By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong

Co-Director, The Association of British Muslims

As Muslims, we shouldn’t be afraid of Christmas or any other festival. Nowhere in the Holy Qur’an is wishing people a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or even a Happy Diwali declared haram (forbidden) – it’s just not there, if you don’t believe me, study your Qur’an, please don’t just take my word for it!

While the Qur’an does question certain beliefs that many Christians may hold, it doesn’t forbid wishing people a Merry Christmas or even joining in with some of the festivities, like having a halal Christmas dinner. To suggest otherwise and go around telling other people these are haram is to be a cause of fitnah. This type of behaviour is itself biddah too, as we should lead through example (like our Prophet, peace be upon him), not through bullying people! If we followed this approach like Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his noble companions, may Allah reward them, we would develop ourselves more and build a better more friendly and supportive community.

“And strive hard in God’s cause with all the striving that is due to Him: it is He who has elected you [to carry His message], and has laid no hardship on you in [anything that pertains to] religion…”
– Holy Qur’an 22:78 (M. Asad)

The mullahs who promote the idea that Christmas is haram, are the very same people responsible for the lack of development within the Muslim community and traditionally Muslim nations. Not only are they opposed to Christmas, but many things characteristic of our present time. Labelling everything ‘haram’ will get us nowhere, and indeed will only tie us all up in knots, preventing us from doing anything really useful with our lives. Very few things were declared haram by the Holy Qur’an or by our Prophet, peace be upon him, and those that were (e.g. murder, stealing, the consumption of alcohol and pork etc.), are mostly common sense, as they’re harmful to us, or to our brothers and sisters in our human family.

“And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way…” – Holy Qur’an 2:143 (M. Asad)

What we need to cultivate, is a more constructive attitude, be less judge-mental, study more, develop ourselves and our critical reasoning skills. We should not be taking mullahs as our idols! Real scholars do not seek to be worshipped, but seek only to learn, develop themselves and help others to do the same. Real scholars do not seek to manipulate and control people as sadly many mullahs are doing today.

Let’s leave these mullahs and strive to understand the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of our Prophet, peace be upon him, and to implement them in our own lives. In the process, we will develop a new generation of true scholars and professionals in all fields, who will take a genuine interpretation of Islam and the Muslim community from strength to strength, forward, working towards building a better future for all humankind!

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62 thoughts on “Is Christmas Haram?

  1. Lovely article. 🙂

    Mullah misguiding the Muslims by saying that Greeting merry Christmas is like ( We are agreeing that the Hazrat Isaa (PBUH) is the son of GOD (Nauzubillah) and he born on 25th December, when i went on WWW. Wikipedia.org , Which only says it is a birthday of Jesus (PBUH)….

    So Off course by keeping in mind that H.Isaa ( PBUH) is the prophet of GOD we can greet our Ahlal KItab (4 books revealed by Allah (S.W.T) & Bible INJEEL is on them) christian friends

    ISLAM is a religion of peace love and equality

  2. Asalamualaikum Wr.Wb.

    Yes, these kind of topic always recurring at the 25th December. Are every bid’ah (biddah) Haram?

    How about Isra and Mi’raj celebration as well, right when we Muslim must do the five time pray a day. In several countries Isra and Mi’raj resound in each every year. As far as I know, our beloved prophet, Muhammad SAW, didn’t have holy tradition regarding his journey to Sidrat AlMuntaha (cmiiw)?

    • Assalamo Alaikom brother!

      I do agree with Paul to this extent that he’s living in a Europe country and he has to attend those function for social purposes. It’s not bad to attend the functions of even the non-Muslims but the thing I disagree with is the 25th December as a birth of Prophet Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon them).
      If a person is called to function, there’s no harm in attending it but if you go yourself and greet them the thing which is not true in itself, what it’s like? It’s just like wishing Pakistanis Independence Day (14th August) on 23rd March (which is Pakistan Day but not Independence Day). Christmas was a pagan function, related to sun, which was associated to the birth of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) in the time of Constantinople. If you read Bible, when he was born, shepherds were out (at night) with their sheep. Can you ever imagine a shepherd going out with his sheep in winter nights? I don’t guess so. And well, December is not like Ramadan which comes in winters as well as summers.

      I hope you can understand my point.

    • Alaykum as-salam,

      Every bid’ah is forbidden but every change is not bid’ah. Bid’ah is change which alters the commanded elements of religion to something other than what was commanded by Allah (swt), however the term is often confused with bad’a which is change within Creation and Mankind’s understanding in obedience with what is known of the Divne Decree.

      • If every bid’ah is forbidden, the first who started bid’ah is Hazrat Umar (RA). Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Haidth # 1900. Mishkaat, volume 1, Hadith # 1274. Mauta of Imam Malik, volume 1, Hadith # 229.

        Malik related to me from Ibn Shihab from Urwa ibn az-Zubayr that Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abd al-Qari said, “I went out with Umar ibn alKhattab in Ramadan to the mosque and the people there were spread out in groups. Some men were praying by themselves, whilst others were praying in small groups. Umar said, ‘By Allah! It would be better in my opinion if these people gathered behind one reciter.’ So he gathered them behind Ubayy ibn Kab. Then I went out with him another night and the people were praying behind their Qur’an reciter. Umar said, (نعمت البدعة هذه) ‘How excellent this new way is, but what you miss while you are asleep is better than what you watch in prayer.’ He meant the end of the night, and people used to watch the beginning of the night in prayer.”

  3. Talking about whether it is harmful ot not, i think yes. If we are sure about the rightness of our religion ang faith, we shall not wish merry christmas or other religion celebrations, because when we wish it, it can meant that we agree our brothers (non moslems) join their religions. We shall help them to be moslems. Letting people do somehing that we think it false is wrong.
    If we want to make a good relationship wih them, we can do it in other aspects but not religion and faith. So many other things we can share with them.
    Sorry for my bad english and if any mistakes in my comment.

    • Salaam alaikum. Thank you for your comment. While you are of course most entitled to your personal opinion, to decree something ‘haram’ we need clear, relevant and substantial evidences from the Holy Qur’an and authenticated Sunnah. If we think something is false, it’s also a good idea analyse why we think this… 🙂

    • I am a Christian. I do much of my shopping at a halal grocery store. I make a point of wishing the owners best wishes on Muslim holy days, and they do the same with me on Christian holy days. (I am one of their very few non-Muslim customers.)

      It is not a matter of either of us trying to ‘convert’ the other. Instead, it is a matter of respecting the beliefs that each of us hold dear. One of the things many Muslims, Jews and, yes, Christians frequently overlook is that we worship the same God. We worship differently, of course, and have different beliefs about many things, but that should never deter us from recognizing and respecting each other as children of the God of Abraham. If we weren’t so quick to forget or ignore this relationship the world could be a very different place.

      • Excellent comment George. I feel you represent the common sense approach very well. I agree with you totally and hope you and yours have had a great Christmas and a happy new year.

        Take care

        Anis

      • i totally agree!!! I am a muslim and i dont understand why muslims are so scared of other religions. Are we not suppose to respect each other and live in peace..how do you pass knowledge of islam if you cannot get the respect of the non-muslims? I believe you should mingle with non-muslims and while with them stay true to islam by not doing haram stuff and at the same time stay respectful towards them and be a role model muslim, which will eventually make them respect you and wanna learn more about islam. All these silly negativity and wrong understanding of islam around the world is just not rite!!! And sadly who are to blame?

      • Somebody talked about a ‘fear’ within the religious community which leads to them rejecting Christmas and the established festivals of other religions.

        Much of this fear stems from the insularity within the immigrant Muslim communities who have reacted to a culture that they did not understand and could not get to grips with.

        The parents have instilled a fear within the children that if they mix they will become lost and the ‘scholars’ play to this fear because they too have had the same upbringing. This fear of ‘others’ or ‘English’ people and ways is then confused with being religious but in fact it is the furtive spread of isolation within the community. These individuals are often fed the vision of a perfect Muslim community which is unattainable because it is unrealistic as the world is just so diverse now. Such people then feel more and more isolated as they see everybody else being able to get on in life and mingle with others comfortably.

