Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Muslim View of Christmas

The article excerpted below is from Ummah.net. It’s an explanation of Christmas for Muslims, and also an admonition to the faithful not to let themselves be drawn in by the holiday temptations of the kuffar.

One of the things to think about as you read this article is that some of the criticism it contains — an objection to the commercialization and excessive materialism that has come to be associated with Christmas — is not specifically Muslim. It’s a reminder of why Islam appeals to people who are repelled by the hedonistic sinkhole that Western popular culture has become.

This is more than a repudiation of a Christian holiday — it’s an indictment of orthodox secularism and its materialistic obsessions:

Christmas and Islam
By Umm Muhammad


Quite a number of Muslims today, especially those living in Christian dominated countries or those influenced to a large degree by western culture, have been led to consider that taking part in the Christmas celebrations of friends and relatives is, at very least, a harmless pastime if not a legitimate source of pleasure for children and adults alike. In many instances, pressure to conform with the practices of society is too great for those of weak resolve to withstand. Parents are often tempted to give in to the pleading of children who have been invited to a party or who are unable to understand why they alone are being prevented from joining the festivities they observe all around them or why they cannot receive gifts on this occasion like the other children.

Indeed, the Christmas season has been aggressively promoted in every aspect of business, in schools, in every public place. High pressure sales tactics have invaded the home through television, radio, magazine and newspaper, captivating the imagination with every kind of attraction day and night for a month or more every year. Little wonder that many of those thus targeted so persistently succumb to temptation. Among earlier generations, Christmas was an occasion which was still basically religious in orientation. Gifts, trees, decorations and feasting assumed lesser roles. But now all of this has changed. As noted in an American publication, Christmas has gone the way of many other aspects of society, becoming one more element in the mass culture which every season enables manufacturers and merchants to make millions of dollars through an elaborate system of gift exchange which comes more often from mutual expectations that “must” be fulfilled than from the heart. The commonly accepted notion that happiness is derived largely from possessions and entertainment is the driving force behind the month-long preparations and festivities which continue on through the end of the year. This fact, although blameworthy in itself, has led many Muslims into the delusion that Christmas is no longer a religious occasion and therefore does not conflict with Islamic belief.

The materialistic atmosphere surrounding the celebration of Christmas is, in reality, a manifestation of pagan culture (Jaahiliyyah) at its worst. It can only be seen by the conscious Muslim believer as a rat-race designed and implemented by Shaytaan to accomplish a great waste of time, effort, money and resources while countless families barely subsist in a state of poverty throughout many areas of the world. In addition to the commercial side of Christmas, although less obvious to the casual observer, are certain religious aspects to be noted. The celebration was and still is intended by practising Christians as a remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) who is considered by many of them as God incarnate or the second person in a trinity, and thus they celebrate the birth of “divinity.” The word itself is an abbreviated form of “Christ Mass,” i.e., sacrament in commemoration of Christ. Although taken by Christians to be the birthday of Jesus, the actual date of celebration, December 25th, cannot be traced back any further than the fourth century after Christ. Ironically, this day is also considered to be the birthday of the Hindu god, Krishna, as well as Mithra, the Greek god of light. It also coincides with the annual Tree Festival which had long been celebrated in Northern Europe before the Christian era and which has been recently revived in some Arab countries in an attempt to encourage celebration by disguising the religious significance of the day.
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The Christmas tree is the most obvious aspect of that pagan celebration which was incorporated along with its date of observance, December 25th, into church rites…

Thus, in more aspects than one, the holiday is deeply rooted in the worship of different forms of creation rather than the Creator Himself. A Muslim cannot possibly approve of such beliefs or the practices which stem from them. Anyone with a minimal knowledge of Islam would surely reject kufr (disbelief) and shirk (association of partners with Allaah) in every form. Only through ignorance or unawareness could one continue to participate in activities that reflect the acceptance of both. Muslims must be firm in refusal of all which is contrary to the concept of “Laa ilaaha illallaaha (there is none deserving of subservience except Allaah alone).” Consideration for others is well and good on the condition that Islamic principles are not compromised.

