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Why, as a Muslim, I’ll be celebrating Christmas

55
FaithFeatured

Why, as a Muslim, I’ll be celebrating Christmas

55

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“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks?” This was Donald Trump’s response to Starbuck’s plain red cups for the festive season this year. Whilst in the past, the coffee chain’s cups have featured Christmas trees, snowflakes and other “symbols of the season”, this year they decided to remove these “to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories”. As expected, the move triggered widespread controversy, with some exclaiming that Starbucks had joined “The War on Christmas” despite the fact that Starbucks continues to sell Christmas blend coffees and gift cards displaying the words “Merry Christmas”, obviously not putting all its energy behind this supposed war.

The historical particulars of the exact date of Jesus’ birth are of less importance than the messages and lessons that we obtain from his life.

In a time where fear is becoming increasingly prevalent within our society, it is disappointing to see some journalists finding ways to link this War on Christmas to Muslims. Parents in Blaine High School, Minnesota, launched complaints after students were taught to sing a Muslim hymn as well as Christmas carols and Jewish songs for a Christmas concert, with some claiming that this amounted to indoctrination of their children or reporting it to be insensitive given recent terror attacks by Muslims, and others even claiming that “no child should be forced to sing a song about the Muslims and the religion of hatred”. The Metro decided to report on the news with the headline “PANIC! MADNESS! Parents furious as ‘Muslim hymn’ to be sung in Arabic at school Christmas concert”.

In other news, the UAE government has been accused of launching an “attack on Christmas” by declaring 24th December this year as a national holiday. The Prophet’s birthday is an annual holiday in the UAE, and this year the Islamic lunar date happens to fall on 24th December, so the claim that the UAE are “looking to put a crimp on Christmas by marking the day before a Muslim holiday” is somewhat laughable – anybody who has visited Dubai during the festive season will know that Christmas celebrations are just as prevalent in the Emirates as in many Christian countries. As evidenced, the anti-Muslim rhetoric is being fuelled by a few isolated incidents, which are being made to represent the whole religion. When Brunei, the small nation nestled in the island of Borneo, issued an edict banning Muslim residents from participating in Christmas, the press had a heyday.

Lebanese people gather around a Christmas tree decorated at Martyrs' Square near the Mohammed al-Amin mosque in downtown Beirut on December 23, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO

Lebanese people gather around a Christmas tree decorated at Martyrs’ Square near the Mohammed al-Amin mosque in downtown Beirut on December 23, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO

Much less publicised are the numerous reports of Muslims promoting and celebrating Christmas. When an Italian school cancelled a Christmas concert for fear of upsetting Muslims, it was Muslim parents who joined Christians in criticising the decision. Muslim lecturer Riaz Khan’s video went viral when he refuted ideas that Muslims were offended by the festive season. Be it Christmas markets in downtown Amman, the Muslim Santa Claus in Sweden, or Muslim Christmas lights in Canada, the truth is that most Muslims, far from having a problem with Christmas, embrace it with open arms. The same goes for most of the 50 or so Muslim-majority countries – you may be surprised to see the extent of Christmas celebrations in Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Egypt, four countries that between them constitute around a quarter of the world’s Muslim population!

Even if some Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas religiously (mind the pun), they will still most likely visit the German Markets, make use of the outdoor ice rinks, and take advantage of the Boxing Day sales.

It is true that with Islam being the diverse religion it is, there are some Muslims who may take objection to the celebration of Christmas, but many of these take equal objection to the celebration of the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), usually due to theological beliefs forbidding the celebration of birthdays in general, to the extent that attacks have been carried out during such celebrations in the past. It is also true that 25th December in itself may not mark the actual birth of Jesus and may have pagan origins, that the celebration of Christmas wasn’t legalised in all states in the USA until 1907, and that the celebration of Christmas as we know it is a much more recent phenomenon dating back to the Victorian era.

But from an Islamic perspective, honouring Jesus (pbuh), a revered Prophet mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an, and remembering the nativity of Jesus, an account mentioned in depth in the Chapter of Mary in the Qur’an, is enough of a reason for me to celebrate Christmas. The historical particulars of the exact date of Jesus’ birth are of less importance than the messages and lessons that we obtain from his life.

