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

I love the Sound Vision website and the excellent information in it, like this article. I think it is important to remember though that this is the celebration of the birth of what Christians consider to be thier god...not simply a prophet that we can just join in. As for being respectful and kind, there is no doubt about it. Muslims do need to be careful how our children in public schools are influenced by the celebrations of Christmas in thier schools, esp. at the elementary level. Other holidays should be included as well, plus the school needs to recognize and respect our holidays of EID, as an overwhelming emphasis on Christmas endorses the Christian faith and that should not be happening in a public school. For this, parents need to speak out in a polite and respectful manner, requesting that the teachers be sensitive of the fact that not every child celebrates Christmas, it is ok to have a different holiday and there should be choices in activities and songs that make our children uncomfortable and confused. Alhamdolillah our Christian brothers and sisters and kind, tolerant and accomodating and are willing to make small changes so going to school in December is not so hard on our kids.

Location

lino lakes

yemi Rabiu from ukMay alha subuhana wa taalah inrease the knowledge of this sheik am really happy with this write-up because I don't belive thhat islam is just about making thing hard or rude to your neighour but about respect the other as you might want them to respect you as well

Location

Salam to all...This article here, is a very good definition of Christmas...as it really is a great occasion for everyone in the world...not only the Christians but all humans...But you can bet on that... those who still didn't learn anything from this are really hapless to be exact..But Infact The birth Of the Christ is for All Humanity..Thanks. Peace be with All.

Location

Karachi, Pakistan

Salam to all...This article here, is a very good definition of Christmas...as it really is a great occasion for everyone in the world...not only the Christians but all humans...But you can bet on that... those who still didn't learn anything from are really hapless to be exact..But Infact The Of the Christ for All Humanity..Thanks.

Location

Karachi, Pakistan

Whatever the facts are, we should at least remain peaceful to each other. It's just about respecting other people and their beliefs. The extremists, or whatever they are so called, should not burn or destroy worship places because they could hurt or even kill other people. Besides, we should just mind our own businesses and stop brutal actions toward others because of their beliefs.

Location

southeast asia

What you have to remember is xmass was never celebrated during the life of the prophet Jesus (pbuh) you need to look up the history of christmass on History channel website for the truth.

Location

Great article. We must all learn to accept other religions. Most of us worship the same God; we should embrace one anothers faiths.

Location

Uckfield

The article is to me not so educative as the comments. I love the divergent comments and even ejoy it more than the article itself. I know that each region has its peculiarities. There are people around the world that still behave like the Xtians the prophet allowed in his mosque in Madina. Coming to Nigeria, you have to be careful as there exist a lot of deciet from the Xtian world that we do take their 'lovely extension of greetings and association' with carefulness. All the same we need to promote those things that keep us together. Maa Salaam

Location

Lagos, Nigeria

The man above stated incorrectly, Jesus is very important in Islam and his birth was a miracle and although it is not our holiday this is def. a way to bridge a gap between christians and muslims.. we are NOT here to convert.. we are here to make peace and serve God... its perfectly fine to say merry christmas.. merry= HAPPY... christmass= birth of christ.. happy birth of christ.. he is our prophet as well.. and if other people worship him which i dont think they should thats there problem.. but celebrating the day of his miracle birth is FINE.

Location

USA

This article is quite moving and its message should be shared with all people of all faiths. Especially, those of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths who all praise the same God through our own ways.Thank you and God Bless

Location

USA

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