        The issue comes to a head when such insular individuals visit the countries that their families came from and they find that people there are often more Western than they had expected. They then feel even more isolated than ever. This is the start of an identity crisis and it often leads one to turn to more radical ways of thinking until somebody gets involved in some extremist type group (rather not mentions names here).

        People need to be taught from birth that if they live in England, then England is home for them – period. Islam needs to be home grown for us in England…the Queen is our monarch and the British parliament represents us and Christianity, and even secularism, is part and parcel of our identity here.

      • After all of that I know that you meant to put a question in there sweoehmre, so here’s an answer, there’s only one GOD and HE say that we should have no other gods before HIM, not that there is another real god to serve but there is a thing called making things with no life a god like an idol, money, jewels, gold, silver, cars and so on. Even though satan has bought all these diffrent religions into the world there still remains only one way to the FATHER.just sayin

    • The bottom line is that Christmas is SHIRK! Allah warns us against it throughout the Quran and Muhammad warns us against it in his Sunnah. This is CLEARLY established by Allah and His Messenger (PBUH). How much more evidence do you need? It doesn’t get more common sense than this.

      • I guess next you’ll say it’s Ok for Muslims to attend church services on sundays in the name of respect for other people’s religion. Muslims shouldn’t compromise their deen in the name of respect. There is nothing disrespectful about telling a Christian that I don’t celebrate christmas when they say, “Merry Christmas!”

  4. Hi Paul

    We seem to be missing common sense within the scholarly class and there appears to be a gap where humanist values ought to be. It scares me how devoid of love and compassion some of them must be.

    The path to change within the scholarly circles is riddled with other obstacles like egos and power positions aswell as personal ambition. I think it will take some time but inshallah we have the Creator on our side.

    Peace

    Anis

  5. I have been watching so many people discussing this topic and getting perhaps even aggravated with the fact that saying Merry Christmas is not acceptable because of the goodness some of the non-muslims have shown them and they feel obliged to make these people happy by wishing them Christmas and or having xmas dinner. No problem, I understand completely… but then I ask myself What about our Lord? Has He not been kind to us or shown us His mercy? Does He not wake us up every morning, still having our limbs intact, our eye sight, hearing, and speech…seriously think about it!

    So how is it that we feel obliged towards a neighbour, colleague or a friend because they have been kind and nice to us… What about our Lord? What about The Al Mighty Allah swt? Our Creator?

    Is it Halal or Haram… well did Rasul Allah (saww) used to go round wishing all the Christian neighbours Merry Christmas and sat with them having Christmas dinner celebrating?

    You talk about following Sunnah than its best to analyse what sunnah suggests.

    Anas Ibn Maalik said: “Rasul Allah (saww) came (to Madinah) and they had two days in which they would (relax and) play’. He said, “What are these two days?” They said, ‘We used to play (on these two days) during the Jahiliyah.’ Rasul Allah (saww) said: “Allah has given you something better instead of them: Yawm al-Duhaa (Eid al-Adha) and Yawm al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr).” (Abu Dawood).

    Sheikh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah explained the above hadith beautifully in Majmoo’ah Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 3/369, that the above hadith indicates clearly that Rasul Allah definitely forbade his ummah to celebrate the festivals of the Kufar & he strove to wipe them out by all possible means. The fact that the religion of the People of the Book is accepted does not mean that their festivals are also tolerable or should be preserved by the Muslim nation, just as the rest of their Kufr and sins are not approved of! Indeed, Rasul Allah went to great lengths to command his Muslim nation to be different from them in many issues that are mubaah (permitted) and in many ways of worship, lest that lead them to be like them in other matters too. This being different was to be a barrier in all aspects, because the more different you are from the people of Hell, the less likely you are to do the acts of the people of Hell.

    The first of them is the hadith, “Every people has its festival, and this is our festival” implies exclusivity, that every people has its own festival, as Allah says (which means): “For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers)…” (Al-Baqarah:148) and “… To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way…” (Al-Maa’idah:48). This implies that each nation has its own ways. The laam in li-kulli (“for every”, “to each”) implies exclusivity.

    So if the Jews have a festival and the Christians have a festival, it is just for them, and we should not have any part in it, just as we do not share their qiblah (direction of prayer) or their laws.

    Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said in Ahkaam Ahl ath-Thimmah: ‘Congratulating the Kufar on the rituals that belong only to them is Haram by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from Kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on. Many of those who have no respect for their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or bid’ah or Kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allah’.

    It is the saying of our Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, in the Noble Quran, “And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the Believers …” [Nisaa 4:115] “… and follows other than the way of the Believers …” our Lord, did not limit in this ayah–and if He did, it would still have been true [i.e., whatever He says is true]–He didn’t [limit Himself] by saying, “And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him we shall keep him in the path he has chosen.”
    Rather He said out of perfect and extensive wisdom which is what we are in the process of explaining and clarifying right now, He said, “… and follows other than the way of the Believers …” [He said], “And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the Believers we shall keep him in the path he has chosen and burn him in Hell–and evil it is as a destination.”

    So when the one who contradicts and opposes the Messenger and follows other than the way of the Believers has been threatened with the Fire, then the converse is also true: that whoever does follow the Messenger and the path of the Believers has been promised Paradise without any doubt or uncertainty.

    Allah swt said,” This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” (Al-Maa’idah: 3).

    These festivals are innovations in their religions, and even those, which may have been prescribed formerly, have been abrogated by the religion of Islam, with which Allah sent Rasul Allah (SAWW) to the whole of mankind. Allah says,”Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers” (Aal ‘Imran: 85).

    Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the Kufar by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because Rasul Allah SAWW said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3512; classed as sahih by al-Albani

    O’ you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliyaa’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Awliyaa’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Awliyaa’), then surely, he is one of them… “[al-Maa’idah 5:51]

    Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said, ‘Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak.’

    One must consider that you might have knowledge of your deen but what about your children? if, Allah forbid something happens to you and your children are left behind… they will remember celebrating xmas and other non-Muslim festivities which in turn can lead them astray as they never had anyone teach them the correct concepts in the first place.

    Indeed Allah knows best.

    • Thank you for your comments. No one is disputing our obligation to our Creator, Allah subhana wa ta’ala. However, we should not forget that there is a general principle in Islam, that anything that is not expressly forbidden is in various degrees permissible…

      As I see it, there are four main questions we need to answer:

      1. Is the greeting, ‘Merry Christmas’ haram?

      2. Is giving a greeting like, ‘Merry Christmas’ a declaration of faith that is incompatible with Islam.

      3. Is the actual Christmas festival haram?

      4. Can we draw up fatwas (edicts) decreeing things haram without clear irrefutable evidences.

      To deal with these questions fully, would require more time and room than we have available in this thread. However, I will respond as best as I can given these limitations.

      1. ‘Merry Christmas’ is a greeting, wishing people, peace, joy and goodwill at the time of Christmas. Since when has wishing people peace, joy and goodwill at any time been haram? Indeed, Allah subhana wa ta’ala tells us in the Holy Qur’an that when greeted with a greeting of peace, we should answer with an even better greeting, or at least it’s equivalent…

      “But when you are greeted with a greeting [of peace], answer with an even better greeting, or [at least] with the like thereof. Verily, God keeps count indeed of all things.”
      – Holy Qur’an 4:86 (M. Asad)

      2. There is nothing in the greeting itself that could be understood to be a declaration of faith. ‘Merry’ is wishing joy and goodwill; ‘Christmas’ is the name of a festival.

