Some people ask why Muslims do not celebrate Christmas? Is that because they do not agree on the 25th of December as Jesus birthday? Or is that because they say Christians believe in Jesus as the son of God, while Muslims do not believe in Trinity, as well as they believe that Islam is the religion that is more complete than Christianity and all other religions that came in the past; the same way that Christians believe that Christianity is a more complete religion than Judaism.
But let’s put aside the issue of Islamic view on the date of birth of Prophet Jesus (PBUH). The most important fact that causes Muslims not to wish to celebrate Christmas is the matter of identity. Do Muslims expect Christians or Jews to celebrate Islamic occasions? Does it not sound logical that each culture celebrates its own occasions and rituals? Of course, people who were born Muslims in Muslim countries or communities would like to celebrate their own occasions.
But here we are discussing the issue of those who have converted to Islam. Or those who are Muslim and live in societies with a majority of Christians.
Prophet Jesus (PBUH) is among the Prophets whose names and stories have been mentioned in many chapters of the Holy Quran. This shows the high status of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) and his respected mother – Mary- for Muslims. Prophet Jesus (PBUH) and his mother are so beloved for Muslims that many Muslims name their children after them, and the Islamic society takes every possible chance to admire their position.
It is for this very high level of respect for the Prophet Jesus (PBUH) that Muslims will be offended when he is called the son of God. Since Allah says in the Holy Quran “ That they attribute to the Most Merciful a son. And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son. There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.” (19: 91-3)
In the same chapter, Allah says “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.” (5:75)
The ruling on taking part in Christmas parties is the same as taking part in any other party. It is allowed to participate in Christmas parties if there is no forbidden (Haram) act taking place; such as drinking, backbiting or forbidden (Haram) music, singing, or dancing [i], etc.
In Islamic jurisprudence, there is no harm in celebrating the birthday of Prophet Jesus (PBUH). Also if Muslims do not wish to celebrate Christmas among their cultural occasion, it is forbidden (Haram) to disrespect Christian rituals.
“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness …” (31:14-15)
The above verses clearly define that respecting and caring for parents in the eyes of God is not because of their religion. But He says that you have to respect them, only because your mother carried you for nine months and fed you when you were a weak baby. Therefore non-Muslim parents have all the rights that Muslim parents have. And there is no difference between Muslim or non-Muslim parents if they ask you to do something which is not accepted by God. In those cases, you have to disobey them BUT keep respecting them and behave kindly towards them.
Congratulating Christmas to Christians is not forbidden (Haram), as long as it is not considered to be a confirmation of their belief in Trinity while keeping in mind that you believe that Islam is the last religion sent by God to complete the past religions, but it is rather recommended to respect our relatives, friends or neighbors who are Christians with congratulating them on their happy occasions.
Although we discussed that Muslims who live in Islamic countries or Western countries would rather celebrate their own cultural occasions among their Islamic communities, there is a duty upon those Muslims who live in the West and may live with non-Muslim friends and families.
It is a duty upon every individual Muslim to spread the words of God as much as possible. And if a Muslim has the position of clarifying the status of prophet Jesus (PBUH) as a prophet and not the son of God or as a god, then he/ she should not take this opportunity for granted and mention the fact that Jesus (PBUH) was not but a respected Prophet of God.
However, it is not obligatory for Muslims to speak out about this issue when they participate in Christmas parties (in which no forbidden (Haram) act will take place), but if there is a chance of talking about the issue, it would be good to mention the Islamic opinion about the Prophet Jesus (PBUH).
[i] Read about forbidden (Haram) music in the related article.
[ii] “This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers. And whoever denies the faith - his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.” (5: 5)
In the previous part of this topic, we emphasized that advertising peace and educating peaceful followers are of the main purposes of Islam. Here we review some more Islamic pieces of advice and lessons on having a balanced life and being in peace with other people of either the same religion or other.
Being equable and good-tempered, and avoiding irascibility and harsh words are continuously advised to in the Islamic teachings such that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is invited in the Quran to “argue with them (unbelievers) in a way that is best” (16:125). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Imams (AS), as role models for Muslims, have demonstrated these acts in a way that the Quran says about the Prophet (PBUH): “And indeed, you are of a great moral character” (68:4). That is why the Quran says about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “So by mercy from Allah, you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159).
Imam Sadiq (AS) has described being good-tempered as: “using friendly words, nice behavior and receiving your brother happily” . Imam Ali (AS) said that the best and most important deed of a “believer” is behaving nicely with people . Even in the case of facing ignorant people, it is encouraged to treat kindly: “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace” (25:63).
These examples and many other Islamic pieces of advice demonstrate how much Islam cares about one’s behavior towards others.
This is true that moderation can develop peace. Islam recognizes moderation as the most efficient and pleasant approach in life and interaction with others. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that: “the best of every affair is the middle of it” . The Quran describes Muslims as a moderate community and says that: “we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you” (2:143). This means that the nation and people who are educated based on the Islamic teachings and the Quranic guidelines will avoid extremes; neither they are radical, nor conservative .
However, whenever the truth (Haq) and falsehood (Batil) are clear and apparent, there is no place for moderation. An example is the holy struggle (Jihad); i.e., when land is attacked by others, there should be no moderation and defense becomes obligatory.
