Muslims and Christian Festivals
One of the most widely celebrated festivals in the world, Christmas – the annual festival commemorating the ‘assumed’ birth of Îsa Alayhis Salâm – is the most awaited and triumphant day of the Christian calendar. Christmas has become more synonymous to great economic activity than to it’s religious aspects and rituals. This is quite evident from our pre-Christmas economic boom and commercial flurry. In Western Countries, the bane of Muslim association and companionship with Christians and other Mushrikîn has subsequently resulted in a great degree of social and religious integration. The impact of this integration is quite evident in our South-African Muslim communities where Muslims have fused their Islamic culture with that of the kuffâr. Not only have they absorbed the influence of the kuffâr, but they have become overwhelmingly pre-disposed to it, resulting in the virtual abandonment of their very own pristine and pure culture. Now, unable to differentiate between what belongs to them and what belongs to the others, they are left baffled at a crossroads – unable to differentiate between right and wrong. As a result, they are totally drawn into a downright alien and un-Islamic culture grossly unaware of it. Christmas as the word implies is a purely Christian festival in total contrast to Islamic culture and norm. Nonetheless, many unwary or rather ignorant Muslims support this festival in some form or the other – either actively or passively. Supporting the cause of kufr in whatever way is a heinous crime and a direct onslaught upon Islam and everything it stands for. Similarly, participation in any form of Christmas-related activities is a stepping stone to kufr – hence, vehemently prohibited. Let us now examine the various anti-Islamic customs with regards to Christmas.
No doubt Islam teaches us courtesy unto Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but this does not mean that our courtesy should stretch beyond the legal boundaries of Shariah. Many assert that since the non-Muslims send cards to us on occasions of Eid, we, on grounds of courtesy are compelled to acknowledge this by sending cards to them on their festive days. However, this assertion is misfounded and totally against the spirit of Islam. We are not compelled to be subservient to the “courteous ” gesture of others. Islam as a code of life has undoubtedly shown us the correct etiquette and manners for every occasion. It teaches us every facet of moral behaviour in regard to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. How then can we “borrow” the anti-Islamic characteristic of our enemies? Repeatedly the Qur’ân and Ahadith exhort us to refrain form emulating the habits and customs of the Kuffâr – the Jews and Christians in particular. How dare we tread the footsteps of our arch-rivals in something that is totally abhorred by Islam? A hadith sternly cautions us against emulating non-Islamic groups. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam warns: “Whomsoever emulates a nation is of them.” From this we deduce that emulating (tashabbuh) the kuffâr is harâm (totally prohibited) in regards to religious and social habits which are confined to them only.
Another evil which is quite common nowadays is the custom of decorating shops, offices, etc., with flashing lights, Christmas posters, trees and many other forms of decorations. Drawn into this tide of evil, many Muslim shopkeepers tend to decorate their shops in the same way as their kuffâr counterparts do, little realizing the adverse impact this has on their Iman and Deen. All forms of such decorations, whether this is done to enhance the pre-Christmas sales or merely as a formality – are not permissible. Besides it being tantamount to tashabbuh (emulation of the kuffâr), it is a sheer waste of hard-earned money. The squandering of wealth is judged by Islam as a detestable sin indeed. The Qur’ân sums up the extravagant in the following stringent statement: “Verily, the extravagant are the brothers of the Shaytân.” Another verse commands: “Do not waste. Verily Allah does not like those who waste.” Hence, all forms of Christmas decorations are totally harâm regardless of the intention. The same rules apply to the actual sale of such decoration because the prohibition of anything renders it’s sale prohibited as well.
Little realizing the unfavourable religious consequences, many parents purchase lucky-dips, fireworks, Christmas crackers etc. simply to delight their children. We are all aware of the un-Islamic customs the purchase of lucky-dips entail. Everything about it is un-Islamic. Besides the factor of emulation of the kuffâr which in itself is prohibited, the sale of the lucky-dip is also incorrect. The fact that the contents of the box are mysterious, nullifies the sale transaction. Subsequently, the sale of the item and the item itself both fall against the in junctions and spirit of Islam. Similarly, the sale of lucky-dips, fireworks etc. is not permitted and the income derived therefrom will be classified as a harâm earning. Another factor which further exacerbates this evil is the sheer wastage of hard-earned money which could have been put to better use.
With a few months to go before Christmas, preparations to adorn the main streets of the city centres will soon be underway. Probably, because many Muslims are unaware of the sin involved, they tend to converge on these streets at night simply to view the dazzling display of lights. There are many evils attached to this. The fact that such displays stem from purely Christian customs, it’s prohibition is further enhanced. Many Muslims are probably under the false notion that since they are not actively involved in it, mere viewing will do no harm. The following Hadith will serve as an eye-opener to them. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam is reported to have declared: “Whomsoever increases the crowd of a nation is of them.” Instead of taking your child to view the Christmas decorations, take him to places of better interest and to places which would benefit him in the future. The article in no way means that the Muslim tradesmen should close their doors during this period and not take advantage of such a boom. If would be foolish on the writer to even imply this. One is at liberty to utilise this period to his pecuniary advantage but within the bounds of shariah. However, other activities which stem from purely Christian customs are totally prohibited. (Excerpt from the An Nasihah – The Advice No. 47)
Published by Madrasah Arabia Islamia – Azaadville – South Africa