Top Menu

A Muslim Christmas?

Dubai Christmas

Christmas time at the Wafi Mall in Dubai

A Muslim Christmas?

Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates, University of Wisconsin

December 25th was an an average day for the majority of the world’s Muslims, but for some, it signified Christmas along with its variety of associated meanings. Muslim beliefs related to Christmas and its celebration vary considerably–from a fun-loving holiday, to a dangerous heretical practice. The majority of the world’s Muslims don’t give the 25th of December much thought at all, but with increasing numbers of Muslims living in the predominately Christian West and Christians living in the predominately Muslim Middle East, it’s difficult not to have some kind of opinion or interpretation of Christmas.

Bethlehem

View of the Christmas tree in Manger Square with the Church of the Nativity, where Christians believe the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, 23 December 2012. – EPA/ABED HASHLAMOUN

A growing number of Muslims around the world see Christmas as an opportunity to display their love and generosity to family, friends, and work colleagues through gift giving. Christian reformist resistance to attaching religious significance to Christmas during the 17th Century encouraged its growth as a secular holiday. The subsequent commercialization of Christmas, especially in the US and Europe, opened the door for many Muslims to feel more included in the holiday. Many Muslim Americans see December 25th as a time to celebrate their American identity, joining a host of other non-Christians who celebrate the day.

But opinions on the degree of recognition and celebration of Christmas vary widely. While Christmas cheer gains steam among many Muslims living in the West, there are those, both in western and non-western countries, who see aspects of Christmas, or all its forms as bid’ah, or a religious innovation, forbidden in Islam. Some western Muslims contend that saying “Merry Christmas” is like saying “happy disbelief.” In response to other Muslims’ viewing this position as a lost opportunity to build community with their Christian neighbors, non-Christmas-observing Muslims suggest that neighborly love be enacted all the time, and not just once a year.

Interestingly, while debates over the religious appropriateness of singing Christmas carols, gift giving, and stories of Santa Clause heat up, the recognition of December 25th is anything but new in many majority-Muslim countries. Honoring the birth of Jesus–the second of three prophetic messengers in Islam–has been a tradition for hundreds of years among some Muslims living in the Levant (Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Israel, and Lebanon). In Iran, where hundreds of thousands of Christians live, the celebration of Christmas is commonplace for even non-Christian residents of Tehran. An Iranian Christian pastor recently suggested that “Iranian Muslims have put Jesus back in Christmas.” A few years ago, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even sent an open message to the world’s Christians and congratulated them on the birthday of  the “messenger of love and friendship.”

But some Christians see the recognition of Jesus’ birthday and celebrations of Christmas by Muslims as disingenuous. One listener during our recent Inside Islam Radio Show, The Muslim Jesus, suggested that Muslims talk about Jesus in order to placate Christians. While that may be true for some Muslims, it is clear that there are a variety of ways that people around the world recognize and celebrate Christmas.

, , , , , , , , ,

  • Solid Snake

    I dont know where to post this but check out this article:

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/12/jon-stewart-vs-bill-oreilly-war-christmas-its/59597/

    Its an article with a Jon Stewart clip about Oreilly saying “Christianity is not a religion, its a philosophy” live on Fox.Lol what a hilarious slip-up. I bet right wing Islamophobes are fuming.

  • http://jabhawiyya.tumblr.com/ jabhawiya

    This atheist celebrates Christmas and is not ashamed to admit it. This time of year carried some of the best memories of my entire life. I’d be a fool not to try to relive some of those.

  • MAalHakeem

    All the Hadeeths mentioning the number of prophets and messengers are weak, but Allāh says in the Qur’ān that to each and every people was sent a prophet or messenger.

    The messengers are better than the prophets, and out of all the prophets and messengers there are the mightiest 5: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (p). Finally, Prophet Muhammad (p) is the last and mightiest prophet and messenger.

  • Pingback: A Muslim Christmas? « Clubul Presei Transatlantice

  • Abdul-Halim Vazquez

    More commonly I’ve read that there have been 144,000 (or 124,000) prophets.

  • Abdul-Halim Vazquez

    The Psalms.

  • Leftwing_Muslim_Alliance

    Whats the Zabur ?

  • Heinz Catsup

    & yet you’d think it was Muslims who would do this kinda thing according to islamophobes…

  • golden izanagi

    I certainly had a merry Christmas and I hope everyone else did as well.

  • mindy1

    WTF is wrong with them??? There can’t be peace on earth unless we all see each other as HUMAN!!!!

  • http://dak4.com/ David Kearns

    “the second of three prophetic messengers in Islam”? Even assuming this is “prophets recognized by Muslims whose revelation remains in some form until today” this is short. Muhammad, sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, brought the Qur’an, Moses brought Torah, Jesus brought the Injil, and David brought the zabur.

  • Reynardine

    Certainly my friends and associates from the Subcontinent enjoyed celebrating it, even if they didn’t hold with that Trinity business.

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss

    Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it

  • http://twitter.com/CriticalDragon1 CriticalDragon1177

    The 24th picture in this story is also a good one for this discussion.

    Christmas Time Around The World
    http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/12/christmas-time-around-the-world/100428/

    Here it is
    http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/christmas122112/s_c24_RTR3BQ25.jpg

  • http://twitter.com/CriticalDragon1 CriticalDragon1177

    Merry Christmas!

  • http://twitter.com/CriticalDragon1 CriticalDragon1177

    Once again the “counter Jihad” is shown to be pathetic joke.

  • mindy1

    I never knew Iran recognized Christmas-to hear some pundits talk, you’d think Iran has made all non-muslims wear marks of shame :O Merry Christmas to all, and to all a peaceful new year.

Powered by Loon Watchers