian observances, in large part due to the holiday’s proximity to Christmas.

The pronouncements of individuals with Sumaidaie’s rank, though not legally binding, hold significant sway over public opinion and behavior. 

On Friday, the Chaldean Catholic Church called for government action against the cleric’s proclamation, stating that a religious leader’s duty is to foster and propagate “brotherhood, tolerance, and love,” instead of breeding “division and rebellion.”

The Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Religious and Endowment Affairs echoed the sentiments of the church on Sunday and asserted that Sumaidaie’s statements are similar to those of “the barbaric Da’esh,” using the Arabic Acronym for the Islamic State (IS).

“We firmly oppose the speeches of [the cleric],” and “call for legal action against him so that these kinds of people… don’t unravel the fabric of Iraqi society.”

Editing by Nadia Riva