      3. In order for us to prove that Christmas is haram, we need clear references from the Holy Qur’an and authenticated Sunnah that irrefutably prove Christmas is haram. As Christmas celebrated in the form we are discussing here is a pan-European festival, that has since spread around the world, then obviously Prophet Muhammad, didn’t put up a Christmas tree and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. But then, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never used to drive a car, fly in aeroplanes or shop in the supermarket either! Just because Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never did something is not proof that the said thing is haram. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never did many things that people do today!

      There is some debate (which I don’t want to get into now) over whether Ahl-Al-Kitab (People of the Book – Jews and Christians) are believers, albeit with a different religion or kafirs (rejector of truth). However, the Holy Qur’an clearly indicates that there are good and bad people in every community, religious or otherwise.

      Aside from whether people were Christians, Jews or Muslims, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also discussed different nations, such as the Romans, Persians and Abyssinians. We should bear this in mind when discussing hadith, as it has implications with regards to what could have been meant by, “Every people has it’s festival, and this is our festival”. The early peoples who embraced Islam, such as the Persians didn’t abandon every festival they celebrated before Islam, and even today, still celebrate Nowruz.

      Ibn al-Qayyim was a medieval jurist, and a position he adopted with regard to rituals of the ‘kufar’ is not necessarily binding upon us, especially when many consider Jews and Christians to be in the category of Ahl Al Kitab rather than ‘kufar’. Rather, we should be making copious and relevant references to the Holy Qur’an and authenticated Sunnah.

      After all, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, did say in his famous last sermon, “All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”

      “But as for him who, after guidance has been vouchsafed to him, cuts himself off from the Apostle and follows a path other than that of the believers – him shall We leave unto that which he himself has chosen, and shall cause him to endure hell: and how evil a journey’s end!”
      – Holy Qur’an 4:115 (M. Asad)

      The latter argument “…and follows a path other than that of the believers…” is still tied firmly to the point about contending with, or cutting oneself off from Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. These few words certainly cannot be read and understood in isolation…

      Regarding your statement about “…festivals being innovations in their religions…” this is somewhat besides the point. The European celebrations held annually on 25th December that we now refer to most usually as ‘Christmas’ are pre-Christian in origin, and were originally the pan-European Winter Solstice celebration, to cheer everyone up living in these northern latitudes during what is (quite literally) the darkest part of the year, when the days are shortest and the nights are longest. These celebrations were so popular that the early Roman Church moved it’s religious services celebrating the birth of Jesus, peace be upon him, to this time in order to promote their own religion and cement it’s hold on the people. However, the festival lived on and for most people living in Europe and America today, it is still the midwinter festival to cheer everyone up during our dark winters – something that those who have never lived in these regions may not fully understand…

      Hence, what is commonly referred to as ‘Christmas’ is as much a cultural festival as a religious one. In many respects, this is a similar situation to the Persian and Kurdish festival of Nowruz that likewise lives on and is celebrated by countless Muslims living in the Middle East to this very day.

      Tirmidhi also transmitted the hadith about imitating people, but regarded its isnad as weak…. Regarding verse 5:51, a more accurate translation is:

      “O you who believe! Do not take Jews and Christians as your patrons/guardians (awliya). They are patrons/guardians of their own people. He among you who will turn to them for patronage is one of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust.”

      In general, responsible Jews sponsor other Jews and responsible Christians try look after the needs of other Christians, so why shouldn’t Muslims take responsibility for other Muslims and support people of their own faith? This verse is not telling us to be against Jews or Christians, but it is telling us that we should be more responsible and take care of the needs of people within our own faith community and we must support each other. The verse is primarily encouraging Muslims to establish internal support networks and philanthropy within the Muslim community than about friendship.

      A little further on in surah 5, verse 57 clarifies the point about friendship:

      “O you who have attained to faith! Do not take for your friends such as mock at your faith and make a jest of it – be they from among those who have been vouchsafed revelation before your time, or [from among] those who deny the truth [of revelation as such] – but remain conscious of God, if you are [truly] believers”

      Which I’m sure is something most people would understand, irrespective of their faith. There is really no point hanging around anyone who just wants to poke fun at you, your beliefs and in so doing, your very integrity. Of what benefit would that be?

      In verse 69 of the same surah, the Holy Qur’an states:

      “Verily, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Sabians, and the Christians – all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds – no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.”

      Which is surely one of the most pluralistic verses found in any holy scripture, effectively implying that anyone who sincerely believes in God and lives their life in a good way, trying to help others along the way and contribute to making the world a better place, God will accept them.

      Thus, we can rule out this verse in Surah Maida as having anything to do with Christmas or taking Christians as personal friends. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, we would see that this concern regarding Christmas really has little to do with tawheed. How does wishing someone peace, joy and goodwill compromise one’s belief in the pure tawheed of Allah subhana wa ta’ala?

      Personally, I think the real issue is that many Muslims are scared of integrating with people of other faiths, agnostics and even atheists. Yet, if we think like that, how is that at all beneficial to us or to our faith? Consider the classic example of the Amish, if you don’t see what I’m getting at…

      As my good friend Sheikh Abu Muntasir mentioned in another thread, “I have heard living in this world can be intoxicating and breathing fresh air in some ways can make one heady – quick, someone – is there a ‘scholar’ who says it is better for a Muslim to live in a capsule in deep space than in this world breathing fresh air?”

      4. Clearly, we can’t be drawing up fatwas declaring anything haram without suitable evidences. Else, where would it stop? If we go down that path, we would just end up tying ourselves up in knots and would be unable to live normal lives or be anything like productive at all!

      • Merry’ is wishing joy and goodwill; ‘Christmas’ is the name of a festival. — that’s it..

  6. When you are wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’, without you realize, you are agreeing that God has a son and he (the Son of God) was born on 25th December. Astagfirullah Al Azim..

    Saying God has a children is a Shirk (the greatest sin in Islam), as Allah says in the Qur’an:”Allah begets not, nor was He begotten”[Quran, 112: 3]

    “We are Muslims. If we do not even celebrate the birth date of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) then how can we celebrate the so-called birth date of Jesus (peace be upon him)? If you do this you’re abandoning your Muslim identity. Why do you pretend to celebrate a religion that is not yours? Brothers and Sisters, I wanted to inform you that this is prohibited, shameful and inappropiate and ignorance of what Islam obliges us to do about this.”

    “How do we even know that the 25th December was his birth date? Doesnt make sense. How will there be shepherds and sheeps visiting him, when he was born in the middle of winter? 25th December was actually the named birth date of the Sun God in the Pagan Religion. You can’t even say Merry Christmas to another, as it means you accept and congratulate a Non-Muslim for doing something that is Haram. You wouldn’t congratulate someone on murdering someone, drinking alcohol or commiting adultery? Then why congratulate them in commiting a Shirk. It is a sin even to say Merry Christmas to another, let alone celebrate it with them.”

    • 1). How so? ‘Merry Christmas’ is a greeting, not a declaration of faith.

      2). Who is disputing that Allah doesn’t beget children? Indeed, I never believed in this doctrine, even long before I embraced Islam! The quote is irrelevant to the topic as the ayat doesn’t state Christmas (or any other festival) is haraam. We shouldn’t mistake theological disputes with greetings of peace and goodwill.

      3). Actually, many Muslims do celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, peace be upon him, and they are probably in the majority – thus, have ijma on their side…

      4). “Why do you pretend to celebrate a religion that is not yours?” – for me personally, what is commonly referred to as ‘Christmas’ or less commonly as the ‘Winter Solstice’ is part of my ancestral culture (note: not religion), as is true of all European peoples and their descendants elsewhere.

      5). This is besides the point, the European celebrations held annually on 25th December that we now refer to most usually as ‘Christmas’ are pre-Christian in origin, and were originally the pan-European Winter Solstice celebration, to cheer everyone up living in these northern latitudes during what is (quite literally) the darkest part of the year, when the days are shortest and the nights are longest. These celebrations were so popular that the early Roman Church moved it’s religious services celebrating the birth of Jesus, peace be upon him, to this time in order to promote their own religion and cement it’s hold on the people. However, the festival lived on and for most people living in Europe and America today, it is still the midwinter festival to cheer everyone up during our dark winters – something that those who have never lived in these regions may not fully understand… Hence, what is commonly referred to as ‘Christmas’ is as much a cultural festival as a religious one. In many respects, this is a similar situation to the Persian and Kurdish festival of Nowruz that likewise lives on and is celebrated by countless Muslims living in the Middle East to this very day.

