Yousuf Saleh - 18th December 2015

Respected brothers and sisters at home, since the last few weeks we have been talking about “the inner dimension of Ibadah” We will talk on the last part of this subject next time Insha Allah. Today I have found it is important to talk about ‘the UP COMING CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY and how to deal with it as a Muslim.’ Today and the next Jum’a we will be talking about the same topic Insha Allah.

The reason to choose this topic for our khutba is that:
Firstly the personality of Jesus plays a central role in Islam. It is important for Muslims and non-Muslims to understand that a person is not considered a Muslim unless he or she believes in Jesus. Islam also gives a very high degree of respect to the mother of Jesus, Mary (Mariam). There is an exclusive chapter in the Quran on the mother of Jesus by the name of ''Sura-e-Mariam.'' Chapter 19.

Secondly: Christmas is the biggest celebration day in the world. It is a big challenge for Muslims especially in the present time in a Christian dominant world, to protect their beliefs and identity. Muslim children go to School, Christmas functions are conducted at school on the belief of Jesus, (as) being the son of God, which is directly against the core belief of Muslims.

Thirdly, to protect the rights and the dignity of our Neighbours. In the society where Muslims, Christians, and other religious people are present, how should Muslims react? Mainly these are the reasons why we are talking about this topic.Both Muslims and Christians can learn a lot from Christmas if they study from the scriptures. The question is how moderate can a Muslim be to this celebration?

Respected brothers and sisters at home. Some celebrations are of a religious nature, and some are social and cultural. Some celebrations are based on beliefs and practices that are contrary to Islamic teachings, and some celebrations are not of that nature.

Some people claim that Christmas is now a secular holiday and it is very much a national holiday rather than a religious holiday. It is true that this holiday is very popular and it is extremely commercialized; but it is basically a religious holiday. Its very name and all its symbolism is Christian. Christians celebrate at Christmas what they believe to be the "day of the birth of God's Son" or what they call "God Incarnate". It is interesting that the word ‘Christmas’ is not found in the Bible.

According to the world book encyclopedia the catholic encyclopedia the word ‘Christmas’ means ‘death of Christ’. So, when millions of people say ‘merry Christmas’, they are literally saying, ‘merry death of Christ’. Another important point is the date of birth of Prophet Jesus (as) was unknown like that of Prophet Mohammad (saw). This is why Christians did not celebrate the birth of Christ for the first three centuries after Jesus’ departure. The main reason was that celebrating birthdays was prohibited in prophetic traditions and it was known as a pagan practice. They turned Him from a slave of God to the “Son of God” and associated the birth of ‘God's Son’ on this day. Respected brothers and sisters at home, firstly Jesus is a servant or slave of Allah, not son.

That is the first stage of Jesus which in line with Islamic belief and thought. Then the truth started to deviate gradually under the influence of Roman and Greek polytheism. This annual celebration is the victory of paganism over the religion of Jesus and no one disputesthat many of its symbols came from the pagan religions rather than the birth or teachings of Jesus Christ. That is why for Muslims, celebrating Christmas is not only a celebration of another religion; it is also a celebration that is based on a belief that is totally against the teachings of Islam. From the Islamic point of view, the belief in the "Son of God" or "God in the flesh" is a blasphemy and Kufr (rejection of God's Oneness). This belief is completely opposite to Suratul Ikhlas and many verses in the Quran.

By participating in Christmas, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her realization of this basic point of difference. Muslims must be very careful in this matter. The greatest danger is for our next generation, who may slowly lose their Islamic faith in tawhid and may start believing in Jesus as "more than a prophet and servant of Allah". Some will use the argument that lots of Muslims are celebrating it, so it is justified to celebrate it and they might also point out that some Muslim leaders are also wishing greetings and celebrating it so it should be ok. But it is up to the individual to decide which view they would like to follow. Islam is built on facts and evidences and not based on the practices of the majority.

Respected brothers and sisters at home, the big question that arises on this season is that is it permissible for a Muslim to greet with ‘merry Christmas’, or “happy Christmas”? Basically there are two opinions: When it comes to wishing Merry Christmas, scholars differ in this matter. A group of classical scholars say it is Haram to greet, but some scholars say that it is Permissible.A group of scholars like Ibn Qayyim says;' as for congratulating the unbelievers for their rituals, it is forbidden according to the agreement of all scholars.

Even though the Muslim who says this does not become a disbeliever himself, but he, at least, commits a sin as this is the same as congratulating someone for his belief in the trinity. This is a greater sin and much more disliked by Almighty Allah than congratulating someone for drinking alcohol or killing a soul or committing fornication or adultery…etc.'.

Another group of scholars say: Indeed the permissibility of congratulating non-Muslims on their festive days becomes more of an obligation if non-muslims offer their greetings on Islamic festive occasions, as we are commanded to return the greeting with a better one or at least with the same greeting. Allah says: (An-Nisa' 4: 86) “When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it or at least return it equally…” Respected brothers and sisters at home,

Now we have two opinions here.
One mentions that it is Haram while another mentions it is permissible. The disagreements of Scholars are a mercy for the ummah. It opens the door of salvation in terms of following any opinions with sincerity and full God consciousness. If we are holding on to the opinion that it is Haram, please respect others who are holding on to the opinion that it is halal and vice versa. We have to put in mind that we must be realistic and understand the environment. Based on these 2 opinions, which is the one that is more practical in a multi-racial country like Britain?

If you would like to give them Christmas greetings, maybe you can change the greeting to; Happy holidays’ or ‘May God Guide All Of Us’ ‘ Respected brothers and sisters at home, decorating the house, placing Christmas trees at home and concealing gifts for that day or exchanging Christmas greetings among Muslims are completely detestable. Allah (swt) said about them in Quran, ch-3 and verse 85” Whoever seeks aDeen or a lifestyle besides Islam, it shall never be accepted from him and he will be among the losers in the Aakhirah”. HE will face severe punishment for making an incorrect choice other than Islam.

Respected brothers and sisters at home, our beloved Prophet (saw) had managed the same situation that we are facing today. He established the first sanctuary of peace in Madinah, where the majority of the people were not Muslims. Here is what he said about the Christians of Najran (Yemen):

"Najran has the protection of God and the pledges of Muhammad, the Prophet, to protect their (the Christians') lives, faith, land, property, those who are absent and those who are present, and their tribe and allies. They need not change anything of their past customs. No right of theirs or their religion shall be altered. No church leader, monk or church guard shall be removed from his position."

It was this historical commitment towards people of other faiths that formed the ideals of Islam regarding other faith groups in their midst, whether they were Christian, Jews, Sun worshipers, or Hindus. The Prophet even allowed a Christian delegation to celebrate their religious services in the very Mosque of the Prophet (saw) according to classic historians Ibn Hisham and Ibn Sa'd.

May Allah give us the ability to convey the peaceful message of Islam to our Non-Muslims brothers and sisters, and May He descend His mercy upon the whole of humanity especially upon our Christian brothers and sisters and grant them the ability to save themselves from the punishment in the Aakhirah.

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