In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80)
A friend of mine popped into my office room and asked me to write about the generous attitude of those in power giving way to Christmas decorations in cities and even in small towns. They included big Christmas trees, colourful lightings and wordings and at times the presence of live Santa Claus (man acting as one) and Santarina.
My friend claimed that the decorations and activities held were too much; he pointed up that Christians make up of not more than 10 percent of the country population; thus it is not appropriate to have such grand scale publicity.
Business identities and those who are responsible for such decorations should have thought about the sensivities of people from other religions for example Muslims who also believe in Jesus Christ (Prophet Isa) but not as son of God but only one of His prophet just like Moses (Musa), David (Daud), Jacob (Yaakub) and Muhammad s.a.w. (peace be upon him).
In Surah Al-Baqarah 2:136, Allah SWT says: “Say ye: We believe in God, and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all Prophets from their Lord, and we make no difference between one and another of them and we bow to God in Islam.”
I did not have any comment on my friend’s echo, but would like to stress things that some Muslims take for granted when joining the merriness of the up-coming festive.
For example some Muslims boys and girls from certain departmental stores took up the challenge to become Santa Claus and Santarina, wishing customers and patrons ‘Merry Christmas’.
Some Muslim boys and girls were seen stationed under giant Christmas trees, distributing goodies to children. In my opinion, since Christmas is a religious festival, Muslim should not be involved in such activities that could contradict with their ‘syahadah’, that there is no god but Him (Allah SWT).
Regarding my previous article ‘Celebrations including Christmas heavily commercialized’, a friend in Holland, responded: “‘Salam’ (Greetings). Agreed with what you have written about commercialization of Eidul Fitri. Here in Holland and all over Europe Christmas is too commercialized it has lost the true value of religion. Even here in Holland the Santa Claus (Sinta Klaus) is escorted by two black helpers (rasicsm?).
“Actually I have proposed to my university to conduct a research on spending and wastage Muslims in Malaysia done during Ramadan for 'berbuka' puasa (breaking of fast) especially at Bazaar Ramadhan. (But was turned down by university because I have not a "Islamic" teaching background.....hehehe!!!)”
Here in Malaysia, I was puzzled as why must be Christmas celebration associated to several brand of liquor as seen from advertisements including in newspapers; what’s the connection between the two? I told myself, certainly a good Christian do not booze heavily but what really bother me why must certain Christian saint too associated with the said drinks as shown by the newspaper advertisement.
Regarding the question can Muslims celebrate Christmas as campaigned by certain quarters to fulfill the 1-Malaysia concept; I managed to gathered answer from two well known Muslims scholars after searching in the net.
Dr Muzammil H Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Every people have their `Eid…" Some celebrations are of a religious nature, and some others are social and cultural. Some celebrations are based on beliefs and practices that are contrary to Islamic teachings, and some celebrations are not of that nature. Some people claim that Christmas is now a secular holiday and it is very much an American national holiday rather than a religious holiday. But it is wrong to assume that because this holiday is national, it has ceased to be Christian. It is true that this holiday is very popular and it is extremely commercialized; nevertheless it is basically a religious holiday. Its very name and all its symbolism is Christian through and through.
Christians celebrate at Christmas what they believe to be the "day of the birth of God's Son" or what they call "God Incarnate". Thus it is not only a celebration of another religion; it is also a celebration that is based on a belief that is totally against the teachings of Islam. From the Islamic point of view, the belief in the "Son of God" or "God in the flesh" is a blasphemy and kufr (denial of God's Oneness). By participation in Christmas, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her consciousness of this basic point of difference.
Muslims must be very careful in this matter. The greatest danger is for our next generation, who may slowly lose their Islamic faith in tawhid and may start believing in Jesus as "more than a prophet and servant of Allah".
The argument that “Christmas is, after all, Prophet Jesus' birthday and so there is no harm in celebrating Christmas” is neither logical nor Islamic. Why should Muslims celebrate Jesus' birthday? Why not the birthdays of the other 24 prophets and messengers who are mentioned in the Qur'an by name?
For us Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is the final Prophet and Messenger of Allah, not Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was the last one and they say that "after God spoke through many prophets … in these last days he spoke to us through his son whom he made to inherit every thing" (New Testament, Hebrews 1:1). Thus they celebrate his coming, but for us Muslims, Prophet Muhammad was the last Prophet and Allah appointed him for all people and for all times to come.
I do agree that our little children are deeply affected with the festivities and glitter of this holiday. We should try to take them to some Islamic camps and conferences at this time and give them some other alternate programs and activities. But Muslim families should not have Christmas trees in their homes, nor should they put up lights inside or outside their homes at this time.
We should tell our children that we are Muslims and this is not our holiday. This is the holiday of our Christian neighbours and friends.
It is good to decorate our homes and masjids during Ramadhan and for `Eids. It is mentioned in one of the Hadiths that even the heaven is especially decorated during the month of Ramadhan. Allah Almighty closes the gates of Hell and opens the gates of Paradise during the month of Ramadan.
We Muslims should give special attention to our own Islamic holidays. In this way our children will be attracted to our own celebrations rather than looking at others.
Unfortunately, there are some Muslims who do not pay any attention to Ramadhan and `Eids. Some of them do not even come to `Eid prayers and even if they come, they do not take their day off from work. Thus their children have no idea about Islamic holidays or they think that Islam is a religion without any festivals and celebrations.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in explaining the reasons why Muslims don’t celebrate and believe in Christmas states: “Christmas was a pagan custom which was adopted into Christianity; it has nothing to do with reverence and love of Jesus, the mighty Messenger of Allah that we Muslims hold in the highest regard and respect. If Jesus were to come today, whether or not he would identify himself with those who celebrate Christmas is a question one should ask seriously.
“If we are celebrating the great teachings of Jesus or other prophets, we must do so everyday. To do so means to practice love, mercy, justice and compassion and to be actively engaged in doing the will of God.”