________________________________________________________________________ | w w w |\ | || || | || |\ | o_,_7 _|| . _o_7 _|| 4_|_|| o_w_, |\ | ( : / (_) / ( . |\ | |\ | || || | || |T | | || | |\ | . _, _8 |_D_|| . _,_,_,_D_|| 4_|| q ]_o_7_o _|_c 4_|_|| _|,_p q |\ | (_): / (_): . : / (_S (_S / |\ | |\ | In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful |\ | Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\ |_______________________________________________________________________|\ Salamun 'Alaykum For many of us living in the West, young and old alike, there are a lot of external pressures to "fit in" with the practices of the rest of society. The following question on celebrating Christmas is a good example. The answer was kindly provided by Br. Hasnain Kassamali. Jazakallah, Akil Karim Acting Moderator for ABDG-A ---------- Forwarded message ---------- FROM THE QUESTIONER: Comment: The modern era has brought upon us the tradition of the celebration of Christmas. This holiday is the celebration of ISA (s) "Jesus". This holiday alone gives great grief to many Muslim children. They want to get gifts just like the other children and fell left out. QUESTIONS: 1) To what extent is the Muslim allowed to celebrate this holiday? 2) Is it proper for us to have trees and presents on EID-UL FITR as a counter measure to keep the faith of the children in this non Islamic world strong? 3) Should we use the Chrismas holiday as a way to make DAWWAH to Islam ie. give out cards that have quotes from the HOLY Q'URAN about ISA (s) "Jesus"? ARTICLE: Below is the history of Santa Claus so you will be completely aware of the origion of Santa Claus which is what the children of the West look forward to on CHRISTMAS. The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas was born in the ancient southeastern Turkish town of Lycia early in the fourth century. At an early age, Nicholas was appointed bishiop of Myra, in Asia Minor. His success in winning converts, and his generosity toward the poor, angered Roman officials. During a great Christian persecution, he was imprisoned and tortured under orders of the Roman emperor Gaius Diocletianus. At age sixty, Diocletianus abdicated his thrown which in turn pleased many Romans and was most fortunate for Nicholas. The now emperor, Constantine( who would later convert to Christianity), freed the bishop. And when Constantine convened the first Church council at Nicaea in 325, Nicholas attended as a prominent member. he is believed to have died on December 6, 342, and eventually was adopted as the patron saint of Russia, Greece and Sicily. Children today would not at all recognize the St. Nick who brought gifts to European children hundreds of years ago-except for his cascading white beard. he made his rounds in full red-and -white bishop's robes and was pulled by: no reindeer, but coaxed a stubborn donkey. Much of the modern day Santa Claus lore, including the reindeer drawn sleigh, originated in America, due to the popularity of a poem :The Night Before Christmas" written by Dr. Clement Clarke Moore-a N.Y. theology professor in 1822. It was in America that Santa put on weight. The original St. Nicholas had been a tall, slender, elegant, bishop, and that was the image perpetuated for centuries. The rosy cheeked, roly poly Santa is credited to the influential nineteenth century cartoonist Thomas Nast. From 1863 until 1886, Nast created a series of Christmas drawings for Harper's Weekly. The drawings, executed over twenty years, show a gradual evolution into the Santa we all recognize today. However, we should not forget the influence of the Coca Cola Co. that used this jolly symbol in its Coke adds in the 1920-30's which totally entrenched the Santa Claus in Modern Culture. ANSWER: In His name, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Regarding Christmas and how much Muslims can participate in it, I have the following points to make. Please note that these are my opinions based on what I think would be in line with Islamic teachings, and not based on fatwa from any particular Mujtahid. May the Almighty safeguard me from slips and errors. It is common knowledge with Muslims that the Holy Prophet, sallahu `alyhi wa-aalhi wasallam, did not like Muslims to imitate practices from other religions. Thus we read that the Holy Prophet asked Muslims not to shave their beard, for they will be mistaken as Parsees. Also, the Muslims were asked not to leave their beard untrimmed otherwise they would be mistaken as Jews. Another example is calling the faithful to prayers. The Prophet wished not to use church bells as the Christians do, nor blow the trumpet like the Jews for calling followers to prayers. Instead, the institution of Adhaan was introduced to call Muslims for prayers. I was surprised to read that some of our children feel grieved when Xmas arrives because they feel left out. We Shi`a Muslims, the followers of the Ahlul Bayt (a), have so many occasions to celebrate (4 `eids, Me`raaj, 13 wiladats, i.e. birthdays of 14 Ma`sumeen, etc.) every year that there should remain no complains or any grumblings from our children that they do not get to celebrate happy occasions and have fun during the year. Our own children who attend a Muslim school, where because of Wahabi influence Miladun Nabi and personal birthdays are not allowed, often comment that they feel sorry for their peers who have only two `eids to celebrate in a year. 1) I think it is imperative that Muslims celebrate `Eids with more enthusiasm. Children should receive gifts, new clothes, and given a chance to celebrate with friends and family. The house can be decorated, parties may be held etc. etc. the list of activities which could be carried out to stimulate children's pleasure, is endless. Of course, this will vary with individual families. But to make sure that our children do not feel deprived when they see others celebrating christmas, we have to provide an alternative celebration for them. This would give them something to look forward to as well as reinforce the fact that they are different from their non-Muslim friends. It is disappointing to note that many Muslim parents are seen rushing to work and businesses after `Eid prayers and the children are either sent to schools or left to pass time at home on their own. Not that it is haram or makrooh to work on `eid days but the children see the Islamic festivals coming and going without any fun. Sometimes, a weekend in summer is more enjoyable than a `eid day in some Muslim houses! 2) I do not think having trees at home is a good idea. I see no reason for a tree on `Eid, except that the Christians do it. It would be incorporating a non-Muslim tradition into Islam, which I think is dangerous. Plus, it could encourage imitation in other aspects as well, which is what we should try to discourage. Instead Muslims can think of various ways of decoration and lights and presents for a festive atmosphere on 'Eid. 3) Sending cards with quotes (not in the original Arabic text) from the Qur'an on Nabi `Isa, `alayhis-salaam, may be a good way to propogate the similarities between Islam and Christianity so far as the prophet is concerned. It would also convey a feeling of respect and consideration. Preferably, these cards should not carry messages such as "Merry Christmas" or anything implying that we too believe in the holiness of Christmas. With salaams and du`as. Hasnain Kassamali Humble servant of the Ahlul Bayt (a).