[…]

Again, the Muslim is reminded of the hadiths in which the Prophet (saws) warned against imitating the non-believers and encouraged distinguishing oneself from them in dress and manner. Whether taken from the materialistic or the religious standpoint, Christmas can have no place in the Muslim’s heart nor in his home. Any Muslim, young or old, who has a secure place in an Islamic community or group which has regular activities and affords companionship will find little difficulty in rejecting that which is harmful to himself and his family, in spite of the apparent attractions. In some societies, refusal and resistance may require actual jihad, but those who seek the acceptance of Allah and fear Him will undertake the task with knowledge that they are striving for salvation and will thus be firm and resolute.

We can see three themes intertwined in this article:

1. The Christmas holiday is an orgy of hedonism, materialism, and commercial opportunism, to be avoided by devoutly spiritual people.
2. Christmas is essentially a pagan festival which was incorporated into Christianity in a disguised form.
3. Christ is a blasphemous perversion of the Muslim prophet Isa, and encourages idolatrous behavior. His worship should therefore be shunned by Muslims.

The first objection is one which is widely shared by many Christians. I don’t know any practicing Christian who actually approves of the observance of Christmas as it is presently practiced. You won’t even find many atheists and secular people who actually like the Christmas season — with the possible exception of retail merchants, of course.

The modern version of Christmas is a kind of collective insanity, a frantic compulsion to rush and spend and buy and consume because… well, because everyone else is doing it. Not many people want to do it, but it’s difficult to opt out.

The only parts of Christmas I like are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. First the Eucharist at church, with the candles in the windows and the congregation gathered for cookies and cider after the service. Then, back at home, we decorate the tree and bring in a few wrapped presents to put under it. Next comes Christmas morning (which is a pleasantly delayed affair, now that the future Baron is a grown-up), the smell of cooking, and the extended family over for dinner. That’s Christmas, and it’s good enough for me.

But it’s not enough for the world at large. For the last thirty years or so I have dreaded the onset of the Christmas season. In my part of the world it begins early — the strings of lights and lawn reindeer often appear well before Thanksgiving. By the first week of December it is difficult to drive in Charlottesville, and even more difficult to find a place to park. The relentless removal of Christ from the season has left us with the most vulgar and tawdry celebratory remnants — wreaths and mistletoe, Rudolf and Santa, snowmen and elves, candy canes and kitschy angels. The songs on the speakers in the stores are the worst updated versions of pop tunes that were not very good to begin with. Hearing them thirty or forty times before the blessed relief of December 26th arrives is almost more than the mortal mind can bear.

So, as far as objection #1 is concerned, I’m with the Muslims.

And they’re right about #2 — Christmas is an appropriation of Saturnalia and Yule and all the other pagan festivals associated with the winter solstice. Christianity borrowed brazenly from the pagans; it made no bones about it. But what’s wrong with that?

The difference with Islam is that it objects to history. All traces of the Jaahiliyyah are to be erased, and any mention of them removed from the cultural lexicon. Islam is ahistorical — nothing existed before it, except damnable pagan darkness, and anything that indicates otherwise is to be expunged. Tear down the idols, blow up the Buddhas, and remove anything non-Muslim from the face of the earth.

Islam did, of course, borrow from its predecessors, just like all other religions. In the Arabian peninsula, and especially in the remote corners of the Ummah, pagan practices were incorporated into Islamic observance and remain to this day, despite the efforts of the Salafist purists to eradicate them.

But Muslims don’t like to admit this, so the dominant narrative is that nothing exists in Islam except for the worship of Allah under the guidance of his prophet.

Objection #3 is the most significant one: Christmas encourages idolatry, and must be avoided by Muslims.

Shunning is representative of Muslim behavior in general towards the kuffar. Islam doesn’t really do ecumenism — only the high-level representatives take part in interfaith services, and then only out of disingenuous opportunism, as an act of taqiyyah. The average Muslim only engages the infidel via da’wa — the call to conversion — or jihad, holy war. Any other interactions are limited to absolute necessity, so that the believer doesn’t risk contamination with the vile beliefs and practices of the kuffar.