      6). Mr Naik should be ashamed of himself after the way he addressed this young man’s question. But then, this is sadly no exception… How can he compare something that is clearly haraam (i.e. alcohol) with Christmas? Mr Naik is confusing things and saying Christmas is wrong according to what, Qur’an, ahadith, the Sira? No, he said, “according to me”! I’m rather shocked that a Muslim preacher with so much international recognition, used himself as the main reference for why Christmas is haraam! Who does he think he is? A prophet? Audhubillah!

  7. Asalamualaikum Wr.Wb….

    Dear Mr. Paul i want to share a my friend note…i hope it can make u realize…About Christmas is Haram

    Islamic Tolerance for December 25
    Christmas celebration is definitely not For the Muslims, and Muslims should not be concerned with it. But clearly something to do with Muslims than we remember most are also in touch with our neighbors who celebrate it. Therefore becomes important to us to discuss how the Islamic view of Christmas and around him and our tolerance in them.

    As we know, December 25th is not the day of the birth of Jesus the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Although the Catholic Church think so.

    Encyclopedia Britannica (1946), explains, “Christmas is not the beginning of the ceremonies of the church. Jesus Christ or his apostles never celebration it , and the Bible (the Bible) also never advise it. The ceremony is taken by the church of heathen beliefs. ”

    In science, proved December 25 is the first time the sun moves to the north and warm after the sun is at its lowest point in the south at 22 to 24 December (winter solstice) is causing the earth is at the coldest point.

    That’s why early Greeks celebrated the birth of the god Mithras on December 25, and the Latins celebrated the same day as the rebirth of Sol Invictus (sun god anyway)

    In short, if the birth of Jesus unexpectedly December 25, then it is a real Error

    However, that does not matter. The problem is that Christians have been made on 25 not only as a warning, but the celebration of the birth of ‘Jesus’ for them. So the problem turns into aqeedah issues.

    That is why in Islam, we were forbidden to celebrate Christmas bandwagon, because it is a celebration of aqeedah. Including help provide a ‘safe Christmas’ or just saying ‘congratulations’ alone. Because we might as well admit that Christmas is the birthday of ‘Lord Jesus’ for them

    Surely disbelievers those who say: “Behold, God is one of three”, but occasionally there is no god other than the one God. If they do not stop what they said was, certainly those who disbelieve among them a painful torment will be overwritten (al-Maaidah [5]: 73) (Translation Arabic=> Indonesia=> English)

    al-Maaidah [5]: 73)
    ABDLH.YUSUF ALI: They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.
    MUHD M.W.PICKTHALL: They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no Allah save the One Allah. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve.
    M.H.SHAKIR: Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah is the third (person) of the three; and there is no god but the one Allah, and if they desist not from what they say, a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve.

    Often we have reasoned to Say it, “But it is not appropriate/not decent if not say it , because he’s my boss / friend / etc, if i say it and not by heart and deny it is Okay ?? The important is the intention! please Have Tolerance !”

    Need we say, whatever intentions we have, if we do that, then the same law. And tolerance is not a celebration following the aqeedah other people. Therefore we should fear God more than to men.

    Have no fear of man, (but) fear Me. And do not exchange My verses with a little price. Whoever does not judge by what Allah hath revealed, they are the ones who disbelieve (al-Maaidah [5]: 44)

    (al-Maaidah [5]: 44)
    ABDLH.YUSUF ALI: It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah’s will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers.
    MUHD M.W.PICKTHALL: Lo! We did reveal the Torah, wherein is guidance and a light, by which the prophets who surrendered (unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of Allah’s Scripture as they were bidden to observe, and thereunto were they witnesses. So fear not mankind, but fear Me. And My revelations for a little gain. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers.
    M.H.SHAKIR: Surely We revealed the Taurat in which was guidance and light; with it the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged (matters) for those who were Jews, and the masters of Divine knowledge and the doctors, because they were required to guard (part) of the Book of Allah, and they were witnesses thereof; therefore fear not the people and fear Me, and do not take a small price for My communications; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unbelievers.

    Then how tolerant Islam to other religions? Tolerance we just let them do what they believe without us alone. That is our tolerance.

    For you your religion, and to me, my religion (al-Kaafiruun [109]: 6)

    (al-Kaafiruun [109]: 6)
    YUSUFALI: To you be your Way, and to me mine.
    PICKTHAL: Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.
    SHAKIR: You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.

    Tolerance instead went along with the excessive and instead get caught up in disbelief. As Muslims we should convey that the celebration of this kind is wrong. And even if tolerance does not mean sacrificing our belief, let us remember the message the Prophet

    “It will follow you (and mimic) traditional peoples before you like a feather arrows that are similar to other feather arrows, until even if they enter the burrow lizard ye would enter into it anyway”. Some companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah, Are they Jews and the Christians?” He replied: “Who else (if not them)?” (Bukhari and Muslim)

    And finally once again we are reminded that is unlawful/Haram in Islam following the Christmas celebrations, is also included to say ‘Merry Christmas / Happy Christmas ‘ . Hopefully God lead us and them to right aqeedah and Iman,

    By :Felix Siauw

    follow me on twitter @ felixsiauw

    Our Message ->
    CHRISTMAS and New Year Message for Muslims :
    Do not measure “TOLERANCE” with feeling and reason, but the measure with Tawheed and Aqeedah, simply say:
    In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
    -Say: “O the people of infidels.
    -I will not worship what you worship.
    -And you’re not a worshiper of God that I worship.
    -And I was never a worship what you worship.
    -And you do not have (also) be a worshiper of God that I worship.
    -Love your religion, and to me, my religion “.
    (Al-Kaafiruun) …:

    109.001
    YUSUFALI: Say : O ye that reject Faith!
    PICKTHAL: Say: O disbelievers!
    SHAKIR: Say: O unbelievers!

    109.002
    YUSUFALI: I worship not that which ye worship,
    PICKTHAL: I worship not that which ye worship;
    SHAKIR: I do not serve that which you serve,

    109. Al-Kafirun

    109.003
    YUSUFALI: Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
    PICKTHAL: Nor worship ye that which I worship.
    SHAKIR: Nor do you serve Him Whom I serve:

    109.004
    YUSUFALI: And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
    PICKTHAL: And I shall not worship that which ye worship.
    SHAKIR: Nor am I going to serve that which you serve,

    109.005
    YUSUFALI: Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
    PICKTHAL: Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
    SHAKIR: Nor are you going to serve Him Whom I serve:

    109.006
    YUSUFALI: To you be your Way, and to me mine.
    PICKTHAL: Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.
    SHAKIR: You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion.

    Walaikum salam…..i hope this note can make u understand ” Celebrating Christmas, or another religious day of celebration it Haram”

    Thanks You Sir 😀

    • Wa alaikum as salaam, Rachmat.

      Thank you for your comments, although with such a beautiful name, I’m surprised at your whole approach to this issue…

      In order for us to prove that Christmas is haram, we need clear references from the Holy Qur’an and authenticated Sunnah that irrefutably prove Christmas is haram. As Christmas (celebrated in the form we are discussing here) is a pan-European festival, that has since spread around the world, then obviously Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, didn’t put up a Christmas tree and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. But then, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never used to drive a car, fly in aeroplanes or shop in the supermarket either! Just because Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never did something is not proof that the said thing is haram. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never did many things that people do today!

      We know that 25th December is not the date of Jesus birth, however, that is really not the point… Haven’t you heard the saying that everything boils down to a person’s intentions?

