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

thanks for the great article. talking of extreemism.... I do agree that some of our muslim brothers and sisters don't even know the meaning of christmas celebration by chrestians, it is a wounderful top

Location

London

I am really informed by the article. But I am really shocked to read( in the last paragraph of the article) the propaganda story of Christians being attacked in churches in Nigeria; especially from an islamic newsletter. I am telling you authoritatively, as someone who is a resident of the boiling point of the so called Muslim-Christian arm conflict in Nigeria,Kaduna town, that on no occasion that such a thing happened.It is always a case of a few aggrieved youths taking retaliatory actions against the vandalisation of mosques in Christian dominated areas.Pls always get your facts right before you unknowingly help the enemies of islam and the muslims spread their malicious stories!

Location

Kaduna, Nigeria

AOAI really enoyed the article but i was hoping that maybe you could talk about how parents that are raising their kids in public school system can deal with X-mas being an issue with our kids. The teacher has been excellent in asking me to come and teach their classroom about Eid during their X-mas time. My kids are still too young to really understand why us muslims do not celebrate X-mas. Could you pls give some advice in your upcoming articles on how parents should talk to their children about respecting Non-Islamic Holidays and exactly why we do not celebrate these occasions.

Location

Tyler TX

What a great article. I am a Christian in New York City, and I appreciate that my Islamic brothers and sisters in the city wish me a Merry Christmas and mean it. Thank you and bless you; viewpoints such as this promote understanding and justice to all people.

Location

New York

Assalaamualaikum, I think this is the right way to bring peace and harmony among ourselves. I request the Olama`s to come up with similar kind of peace building lectures. Khuda hafiz

Location

India

Very good article. It is good to see articles like this talking of tolerence, mutual respect, plurality at the same time firmly holding on to the faith and the basic principles of Islam.I would highly recommend it

Location

New Jersey

Assalam-o-alaikum,It is true that one way of acting as an embassador of Islam is to be good and respect others. The attractive personality and the accomodating attitude of our dear prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) turned many to Islam. Where I live, there are about 90% miuslims. Christans made our children draw Eid cards, the library had an Eid corner, there were Eid displays and Eid parties in schools and a few Sound Vision Islamic videos were shown. The Christan head and teachers decided to buy some for their school to show in coming years. All of this felt so good and encouraging. Now on their Christmas time if we give them a card or a little present, I think, it is a way of showing our gratitude that they respected our important time of the year. Jazak Allah Khair

Location

Nelson, U.K.

ALHAMDU LILLAH,I like the way many of schorlars tackled the issue.The issue here is not to take part in the celberation but to exhibit respect which is part of the religion.Showing respect to other religion is part of our duty as muslims.may Allah the Almighty guide us to the straight path.Wassalam Alaikum.Kamal-deen.

Location

GHANA

Islam is a religion of tolerance and respect. i think we will go a long way by showing people of other faiths respect. Jazak allah khair for a wonderful article.

Location

MD

Great article. Thanks.

Location

NASHVILLE, TN

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