The Christmas poll and why some Muslims avoid Christmas
Over the Christmas holidays and into the new year Islamic-Dictionary.com had a poll about Christmas and if the Muslim visitors to the site celebrate it and a total of 357 votes were cast. Here are the results.
You can clearly see that most Muslims do not celebrate Christmas and this might have something to do with the fact that most Muslims who come to the site come from India and Pakistan where Christmas is not part of their customs. In hindsight it would have been a better idea to limit this poll to a western Muslim audience for a more interesting result... perhaps next Christmas.
Christmas is distinctly a Christian celebration to mark the birth of Christ, Jesus (PBUH), who Muslims love and respect as well, but we don't celebrate his birthday. There are numerous reasons why a Muslim would choose not to celebrate it. These include, in no particular order -
- There is no agreement on the actual date of the birth of Christ, and some Christians celebrate it after the new year and some in Spring. Pagan customs and traditions influenced the date chosen to be the 25th of December where once they glorified their pagan gods, now they celebrated the birth of Christ. Muslims actively avoid things associated with paganism and the worship of anything but the one God.
- Over the years the pagan heritage of Christmas was forgotten and replaced with the Christian belief that Jesus was the literal son of God and a demigod being one part of the holy trinity, or being god himself. This made the event about the celebration of a different God than what unitarians (Jewish, Christian or Muslim) could accept. People who believe in one God don't tend to celebrate a religious event of a group who believe in demigods or many gods.
- Christmas is now identified to be a distictly Christian celebration and as such Muslims do not really have a part in it in the same way as Christians do. If the tables were turned, we would not expect Christians to actively celebrate the two Muslim Celebrations or Eids.
- In Islam there are two official Eids or celebrations - Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adhha and all Muslims agree on celebrating these. No other event is celebrated like these two and no other events are officially sanctioned in by the teachings of the Prophet Muhammed.
- The only person the grand majority of Muslims celebrate the birthday of is the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) (but then again not all Muslims believe
it should be celebrated).
- Islam and the Muslims have a distinct identity and the celebration of another religions' event makes us copy other peoples and for a Muslim to celebrate as well could be considered a form of approval for their religion and customs.
I'm sure there are more points to add to that list but let's get on with this blog post. In modern times Christmas has become about spending lots of money, buying large presents and eating lots of food and drinking too much. The social pressure to take part in the glutony is enourmous and the true Christian spirit of the event is quickly ebbing away as even fundamentalist Atheists have taken to celebrating it as it becomes a more secular event. Though it is becoming a more secular event its origins lie in paganism
so it will never be acceptable for the Muslims but there is some leeway.
Muslims in the west are often unsure what to do about Christmas. If their househole is extremely conservative or follow an extreme form of Islam they will actively avoid anything to do with Christmas, including sending Christmas cards or even saying Merry Christmas. Yet Muslims who have a libral background will get involved in everything that Christmas involves save for drinking alcohol and eating swine.
But the majority of Muslims in the west fall between these two extremes. They will avoid parties mainly because of the alcohol (Muslims are not meant to be around while alcohol is being served) but they will receive and send Christmas cards and also reply with Merry Christmas if it is said to them - they do not see their act of neighbourliness and kindness to be against their religion - and they appreciate that it is a joyous time for the people of the country and will be social and joyous as well.