      Not only for the Ancient Greeks, but the European celebrations held annually on 25th December that we now refer to most usually as ‘Christmas’ were originally the pan-European Winter Solstice celebration, to cheer everyone up living in these northern latitudes during what is (quite literally) the darkest part of the year, when the days are shortest and the nights are longest. Indeed, due to the very fact that these are the shortest days of the year, many religious and cultural festivals were held all over the world with various different cultural and religious reasons.

      The Winter Solstice celebrations in Europe were so popular that the early Roman Church moved it’s religious services celebrating the birth of Jesus, peace be upon him, to this time in order to promote their own religion and cement it’s hold on the people. However, the festival lived on and for most people living in Europe and America today, it is still the midwinter festival to cheer everyone up during our dark winters – something that those who have never lived in these regions may not fully understand…

      Hence, what is commonly referred to as ‘Christmas’ is as much a cultural festival as a religious one. In many respects, this is a similar situation to the Persian and Kurdish festival of Nowruz, that likewise lives on and is celebrated by countless Muslims living in the Middle East to this very day.

      None of the verses you have cited in the Holy Qur’an say anything about Christmas, rather they are discussing the nature of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, and refuting certain doctrines some (certainly not all) Christians believe about him. Whether Christmas is halal or haram is not a matter of aqeedah or theology, making out this is simply to smokescreen people from the truth!

      Following mullahs as if they were medieval Catholic priests is a far more worrying development than celebrating Christmas! Yet, people seem to quote these hadith when in suits them without fully recognising their wider implications…

      I certainly don’t worship Jesus, peace be upon him, nor do I worship the sun! Like prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, I’ve long recognised that nothing in the creation is worthy of worship. However, we need to recognise the difference between acts of worship and aspects of culture, they are not the same thing.

      • How can you compare putting up a christmas tree to driving a car?

        One is a religious activity and is grounded in shirk and the other is nothing to do with religion.

  8. Salaam Paul,

    We’ve been given the ability to gain knowledge and the faculty of reasoning. The Qur’an and Sunnah don’t mention TV, and TV itself isn’t unlawful, but we know that sadly the content often is. We should not ban TV but learn how to use it and replace the content with something that is lawful. This doesn’t have to be any less entertaining or inventive. Just look at the Islamic Golden Age during which Ibn al-Haytham invented the first camera in Basra, in the 10th century. He’s the one who wrote ‘Kitab al-Manazir’ (Book of Optics), an incredible piece of work, centuries ahead of its time and so influential on Western Science. We’re not the pioneers anymore of technology but we seemed to be more interested in banning rather than mastering and using technology in lawful ways. Not everything fits into this category, of course. The beauty of this God Almighty given ability to reason is why Islam will always be relevant and up to date from now until the end of time. Something doesn’t have to be mentioned explicitly as unlawful for it to be unlawful (please correct me if my understanding is wrong).

    The origins of Christmas, as some have highlighted, are extremely worrying to say the least. This whole period from Christmas to New Year, the symbols, activities are for me a point of concern. I certainly would never have a special meal on this or make any kind of effort to do so. The 25th of December has come and gone as just another day for me, as will the whole of this period. Whether the connotations are secular or religious, the warning bells do ring during this time. I don’t particularly admire the Church for moving its day to the 25th of December in order to appease the non-believers by getting them to hopefully take-up their religion. That close acquaintance has damaged their day. I just read an article by a Christian who explains in great detail why saying “Merry Christmas” is “heinously blasphemous” and how “Satan has done quite a job of getting millions of so-called “Christians” to blaspheme”…

    We are warned in Islam to be careful of the small things, and we can see the wisdom in this, as small things can grow into big things. If there are those that perhaps think there is doubt in the matter, then we’re also encouraged to stay away from doubt. We’re so fortunate that we have two of the most beautiful festivals in ‘Eid ul-Fitr’ and ‘Eid ul-Adha’. These are the only two festivals I look forward to. My children have been brought up to look forward to Eid and we make it extremely special for them. They have no interest in Christmas. But we do live here, in the UK, and so how do we handle it?

    I’ve never really wished anyone a “Merry or Happy Christmas” whether they are a believing Christian or not. If someone says it to me, I tend to smile back to acknowledge them but not say anything. Depending on the environment, since it’s a holiday time for most, I tend to wish them well for their holiday which is something I would say for anyone that has time off at any time of the year. I have a problem with both the religious aspects and the non-religious aspects of Christmas which is why I stay away. It’s based on a deep feeling that something just isn’t right. It’s not Islamic to be rude or insensitive so I don’t ignore what someone says but I try to respond in the best way I can. But I certainly won’t volunteer the words “Merry or Happy Christmas”. It’s just what I feel deep down really and I try to reason the best I can. May God Almighty guide us all to what is best.

    Wasalaam

    Mohammed

    PS. I thought you might be interested in this: http://vimeo.com/21986025

  9. Been reading (most of) the replies and comments above. Something is obvious – some of us are so paranoid about things that have been indoctrinated into our brains (rightly or wrongly) that we behave in a defensive and insecure manner – in short, we are afraid of our own shadow. Thank heavens for sensible folks like Paul S Armstrong and George (who goes to the Muslim grocery shop, above)!! I am a Muslim in a multi-cultural society. I make it a point to wish people of every religion or belief system on their festivities (be it from monotheistic religions or others). I fail to see how this may make me any less of a musim. Please learn to differentiate social customs from religious issues. Big mistake many of us seem to be making. Salams to all and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2012 (err unless you don’t recognise the Gregorian calendar and only follow the lunar calendar, in which case I am about one month late to wish you HAPPY MUHARRAM!) ❤

  10. much needed break from the usual “westophobia” of muslim preachers (esp eastern),

    “the festival lived on and for most people living in Europe and America today, it is still the midwinter festival to cheer everyone up during our dark winters – something that those who have never lived in these regions may not fully understand… Hence, what is commonly referred to as ‘Christmas’ is as much a cultural festival as a religious one. In many respects, this is a similar situation to the Persian and Kurdish festival of Nowruz that likewise lives on and is celebrated by countless Muslims living in the Middle East to this very day.”

    i loved this part the most, as it highlights an important fact about christmas being cultural rather than religious. infact you’d have to agree with me, as europe loses its christian character, the celebration becomes more and more cultural, and hence less ‘fatal’ to our declaration of faith, while mullahs wud make us believe otherwise.

    and i see people giving u a hard time, going around in a circular logic while u tell them to come up with anything at all supporting its prohibition, from quran and sunnah!.

  11. Yes its not mentioned in the Qur’an its just basic common sense that christmas is haraam even the greeting ‘merry christmas’ its a celebrational greeting for christians therefore is haraam i do not need to explain why as it has to do with prophet jesus (peace be upon him) being the son of god (astagfirullah). Anyways you do not have to say ‘Merry Christmas’ no one is forcing you to? while you can say is seasonal greetings or happy holidays these do not conflict with any issues at all but still a good enough greeting for the people celebrating christmas this way you are still getting along with them without insulting them etc.

    • Salaam alaikum Adbul. With all due respect, I think you’re missing the point… “Merry Christmas” is a greeting, not a declaration of faith! Besides, as regards greetings, Allah instructs us in the Holy Qur’an to return greetings of peace and goodwill! 🙂

      “But when you are greeted with a greeting [of peace], answer with an even better greeting, or [at least] with the like thereof. Verily, God keeps count indeed of all things.”
      – Holy Qur’an 4:86 (M. Asad)

      • Asalamualaikum Wr. Wb.

        I’ve been reading several comment. It’s like a two sided coin, several people friends will disagree about this, while the others mention their comment. I strongly agree with Abdul why say Merry Christmas while no one is forcing you to? Recited the Holy Quran you mentioned above:

        “But when you are greeted with a greeting [of peace], answer with an even better greeting, or [at least] with the like thereof. Verily, God keeps count indeed of all things.”
        – Holy Qur’an 4:86 (M. Asad)

        Isn’t it Assalamualaikum is the greatest greeting [of peace] in our daily life?

