December marks the end of the Gregorian year. Worldwide, December in the west, is a month that is filled with the excitement of Santa Clause, Christmas trees and rhymes of “Jingle bells.” Those who celebrate this holiday prepare to exchange gifts and invite their families to dinners. As the snow covers the streets of North America, Europe and other countries, the shops are filled with the hustle and bustle of the preparation for December 25th. Now this celebration has crept into Muslim countries where we not only participate in such event but also equally celebrate it.
As Believers, we need to ask ourselves, what does “Christmas” really mean to us? What should it mean?
In a hadith, RasulAllah ﷺ said:
Narrated Abu Sa’id al-Khudri:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “You will follow the ways of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e., inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a mastigure (lizard), you would follow them.” We (Sahabas) said, “O Allah’s Apostle! (Do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said, “Whom else?”
We are reminded through this hadith, that being a Muslim calls for us to have taqwa. Taqwa is fearing Allah (SWT) in all senses. In simple words, having taqwa really means to havea active focus. It is to be aware of that which goes around you. Linguistically, taqwa is to have a shield that protects one from actions that are displeasing to Allah (SWT) and are contradictory in nature of what the prescribed way is. In contrast, this involves doing all those actions that are pleasing to Allah (SWT). Hence, we need to be aware of our surroundings and ensure that all our actions are in line with our saying, “La ilah Illallah” (there is no God but Allah). Ones who fear Allah (SWT) do not join the bandwagon if they see something that is not as per Shariah (the ordained way).
Are We Having an Identity Crisis?
These several few years in December, I am amazed and also saddened at how we as Pakistanis and more importantly as Muslims have forgotten who we really are. Malls, shopping centers, restaurants and now our Facebook pages are filled with the coming of the celebration of Christmas. Children and Christmas decorations. Stores have “Merry Christmas” and “Season’s Greetings” written all over creating a pull. It may look exciting in the forefront but is actually a pull of no one else but our enemy the Shaitan.
Children are exposed to teachings of other religions which is filled with wasteful entertainment whereas they are not taught to pray. What are we thinking as an Ummah? The fact is we are not thinking and hence we are blindly following without any thought to the destination.
In the capital city of Islamabad, trees are being decorated with ornaments. This roundabout is located in the Blue Area, Islamabad.
Unfortunately, Muslim nations are now also buying into the capitalist theory of commercialism. The Park Tower Mall in Karachi, has a Season’s Greeting Festival in December. The Mall is decorated with lights and glitz. People from places came in for the Festival to entertain their family and kids. This becomes a “fun social” event and an outing for Muslim families.
The Counterargument: We must respect other religions!
Now one can say, why make such a big deal about this matter? After all, Muslims are taught to respect others and other religions. Additionally, Pakistan is a multicultural nation and there are Christians amongst us. They celebrate our Eid with us so we should celebrate their holidays with them.
Similarly, in foreign countries we wish our fellow colleagues with Christmas greetings and we give out holiday gifts to them or attend their parties. We argue saying that they would think Islam to be a religion that teaches self-interest and seclusion if we do not mix with them in their celebrations. Those of us who do indulge in the activities of Christmas further present the fact that Muslims respect Isa (AS) because he was our prophet also so there is no harm in our participation. Furthermore they give evidence from the Sunnah that we are to respect others whether Muslim or Non-Muslims. As per hadith we hear:
But the Fact of the Matter is…
Yes, most definitely Islam teaches us goodness, piety and kindness. What it does not teach us is the compromising of our principles in deen. We simply cannot jeopardize our faith to become “acceptable.”
In a hadith we clearly learn:
مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ
Ibn Umar (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ , said, “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
(Sunan Abī Dāwūd 4031)
We simply cannot pursue practices that our contradictory to our basic belief of Tawheed. Hence, first and foremost, we submit to values that are aligned to our belief of Oneness of Allah (SWT).
Celebrating Christmas including the wishing whether in Pakistan or elsewhere, wishing via Facebook or a phone message for the sake of others as gestures, is an act that we will have to pay a heavy price for. When we follow the others’ ways just “to maintain good relations,” we compromise on our values and aqeedah (creed). Not only this but what is more significant is that we enter into grounds of shirk by advocating a belief that is contradictory to ours as Muslims.
Is it This SERIOUS?
“How is it shirk?”, one may ask. When we wish another “Merry Christmas” regardless of the fact that he/she is a Christian or not, what wish are we really giving? By conveying Christmas greeting, we are actually confirming and affirming their false beliefs about Isa (عليهِ سلام) being the son of Allah (SWT) (Naudubillah). We are actually giving our tasdeeq (affirmation) of their saying: Allah is three, Naudubillah. We pat them on the back and say, “It is quite acceptable to say that Allah (SWT) (naudubillah) has a son and to associate partners with the Magnificent Creator. We celebrate the birth of Jesus and his existence in the capacity as you have described it and we are with you.
We please the world by advocating the fact that we are a multicultural society and practice a deen that is accommodating of others. In essence this act falls under folds of the biggest dhulm (Injustice) which is unforgivable. Can we afford to take a chance with this to please others? Absolutely not!
What we think to be a small thing, is actually in Allah (SWT)’s sight the following:
وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَنُ وَلَدًا، لَقَدْ جِئْتُمْ شَيْئًا إِدًّا،تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِنْهُ وَتَنشَقُّ الْأَرْضُ وَتَخِرُّ الْجِبَالُ هَدًّا،أَن دَعَوْا لِلرَّحْمَنِ وَلَدًا،وَمَا يَنبَغِي لِلرَّحْمَنِ أَن يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا
“And they say the Most Merciful has taken for Himself a son. You have done an atrocious thing. The heavens almost ruptured therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation that they attribute to the Most Merciful a son. There is no one in the heavens and the earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.”
Or in another place in the Qur’an:
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لاَ تَغْلُواْ فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ عَلَى اللّهِ إِلاَّ الْحَقِّ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَى مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ فَآمِنُواْ بِاللّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ ثَلاَثَةٌ انتَهُواْ خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ إِنَّمَا اللّهُ إِلَـهٌ وَاحِدٌ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَات وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَكَفَى بِاللّهِ وَكِيلاً
“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a Messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul created at a command from Him. So believe in Allah and His Messengers. And do not say, three, desist, it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but One God, Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the Heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.”
Or elsewhere in the Qur’an we learn:
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لاَ تَغْلُواْ فِي دِينِكُمْ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ أَهْوَاء قَوْمٍ قَدْ ضَلُّواْ مِن قَبْلُ وَأَضَلُّواْ كَثِيرًا وَضَلُّواْ عَن سَوَاء السَّبِيلِ
“Say: “O People of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even Way.”
[Al-Maa’idah : 77]
So before we jump on the bandwagon of those who follow blindly all that comes their way, we need to stop and think. What is the destination of this ride? Is that a place where we want to end up and not be able to return from there? Merry Christmas may not seem so “merry,” when we stand in front of the blazing fire as punishment for not being more “focused,” and aware of what we used to term as “innocent” actions. Christmas is really not going to be so merry when we have to face our Rabb at a time when there will be no turning back. May Allah (SWT) protect us all from all those acts that we unknowingly and unknowingly do that are categorized as grave sins. (Aameen)