Treating Christmas with respect

Christmas is an annual Christian religious holiday commemorating the birth of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. For many Muslims who even do not celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, it becomes an issue of what stand they should take.

There have been a number of legitimate criticisms of the holiday from Muslims and non-Muslims based on theological and cultural considerations. However, this cannot be used to disregard the holiday as merely an exercise in ancient pagan practices, for instance, or excessive consumerism. Muslims have to remember that for practicing Christians, Christmas really is about Jesus.

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was so accommodating of Christians that according to the two earliest Islamic historians, Ibn e Saad and Ibn Hisham, the Prophet even allowed a delegation of 60 Byzantine Christians from Najran in Yemen to worship in his own mosque in Madinah. Lead by their bishop (Usquf), they had come to discuss a number of issues with him. When time of their prayer came, they asked the Prophet's permission to perform this in the mosque. He answered, "conduct your service here in the mosque. It is a place consecrated to God."

God expects us to stay away from mocking the religious beliefs of others, no matter how much we disagree with them. He says in the Quran: "And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides God, lest they insult God wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fair-seeming to each people its own doings; then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do" (Quran, 6:108).

We also have to remember that even if for many nominal Christians, the celebration is not really about participating in religious traditions, Christmas is a time for families to get together. In a number of cases it is the only time of year families get together, either because family members are scattered in different parts of the country or the world, because of communication and relationship problems, or because in America today, the family unit is becoming weaker and weaker.

Christmas is a great time to relate to our neighbors. We should not forget though, that "relating" does not mean "preaching". Dawa cannot be made in a rude manner. Allah says in the Quran: "Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful advice, and reason with them by ways that are the best and most gracious: because your Lord knows best, (those) who have strayed from His Path, and those who receive guidance " (Quran, 16:125).

In particular, when dealing with Jews and Christians, Allah says: "Do not argue with the People of the Book unless it is in the politest manner, except for those of them who do wrong. Say: 'We believe in what has been sent down to us and what has been sent down to you. Our God and your God is [the same] One, and we are Muslims before Him'" (Quran, 29:46).

This may not be an occasion to emphasis the differences as much as the commonality of our beliefs, unless someone is really asking you about them.

A starting point for a discussion about Christmas could be the Islamic belief in all Books revealed by Allah and all Prophets sent by Him. In this discussion, special emphasis could be made on Prophet Jesus. Non-Muslims are often surprised to discover that Muslims also believe in this noble Prophet and his great mother Mary (peace be upon her).

Remember that respect does not mean compromise. This article is not asking you to compromise anything. You have freedom of religion given by God to believe in what you believe in. But in a world where conflict is increasing, a Muslim should be a bridge- builder and a peacemaker. It was due to the Muslim practice of Islamic ideals of respect and tolerance that the key of the holiest Christian Shrine in Jerusalem, the church of the Holy Sepulcher, remains entrusted with a Muslim family, as it has been for over 1400 years.

These are the lessons which need to be learned by those extremists who attack Christians during their worship in Nigeria and those extremists who burn Masjids in the USA.

 

Comments

assalaamu alaykum, this article is right on time for the christmas season. so often we judge harshly on some very principles that we ourselves uphold simply because it's done differently. our deen teaches unity. i appreciate you reminding me and my family to be humble, peaceful and tolerant. may allah's blessings be upon you.

Location

jacksonville, fl usa

While knowing where we stand and what we believe,remember the golden rule;do unto others as you want them to do unto you.

Location

old lyme,ct

i was reading this article so that i would not offend any of my friends during christmas, myself being christian, and this article really made me feel much better about celebrating. i think we are believing in the same God, and this holiday should have most respect to Him, above all.

Location

virginia, usa

salaami think while respecting their beliefs we should be careful in not celebrating with them as the Rasul is reported to have said:Whoever imitates a people is one of them.

Location

nigeria

This is just what I have been feeling and have been looking for in an article! The Christmas season can be a great time to do Dawah and spread the religion of Islam.

Location

Miami, FL USA

What about kids vsiting Santa's Grotto?And putting up X-mas trees with lights to share the festivities?...Any thoughts?

Location

Ireland

sallaam alaykum, jazakumllahu khyran jidan for putting us through on what is right and expected. i actually wanted to know what we muslims were to do and hoe to behave, i think i have that now.but can we eat of their xmas foodif given by a friend or neighbour? .pls reply me.

Location

nigeria

as salaamu alaikumI was just wondering also about the children that attend non- muslim schools, what are we as muslim parents are to suggest to the teachers about the children hearing the christmas songs and participating in making stocking. Pleas advice me on what we should do or how to approach the staff in a respectable way.

Location

newjersey

I think this article is very weak. It is nice to be all inclusive but when you get down to the facts, by congratulating or encourage someone celebrating Christmas you are congratulating or encouraging them in kufr. Prophet Isa (as) is a Prophet of Islam and we should not allow people to use his prophethood to celebrate falsehood. Sure, invite with wisdom.. but there is a difference between inviting people to Islam and openly encouraging people to do wrong (eg. sending out festive greetings which just happen to co-incide with Christmas).

Location

Walekum assalam to all the brothers and sisters, Islam is such a wonderful faith that we are allowed to participate (to some extent) in other's celebration with the intention to give them dawah. Maintain your identity, wish them and pack off. More often, the Christmas food stuff have alcohol mixed, to give them good taste and softness, so better avoid the cakes and pastries, but you can have cookies. Take care...

Location

Toronto Canada

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