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 article, we explained the importance of generosity in Islam. This article presents you with six codes of behavior that are to be observed in the acts of charities and alms-giving. The religion of Islam attaches great emphasis to the way how we offer our generous help and kindness to others. Some of the rules regarding generosity in Islam are as follows:
“‘We feed you only for the sake of Allah. We desire no reward from you, nor thanks’” (76:9)
In this verse, Allah praises the family of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) [Ahlul-Bayt (AS)], who would give their food to the needy only for the sake of God's grace and satisfaction without asking for rewards and even waiting for thanks.
“As for him who gives and is Godwary” (92:5)
The companionship of generosity in Islam with piety is to avoid stinginess in almsgiving and also to earn and spend in lawful (Halal) ways. You can choose a deceitful way to reach a laudable aim since the ends can never justify the means.
“Do not keep your hand chained to your neck, nor open it all together, or you will sit blameworthy and regretful ” (17:29)
This verse stresses the importance of moderation saying we should neither quit almsgiving by being tight-fisted nor be too open-handed in our act of kindness towards others.
“O you who have faith! Do not render your charities void by reproaches and affronts” (2:264)
Expressing or reminding your favor upon others may hurt their feelings and would definitely invalidate your charitable act. Islam strongly recommends us to treat each other with dignity and respect. Therefore, we should seriously avoid any kind of hurtful behavior or words which we think might offend the receiver of help.
“O you who have faith! Spend of the good things you have earned [through trade and the like] and of what We bring forth for you from the earth, and do not be of the mind to give the bad part of it, for you yourselves would not take it unless you ignore…” (2:267)
We are surely reluctant to receive anything worthless; so how could we give away something we do not like ourselves in the path of Allah? This is definitely disrespectful to our fellow brothers and sisters, insulting the high status of God.
It is highly recommended in Islam to give charity in secret so that the needy does not feel embarrassed and to safeguard his/her dignity and self-esteem. We should know that we are never superior to the one we are helping no matter how great our charity is.
Shall We Help the One Whom Allah Would Help if He Wished?
This question is asked by the disbelievers when Allah tells them to give charity: “When they are told, ‘Spend out of what Allah has provided you,’ the faithless say to the faithful, ‘Shall we feed [someone] whom Allah would feed if He wished? You are only in manifest error’” (36:47).
You might also wonder why Allah does not provide for the destitute Himself and orders the rich to help them! To resolve this doubt one should think about how people would develop virtues if they were all the same and had the same facilities! What would responsibility mean then? What about freedom of choice? Wouldn’t it be deterministic if God chose to help the ones He wished? “Does man suppose that he has been abandoned to futility?” (75:36)
There would be only one answer to all these questions: Each of us is responsible for everything that happens to us and also for our fellow human beings. The teachings of generosity in Islam are recommended in many verses of the holy Quran and stories from our infallible Imams to help us all lead a better life.
Not only that, psychologists and researchers of modern sciences have proven the positive impacts generosity has on our lives, as well. That is why people around the world nowadays are getting more and more engaged in many charitable acts like voluntary works, donations, etc., which would help the cycle of “good” going and make us all live in a happier world.
Everybody has a name and is known by that name among his/her friends, family, and in the society. Names might seem as some letters simply put together that form a word, but there is more to names than that. Every name represents the identity of its owner and sometimes affects the personality of that person. In Islamic teachings, great attention is paid to the names, and a lot of advice exists on how to choose a proper name for the new-borns. Someone who converts to Islam is said to be a re-born, so, is he/she required to choose another name for him/herself after this new birth? and should he/she Chang his/her Name after Converting to Islam?
The answer to the question above depends on what one’s name means and the origin of that name. There is no need to change the names:
without any specific orientation like the names of the flowers, or the names which are popular in a region or area but without any ideological persuasion, etc.;
without any negative backgrounds;
that do not bear negative historical, conceptual or educational meanings.
On the whole, a convert is not obliged to change his/her name, unless in the above where he/she is free to decide. In this regard, considering the Islamic teachings in naming can be helpful.
Choosing a proper name is one of the children’s rights over the parents. A good name positively affects its owner’s mind, and its meaning unconsciously strengthens the features implied in it in the character of the owner . On the contrary, a funny or ridiculous name causes the owner to be laughed at or to be mocked by others.
This matter is of great importance in Islam that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said choosing a good name is a duty of the father . Also, giving the child a good name is known as the first gift a father gives to his child . In another narration, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) commands Muslims to choose good names for their children since on Judgment Day also they will be called by the names they have in this world .
But, what is a good name?
In Islam, the concept of being good and evil is first determined based on rationality and then according to the Islamic law (Shari’a), so do proper names. A good name should be therefore rationally pleasant.
Are Non-Islamic Names Allowed?
In Islam, some names like those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Imams (AS) are said to bring abundant blessings to its owner and his/her family . Choosing these names for children, according to a narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), is the sign of the devotion that one has for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and his family (Ahl al-Bayt (AS)) .
However, choosing names other than these names are not prohibited by Islam. In other words, the meaning of the name, its history, and the educational effects it has on one’s personality, matter much more than the fact of being Islamic or not.
During the history of Islam, there existed some converts who had common non-Islamic names after they converted. Since they hold the names common in their regions or tribes and free of any negative concept, they kept their names after embracing Islam. Hence, there is no obligation in choosing an Islamic name.
- Name in Islam
- S. Hal-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 2, p. 618.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 128.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 101, p. 131, T. 29.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 129.
- Shaykh Sadouq, “Sawab-ul-Aamal wa Iqab-ul-Aamal”, p. 300.