Published in  
Matters of the Heart
August 13, 2020

K"NO"W Christmas

Its Mawlid Season this week. We just passed one and we have another one waiting for us. 25 December and we are in the ‘festive season’ – Christmas time. Many Muslims around the world will be actually taking part in these festivities. They will do this without really questioning what they are doing, without even asking themselves if, as Muslims, they should be partaking in this at all.

One of the major problems is not the youth,but parents and their approach to it. They may not have taught the kids that it is wrong to partake in this and slowly it becomes a norm. It all goes hand in hand with what people call “Being Progressive” and that want of being “accepted” into the folds of the western society they so want to become a part of. Parents need to explain to the schools that their children attend, about Islamic values and why their children shouldn’t take part in Christmas celebrations.

The concept of getting gifts and presents, the surprises, the suspense the night before is enough to turn any kids head. I remember asking my mom to also get some toys for me as my Christian friends in the neighborhood were getting so many on that day. Problem is we don’t actually enjoy the 2 Eids that are actually made to be celebrated. Kids can be given presents on those days, so much can be done to make them look forward to Eid. If not then of-course, every kid will look towards another kid who got new toys.

The fact is that Muslims should not be taking part in Christmas or other festivals that are not based in Islam, that do not uphold the principles that we have been taught by the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم . But many Muslims do. This is one topic we go one after year in and year out.  A sad fact and one that undermines the establishing of Islam and a united Ummah.

Some Muslims say that it is a sign of respect/courtesy to say “Happy Christmas” as their friends and neighbors wished them during Eid. I put myself in their shoes and I can say it very easily that not doing so would look bad and most probably even rude. But we have to control and suppress our ego at times and submit completely to Allah, isn’t that what being a Muslim is all about? Just to look good in the eyes of our colleagues we are ready to be shunned in the eyes of Allah. Who is more deserving of our respect? It is Allah! Surely it is a greater deed to show respect to Allah than to misguided servants of Allah? We could smile as the Sunnah is at all times, no need to go jumping around like the haram police but the exact opposite is also true, we don’t need to go throwing Christmas parties either. By celebrating Christmas you are actually following something else and this undermines the strength of the Ummah. This is one of the reasons why the Ummah is weak – we do not adhere to Islam and only Islam. There is nothing wrong with saying that you are a Muslim and so do not celebrate Christmas. Non-Muslims respect this but it seems that Muslims do not want to feel like they are upsetting others. How cute aren’t we? Awwww…..

They say: “(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!” Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin, that they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) Most Gracious as a servant.
[Surah-Maryam, 88-93]

Allah takes such an offence, such a stance against this and we take it so lightly. Just imagine the skies tearing apart…

Backdropped by a mosque, ornaments beari

Jesus عليه السلام is commonly considered to have been born on the 25th of December. However, it is common knowledge among Christian scholars that he was not born on this day. It is well known that the first Christian churches held their festival in May, April, or January. Scholars of the first two centuries AD even differ in which year he was born.

Long before December 25th was associated with the birth of Jesus Christ, winter celebrations have been observed in various ways around the world. From the Norse celebrating Yule to the ancient Romans celebrating Saturnalia in honor of their pagan god Saturn. During this time, some also celebrated the birth of Mithra- the pagan god of unconquerable sun- on December 25th. To the Romans, this was the most important day of the year. Lets begin by looking at the history of this day and also how ancient pagan practices have been left behind for centuries.

In 325AD, Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, introduced Christmas as an immovable feast on 25 December. He also introduced Sunday as a holy day in a new 7-day week, and introduced movable feasts (Easter). In 354AD, Bishop Liberius of Rome officially ordered his members to celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December. However, even though Constantine officiated 25 December as the birthday of Christ, Christians, recognising the date as a pagan festival, did not share in the emperor’s good meaning. Christmas failed to gain universal recognition among Christians until quite recently. In England, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas festivities between 1649 and 1660 through the so-called Blue Laws, believing that Christmas should be a solemn day. In the early 4th century, Catholic leaders decided to institute the celebration of Jesus’ birth. They had a problem though, no where in the bible does it say the actual date of Jesus’ birth, nor does it say we are to honor this day at all, but Pope Julius the 1st chose December 25th, the same date of Mithras birth, keeping all the evil traditions alive anyway.

When many Protestants escaped persecution by fleeing to the colonies all over the world, interest in joyous Christmas celebrations was rekindled there. Still, Christmas was not even a legal holiday until the 1800s.

So as any rational person can see, there is no sound basis for Christmas, nor did Isa عليه السلام or his true followers celebrate Christmas or ask anyone to celebrate Christmas, nor was there any record of anyone calling themselves Christians celebrating Christmas until several hundred years after Jesus عليه السلام. So were the companions of Jesus more righteously guided in not celebrating Christmas or are the people of today? We see the traces of how the Muslim world tried to copy and come up with the concept of Mawlid for our own Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم.