        Jazakumallah

      • Okay, so a person who understands no Arabic says, “Merry Christmas” to you and you reply with “As salam alaikum”. I agree of course that this is a beautiful greeting, but you may as well be speaking Chinese to them!

  12. Asalaamalakum,

    Lets keep it simple.

    “Merry Christmas” in other words be merry because you associate partners with Allah and you will be burning in hell fire for eternity due to this.

    How can a muslim say this? Christmas is a festival for shirk which is the biggest sin in islam and you congratulating them for doing so? And telling them to be merry about it?

    Would mohammad pbuh go to the pagans of mekka and congratulate them for their idol worship?

    I am a moderate educated muslim from the city of london not a crazy mullah. And i know the majority of muslims would never celebrate christmas but will do what mohammad pbuh did which is call the people our of their darkness and into the light.

    May Allah guide us all to the straight path.

    Ameen.

    • You are of course, entitled to your opinion. However, please be aware, it’s not legally binding upon others…

  13. “There is no harm in congratulating non-Muslims with whom you have a family relationship, or that are neighbours of yours. Regarding their festivals, however, do not participate in the rituals (tuqus) of Christians, or those in a similar religious category [i.e. non-Muslims].”
    – The Response, published by Al-Azhar University and El-Hatef El-Islami (The Islamic hotline) [page 52]
    http://www.euro-islam.info/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/the_response.pdf

    Pages 70-72 are well worth a read too, as they concern national holidays.

    • Please read pages 70-72 again.

      They talk about mothers day, birthday, national days ect

      There is nothing about christmas!

      In fact your mullahs summery is:

      To summarize: the celebration of any occasion is permitted, providing the
      underlying purpose is good, and the way in which people celebrate on this day
      remains within the boundaries of God’s law.

      1) “underlying purpose is good” – The underlying purpose of christmas is SHIRK!

      2) “the way in which people celebrate on this day remains within the boundaries of God’s law” – are you telling me idol worship and pagan rituals remains within the boundaries of gods law?

      Brother your own mullahs that you follow have concluded that practising or being apart of christmas is incorrect.

      • In reality, there are two main events happening at Christmas. One is the secular festival, a national holiday in much of Europe, North America and indeed many other countries. The underlying purpose of which, for the vast majority of people who mark this day, is to spend time with their family, celebrate family, have a rest and look forward to the new year; the other is the Christian religious services. But, even religious Christians who go to church worship the same God we do, albeit in their own distinctive way. How many actually pray to Jesus, peace be upon him, rather than God? I know some do, but by no means all of them and those that do tend to belong to the more fringe sects. The underlying purpose of the day for Christians, is to celebrate the birth of the person at the centre of their faith, a prophet to Muslims too, need I add… Whether they are doing this on the right day or not, is really besides the point, as all that matters in reality are their intentions.

      • There are some major issues with what you have wrote.

        You say the underlying purpose of the day of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of jesus. Yes he is a prophet of Muslims which you pointed out as if that makes it ok to celebrate Christmas.

        They are saying that Jesus is god / son of god are you ok with that?, is that something that you should be happy about?

        Well lets see what Allah says (surah mariam 88:93):
        They say: “(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!”
        Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous!
        At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin.
        That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious.
        For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.
        Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) Most Gracious as a servant.

        As you see it is such a heavy thing to say that Allah has a son. And look at the anger of Allah. What are you going to say on the day of judgement when Allah will ask you, why did you say merry Christmas when you knew they were celebrating saying Allah had a son.

        And the biggest mistake you said was “it matters on their intentions”. Who are you to judge intentions? Its nothing to do with intentions.

        The simple fact is they are participating in a celebration that says that gods son was born. You know how much that angers allah so why would you even think of congratulating them for their shirk? Even if they are atheist the reality of you saying merry Christmas you are keeping alive their tradition.

        Brother it is clear you are just making excuses just to please people and to please your own desires. But the reality is you are on a tight rope. I pray allah protects you inshallah.

        May Allah guide as all.

        Ameen

      • Salaam alaikum Haroon,

        “They are saying that Jesus is god / son of god are you ok with that?, is that something that you should be happy about?” – Obviously, if I agreed with these theological concepts, I would never have embraced Islam nearly 12 years ago…

        However, this is really missing the point, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, invited visiting groups of Christians to read their religious services in his mosque, and in the charter he drew up with a Christian delegation from St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, he called Christians his ‘allies’ and stated at the beginning of the charter, “This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.” Indeed, these could be seen as giving far greater endorsement to Christianity than either a festive greeting, or even sharing in the more cultural aspect of the festivities.

        “Who are you to judge intentions? Its nothing to do with intentions.” – Brother, everything is based upon intentions, one of the basic lessons from our Salah is this, do we not need to check our intentions beforehand? However, you are right, and indeed that was my point, we can’t go around judging the intentions of others! This is something purely between them and Allah subhana wa ta’ala.

        Is it really myself who is just following my desires in this matter? Allah knows best! I guess the deen could be seen as a ‘tight rope’, the middle way between all different types of extremes. May Allah guide us all in the best of ways.

        Wa Salaam.

  14. Yeah well seasonal greetings and happy holidays alternative to ‘merry christmas’ im sure they were created especially for christmas if not you can tell me off otherwise, anyways to the point well if its upto you to reply what you want i cant change that but if you actually say ‘merry christmas’ first then you can call it a declarational greeting, best just wait till they greet you first that way there will be no conflict in religious issues

  15. well this is interesting topic since I read your blog Mr. Paul 🙂
    Why bother to reply someone greetings if we did have faith to the right one. Seasonal greetings and happy holiday is enough don’t you think?
    I don’t really know if there is differences between Christian Christmas and Secular one.

    quoting from Abdul:
    “best just wait till they greet you first that way there will be no conflict in religious issues”

    Why bother to listen to the other who did not believe in Allah?

    To you be your Way, and to me mine (Al Kafiroon: 6) 🙂

  16. The author sets up a straw man when he argues that Muslims who disapprove of Christmas “label everything as haram…”; having issues with Christmas is not to label “everything” haram.

    It’s interesting that the author mentions pork as one of the few things the Quran does forbid, and suggests that it is simple common sense that it has been forbidden. Common sense? Really? Pork is eaten throughout the world with very little harm to health; the consumption of refined sugar and ghee in parts of the Muslim world probably does more harm than pork; should they be made haram as it seems “common sense” according to the author?

    Wisdom rather than “common sense” is the approach that a Muslim must take in their attitude towards everything in general, and Christmas here, in particular.

    Christmas is derived from the compound “christ-mass”: the celebration of the Eucharist, a fundamentally polytheistic idea; the Holy Communion is the celebration of Mass in which the participants partake of the body of Christ and his blood by eating the bread and drinking the wine.

    That is what Christmas is, simply put. That is what Christmas means to Christians – the Word becoming Flesh.

    Christmas is also a pagan celebration. It occurs very close to the winter solstice, which pagans celebrated and which the Romans adopted as their “Christmas” when they adopted Christianity as their religion.

    Whichever way you look at it, Christmas is fundamentally unIslamic, and so the answer to the question “Is Christmas Haram” is an unequivocal “yes, of course it is!”.

    The slightly different question “is it haram to wish someone a merry Christmas?” may have another answer, but the exercise of wisdom would suggest that Muslims should avoid this practice also.

    Many (if not most) people celebrate Christmas as a purely secular holiday; a time for families to get together and celebrate not so much the birth of Christ, but rather good will towards fellow Man and a chance to spend time with family. Islam certainly endorses and encourages these virtues, but does it follow that Muslims should adopt the holiday and take part? There are dangers here and we would do well to adopt the advice of the Prophet: “Leave that which makes you doubt”.

