Tag Archives: Islam and Christmas

Christmas: A Unique Birth?

During the Christmas season, many celebrate the birth of Christ, the incarnation of God as something unique and unprecedented. It’s an incarnation of God that brought about the new covenant, allowing Christ to die for our sins and grant us eternal life. Or so that is what is said. There is however, nothing unique about God becoming incarnate from a Christian perspective, theophanies or the appearance of God in various forms throughout the Old Testament is a common and well-known theme, therefore it begs the question as to why any Christian should consider the incarnation to be a unique, once in a lifetime event.

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As already established in an earlier article, the date of Christmas itself is not Biblically based1. Those who hold to the December 25th date are merely doing so out of tradition and culture, as opposed to Christian beliefs or rites. While some may believe that there is some religious, Biblical basis for the celebration of the birth of whom they consider to be God, at no point in the New Testament (or early Christian documents) do any of the authors ever indicate that the disciples, apostles, presbyters, or patristics ever commemorated the birth of Christ himself.

Perhaps though what is more confusing is that according to Christian beliefs the incarnation was not unique. It was not unique in the sense that Christ had come to earth in an incarnate form previously, and it was also not unique for in the same incarnate form he also bore no sin. One Christian author argues:

Divine manifestations and revelatory experiences of the latter sort are commonly called theophanies (i.e., appearances of God). One of the most important forms that theophanies take in the OT is that of the Malak Yahweh, commonly translated as “the Angel of the LORD” or “the Angel of Yahweh”. According to the Old Testament Scriptures, this figure is an appearance of Yahweh in human form.2

The author identifies this Angel of Yahweh as being Jesus in no uncertain terms:

The earliest Christians, as well as many other Christian worthies throughout the centuries, have also viewed the Malak Yahweh as a distinct divine person within the Godhead, further explicating it as a Christophany, that is, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Logos or Word of God – the Lord Jesus Christ.3

In the Book of Genesis, it records the myth of Abraham’s meeting with three men who were the God (the Lord) in human form:

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest time of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing across from him. When he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant. – Genesis 18:1-3.4

In conclusion, as it pertains to Christmas, the celebration of a unique incarnation of God is unremarkable. According to Christian beliefs, Christ was already incarnate in an earlier time and so the advent of the birth of Christ is not and should not be considered unique or something worthy of celebration unless one were Muslim. In the Islamic case, we do have reason to believe that Jesus’s birth was unique, that his birth manifested itself through the will of God, a birth without a father. While we do not celebrate Christmas under false pretenses, we do however have more of a reason to consider his birth unique and miraculous than our Christian brothers and sisters.

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and Allah knows best.

Sources:

  1. Three Reasons Why Christians Should Not Celebrate Christmas.
  2. The Malak Yahweh: Jesus, the Divine Messenger of the Old Testament.
  3. Ibid.
  4. NET Genesis 18:1-3.

Muslims & Christmas – Etiquettes and Rulings: Shaykh Mumtaz ul Haq [db]

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

As Christmas dawns upon us yet again, Shaykh Mumtaz ul Haq [db] has prepared for the Muslims and non-Muslims some Naseeha (advice) on the rulings of the etiquette of Christmas. Can Muslims wish non-Muslims, “Merry Christmas“, “Happy Holidays“, “Season’s Greetings“? How are Muslims supposed to respond to such greetings? All answered in the video below:

Provided in an emergency upload by the Hanafi Fiqh Channel, this video is of utmost importance to Muslim and non-Muslim relations. It assists in helping to foster good relations, understanding where our cultural norms and values differ and how to avoid awkward moments. Please spread insha Allaah, so that many can benefit from it!

As an addendum, here is Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen’s fatwa on saying, “Merry Christmas”:

Responding to Merry Christmas by Shaykh ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah)

Question:
What is the ruling o­n congratulating the disbelievers o­n their Christmas celebration? And how do we respond to them if they greet us with it. And is it permissible to go to the places where they are having celebrations for that purpose. And does the person (Muslim) take a sin if he does the aforementioned without any intent? Rather he o­nly does it being courteous, or due to shyness or due to being put in an awkward situation, or due to some other reasons. And is it permissible to resemble them in this?

Answer: 

Congratulating the disbelievers o­n their Christmas celebration or other than that from their religious holidays is not permissible according to the consensus. As was related by Imaam Ibn Al Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, in his book “The ruling o­n the people beneath the Muslim protection”, when he said: “As for congratulating the disbelievers for their religious ceremonies that have kufr (disbelief) attached to it, then it is not permissible according to the consensus. For example congratulating them for their holidays or their fasts, so the person says, “May you have a bless holiday”, or he wishes them well for their holiday or something like that. So this, if the o­ne who says it escapes from falling into kufr (disbelief), is (still) from the impermissible things. And it is o­n the same level as congratulating them for prostrating to the cross. Rather it is a greater sin with Allaah. And it is a more severe abomination than to congratulate them for drinking alcohol and killing someone, committing illegal sexual intercourse and things of this nature. And many of the people who don’t have any deen(or respect for the deen) fall into this. And he doesn’t know the ugliness (evil) of what he has done. So whoever congratulates a person for committing sins, or innovations, or disbelief, then he has exposed himself to the hate, wrath (anger) of Allaah.

(Shaykh ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah) continues)

So congratulating the disbelievers o­n the religious holidays is not permissible, as shown by the proof brought by Ibn Al Qayim (rahimahullaah). Because in it, (congratulating the kufar o­n their religious holidays) is an approval for what they are upon from their kufr ceremonies, and showing them that you are please with it. Even if the person is not pleased with the actual kufr itself, it is also not permissible for the Muslim to be pleased with kufr ceremonies, or to congratulate them for it. Because Allaah the Exalted is not pleased with that, as Allaah the Exalted says,

“If you disbelieve, then verily, Allaah is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you.” (AzZumar 39: 7)

And the Exalted says,

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al-Ma’idah 5: 3)

So congratulating them with this is haram whether this person is your co-worker or not. So if they greet us with their holiday greeting we don’t respond to them with it, because it’s not our holiday, and they are holidays that Allaah is not pleased with, and because it is something that is either innovated in their religion, or it was legislated but has since been abrogated by the deen of Islam that which Muhammad peace and blessing be upon him, was sent with to all of the creation. And He (Allaah) says about it (Islam)

“And 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” (Aali Imran 3: 85)

And for the Muslim to accept their invitations to these occasions (holiday celebrations) is haram (Impermissible). Because this is worst than congratulating them with it, because this would entail participating with them in this. Also it is haram for the Muslim to imitate the disbelievers by establishing celebrations for these occasions, or to exchanges gifts, or to distribute sweets, or trays of food, or to stop work or anything like this. Due to the statement of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, “Whoever imitates a people is from them”. Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymeeyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said in his book, “Follow the straight path and oppose the path to the fire” that “Imitating them in some of their celebration causes happiness in their hearts for what they are upon from falsehood. And it is possible that this might encourage them to take advantage of this opportunity to humiliate the weak minded”.

And whoever does anything from this is a sinner. And it is the same whether he did it being courteous, or seeking friendship, or due to shyness, or any other reason, because this is from being deceitful in the deen of Allaah. And this is from the reasons that reinforce the psyche of the disbelievers and to make them proud of their deen.

Source of Fatwa.

wa Allaahu Alam.
[and Allaah knows best.]