In fact, even if I did not believe in Jesus or God, there is still so much goodness in the celebration of Christmas. The festival has become associated with generosity, sharing and love, which are only positive traits. Volunteering is a hallmark of Christmas, and for many, Christmas is the only opportunity in the year to gather with family, as this emotional German advertisement demonstrated. The occasion also has a legacy of peace, as shown by the Christmas Truce, where British and German soldiers temporarily stopped fighting, exchanged gifts and sung carols together on Christmas Day in 1914. As Janice Maeditere said, “Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.”

Like any festivity, the celebration may have drawbacks – the commercialisation, the wastage, the calorie-inducing meals – but the same can be said about any celebratory occasion, and is certainly no indication to launch a War on Christmas. All my close Muslim friends and family grew up looking forward to Christmas – our childhoods were spent driving up to London to see the West End Christmas lights, giving and receiving cards to our friends, and sharing the jokes found in our crackers. Most of the Muslims I know have family round on Christmas, eat turkey and Brussels sprouts, and gather round to watch Christmas films when the evening sets.

Even if some Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas religiously (mind the pun), they will still most likely visit the German Markets, make use of the outdoor ice rinks, and take advantage of the Boxing Day sales. And will probably still get the post-Christmas blues once it’s all over. It is a time of happiness, warmth and unity. As Calvin Coolidge put it, “Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

So Merry Christmas to you all, and a Happy New Year.

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15 Comments. Leave new

  • Mohammed Imran
    December 22, 2017 4:39 pm

    “Be it known, that as far as worldly relations are concerned, it is not against Islām to cooperate with Christians or people of other religions – in respecting their rights as humans, neighbours and so forth; being fair in dealing with them and being just; neither deceiving them, nor betraying their trust. Whether in Muslim lands or not, coexistence and cooperation with non-Muslims was never forbidden in worldly matters. This does not mean that Muslims can compromise on religious obligations or appease non-Muslims by embracing their religious traditions, ceremonies or condone them.”
    [Mawlana Abu Hasan al-Hanafi al-Maturidi]

  • Mohammed Imran
    December 22, 2017 4:00 pm

    Muslim History Philosopher ibn Khaldun said “Weaker Nations always imitate Stronger Nations.” with that in mind think about the time in the history when Muslims were dominant and powerful like in Spain the Europeans learn Arabic, they (ones living in Spain and in Sicily) went as far as abandoning Latin. Not only that Jews and Christians use to say “Muhammad (ﷺ) was a true prophet of God, however he was only sent to the Arabs”. This claim of-course was rejected by mainstream Christians and Jews who were outside of Spain.

    Fast forward 600 years times are different, tables have turned, Muslims are weakest point, so now Muslims imitate Christians and Jews, and they make arguments like this “It is true that with Islam being the diverse religion it is, there are some Muslims who may take objection to the celebration of Christmas, but many of these take equal objection to the celebration of the Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), usually due to theological beliefs forbidding the celebration of birthdays in general, to the extent that attacks have been carried out during such celebrations in the past. It is also true that 25th December in itself may not mark the actual birth of Jesus and may have pagan origins, that the celebration of Christmas wasn’t legalised in all states in the USA until 1907, and that the celebration of Christmas as we know it is a much more recent phenomenon dating back to the Victorian era.

    But from an Islamic perspective, honoring Jesus (pbuh), a revered Prophet mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an, and remembering the nativity of Jesus, an account mentioned in depth in the Chapter of Mary in the Qur’an, is enough of a reason for me to celebrate Christmas. The historical particulars of the exact date of Jesus’ birth are of less importance than the messages and lessons that we obtain from his life.”

  • You obviously have no understanding of Islam whatsoever. If you did you would know there is no compulsion in Islam. Wish you had done some research before attacking the character of our beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Oddly enough your description of events and activities sound a lot like misguided western culture and it’s centuries of lies and misinformation. May Allah protect all Muslims and God fearing folks from your misguided rhetoric. Aameen.