To wish the Non-Muslims with Merry Christmas or any of their religious festivals is Haram, by consensus of the ulama (ijma’), as Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah رحمه الله said in his book Iqtida’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem Mukhaalifat Ashaab al-Jaheem, “Imitating them on some of their festivals implies that one is happy with the falsehood they are following, and that could make them (the non-Muslims) take this opportunity to mislead those who are weak in faith. This is not a condemnation of celebrating Christmas as a matter of disrespect to Christians. In reality, it is out of respect for Allah and Prophet Jesus Ibn Maryam عليه السلام and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم that we spread this.

His student Ibn Al-Qayyim رحمه الله further said, “Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is Haram by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying “A happy festival to you” or “May you enjoy your festival”, and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. Many of those who have no knowledge of their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or bid’ah or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allah. If they greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to God.

Also, the sayings of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  are very clear that we should not imitate non-Muslims:

مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ
Whoever imitates a nation is one of them. [Sunan Abu Dawood]

لاَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ حَتَّى تَأْخُذَ أُمَّتِي بِأَخْذِ الْقُرُونِ قَبْلَهَا، شِبْرًا بِشِبْرٍ وَذِرَاعًا بِذِرَاعٍ
The final hour will not come until my followers copy the deeds of the previous nations and follow them very closely, span by span, and cubit by cubit.
[Sahih Al Bukhari]

Muslims should heed this warning and refrain from copying or imitating the kuffar in their celebrations. Islam has strongly forbidden Muslims to follow the religious or social customs of the non-Muslims, and especially of the idol-worshippers or those who worship the devil. This is not about Muslims being segregated from society but more the opposite. This is about Muslims standing up and being identified as Muslims – not as though they have some confused fusion of identities. Islam is clear and Muslims need to be also. By being identified as Muslims, what Muslims stand for, what Islam stands for, you will gain respect from other Muslims, gain understanding and respect from non-Muslims and start to create societies where Muslims can be seen to have their place. This is about societies welcoming Muslims and Islam – it isn’t about eating into Islamic identity, which is what those Muslims are doing who are taking part in Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Hannukah and other non-Islamic festivals.

Its sad seeing some Muslims and even Muslim majority countries spending millions on Christmas celebrations which are so grand that such celebrations are not found even in Non-Muslim countries. Wallahi this is ajeeb and rings a huge alarm bell for all those looking for a revival, to rectify ourselves before blaming the Non-Muslims for all our problems. Allahu Musta’an!

Now I get for some its kinda hard thing to digest as to why our scholars have taken such a strong stance. Its just a few words and a kind gesture right? That’s what we may tend to think but our scholars who have studied the matter in-depth see that and warn us because though it may be easy on the tongue but its implications could be very heavy for us having a large impact from a religious perspective.

I’m not saying we boycott or stop interaction with our Christian friends and colleagues. That would be absurd. As Br.Abdul Latif wrote, “For four hundred years, half the Christians on earth lived with us under the Caliphate.Three Catholic Popes came from Syria when it was governed by the Umayyads. The Christians of the Middle East used to fast Ramadan with us, decorate the minarets of Damascus out of belief in the Prophecy of Muhammad about the descent of Jesus.” We can still work together and yet draw the line as and when required.

To be honest, Sikhs make me respect them. I mean just look at how committed they are. Be it school uniform or anything, the turban is there, no compromise in religion at all. Does anyone say anything to them? No, they don’t, in turn they actually respect that and give them even more breathing space, unlike us who have to please every human that walks under the shade of the sun for some reason.

As Muslims, we have to be kind to non-Muslims but we don’t have to start celebrating their festivals which have polytheistic origins. Honestly, bearing witness to لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله‎ is a serious matter! So, we can’t throw around justifications like “We have to be kind to non-Muslims” or “We should welcome all the celebrations, what’s the harm?”. It is very important to note that Islam is a complete way of life and it suffices Muslims. At the same time, we should be interactive and proactive. We should not forget our role in the society. We should be a good example to others. Islam urges us to be kind with all people without any kind of discrimination due to differences in faith or race. But then again we don’t compromise our ideals and religion just to fit in.

We pray to Allah and ask him to make us Muslims feel proud of our religion, to help us adhere steadfastly to it, and to make us victorious over falsehood. Ya Allah guide those from amongst us who are astray to the right path so that we do  not incur your wrath and follow the teachings of your beloved Messenger Muhammad Ibn Abdullah صلى الله عليه وسلم.

Praise be to the One God, who begets not, nor is begotten.

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