Whenever you want to make a big decision, you might think about what would be the right choice; which one is better and going to lead you to the right way. When the choice is made and you have followed one way or another, again thousand thoughts appear. And one of those thoughts or questions is: “Was that predestined? Is it me who is making the choice or it was made for me before? What is my will in it?
Once a man asked Imam Sadiq (AS), “Does Allah make human beings to do or not to do a thing?”
He answered, “Allah is More Just to make a person do a thing and then punish him for that” .
Imam Reza (AS) also replied to a similar question with this phrase, “Allah is More Just and Wise to do such a thing” .
Divine wisdom and justice do not allow Allah to decide about good and evil acts of human beings, who are created to have a free will and the right to decide for their own fate. He directly refers to the fact that human beings are responsible for what they do and He just shows them the truth in the Holy Quran. They are to choose which way to take and what to do.
“and say 'This is the truth from your Lord. Let whosoever will, believe, and whosoever will disbelieve it.” (18:29)
“Indeed, We have guided him to the path, he is either grateful or ungrateful” (76:3)
So, none of the things we do in this world is the result of divine determinism. But we know that Allah has the ultimate will. He makes decisions, which no one can change. Where does His Will stand regarding human being’s will?
Are human beings the final decision-makers and Allah has no role and consideration in the decisions they make, or Allah makes the final decision and human beings have no part in the things that happen to them , and they have no free will? None! They both work together. For everything we do, both our will and Allah’s will play their own parts. 
Let me give you an example. Imagine a person who is in a terrible financial state and decides to go to his neighbor’s house to steal some money from their strongbox. The moment he decides to do such a thing, he knows that the money does not belong to him and might put the neighbor in trouble. He knows that stealing is not a good thing to do, and it’s against the laws of humanity, Islam, Christianity, and any other faith. At the end of the day, he decides to steal the money and goes to his neighbor’s house.
Well, the guidance is given by Allah, in the holy books, in one’s heart and thoughts, but it’s the person who makes the final decision. One might think that “Well, Allah could stop that man from stealing that money. Why didn’t he?”
The answer is that he surely could, but it is against his greater will to praise the ones who do what he commands them to do and the ones who decide to harm themselves, others, the earth, or the whole world. That is where the difference is made.
To sum up, one should know that Allah wanted us to decide and to choose, and that makes the difference between human beings and other creatures. Allah decides about certain things and guides us to the right path through signs and words He had sent to us. However, we are the ones who choose the way we want to take.
Which way is yours?!
Every day we meet several people at work, in the shops, at the university, in the neighborhood, or at parties and gatherings with whom we communicate and interact. Talking, telling jokes, shaking hands, touching or kissing usually happen in these interactions; but, is a Muslim allowed to do all these with whoever he/she wants? Or is he/she permitted to be exposed to such acts? These and many similar questions are answered in Islam.
To clarify and form the relations among people, Islam has presented the concept of Maharim and the two categories “Mahram” and “non-Mahram” which sometimes serve as conditions, requirements, or the basis of several Islamic laws. Regarding the Islamic rules on marriage, these categories define who a person can and cannot marry. Likewise, when dealing with the Islamic dress code, i.e., explaining whom one must cover specific parts of a body in front of, the concept of Maharim is required.
One’s Mahram is anyone whom it is permanently forbidden to marry because of blood ties, marriage ties or breastfeeding. However, a woman does not need to cover her hair and put on Hijab when she is in their presence. A woman's male Mahrams fall into three categories plus her spouse . Mahrams for a man are derived similarly. The Maharim for both, extracted from the verses of the Holy Quran (4:22-23) and (24:31), are listed below , and all other people and relatives are considered as non-Maharams.
Permanent or blood Mahrams, with whom one is Mahram through blood ties:
parents, grandparents, and further ancestors;
children, grandchildren, and further descendants;
siblings of parents, grandparents, and further ancestors (cousins and their children are not Mahram);
children and further descendants of siblings;
In-law Mahrams, with whom one becomes Mahram through marriage ties:
stepfather (mother's husband) if their marriage is consummated, stepmother (father's wife) even if their marriage is not consummated;
stepson (husband's son) even if their marriage is not consummated, stepdaughter (wife's daughter) if their marriage is consummated[i];
Rada or "milk-suckling Mahrams," with whom one becomes Mahram because of being breastfed by her. When a woman breastfeeds an infant that is not her child for a certain amount of time under certain conditions, she becomes the child's rada mother and everything concerning blood Mahrams apply here, such as rada father/mother, rada sister/brother, rada aunt/uncle and so on. In English, these can be referred to as milk-brother, milk-mother, etc. [ii].
It is forbidden (Haram) to marry Mahrams, but one can marry non-Mahrams who have reached puberty. As explained above, Married couples are Mahram to each other. But unlike other Mahrams, the limitations and rulings on looking and touching do not apply to them; i.e., married couples are the only ones allowed to touch and look at the whole body of one another; even the private parts.
Regarding social interactions, there are some rules according to the concept of Maharim:
Women and men are both required to keep their gazes downcast and should not stare at the other person when facing non-Mahrams or talk to them. Even Mahrams are not allowed to see certain parts of the body of each other (this will be discussed more under a separate topic “the Islamic rules on looking“);
When talking to non-Mahrams, the tone of voice should be serious, and the dialogues should be direct and as much as necessary. One should also avoid telling jokes and laughing loudly [iii];
Any physical contact (i.e., shaking hands, hugging touching) with non-Mahrams is forbidden (haram), except for curing patients. In this case, if a doctor of the same gender as the patient exists and can cure, then it is forbidden to refer to a non-Mahram doctor.
When being sole in a closed room (where no one else can enter, i.e., locked place), it is forbidden for a non-Mahram man to remain alone in the company of a non-Mahram woman. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP) said: “No man is alone with a woman except that Satan is the third one present ” ;
It is required (Wajib) to cover specific parts of a body in the presence of a non-Mahram according to the Islamic dress code. For men, this includes from navel to knee. For women, the clothing should cover their hair and body, but covering the face and the hands, from the wrist to the fingers, is not mandated .
[i] sister-in-law and brother-in-law are not Mahram.
[ii] Refer to your source of emulation (Marja’ Taqlid) for more details and the rulings.
[iii] See the article on modesty.
- Mahram and non Mahram
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 20, p. 131.
- A. Aroussi Howayzi, “Tafsir Noor al-Thaqalayn”, vol. 3/589, T. 105.
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)