  • AMEEN AMEEN AMEEN!

    • I agree with the brothers comment below….i too will never compromise my faith by pleasing the creation and not the Creator! We can respect non muslims right to celabrate their own holiday jus like we expect them to respect ours with out compromising our core Islamic beliefs!

  • usakindatheart
    March 5, 2016 2:26 pm

    The musk Ms that r supposed to be the nice Muslims and do not pray 5 times a day, or go to mosque, but give more time to family and their business, love Western life, for the freedom to worship Allah the way they wish with out imans trying to make them feel guilty for enjoying life. Then u got the moderate Muslims, that go to mosque regularly, they listen to Islam imans hate speech against well… Everything and everyone, and the moderate appease this by donating large amounts of money to the mosque.
    Then there is the extremist Muslims, who’s only joy in London Fe is to be angry and destroy every thing they touch by word or deed, (most imans fit in this category too),
    And the ultimate war mongering, murdering, raping pedophile Muslim extremists, emanating yours truly , Mohammad the insane, to the letter.
    Yep, it’s soooooo fun to be a muslim

  • مريم إيمان
    December 31, 2015 3:19 am

    As a Muslim I will never associate partners with Allah subhanahu wa taala and for the same reason, I will never celebrate any holiday that requires me to please the creation and disobey my Creator!
    May Allah azza wa jal guide us all ameen

  • Mohsin Syedain
    December 26, 2015 7:01 am

    The two reasons a muslim would celebrate christmas is (1) He or she appologising for being a muslim (2) Desire to indulge onself under the pretext of civility.

    What exactly is Christmas celebrations if not a western cultural thing…the booze, the unrestrained revelry and all other thing that gies with it. The only genuine Christmas celebration is going to the Church for praying. Surely, as muslim, one cannot be part of that? Would a muslim remain a muslim if he/she prays to Jesus?

    Yes, we should extend our greetings to our Christian cousins wishing them peace and prosperity. Or else, start celebrating the births of all prophets mentioned in the Holy Quran.

  • May Allah guide you to the true Islam.

    • usakindatheart
      March 5, 2016 2:44 pm

      True islam is a brain damaged person who had his terrified men grab the new and old testament material, twist the words into new dyslexic sentences, so he could understand it,
      Obviously he had some kind of frontal lobe damage from his warmongering days,
      It’s called acquired expressive language, Google please.
      The very idea that Mohammad was defective terrifies Muslims, because if they faced that, their very existence would have to be questioned.
      If Muslims had any education beyond the plagiarized Koran, they would take a really big step back, and realized Mohammad wanted absolute power, if he can make his subjects, Muslims, fear him, remain ignorant of real thinking, why you have to be repeative over and over so u won’t think, and Mohammad told Muslims it’s okay to do the most twisted henious crimes against humanity,
      because if u keep your people dumb, keep them sinning, fearful of Mohammad, take almost all their money, and praying the rest of the time. Then Mohammad has won, he has complete domination of people, and dictatorship power.
      Why do u think in middle East , the countries always ends in dictatorships?
      Because they follow Mohammads blue print of absolute power.
      Think think think!

      • you evidently have no clue of the middle east or islam. i’ve actually met with some of these dictators and to think all they are concerned about islam is probably a projection of your fantasy understanding of the middle east to be like the mythical land of arghbah (from aladin). Try looking up what some of the highest and most renowned institutions discuss such as the American supreme court of justice honoring prophet muhamed as the greatest law giver (among multiple other notable characters) or the fact that he lived in poverty after he became very powerful, going some days with barely enough food for him and his family. Furthermore, one could infer from your statement that you equally have little understanding of the old and new testament.

    • AMEEN AMEEN AMEEN

  • Very good article. Cheers.

  • Can someone write an article, “Why, as a Muslim, I’ll not be overcompensating” (overcompensate: make up for shortcomings or a feeling of inferiority by exaggerating good qualities).

    • Saira Nikhat Imam
      December 25, 2015 5:13 pm

      Let’s derive goodness! read it with an intent that humanity is beyond everything in this world :)

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