With the festive season just around the corner, and everything else going jolly and merry, Christmas definitely cannot be ignored. From Christmas decorations to school and corporate events and everyday greetings, the Muslims, especially those living in the West can find it confusing to deal with such an event. And every year we wonder whether could Muslims celebrate Christmas or not.
Although people argue that Christmas has lost its Christian religious roots and has become more of a cultural season, the common question “Could Muslims celebrate Christmas?” is answered by prohibition by most scholars.
Let’s explore the reasons why shouldn’t Muslims celebrate Christmas…
1. The origin of Christmas
Christmas celebrates the birth of prophet Jesus who is believed by Christians to be the son of God. This belief contradicts the fact of Allah’s oneness in Islam.
Hence it is kufr of Allah’s oneness to believe that He has a son, and participating in the festivals of non-Muslims is a kind of agreement to their beliefs, and cooperation in the disobedience of our creator.
وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty
2. Our Muslim identity
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advocated taking pride in our religion and its rituals and he discouraged us from imitating disbelievers as well as followers of other religions.
He said: “Whoever imitates a nation is but one of them”
While spreading happiness, exchanging gifts and inviting family for dinner are all favorable acts in Islam, our Prophet taught us to only glorify and celebrate our own Eid.
Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “The Prophet (PBUH) came to Madeenah while they had two days they celebrated. The Prophet (PBUH) asked, “What are these two days?”
They said, ‘These are two days we used to celebrate in our pre-Islamic era.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah has replaced them with two better days: ‘Eed Al-Adh-haa and ‘Eed Al- Fitr.”
Ahmad and At-Tirmithi
3. To greet or not to greet?
So if we’re now informed about the prohibition of Muslims to celebrate Christmas, what about greeting others?
Well, congratulating Non-Muslims for their feasts means accepting their wrongdoing and disbelief in the oneness of Allah. Is there greater disbelief than attributing a son to Allah or saying that Jesus is Allah or that Allah is the third of three “gods”?
So, any Muslim who congratulates a person for a sin, an innovation or an act of disbelief has exposed himself to the hatred and anger of Almighty Allah.
Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim (RA) reported the consensus of all scholars that greeting non-Muslims on their religious occasions is forbidden.
He said: “As for congratulating the disbelievers for their rituals, it is forbidden according to the agreement of all scholars- like congratulating them for their feasts and fast by expressing good wishes: happy feast or enjoy your feast… etc.
If the Muslim who says this does not become a disbeliever himself, he, at least, commits a sin as this is the same as congratulating him for his belief in the Trinity, which is a greater sin and much more disliked by Almighty Allah than congratulating him for drinking alcohol or killing a soul or committing fornication or adultery…etc.”
Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim
If we are celebrating the great teachings of Jesus or other prophets, we must do so everyday. To do so means to practice love, mercy, justice and compassion and to be actively engaged in doing the will of God.