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['Aalim Network QR] Muslims on Celebrating XMas


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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\
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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).





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