    There would be some who may argue that the Prophet “Islamised” the Jewish commemoration of Ashura (the liberation of Banu Israel from Egypt) when he fasted on that day. But Musa’s (as) victory over Pharaoh is one thing, the Word supposedly becoming Flesh quite another!

    Western culture is global today and the secularized Christmas, thanks to Hollywood, becoming ever more familiar and popular. The danger is that Muslims will adopt the holiday and celebrate it without thinking. It is not uncommon for Muslim parents to take their children to the “Winter Wonder Land”; it’s not unheard of for Muslim parents to take their toddler to Santa’s Grotto. As absurd as these things may seem, they do happen! It is so easy for a parent to say “What’s the harm?”, much the same way as the author asserts “Merry Christmas is a greeting, not a declaration of faith”. Following people into a lizard’s hole is not a declaration of faith either, but it was an error that the Prophet warned Muslims would fall into.

    Christmas has become so commercialized that even the non-Muslims are becoming fed up with its materialism. It’s a shame that Muslims can’t see this and are turning their Eids into Christmases – comparing their Eids to Christmas… “It feels like Christmas” said of Eid without any hint of irony or jest. Going to shops days before Eid or on Eid to find Muslims desperately looking for Eid presents; children leafing through catalogues choosing and demanding their eid gifts; these are hardly qualities that Islam expects. Non-Muslims are getting fed up with the commercialisation of their Christmas and Muslims are doing everything to ensure that Eid becomes more and more like Christmas every year! We are running down that lizard’s hole while the lizard has long left it because of the stench there!

    The author compares “Merry Christmas” to the greeting of Peace (Q4:84). If Christians have forgotten the meaning of Christmas, Muslims at least should not – it commemorates the “Word becoming Flesh” and is not a mere greeting of good will, although, no doubt, for Christians that day is a day of celebration and good will.

    We need to be careful about “adapting” customs to Islam. From admiring pious people to setting up memorials for them, to praying “through” them to worshipping them is not a difficult evolution to conceive. How is it that we cannot understand the dangers of “adopting” non and un-Islamic events. Just because Nowruz is celebrated in Iran does not make it right. There are parts of Indonesia where pantheistic and animistic rites are still practiced by “Muslims”. These rites may be considered harmless cultural expressions of a nation – but Islamic they are not; no more Islamic, no more acceptable within Islam and no more acceptable from Muslims as Christmas. Making Christmas a regular event that Muslims celebrate would be most unwise.

    All of the above does not mean that Muslims must recoil in horror when a non-Muslim celebrates Christmas. That is their right and it is their faith. And wisdom demands that those who convert to Islam should not be denied spending their Christmases with the rest of the family that has not accepted Islam. But for Muslims that have no connection with Christmas, to take part in that celebration is in effect to adopt that which is inherently unIslamic and that is wrong.

    Some Muslims are opportunistic in their celebration of Christmas. The argument goes: it’s a holiday, everyone is on leave; so where is the harm if the extended family uses it as an opportunity to get together over a meal?

    Of course there is no harm. But when it becomes a regular event (Eid: derived from ‘aad, to return, Eid is an event that returns every year) then we have indeed added another Eid – and which is more, one based upon pagan and polytheistic foundations. And Muslims must shun such things consciously and remind one another why they shun such things.

  17. Let’s put into context the visit of the Christians from Najra to see the Prophet (pbuh) and the purpose behind it:

    “The Delegation of Najran Christians

    No doubt the most important interaction between the Christians and the Prophet was the visit of the Najran delegation to Madina. Makka and Madina had a very small Christian population (Waraqa ibn Nawfal was one of them). The majority of Christian residents lived in Najran. The Prophet’s first important encounter with Christian clergies was in the 9th year of Hijra (AD 631), one or two years before his death.

    Prophet Muhammad had been sending official letters to different countries and their rulers, inviting them to Islam. Among these were two different invitations that had been sent to Najran with Khaled ibn al-Walid and Ali ibn Abi Talib. At that time the Najran Christians had a highly organized religious life. Before Islam, foreign teachers had even visited the town, such as the Italian priest Gregentius, which had deepen-ed their religious knowledge. Few of the Najran Christians converted to Islam; the majority of them did not change their religion after these invitations. Prophet Muhammad sent a representative to them, Mughira ibn Shu’ba, who was sent to explain the invitations and the religion of Islam. After discussions with Mughira, the Christians of Najran decided to send a group of people to visit the Prophet. The delegation was made up of about 60 well-educated Christians: A bishop, his scholars, and men. Their intention was to learn the nature of the revelations Prophet Muhammad was receiving.

    When the Najran delegation reached Madina, they debated with the Prophet in an investigatory dialogue for two or three days in the mosque (Masjid) of Madina. Prophet Muhammad allowed them to pray in the mosque (Masjid al-Nabawi) where the Muslims prayed. The whole incident was the first occurrence of peaceful dialogue between Christians and Muslims; it was the first time that Christians prayed in a mosque.

    Prophet Muhammad warmly welcomed the Najran delegation and provided them with a place to stay in Madina, in a secure place close to his mosque. He even ordered that their tent be pitched for them by the Muslims. However, the Najran delegation and Prophet Muhammad were not able to reach a solution in theological terms. At the end of these exchanges, the Najran Christians told the Prophet: “O, Abu al-Qasim, we decided to leave you as you are and you leave us as we are. But send with us a man who can adjudicate things on our properties, because we accept you.” The delegation was granted their request and a written assurance was provided by the Prophet that their lives, property, and religion would be protected. He made witnesses sign this undertaking. The Najran Christians were the first Christian community with whom the Prophet had a jizyah agreement. At the beginning of the meeting, they had disagreements with the Prophet about the concept of the Trinity, but later on they were able to make a social pact. This contract was an initial step that would lead to further developments.”

  18. Dear Paul, I did read your article and the comments. If I have understood correctly you are saying that because the celebration of Christmas is not specifically banned (ie haram) then there is nothing wrong in celebrating Christmas. Mike Ghouse in his article does not consider the haram route in his article at http://www.abetoday.com. Dr Zakir compares saying Merry Christmas with eating pork, drinking alcohol, going to church, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSdMesudyQ8. Does the Quran and the hadiths specifically state that eating pork, drinking alcohol, going to church is haram?
    Mike Ghouse at http://www.abetoday.comhttp://www.abetoday.com/2012/01/02/season-of-peace-as-a-muslim-i-celebrate-christmas-says-mike-ghouse/ – Mike justifies wishing Christmas on the basis that this is the season of peace.

    • Hi Susan. Dr Naik makes many unsubstantiated claims, as a consequence fatwas were even issued against following him, and these are from various unconnected groups of scholars, not only from one sect or school of thought. Yes, the Qur’an forbids the eating of pork and carrion (5:3, 6:145, 16:115). The consumption of wine and drunkenness are mentioned in the most disparaging of terms (2:219, 5:90-91), which is considered by most scholars as being a prohibition on the consumption of alcohol, especially if the intention is to get drunk. Alcohol itself is not forbidden in other contexts though, such as when it forms an essential component of a medicine or it’s use in cleaning products etc. But I have no idea what he’s on about with regards to merely attending a church, surely observing Christians at prayer or simply visiting a religious building cannot possibly be haram! Thus, my criticism that he wasn’t comparing like with like, therefore the comparisons he has made are not valid.

      • Mr Paul. I wld say only one thing 2u in in d broadest sense possible dat I can. Ur assertions n vindictive statements re read by millions. Beware of ur utterances and fear Allah most high. D sins or rewards u acquire thru ur speech is a cummulative sum of those whom u also inspire n practice wat u preach.
        The principle upon which u base ur arguments is fundamentally wrong and thus renders all ur subsequent arguements subject to suspicion n careful scrutiny.
        Allah says…in d qur’an there are some verses which are straight forward n decisive while there re others dat are allegorical n not so straightforward. Those who hv a disease in their hearts follow d allegorical verses n seek 2 interprete therei
        n dat whixh they hav no sure knwledge. However, those who bliv accept all n say it is all from our Lord.
        Be wise Mr. Paul Amstrong.

