All praise be to Allah alone, for making us Muslims and bestowing us the deen of Islam to distinguish right and wrong. The holiday season is upon us again, and the ugly head of Satan is rising again to inspire people to indulge in innovation and shirk. What proceeds is an analytical view of Christmas and appropriate Muslim conduct during the Christmas season. More importantly, what should be the Muslim reaction to Christmas?
Quite a number of Muslims today, especially those living in Christian-dominated countries or those influenced to a large degree by western culture, have been led to consider that taking part in the Christmas celebrations of friends and relatives is, at very least, a harmless past time if not a legitimate source of pleasure for children and adults alike.
In many instances, the pressure to conform with the practices of society is too great for those of weak resolve to withstand. Parents are often tempted to give in to the pleading of children who have been invited to parties. They do not know a lot about why this happens because the parents do not tell their kids about it.
Any belief system or ritual (Christmas or otherwise) in any religion should satisfy each of the following criteria to be labelled as authentic:
- It should have its evidence from the scriptures or from the authentic sayings of the Messenger.
- The Messenger himself and his companions should practice and propagate it.
- The Scripture or the Messenger’s sayings in which this belief system is present should be preserved from alterations or perishment.
Was Jesus Born On December 25th?
Neither the date 25th December nor any other date of Jesus’ birth is mentioned in the Bible. Not until the year 530 C.E., that a monk, Dionysus Exigus, fixed the date of the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25th. “He wrongly dated the birth of Christ according to the Roman system (i.e., 754 years after the founding of Rome) as Dec. 25, 753.”1This date was chosen perhaps in keeping with the holidays already indoctrinated into the pagans.
Roman pagans celebrated December 25th as the birth of their “god” of light, Mithra.
“In the 2nd-century A..D., it [Mithraism] was more general in the Roman Empire than Christianity, to which it bore many similarities.”2
“The reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains uncertain, but most probably the reason is that early Christians wished the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the “birthday of the unconquered sun” (natalis solis invicti); this festival celebrated the winter solstice, when the days again begin to lengthen and the sun begins to climb higher in the sky.”1
Other pagan “gods” born on December 25th are: Hercules, the son of Zeus (Greeks); Bacchus, god of wind (Romans); Adonis, god of Greeks; Freyr the Greek-Roman god.
But What About Santa Claus?
The “Santa” character was further developed in 1809 when an amusing but inaccurate history of Dutch traditions was written. Washington Irving, influenced by north European Christmas customs, pictured St. Nicholas riding in a wagon merrily over rooftops, dropping presents down chimneys, the first time this had been sighted. Needless to mention, the word “Santa Claus” appears nowhere in the Bible. However, Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) was a real bishop who was born some 300 years after Jesus(P). According to legend he was extremely kind and went out at night to distribute presents to the needy.
“Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases, and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.”3
Christian belief states that the one God reveals himself in the three persons of Father, Son (Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit. These three persons are nevertheless regarded as a unity, sharing one “substance”. Prophet Jesus(P) is elevated to divinity, sits on the right hand of God and judges the world. The Holy Spirit, who in the Hebrew Bible is the means by which God exercises his creative power, in Christian thought becomes a part of the God-head. Paul made the Holy Spirit the alter ego of Christ, the guide and help of Christians, first manifesting itself on the day of Pentecost.
Consequently, Shirk in Ruboobeeyah occurs in the Christian belief that Jesus(P) and the Holy Spirit are God’s partners in all of His dominion, in their belief that Jesus(P) alone pronounces judgement on the world and in their belief that Christians are helped and guided by the Holy Spirit. This form of Shirk occurs when any act of worship is directed to other than Allah.
“Indeed they do blaspheme those who say that Allah is Jesus, the son of Mary, but Jesus said “O children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord”. Whoever joins other gods with Allah, Allah will forbid him heaven and the fire will be his abode.”4
‘Abdullâh ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allâh’s Messenger(P) said: “Anyone who dies worshipping others along with Allah will definitely enter the Fire.” I said, “Anyone who dies worshipping none along with Allâh will definitely enter Paradise.”5
Muslim Reaction Towards Christmas
Being the custodians of Truth and the “best Ummah created for mankind” and “witnesses unto mankind” (ummatan wasatan), we Muslims just cannot stay still as the society around us is entrapped by Satan. Enjoining good and forbidding evil should be our theme.
The foremost thing to realise is that Christmas is a big innovation which is leading a big part of humanity to shirk (associating partners with God). Christianity has transgressed the limits set by Allah; therefore showing happiness and joy on Christmas, Halloween, Easter and Good Friday is like shaking hands with Satan and telling him to carry on the good work.
Remember that Allah commandment for us in the Qur’an:
“Help you one another in virtue and righteousness, but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah, verily Allah is severe in punishment”.6
It is highly recommended for all Muslims to carry brochures on Islam with them to pass on classmates, co-workers, neighbours etc. after discussing Islam. Thus the hearts and minds of non-Muslims should be exposed to the beautiful message of Islam.
Say: “He is Allah, the One and only,
Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute,
He begetteth not, nor is He begotten.
And there is none like unto Him.”
And verily, only God knows best!
- Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998 ed.
- The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 ed.
- Qur’an, 4:48
- Qur’an, 5:72
- Narrated in Bukhari and Muslim.
- Quran, 5:2