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

This is an excellent article. I am a 41 year-old who is studying Islam and will most likely revert very soon. I have run the gamut of different faiths and philosophies. Islam seems to be the only one that offers me any peace. I am daily learning more and more. I do believe that Christmas should be respected by Muslims. I believe Muslims should give their Christian friends gifts during this time as well. It would be a beautiful world if Christians and Jews purchased Muslims prayer caps and prayer rugs for Ramadan and Jews received and gave gifts during the Festival of Lights. If we respected and participated in each others' respective holidays perhaps misunderstanding and bloodshed would soon end.

Location

Silver Spring

assalamu alaykum,i am pleased that this article was made as it teaches respect in an islamic manner. I was not aware that the prophet (salalaahu alaihi wasallim) allowed chrsitians to pray in the masjid. i learnt something new.

Location

UK

I am a revert and I think all of us the people of the book should be respectful of one anothers religion because we are all praying to Allah who is God and we pray to the same God although there are differences in the religions we all strive to be good,kind,love thy neighbor as thyself. There is good and bad in every group.no one is perfect. They believe there religion is the right one. they are not being bad. They like us believe our religion is the right and best one. Islam,Muslims should set the example and be considerate of others of different faiths. Mohammad taught peace,love of God who is Allah,and how can you be Muslim and at the same time hate others. because they are not Muslim..fee aman Allah,Sister Debbie

Location

Chelmsford

Wonderful article. I was a Christian [Methodist] and I am now a converted Muslim. You wrote this article very well!

Location

Greenville, MS USA

I appreciate your posting, however flawed I feel it to be as I don't consider Islam to be a true religion, worshiping the Only God; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I don't believe Allah is God and I don't believe Muhammed to be a prophet of any rank. May God have mercy on his soul.All that being said, perhaps you can send this message to your loving brothers and sisters who are murdering Christians in Iraq...and have made it dangerous for Christians to worship on this high feast of the Faith...along with your Saudi friends who made the Catholic Faith to be illegal...Pax,A Catholic Christian

Location

Don't Want to Get Killed

I am an imam of a mosque. Being in this position I realize that we should reconstruct our attitude towards interfaith dialogue. I think to some extant brother Mujahid is right. We should respect other religion & faith groups and it does not mean compromising with our own faiths. It seems funny enough that we demand other faith groups to respect us and we do not respect them.

Location

uk

thank you dear author. I 100% agree with you and am very sad of other comments. Even through peoples notes I can feel anger and hate... how sad,, i am a convert but when I converted I thought I am comverted into something beautiful and piecefull... but why are you guys so mad and full of hate?????? why you feel this religion with some kids of fair... all comments based of fair.. you should love GOD not fair him, you should be good to others through love and understanding but not throught fair.. women, you should ask your husbands about the things you want to do and he should do the same, asking you. (related to many notes I read from women, asking permission from their husbands) are muslim wifes are like in kindergarden? mm....I loved Islam, for almost 8 years now,,, but now I start to question many things.. most of the people in Islam live in agony and fair.. As psychology minor student I noticed that many many many women are heavily depressed.,,, did I make a big mistake.? I know many of you will judge me and critisize and say not to pay attention to people and their actions,, but wait... we pay attention what prophet did, acted.. because he respresents this religion. .. so lets majke a conclusion here, people today represent their own religion... only holly book is not enough.... unfortunately I see mostly fair, and critisizm, a lot of it... .. i really would love to see some love and respect to others..

Location

New York

I disagree with some commentsX-mas it is an innovation (Falsehoods) celebrating the birthday of false Gods (John 3:16 & Psalms2:7), birthday of Son of God and associating other with Gods (Trinity). These are totally against the Tawheed God's Oneness” and foundation of Islam.Quran, 5:2 "Help you one another in virtue and righteousness, but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah, verily Allah is severe in punishment". Quran 25:72 “Those who witness no falsehood and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable (avoidance);”Prophet (pbuh) said: "He among you, who witnesses an evil, let him change it with his hand, if he cannot do that, then by his tongue, if he cannot do even that, then with his heart, and this is the weakest faith." [Muslim].

Location

I disagree with some comments(Quran, 5:2) "Help you one another in virtue and righteousness, but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah, verily Allah is severe in punishment". Quran 25:72 “Those who witness no falsehood and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable (avoidance);”Prophet (pbuh) said: "He among you, who witnesses an evil, let him change it with his hand, if he cannot do that, then by his tongue, if he cannot do even that, then with his heart, and this is the weakest faith." [Muslim]. (Beliefs in Christmas Festival).X-mas it is an innovation(Falsehoods) celebrating the birthday of false Gods( John 3:16 & Psalms2:7) and associating Gods(Trinity). These are totally against the Tawhid God's Oneness” and foundation of Islam.

Location

I disagree with some comments(Quran, 5:2) "Help you one another in virtue and righteousness, but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah, verily Allah is severe in punishment". Quran 25:72 “Those who witness no falsehood and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable (avoidance);”Prophet (pbuh) said: "He among you, who witnesses an evil, let him change it with his hand, if he cannot do that, then by his tongue, if he cannot do even that, then with his heart, and this is the weakest faith." [Muslim]. (Beliefs in Christmas Festival).X-mas it is an innovation(Falsehoods) celebrating the birthday of false Gods( John 3:16 & Psalms2:7) and associating Gods(Trinity). These are totally against the Tawhid God's Oneness” and foundation of Islam.

Location

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