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There’s no getting away from the secularization of the West, with all its attendant barbarism and decadence.

The Sea of Faith has long retreated down the naked shingles of the Western world, and no earthly power can force it to return up that darkling beach. Anyone who feels a spiritual hunger and looks around for something to satisfy it will find no sustanence in the dancing snowmen and floodlit Santas that dominate our public spaces for two or three months every year.

That’s our vulnerable point. Islam is poised with its sword, ready to find it and take advantage of it.


Hat tip: LN.

14 comments:

No Apology said...

I'm feeling the Christmas Spirit, and nobody can stop that.

Merry Christmas to you and Dymphna!

Alexis said...

Islam did, of course, borrow from its predecessors, just like all other religions. In the Arabian peninsula, and especially in the remote corners of the Ummah, pagan practices were incorporated into Islamic observance and remain to this day, despite the efforts of the Salafist purists to eradicate them.

I disagree. "Salafist" purists seek to destroy whatever good aspects of Islam that may exist, replacing them with a distillation of pagan idolatry. The very rituals of Islam betray a crass polytheism at odds with the image of strict monotheism that Muslims would like to portray to the outside world. Nowhere have I seen any attempt by "salafists" to eradicate the customs of kissing the Black Stone, taking shoes off at a sanctuary, or dressing the Kaaba up as a woman (or more accurately, a goddess).

If anything, the "salafist" desire to regress Islam to its original condition effectively seeks to turn back the clock. Turning back the clock always poses the risk of turning back the clock further than one intends. So, a "salafist" who seeks to turn back the clock to the seventh century may inadvertently set the clock back to the third century.

Any "purification" of Islam would necessarily omit any reference to Mohammed, for there is ample archeological evidence that the original "shahada" made no reference whatsoever to Mohammed! Please compare that to how Muslims got upset with Jyllands-Posten.

Dymphna said...

No Apology --

The Christmas Spirit has descended on Iraq also.

See the many pictures at Gateway Pundit, including a wonderful Christmas bonfire.

Here is just one of his posts on the story:

Iraqi Christian MP: We Will Go to Church This Christmas Without Fear

Iraq has made Christmas an official holiday. How long that can realistically last is anyone's guess, but let us enjoy the moment.

Dymphna said...

Alexis--

superb, if dismal, analysis of what happens with "clock turners". All religions have them -- all cultures do, too.

The salafists are a good example of why this supposed regression to "purity" of doctrine is destructive, regressive, and eventually impotent.

Baron Bodissey said...

Alexis --

Actually, there is an ultra-pure strain of Salafism or Wahhabism that considers all the Meccan monuments and traditions to be idolatrous, and wants them razed. They want Allah, and nothing but Allah.

I wish I could remember where I read about these absolutists, so that I could give you a URL, but I don’t recall where I encountered them. Maybe another reader remembers the name of the sect.

No Apology said...

Hope this url isn't too long...more on this site.

Nothing new here, really. Just a pile of fanatics with too much money.

http://www.bosnia.org.uk/news/news_body.cfm?newsid=2477

3. Wahhabism is a movement named after Muhammad Ibn Abd Al Wahhab. It is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The term Wahhabism is rarely used by members of this group today, although the Saudis did use it sometimes in the past. The currently preferred term is Salafism, but they also call themselves ‘true Islam’, ‘original Islam’, ‘Ahl As Sunna wa’l Jama’a’‘ (People of the Tradition and the First Muslim Community) and a number of terms that other Muslims also claim. The Wahhabism claim to hold the way of the Salaf As Salih, the ‘pious predecessors’, as earlier propagated mainly by Ibn Taymiyya, his students, and later by Muhammad Ibn Abd Al Wahhab and his followers. Wahhabism is among the most ultraconservative forms of Islam. Wahhabism accepts the Kuran and Hadith as fundamental texts, interpreted upon the understanding of the first three generations of Islam and further explained by various commentaries including Ibn Abd AL Wahhab’s,
that together with the works of the earlier scholar 'Ibn Taymyya are fundamental to Wahhabism. Wahhabism belongs to the category of the movements that seeks to return to a strict application of the Sharia while opposing both Western encroachment and the intellectual, artistic, and mystical tradition of Islam itself in the name of an early puritan Islam considered to have been lost by later generations.

