Distributing food offered as vows to Awliya'

Q 3: Is it permissible to distribute the food offered in fulfillment of a vow made for Awliya' (pious people) and righteous people? And is it permissible to make this a celebration, and is it permissible to raise flags during such celebrations?

A: First: Making a vow is an act of worship as Allah praises whoever fulfills it, and He (Exalted be He) promises its doer with good reward. Allah (Exalted be He) says: They (are those who) fulfil (their) vows He also says: And whatever you spend for spendings (e.g., in Sadaqah - charity for Allâh’s Cause) or whatever vow you make, be sure Allâh knows it all. It is reported also on the authority of `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever vows that he will be obedient to Allah, should remain obedient to Him; and whoever makes a vow that he will disobey Allah, should not disobey Him. Since making a vow to do acts of obedience is a kind of worship, it should be directed sincerely to Allah Alone. Therefore, directing it to anyone other than Him whether to a prophet, Waliy, Jinn, idol, or any other creature is an act of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). Accordingly, the meat of the animals sacrificed as a vow for anyone other than Allah is regarded as prohibited carrion in terms of eating and distributing it to people even if the Name of Allah is mentioned during the slaughtering, because mentioning the Name of Allah has nothing to do with making it lawful. It should be thrown away or fed to animals. If the food vowed for Awlyia' and the righteous people is other than the meat of the slaughtered animals, such as bread, dates, chickpeas, sweets, and other things, it is permissible to eat it. (Part No. 3; Page No. 54) However, it should not be distributed to people because that would entail propagating Bid`ah (innovation in religion) and cooperating in spreading it, taking part in the manifestation of Shirk and approving it. But it is the same as the ruling of property where the owners have forsaken it and left it to whoever wants to take it, so whoever takes any of it, there is no sin on him. Second: It is not permissible to celebrate the day of the death of prophets and the righteous people, or commemorate them with raising flags, putting lamps, candles on their graves, building domes, Masjids (mosques) on their graves, or clothing them, and the like. All these are acts of Bid`ah and a means leading to Shirk. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never did that concerning his preceding prophets and the righteous people who lived before him, and neither did the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) with the grave of the Prophet himself (peace be upon him). The Muslim Imams of the first and best three centuries never illegally commemorated the memory of any of the Awliya', the righteous, the kings, or rulers. All goodness is to be found in following the guidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and that of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, and whoever followed their path. And as such, all evils lie in following the innovator and believing in what they introduced in religion. Allah (Exalted be He) says: Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allâh and the Last Day, and remembers Allâh much. It is authentically reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians, for they have taken the graves of their Prophets as places of worship. (Part No. 3; Page No. 55)  Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. It is also authentically narrated that he (peace be upon him) said: Beware of those who preceded you and used to take the graves of their prophets and righteous men as places of worship, you must not take graves as mosques; I forbid you to do that. Moreover, it is reported that the Prophet prohibited plastering graves, sitting or building upon them, and that he (peace be upon him) said: The best speech is that embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. The most evil affairs are their newly introduced things (in religion); and every Bid`ah is a misguidance. Related by Muslim in his Sahih (authentic) Book of Hadith. Furthermore, it is reported that Al-`Irbad ibn Sariyah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) delivered a very eloquent Khutbah on account of which eyes shed tears and hearts were full of tears. We said: O Messenger of Allah, this is as if it were a parting advice. So advise us. He (peace be upon him) said: I admonish you to fear Allah, to listen and obey even if an Abyssinian slave is appointed as your leader. Because whosoever among you shall live after me, will see much discord. So hold fast to my Sunnah and the examples of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold fast to them. Beware of new things (in religion) because every Bid`ah is a misguidance. Related by Abu Dawud and Al-Tirmidhy who graded it as Hasan, Sahih Hadith.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.