  19. This is exactly how I think Islam should be practiced. When I tell my friends and family that it’s okay to say merry Christmas, they look at me funny, but I didn’t see the haram in it, and I wanted to research it, and I did.

  20. I utterly fail to see why there is anything wrong at all in Muslims wishing Christians “Merry Christmas”, or even joining in certain of the festivities. People who argue that it is “shirk” to do so seem to have a very superstitious understanding of Islam, and I’m not sure if they understand what “shirk” is.

    BTW, and on a related topic, I also think there is a strong tendency to misread and misunderstand Quranic verses such as 5.73 discussed above. An informed understanding of Islamic and Christian theology, and what the Arabic of the Quran actually says, will reveal how the two Abrahamic monotheisms are much closer to each other than some of the more closed-minded Muslims and Christians allow.

  21. Salaam – the link provided (http://ali-gomaa.com/?page=scholary-output&so_details=180) refers to keeping family ties and that makes perfect sense. The question here is one of Muslims pro-actively wishing others a merry Christmas and that is a different issue. Sheikh Gomma is not suggesting that new Muslims can continue to wish their relatives merry christmas – as the verse that the sheikh quotes states clearly – don’t obey them in things that are not halal, but remain with them in kindness.

    I can be very kind and sociable with my non-Muslim neighbours – but I don’t need to wish them a merry christmas and they are mature enough to realise that I do not celebrate christmas and have no expectations from me to take part in their celebrations nor are they offended if I don’t send them a Christmas card.

    • Wa alaikum as salam, Khalid.

      Are we not picking at straws? Sheikh Ali Gomaa clearly states, “There is no legal impediment to participating in celebrating the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him).” While he was answering a particular query, he specifically emphasised that wishing people a “Merry Christmas” and joining in Christmas festivities are not haram.

      Anyone who doesn’t wish to join in, well that is entirely their prerogative, but they shouldn’t go around making out the halal is haram, when it clearly is not. Sheikh Ali Gomaa, and my own position on this, are no different to the official position of the scholars of Al-Azhar, which they published in a booklet called ‘The Response‘.

      The only thing forbidden with regards to the festivals of people of other religions, is actively taking part in their religious rituals – which specifically means the worship of ilaha other than Allah SWT, thus doesn’t really apply even to Ahl Al Kitab. Nor does this include greetings, decorations, secular customs, food (so long as it’s halal), talking to people, or even the observation of religious rituals (as opposed to actively taking part).

      I hope this clarifies any misconceptions you still may have.

      Ma salam.

  22. as-salaamu alaikum Paul,

    Thanks for the explanation but I’m not convinced.

    The link given certainly made no mention of Sheikh Goma validating the “Merry Christmas” greeting. If he has done so elsewhere I would have to disagree with him for many reasons. But let’s take the main point he makes (and which you also use to justify the validity of the issue being debated): that it celebrates the life of Prophet Jesus whom Muslims accept and honour.

    The idea that Christmas today is a celebration of the life of Prophet Jesus is fanciful to say the least! Christmas has more pagan origins than Christian. Christmas is an entirely secular celebration today. Many atheists celebrate it. It has more to do with Western culture than Christian celebration. Note that Orthodox Christian celebrate it in January. Note also that the most visible icons of Christmas (rein deer and sleigh bells; Santa and Christmas stockings; the Christmas tree and holly are nothing to do with the life of Jesus). Jesus is conspicuous only by his absence at Christmas.

    I wonder if Sheikh Goma is aware that 25 December was celebrated by the Romans as the day of the dead sun rising after the shortest day of the year (22 Dec)?

    Is he aware that the word Christmas is derived from the two words Christ and Mass? Christ being the Messiah (Jesus) and Mass being the celebration of the sacrificial DEATH of Jesus – so far removed from the celebration of the LIFE of Jesus. Christmas is, if anything, (from teh Christian perspective) a celebration of the sacrifice of Christ not his birth.

    Whichever way we look at it – be it a paganised and secularised celebration with Christian origins, or a Christian acceptance of the sacrificial death of Christ – it is not something that Muslims should be taking part in. And for these reasons I disagree with Sheikh Goma when he says “There is no legal impediment to participating in celebrating the birth of Jesus” when that celebration is done at a time that is filled with ambiguous origins.

    I agree with Sheikh Goma in the sense that a new Muslim should not be denied the chance to be with their family who may have a tradition of celebrating Christmas if being with the family at such a time is going to maintain the family ties. However I don’t see why Muslims who have no such bonds need to take part in such “celebrations”

    • Wa alaikum as salam, Khalid,

      I understand where you are coming from. Certainly, for many Muslims, especially those who do not have Christian family or Christian neighbours, Christmas is irrelevant. Thus, they may not even understand the point of my article or any statements by Sheikh Ali Gomaa or Al-Azhar University. Nevertheless, the fact that this advice doesn’t apply to them, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to those who have Christian family and/or European ancestry. No one is suggesting “Muslims who have no such bonds need to take part”, but those who do still find themselves in an awkward situation annually, one which they needn’t get so stressed about. The advice in my article and comments is specially meant for them, not for Muslims for whom this time of year has never posed such a dilemma.

      All the best.

  23. Salaam,

    It’s interesting to note that Christmas was banned under an Act of Parliament from around 1645 to 1660 under Cromwell but revoked by Charles II after Cromwell’s death:

    “Christmas was regarded by the Puritans as a wasteful festival that threatened core Christian beliefs… It’s no surprise that the daily celebrations often led to drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling and other forms of excess. Sixteenth and seventeenth century Puritans frowned on what they saw as a frenzy of disorder and disturbance. They argued that nowhere in the Bible had God called upon his people to celebrate the nativity in this manner.”

    One the one hand, Christmas has become a time of excess; on the other hand, it is about the birth of who Christians regard to the be the ‘son’ of God, or as one Pastor put it:

    “Here’s his Christmas story in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Oh what a great statement. That’s the Christmas story. The Word, the eternal one became the revealed one because He was the promised one and though He was the rejected one He is the saving one. It is that Word that eternal power and will and mind and wisdom of God who was made flesh…the infinite became finite, the invisible became visible, God became man, the powerful creative divine force that was the cause of everything has taken on human flesh.”

    Then if you add to that some of the symbols and practices adopted from other beliefs then, for me personally, there is no good basis to wish someone a “Happy Christmas”. For me, that’s akin to giving those things weight or endorsing them in someway. As one Scholar stated recently, when someone says it to him, he just says “thankyou” and no more. I may wish someone a good holiday but no more than that. I didn’t give people Christmas cards and when I used to receive them I thanked them – that’s just good manners.

    There is no reason to get into a panic over it. People need to have some confidence about themselves and their faith. In fact, it’s a good opportunity to engage with people about why you feel the way you do. I think one of the problems is that sometimes the manners are not there when responding and simply shutting the door isn’t the answer – it’s about responding in the best manner without compromising your Islam.

    Wasalaam

    Mohammed

    • Salam Mohammed,

      Thank you for your comments, you make some good points. I especially appreciate your emphasis on adab, manners and etiquette. If people do not wish to take part, there is no reason to get into a panic or to be rude to those engaging in the festivities. Indeed, to behave in such an appalling manner is clearly unislamic.

      Ma salam.

  24. Merry Christmas everyone…aaaargh! Peace be upon you…. I need to find peace after reading the whole thread…

  25. I wish you know what you’re talking about and I don’t know what kinda quran you read?
    Let me tell you something:
    Anyone who was born any a woman can’t be god and and the word god is something we create and worship….

  26. I was wondering if you are a Muslim and you put up a Christmas tree and you get presents and pray 5 times a day to allah would that be haram. You wouldn’t really be celebrating Christmas or anything you are just decorating and getting presents and still praying to allah.

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