Islam has considered the rights for every being, from parts of the body to neighbors, parents, etc. Then, it is not surprising if Islam also considers some rights for non-Muslims over Muslims. Of the rights of non-Muslims are to believe in the promises they have given the Islamic state; not to bother them about what they want or on what they are obliged to; to judge among them just as God has ordered; not to oppress them since Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that he would be against anyone who oppresses a non-Muslim1 . Imam Ali (AS) was sensitive to any harm or injustice to whether Muslims or non-Muslims. He (AS) said that: “if someone is not of your religion, he is still a human being like you.”, he (AS) was therefore against any harm or damage to non-Muslims .
After the rise of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) adopted the approach of moderation and fairness with the followers of the previous Abrahamic religions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) defended boldly Muslims and himself whenever needed. He (PBUH&HP) opposed any violence to Muslims, but he (PBUH&HP) still cared about the prisoners of the wars. He (PBUH&HP) had ordered to treat them with moderation, mercy, and humanity, to do good to them and to forgive them. Prisoners were usually kept in the mosques or proper and clean homes. The troops of Islam, following the manner of Prophet (PBUH&HP), preferred prisoners to themselves such that they provided prisoners with better foods and clothes. If a prisoner did not want to reveal the secrets of the enemies, he would not be beaten but whoever did so would be released .
Considering the points mentioned above about how Islam educates peaceful followers and how it considers rights for non-Muslims, the role of Islam in promoting peace can be fully grasped. However, this should not be confused that a Muslim must endure every situation or the violation of his\her rights or the rights of the Muslims in general. The key point is that a Muslim chooses the moderation and peace as the first solution to his social affairs as long as it does not require the violation of the rights of one or several people.
1 Here, the term “non-Muslim” refers only to a non-Muslim who is the citizen of an Islamic state or a non-Muslim who lives in a non-Muslim country which is in agreement with Muslims.
- Ibn Babawayh, "Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih," vol. 4, p. 412.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, "Tuhaf al-'uqul," p. 200.
- Allama Majlisi, “Bihar al-Anwar,” vol. 74, p. 383.
- Reference to: “How and why did Islam spread very quickly throughout the world? – Part 4: Islam and its moderate views.”
- Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (AS), “Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq).”
- M. al-Kulayni, "Kitab al-Kafi."
- peace in islam
Perhaps one of the most important questions for each of us about life is what a good and flourishing life is and most generally if it is worth living.
Many people, including great philosophers and scholars of ethics and mysticism throughout history, have tried to find an answer to this question regarding life worth. Albert Camus, one of the famous authors and philosophers of the 20th century, tried hard to fulfill his lifelong quest to shed light on the meaning of our lives, such that he believed: “Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest […] comes afterward. Those are games; one must first answer this” .
Now let’s see how different people have answered this important question about life worth. We can divide these viewpoints into three categories:
1. They believe life costs a lot and has very few benefits for us. As Woody Allan, the pessimist American director, puts: “Most of life is tragic. You're born, you don't know why. You're here, you don't know why. You go, you die. Your family dies. Your friends die. People suffer. People live in constant terror. The world is full of poverty and corruption and war and Nazis and tsunamis. The net result, the final count is, you lose - you don't beat the house” . Or as Samuel Butler says: “life is one long process of getting tired” . So some of these people think why not we commit suicide to get rid of this miserable life?!
2. These people believe life is so valuable no matter how it seems and we have to live it at any price. Lots of people choose to think this way. Henry James has said: “Be not afraid of life believe that life is worth living and your belief will create the fact” . Or there is another quote from Ellen DeGeneres that says: “My life is perfect even when it's not” . Also, one of the most popular contemporary writers, Paulo Coelho seems to have a kind of optimistic view about life when he says: “Never give up. When your heart becomes tired, just walk with your legs – but move on” 
Some other people seem to have found the golden mean between the two previous extremes:
3. So, sometimes it is worth living and sometimes not. This is what Islam and Islamic leaders teach their followers about life worth. There are examples in the lives of the infallible Imams in which they indicate that we are not created only to live this worldly life and that this life is merely a path for us to reach a higher status. As the Holy Quran says: “while the Hereafter is better and more lasting” (87:17). So, we should always think if this earthly life will be to our benefit in the hereafter or not. If yes, then it is worth living; if not fight for those benefits even if you die.
One of the most significant role models for us in this regard is Imam Hussain (AS), the third infallible Imam, whose act of sacrifice has left a profound impact on humankind throughout history. Imam Hussain (AS) believed accepting humiliation and obedience to mean people is like living in hell. So, when all he did to guide his enemies to the right path failed, he said: “To me, death is nothing but happiness, and living under tyrants nothing but living in a hell” .
At this state, death to him is more desirable than living under the oppression of the tyrants and surrendering to their wishes. Therefore, when he was placed in a dilemma by the oppressors to be humiliated by swearing allegiance to the tyrant of the time, Yazid, or to fight and probably die, he decided to fight even if he died. He sacrificed all he had in this way and departed this earthly life with glory.
Now, after about 1400 years, every year in Muharram, lots of ceremonies are held around the world to commemorate the anniversary of his martyrdom. Lots of people from different religions get influenced by him and his ideology and sometimes it makes them embrace Islam.
Which point of view do you agree about life worth? Will you ever give up your benefits for the good of others to make them have a flourishing and more valuable life?