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

We are in a time were we as Muslims are being attacked all over the world and many of the passive kafirs support these attacks. This is the time to hold more tightly to the teachings of the Qu'r'an and sunna we will not find unity in practicing the ways of the polytheist. Tolerance is allowing them to practice the worship of things and man without physically stopping them not helping them do it or stopping our Dawa against it. Dawa is done by not acknowledging the practice of these shirk filled Hollow days. I do not know if the writer of this article is a born American but I do know that he does not understand America because you will get no respect in this country by compromising your beliefs. The Qur'an also tells us that the non believers will never be pleased with us until we follow their way, so if they are totally pleased with you then you must be of them. You Mr. writer are in a position to influence many people and therefore you should be very careful as to what you write it could cause someone to lose their footing in this deen. I know you did not tell anyone to practice Xmas but this is what some persons will get out of your article. May Allah protect us all from shirk.

Location

Washington DC

As-Salaamu-alaikum, As an adult who accepted Al-Islam as my way of life at age 15, I can truly appreciate the reiterating of family in this article. Imam W. Deen Mohammed has given clear insight on the significance of spending time with family members during this season. We have to be able to see the "bigger picture" when it comes to family ties. Just as I invite my family over for Eid dinner (and they are Christian who respect my religious beliefs) I spend time with my (Christian) family during this season. If one is firmly rooted in the deen, there should be no fear or intimidation to be around family members, co-workers, or people in general just because it is "Christmas". We don't stop living because of someone else's doctrine or belief. May Allah bless us to be an ummah upholding the banner of Al-Islam as it was upheld by Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and all of his companions (s.a.w.)Allahu Akbar!

Location

Memphis, TN

Assalamu Alaikum,This message is in response to your responders lema nadamar, Abdulwasiu and Leanne.I feel this article made clear that it is RESPECT for others religions that we should be thinking of, not helping them celebrate their beliefs. The article mentioned that for some Christians, they seem to be more concerned with gift-giving than the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Peace be upon him. You do not have to be a part of the celebration, but do be respectful, just as I hope you would want others to be respectful of your religion and your religious celebrations. Showing good faith goes a long way!For Leanne, Welcome, Sister! And Congratulations! I pray for you and your betrothed to live a long happy life together, InshaAllah. May Allah reward him and you as you enter Islam. I am sure Jesus, Peace be upon him, is very important to you now. Know that coming into Islam does not change that! He is important to all Muslims as a great Prophet sent to us by Allah. InshaAllah, you will accept that Allah had sent a last prophet in Mohammed, Peace be upon him, and had sent the Holy Quran to clear up all the questions caused by humans changing the words of his other prophets, including our beloved Prophet Jesus, Peace be upon him.May Allah Bless you!Salam,Peace,Truly,Munna

Location

Chicago, IL, USA

I think this article addresses a very valid apprehension amongst many muslims. Should I? or Should'nt I? Muslims need to stop Delineating and start representing.

Location

Chicago

Wonderful. Our imam at the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam gives kutbahs paraphrasing of the same message. Muslims can speak loudly as bridge builders and peace makers, without becoming oppressors themselves. May Allah bless you for you well intent.

Location

Georgia

salam alykum fellow mujahid,thanks for the piece of useful info concerning a very controversial issue,may allah continue to assist u and streghten the deen islam.pls can one take the food they bring?what are the limitations to observing this holiday with the christians?how about the new year?can one join in the celebration as well?pls reply me.ma salam.

Location

nigeria

I find your article wonderful, we need to build bridges and get closer to our faith, since it is a faith of tolerance and respect, this is the time we should check our conduct and be the embassadors of our faith. By extending our wishes to our christian neighbour with a small gift does not affect at all our faith and believe in Islam, they have their religion and we have ours. They know that we don't celebrate Christmas, but we respect their believe.

Location

Toronto

Al hamdulillah for such a balanced article. Wa Allahu must'aan.

Location

Montclair

How many of those Americans who are Christian really celebrate Christmas thinking of Isa rahter than Santa?

Location

USA

I agree with muslimah. One will be encouraging kufr by sending greetings during this season. Even some christian do not believe and participate in christmas. Therefore i dont see why we should be part of it.

Location

texas

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