At the time of writing, we are in the ‘festive season’ according to Christians – Christmas time. And many Muslims around the world will be actually taking part in these festivities. They will do this without really questioning what they are doing, without even asking themselves if, as Muslims, they should be partaking in this.
The fact is that Muslims should not be taking part in Christmas or other festivals that are not based in Islam, that do not uphold the principles that we have been taught by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). But many Muslims do. A sad fact and one that undermines the establishing of Islam and a united Ummah.
Why does it undermine things?
Firstly, we are Muslims and we distinguish ourselves as being Muslims and following Islam. There is no need to follow the tradition of another religion, especially if we have been Commanded by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) not to. Allah Has Prescribed for us the festivities we should follow and there is no need to add to this by following something else. If celebrating Christmas was allowed, it would have been stated in hadith or the Qur’an. If doing this was ok, then would there be a need for Islam? Isn’t Islam enough for the Muslims?
“Whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:85]
Secondly, Christmas is a pagan festival – it has NOTHING to do with Christianity. It isn’t the birthday of Isa/Jesus (as) and many Christians know this. Christmas is depicted as being lots of snow, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Reindeers, magical things – nothing to do with Christianity. It doesn’t snow in the Middle East, there’s no Christmas trees there, no such thing as Santa Claus, no such things as flying reindeers – absolutely nothing to do with Isa/Jesus (as). So what we are actually engaging in has no basis in any religion and as Muslims are supposed to be religious, then this is a bit hypocritical. Christmas has nothing to do with Allah or the Prophets, so as Muslims, it has nothing to do with us.
Even if Christmas WAS the birthday of Isa/Jesus (as), this is not something to be celebrated as, in Islam, Muslims are not supposed to celebrate birthdays. We do not celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) birthday and this was not done by the Sahabas (Companions) either. Those Muslims who do celebrate birthdays need to check their beliefs and look into why Islam does not allow this.
Another point is that Christmas is a commercial affair these days. It’s all about selling presents, making money out of Christmas and this in itself is wrong. Many families are put under stress and the financial burden of trying to keep up with Christmas. People in the UK even start buying for Christmas months in advance to help with the finances. And if you cannot give presents, then how does this make you look? Any festivity that puts this kind of pressure and adversity on people is wrong. Even Eid is starting to go this way and Muslims need to wake up to this and not let festivities get out of hand.
Muslims are not Christians, pagans, jews, buddhists, hindus, sikhs, atheists or belonging to any other religion or way of life. Muslims are Muslims and follow Islam. By celebrating Christmas you are actually following something else. And this undermines the strength of the Ummah. This is one of the reasons why the Ummah is weak – we do not adhere to Islam and only Islam. There is nothing wrong with saying that you are a Muslim and so do not celebrate Christmas. Non-Muslims respect this but it seems that Muslims do not want to feel like they are upsetting others.
The following hadiths are examples of how Muslims should not imitate the actions of non-Muslims.
On the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Aas who said: “The Messenger of Allah saw me wearing two saffron garments and he said: ‘Indeed these are from the dress of the Kuffaar so do not wear them.’ [Collected by Muslim (1/144), An-Nisaaee (2/298), Al-Haakim (4/190), and Ahmad in his Musnad (2/172, 164, 193, 207, and 211)]
At-Tirmidhi narrated that Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said: “He is not one of us who imitates other than us. Do not imitate the Jews or the Christians.”
At-Tabarani and Abu Dawud narrated that Ibn Umar and Hudhayfah رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said: “Whoever imitates a people, he is one of them.”
Al-Bayhaqi reported in his Sunan that Anas Bin Maalik رضي الله عنه said: “When the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم came to Medina, the people had two holidays from the days of Jahiliyyah.”
He صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم said: “When I came to you, you had two days which you used to celebrate in Jahiliyyah. Allah سبحانه وتعالى has replaced them for you with better days, the days of slaughter (Adhaa) and the day of fitr.”
What does Christmas mean to most people? Well most people are not devout Christians and do not even believe Christmas to be connected to Isa/Jesus (as). For these people, Christmas is just a time to feel good, have parties, have a good time. And that’s about it. This is not what Muslims are about or should be about.
Muslims need to start standing up for Islam and stop acting like non-Muslims. We are not Christians and do not hold to those beliefs, unless they coincide with what is from Qur’an and Sunnah. We are not pagans, taking part in rituals that have no significance with Allah.
This is not about Muslims being segregated from society but more the opposite. This is about Muslims standing up and being identified as Muslims – not as though they have some confused fusion of identities. Islam is clear and Muslims need to be also. By being identified as Muslims, what Muslims stand for, what Islam stands for, you will gain respect from other Muslims, gain understanding and respect from non-Muslims and start to create societies where Muslims can be seen to have their place. This is about societies welcoming Muslims and Islam – it isn’t about eating into Islamic identity, which is what those Muslims are doing who are taking part in Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Hannukah and other non-Islamic festivals.
What should Muslims do?
Muslims need to stop engaging in Christmas festivities, parties, the giving of presents, sending cards, giving Christmas greetings. This is not Islamic so don’t have one foot in Islam and one foot in something else – that is a hypocritical stance to have. Instead, celebrate Islam – you have two Eids and can make the most of this. Be devout and upstanding Muslims that non-Muslims can respect for their Islamic values and morals and beliefs. If you don’t then what do you stand for?
Muslims need to come to terms with an Islamic identity and the fact that we are ordered by Allah not to imitate the kufaar – the non-Muslims. If anything, the non-Muslims have much to gain by imitating Muslims and learning from Muslims. We should be the role models, not the other way round. How will non-Muslims learn the errors of their ways, if we imitate them? Also, if we imitate the non-Muslims in the things they do, then where do you draw the line? Would you take part in Diwali which celebrates the many gods of the hindus? This would be committing shirk – the worst sin in Islam. The fairest and most just way is to not engage in festivities that are not Islamic.
Muslim parents need to explain to the schools that their children attend about Islamic values and why their children shouldnt take part in Christmas plays. This increases their understanding about Islam and helps future Muslims. Whenever I have explained things to non-Muslims, they have never looked at me in a bad way but respected me for my beliefs.
Explain to non-Muslims about Islamic values and how we celebrate on Eid. They are not aliens and will understand.
Muslims… you need to act like Muslims and BE Muslims, following Islam and showing everyone the beauty of Islam.
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