I came across a flyer going around in this blessed month of Ramadan saying that the greeting ‘Ramadan Kareem‘ (Generous Month) is not allowed. The rationale given was that the phrase gives the impression that the month itself is giving generosity, whereas, it is Allah who gives generosity. I thought this was a bit strange and decided to look into it. Here is what I found:
‘Ramadan Kareem‘ is a phrase that is widely used among the people in the month of Ramadan. It is a type of phrase usually used to convey some sort of news. The ruling on it is dependent based on what people mean by it. If they mean something forbidden in the religion, then it is not allowed. If they mean something permissible, then it is allowed.
Those who say it perhaps intend by it supplication, in which case, the one using it is supplicating, “May the month of Ramadan be a month of generosity and blessing for you!”
It is also possible that those who say it intend by it giving news of its reality, in which case, the one using it is meaning to inform the listener of all the favors that Allah bestows on His slaves in this great month!
The above two cases in their essence are neither problematic nor forbidden.
However, if those who say it believe that it is a phrase that is legislated for us in the religion to be said during this specific time of the year, then this is entering into the realm of innovation.
In addition, it should be pointed out that the phrase that is mentioned specifically in the Sunnah is to say ‘Shahrun Mubarak‘ (Blessed Month). Therefore, it is better to say ‘Shahrun Mubarak‘ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak‘.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said:
أَتَاكُمْ رَمَضَانُ شَهْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ فَرَضَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عَلَيْكُمْ صِيَامَهُ تُفْتَحُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ السَّمَاءِ وَتُغْلَقُ فِيهِ أَبْوَابُ الْجَحِيمِ وَتُغَلُّ فِيهِ مَرَدَةُ الشَّيَاطِينِ لِلَّهِ فِيهِ لَيْلَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ مَنْ حُرِمَ خَيْرَهَا فَقَدْ حُرِمَ
“There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, which Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has enjoined you to fast. In it the gates of heavens are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained up. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months; whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.”
[an-Nasa’i (2106) and Musnad Ahmad (8769); Sh. Al-Albani authenticated it in Sahih Sunan al-Nasa’i 2105]