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

A very good, well-balanced, concise and informative article. As an Imam, this article will help me a lot in my khutba. If you permit,I would like to use it as excerpts for the upcoming khutbah.

Location

Austin, TX

I have never been to this site befor,I find it quite informative..and most importantly pro-humanity...While promoting the positive messege of Islam.PS,My neighbour who's a Muslim,decorate his house with Xmas lights to share the holidays with evryone..My quistion is this ok..for a muslim to do? THANK YOU & SALAAM!

Location

san antonio,tx

As a christian who is engaged to be married to a muslim, i intend converting to islam in the near furure. i think that this article is very helpful to those christians who have muslim partners and find it difficult to know how to deal with the christmas holiday.

Location

Wales, UK

I really enjoyed this website. Very informative. Very positive. It is sad that many Christians do not take the time to learn about Islam. I can honestly say. Jesus led me to Islam.

Location

Maryland

Assalam alaikum. Good article. The fact of the matter is that we are not all going to agree on religious matters, but we need to still tolerate and respect one another's beliefs. We don't have to participate, but it's still okay to wish people a safe and happy holiday season. This shows good Islamic character and tolerance. After all, some non-Muslims also wished us joy for our recent holiday of Eid. For example, Reverend Bob Thompson, president of the Council for the Parliament of World Religions, fasted with us during Ramadan. Plus, with the way things are now in the world, we need to work together to promote peace, justice, and understanding.

Location

USA

The Muslimah was wrong in my estimation. When we respect the Christmas holiday, we are celebrating what Christians and Muslims both agree upon. That is, that the Messiah was born. This does not encourage any kind of Kufr. Some of the people of the book refused Prophet Mohamed (peace and blessings be upon him) for just this reason, that is, refusing to acnowledge any similarities of the message in order to pave the way for the acceptance of the Last Prophet. On that note I will end by saying that extreme views from any source are not only destructive but disgusting.

Location

MD

Thank you, Sound Vision for your moderate views. I wish my Christian friends holiday greetings because I, as a Muslim, respect their right to be Christian. Islam is a beautiful religion because it respects the rights of others to choose what they believe. I am not encouraging them to commit kufr, but I am telling them that Muslims respect them and their religion. How can we expect Christians to respect us and our holidays if we don't respect theirs?Thanks, Soundvision, for being just.Sincerely, Sheima Salam

Location

Columbia, SC

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

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

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

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