Islamic Perspectives

Respecting Christmas

Christmas is an annual Christian religious holiday commemorating the birth of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. For many Muslims who 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 or excessive consumerism. Muslims have to remember that for many 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 Sa’d 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, they had come to discuss a number of issues with him. When the time of their prayer came, they asked the Prophet’s permission to perform it 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 (Quran, 6:108). This may not be an occasion to emphasise the differences as much as the commonality of our beliefs, unless someone is really asking you about them.

Remember that respect does not mean compromise. 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 Sepulchre, 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.

Abdul Malik Mujahid

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2013 on page no. 20

We hope you liked this report/article. The Milli Gazette is a free and independent readers-supported media organisation. To support it, please contribute generously. Click here or email us at sales@milligazette.com

blog comments powered by Disqus