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Christmas: Love for Jesus Can Bring Christians, Muslims Together

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  • Zafar Khan
    Love for Jesus Can Bring Christians, Muslims Together By Ibrahim Hooper http://theislamawareness.blogspot.com/2010/12/love-for-jesus-can-bring-christians.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 25, 2010
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      Love for Jesus Can Bring Christians, Muslims Together
      By Ibrahim Hooper

      http://theislamawareness.blogspot.com/2010/12/love-for-jesus-can-bring-christians.html

      "Behold! The angels said: 'O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.'"

      Before searching for this quote in the New Testament, you might first ask your Muslim co-worker, friend or neighbor for a copy of the Quran, Islam's revealed text. The quote is from verse 45 of chapter 3 in the Quran.

      It is well known, particularly in this holiday season, that Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. What is less well understood is that Muslims also love and revere Jesus as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind.

      Other verses in the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the direct word of God, state that Jesus was strengthened with the "Holy Spirit" (2:87) and is a "sign for the whole world." (21:91) His virgin birth was confirmed when Mary is quoted as asking: "How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?" (3:47)

      The Quran shows Jesus speaking from the cradle and, with God's permission, curing lepers and the blind. (5:110) God also states in the Quran: "We gave (Jesus) the Gospel (Injeel) and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers." (57:27)

      As forces of hate in this country and worldwide try to pull Muslims and Christians apart, we are in desperate need of a unifying force that can bridge the widening gap of interfaith misunderstanding and mistrust. That force could be the message of love, peace and forgiveness taught by Jesus and accepted by followers of both faiths.

      Christians and Muslims would do well to consider another verse in the Quran reaffirming God's eternal message of spiritual unity: "Say ye: 'We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.'" (2:136)

      The Prophet Muhammad himself sought to erase any distinctions between the message he taught and that taught by Jesus, who he called God's "spirit and word." Prophet Muhammad said: "Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one."

      When Muslims mention the Prophet Muhammad, they always add the phrase "peace be upon him." Christians may be surprised to learn that the same phrase always follows a Muslim's mention of Jesus or that we believe Jesus will return to earth in the last days before the final judgment. Disrespect toward Jesus, as we have seen all too often in our society, is very offensive to Muslims.

      Unfortunately, violent events and hate-filled rhetoric around the world provide ample opportunity for promoting religious hostility. And yes, Muslims and Christians do have some differing perspectives on Jesus' life and teachings. But his spiritual legacy offers an alternative opportunity for people of faith to recognize their shared religious heritage.

      America's Muslim community stands ready to honor that legacy by building bridges of interfaith understanding and challenging those who would divide our nation along religious or ethnic lines.

      We have more in common than we think.
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      Can Muslims Celebrate Christmas?

      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503543368

      Question: Scholars of Islam, as-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatu Allah.

      During the Christmas season, Christians all over the country illuminate their houses with lights, put up Christmas trees, and exchange gifts. TV is full of jingle bells and all the stores are decorated for Christmas. All this is very tempting to small children; children love putting up lights and decorating for holidays.

      Some Muslim families also put up Christmas trees and lights to keep their children happy. They argue that Christmas is, after all, Prophet Jesus' birthday and there is no harm in celebrating Christmas as long as children are happy.

      When our children started talking a few years back they started asking why we do not put up lights and trees during Christmas. I explained to them that we are Muslims and we don’t celebrate Christmas; we celebrate `Eids. To keep our children happy and to get them excited about `Eid, we started putting up lights (green and white) around the house and decorating inside the house during Ramadan until after `Eidul-Fitr and during `Eidul-Adha. We exchange gifts with our Muslims friends on both `Eids. Alhamdulillah, our children now wait for `Eid, not for Christmas.

      What is the Islamic position on these issues? Can we celebrate Christmas? Is it OK to put up lights during Ramadan and `Eid?


      Answer:
      Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

      In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

      All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

      Dear brother in Islam, we are really impressed by your question, which shows how concerned you are about the affairs of your fellow Muslims and your interest to abide by the Shari`ah in all details of your life. May Allah help us all lead a righteous life based on Islam!

