Every year, even in Malaysia of multiracial and multireligious background, we have many celebrations and religious events. In this article, the subject of discussion is Christmas, which is celebrated by Christians (and nowadays by many non-Christians too) on the 25th of December every year across the globe.
An issue however arises. For Muslims, is it okay if we wish a Merry Christmas to our Christian friends?
Well, I am not in the position to give the answer. But the following is a piece of thought, assisted by a number of reference I read and studied through, that I hope will help all of us clear the doubt and so that we become more vigilant plus particular in every single thing that we do.
Please take note that I will elaborate on this topic based on 2 different resources I have referred to, one strictly against and the other provides substantial reasons why it is permissible to wish Merry Christmas.
Why can not?
We have to understand that while we Muslims and Christians both believe in Jesus, or Prophet Isa a.s, there are some major differences between Islam and Christianity that we have to be absolutely clear about. The Christians do not only believe that Christmas is the day Jesus was born, but they misleadingly claim that it was the birth of the Son of God. This is where one of the major clashes exists.
In Islam, the Quran explicitly tells us that Allah does not beget, neither is He begotten. It is in Surah Al-Ikhlas, Chapter 112, verse number 3. Jesus is therefore, not Allah's son, but only another slave to Allah, just like us, except that he was chosen to be one of His messengers.
That is why the author argues that wishing a Merry Christmas or Selamat Hari Natal (in Malay) to the non-believers is regarded as an acknowledgement to the grave error they have made- believing that Allah has a son. So, we have to be careful, because when we say Merry Christmas or if we celebrate Christmas with them, are we actually agreeing to their belief when they assign a partner to Allah by making Jesus His son (and thus makes him another God)?
Do not get the message wrong. We in Islam are strongly encouraged to mingle well with all people which of course, include the non-Muslims, but when it comes to Tauhid (divine oneness), we should never compromise. In Surah Al-Kafirun, Chapter 109, in the last Verse, it says, "To you be your way, and to me mine," suggesting that we can never mix the truth and falsehood together. That is why we are admonished to enter Islam fully. (2:208)
Remember that Allah has already given a stern warning regarding this matter whereby He said in Surah Al-Maryam, Chapter 19, Verses 88-90, "They say, "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!" Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin."
Meanwhile, it is argued by another author that it is not a problem to greet somebody Merry Christmas as there is no verse in the Quran or any statement in Hadiths that explicitly forbid us to do so.
In fact, in Surah An-Nisa', Chapter 4, verse 86, Allah says that, "When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things."
The Merry Christmas greetings are deemed to be something that is not ritual, not an act of worship but rather a means of communicating good words to one another, which if that is the case, Islam has no problem with it.
Personally, alhamdulillah, as far as I can remember, I have never greeted anybody Merry Christmas, even on Facebook. What I usually did was merely asking how was their holiday or how's Christmas, which in a way shows how we are concerned about other people even though there are not Muslims, and more importantly, these days, such event (Christmas) is more to a get together time (where family members meet) just like Eidul Fitri for Muslims here in Malaysia. Therefore, Islam never puts us in trouble but is very tolerant when it comes to relationship with mankind, although being tolerant doesn't mean that we have to compromise.
It is good however, as friends, we always have to be clear about our belief and where and when it necessitates, we explain to them the correct principle we hold in Islam, that Allah has no son, and Jesus is certainly not His son- in the most gracious manner and kind words of course. As Allah says this in the Quran, (29:46), "And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)."
Also, in Surah An-Nahl, Chapter 16, verse 125, Allah instructs us the following, "Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious; for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance."
Again, I do not intend to give an absolute yes or no to the question of whether or not we can say Merry Christmas to our Christian friends as a courtesy in our friendly relationship, but personally I don't think there should be any problem with people doing it, though I at my best will always avoid it.
Instead, there are always many alternatives, such as asking about their families and holidays, which by right is more meaningful if we think about it. The most important point we have to grasp from this article is that, for everything that Islam allows and forbids in this world, we have to abide by them because we believe in Allah, and it is tremendously important that we seek knowledge and never be judgemental without any proper investigation, let alone to be a blind follower.
I seek refuge, blessings and protection from Allah, may He always guide us to His straight path, and I seek forgiveness for any mistakes and weakness incurred from my article as I am just an ordinary guy, trying best to convey the true message of Islam, while at the same time, I too am learning.
Take care all. Wallahua'lam. Wassalam.
In case you have some time to continue reading, here are 5 major beliefs in Christianity which are deemed false and contradictory for us in Islam. I hope it is helpful, especially in our understanding of Christianity, and therefore Islam.
1. Original Sin
According to them, we all inherit a sin by our great great grandparents Adam and Eve- known as original sin or ancestral sin. But Islam explains against this statement and the existence of original sin with the following few examples of verses from Quran.
a) "And if anyone earns sins, he earns it against his own soul: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom." (Surah An-Nisa', 4:111)
b) "Who receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit: who goes astray does so to his own loss: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another: nor would We visit with Our Wrath until We had sent a messenger (to give warning)." (Surah Al-Isra', 17:15)
2. Sonship of Jesus
Again, Allah has stated very clearly in many verses in the Quran that He does not beget and is not begotten e.g in Surah Al-Ikhlas, (112:3).
As to the fact that Jesus was born without father so Allah must be his father, this argument is utterly misleading because Allah can create a man without a father if He wills it such. In fact, Prophet Adam was created without father and more interestingly, he had no mother too!
Moreover, Allah has explained in Surah Ali Imran, Chapter 3, verse 59 that "The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: "Be": and he was."
3. Divinity of Jesus
The above leads to this third one i.e if Jesus is the son of God, so he must be a God too. If Jesus is God, then he is divine. But then again, this belief is an absolute mistake. Firstly, of course Jesus is not God because we have already stated earlier that he is not the son of God.
In Surah Al-Maidah, Chapter 5, Verse 117, "(Jesus said) Never said I to them aught except what You did command me to say, to wit, 'Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord'; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when You did take me up, You were the Watcher over them, and You are a witness to all things."
Obviously, if Jesus was a God, he would have not called Allah his God (Lord), and he would have asked the people to worship him too instead, if he was a God. But he didn't, because he was not a God, but a messenger of Allah.
The most weird thing is that, a healthy and rational mind would quickly question that, if Jesus was a God, how was it possible for a God to be crucified by men? And if Jesus is the son of God, how could God allow His son to suffer from the pain of the crucification (as also portrayed by many movies about Jesus created by Westerners like Mel Gibson)?
Indeed, Jesus, the man we believe to be Prophet Isa a.s, he was not crucified. But this is not known until 600 years later (after the claimed crucification), when Al-Quran was sent down to our beloved Prophet, Muhammad SAW.
In Surah An-Nisa', Chapter 4, Verses 157-158, "That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,"; but they killed him not, nor crucified him but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not (157); Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise (158)."
While it is sort of funny that even the Christians can't explain this very confusing and bizarre concept of trinity, it is even funnier that the word trinity is not found in any place in Bibles- whatever versions it is. However, interestingly enough, this concept of 3 in 1 God, is already clearly denounced in Islam which can be found in the Quran itself! Masya Allah, praise be upon Him, Who knows all and every single thing that is apparent and that is hidden, that has happened and that will happen.
In Surah Al-Maidah, Chapter 5, Verse 73, Allah says, "They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is one of three in a Trinity:" for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them."
Another one is in Surah An-Nisa', Chapter 4, Verse 171. Do check it out ;-)
Wallahua'lam. Hope this is informative ;-)
5. (Extra Reading) Extraction of points taken from the Friendly Comparative Religion (FCR) Workshop