Assalamu Alaikum Is it permissible to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge? The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on one's head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research. It was seen in social media during mid 2014. In the United Kingdom, people also participate in the challenge for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated people have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation. What is the ruling on participating in this?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
We do not deem the action which you referred to in the question to be permissible, as there is no doubt that pouring a bucket of ice water on someone's head is harmful and it also involves wasting water without benefit.
The participation of many Muslims in this phenomenon is nothing but following the ways of the idolaters from among the people of the Book and this is a confirmation of what the Prophet said: “You will follow the ways of the nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit so much so that even if they enter the hole of a lizard, you will follow them into it.” We said, “O Messenger of Allaah! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Who else?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Moreover, a Muslim does not need to pour a bucket of ice water on his head to remind people to help the sick or the needy. He does not need this innovated method to remind them as he may remind the people and urge them to do so by mentioning the texts of the Quran and the Sunnah and encourage them by mentioning the rewards mentioned in the Book of Allaah and on the tongue of His Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for doing good and hastening in doing it, and this is worthier of making people accept than pouring a bucket of water on one’s head.
The Muslims must fear Allaah and stop this loathsome blind imitation, which indicates the dissolution of the Muslim personality and the feeling of inferiority.
Finally, when a person chooses three people and compels them to either pour water on their head or to donate, then this is forcing them to donate money while it is not permissible to take the money of a person except if he does that willingly with contentment.
Allaah Knows best.