      Before answering your question, it is very important to note that Islam is a complete way of life and it suffices Muslims. At the same time, we should be interactive and proactive. We should not forget our role in the society. We should be a good example to others. Islam urges us to be kind with all people without any kind of discrimination due to differences in faith or race.

      Muslims have their own identity. In order to keep this identity, Muslim scholars said that Muslims must not celebrate Christmas or holidays of non-Muslims. By participation in Christmas, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her consciousness of this basic point of difference between Islam and Christianity. Muslims must be very careful in this matter. The greatest danger is for our next generation, who may slowly lose their Islamic faith in tawhid and may start believing in Jesus as "more than a prophet and servant of Allah".

      We should tell our children that we are Muslims and this is not our holiday. This is the holiday of our Christian neighbors and friends.

      In response to the question you posed, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

      The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Every people have their `Eid…" Some celebrations are of a religious nature, and some others are social and cultural. Some celebrations are based on beliefs and practices that are contrary to Islamic teachings, and some celebrations are not of that nature. Some people claim that Christmas is now a secular holiday and it is very much an American national holiday rather than a religious holiday. But it is wrong to assume that because this holiday is national, it has ceased to be Christian. It is true that this holiday is very popular and it is extremely commercialized; nevertheless it is basically a religious holiday. Its very name and all its symbolism is Christian through and through.

      Christians celebrate at Christmas what they believe to be the "day of the birth of God's Son" or what they call "God Incarnate". Thus it is not only a celebration of another religion, it is also a celebration that is based on a belief that is totally against the teachings of Islam. From the Islamic point of view, the belief in the "Son of God" or "God in the flesh" is a blasphemy and kufr (denial of God's Oneness). By participation in Christmas, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her consciousness of this basic point of difference.

      Muslims must be very careful in this matter. The greatest danger is for our next generation, who may slowly lose their Islamic faith in tawhid and may start believing in Jesus as "more than a prophet and servant of Allah".

      The argument that “Christmas is, after all, Prophet Jesus' birthday and so there is no harm in celebrating Christmas” is neither logical nor Islamic. Why should Muslims celebrate Jesus' birthday? Why not the birthdays of the other 24 prophets and messengers who are mentioned in the Qur'an by name?

      For us Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is the final Prophet and Messenger of Allah, not Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was the last one and they say that "after God spoke through many prophets … in these last days he spoke to us through his son whom he made to inherit every thing" (New Testament, Hebrews 1:1). Thus they celebrate his coming, but for us Muslims, Prophet Muhammad was the last Prophet and Allah appointed him for all people and for all times to come.

      I do agree that our little children are deeply affected with the festivities and glitter of this holiday. We should try to take them to some Islamic camps and conferences at this time and give them some other alternate programs and activities. But Muslim families should not have Christmas trees in their homes, nor should they put up lights inside or outside their homes at this time.

      We should tell our children that we are Muslims and this is not our holiday. This is the holiday of our Christian neighbors and friends.

      I am pleased to know that you celebrate Ramadan and `Eids with lights and decoration of your home and exchange gifts with your children. This is very thoughtful, indeed. It is good to decorate our homes and masjids during Ramadan and for `Eids. It is mentioned in one of the Hadiths that even the heaven is especially decorated during the month of Ramadan. Allah Almighty closes the gates of Hell and opens the gates of Paradise during the month of Ramadan.

      We Muslims should give special attention to our own Islamic holidays. In this way our children will be attracted to our own celebrations rather than looking at others.

      Unfortunately, there are some Muslims who do not pay any attention to Ramadan and `Eids. Some of them do not even come to `Eid prayers and even if they come, they do not take their day off from work. Thus their children have no idea about Islamic holidays or they think that Islam is a religion without any festivals and celebrations.

      Explaining the reasons why Muslims don’t celebrate and believe in Christmas, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
      Christmas was a pagan custom which was adopted into Christianity; it has nothing to do with reverence and love of Jesus, the mighty Messenger of Allah that we Muslims hold in the highest regard and respect. If Jesus were to come today, whether or not he would identify himself with those who celebrate Christmas is a question one should ask seriously.

      If we are celebrating the great teachings of Jesus or other prophets, we must do so everyday. To do so means to practice love, mercy, justice and compassion and to be actively engaged in doing the will of God.
      (Source: www.islam.ca)
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