4. Salafism is a generic term, depicting a school of though that takes the pious ancestors, salaf, of the patristic period of early Islam as exemplary models. This Sunni branch of Islam is often referred to as ‘Wahhabism’, a derogatory term that many adherents to this tradition do not use. Wahhabism, according to some experts, is a particular orientation within Salafism. Most puritanical groups in the Muslim world are Salafi in orientation, but not necessarily Wahhabi. One principle of Salafism is that Islam was ideal and complete during the period of the Prophet and his first followers, but innovations or Bid’a were added over the later centuries. This school of though requests to revive an Islamic practice that resembles Muhammad’s first community. In B-H, and in other countries all over the world, Salafism is frequently referred to as Wahhabism.

randian said...

The very rituals of Islam betray a crass polytheism at odds with the image of strict monotheism that Muslims would like to portray to the outside world.

Is Islam factually monotheistic? While Allah is, nominally, Islam's god, Muhammad has a far stronger claim as an object of worship and devotion than Allah does, and it is Muhammad, not Allah, who provides the example of proper Muslim behavior and attitude.

Czechmade said...

Mithra is Persian, not Greek. If I remember correctly it became a fashion in late Rome, the worship came around from Roman soldiers returning from the east.

However the Greeks loved to find equivalents for their deities:

Krishna was.......Hercules!!!

(interesting move on the way of de-multiculturing??)

Czechmade said...

Randian -

there is no better way to confuse muslims as a part of the mock dialogue than telling them that they are polytheists. You do not like idolatry? Quit Kaaba, quit Quran worship, quit waqf, quit your virgins etc.

Concentrate on allah only. Left alone with allah they will realize they have no telephone number to reach him...

Mystery Meat said...

According to Kinky Friedman, Santa Claus killed Christmas.

Afonso Henriques said...

"According to Kinky Friedman, Santa Claus killed Christmas."

Pretty much, indeed.
Let's stop drinking Coke as a retaliation!

laine said...

Many Christians have admittedly succumbed to materialism and gotten too far away from Christ's message of what is truly important in this brief life on earth. Perhaps the silver lining in the economic storm will be a healthier rebalancing of the material and the spiritual.

However, a lecture from the so-called religion Islam is the height of hypocrisy. Their role model in all things Mohammed was the most acquisitive of men, seizing other mens' land, wealth, wives, all by bloody force. His greed and that of his god know no bounds as they decree that all the world is to belong to Allah. Non-Muslims are to be shorn of all things material so that Muslims can have them without working for them!

So we have a Prince of Peace whose followers being human and weak may stray from his message of spirituality vs a rapacious Prince of Darkness who eggs his followers on to lie, cheat, steal from and kill non-Muslims to gain admission to his bordello heaven of eternal sex with virgins.

Every last country run by Islam's rules is an abysymal failure by any universal standard of human rights. Conversely, every last country built on Judeo-Christian principles has achieved the greatest good for the greatest number of its citizens.

So the religion with a 100% track record of failure presumes to lecture the religion that undergirds the global magnets for immigration?

Islam certainly wins the prize for sheer false pride as a substitute for achievement. Luckily for us, they don't even really fight well now. (They fight dirty, but could never win if the West actually mobilized itself as Saddam Hussein's fate demonstrated).

Zenster said...

Ah, yes. The good old, "Garlic Dressing". I remember it fondly from my choir days.

Merry Christmas all. Where I am, this is not a belated wish. Caroling and Mass are still going on in full force.

Zenster said...

On a more grim note is this ending snippet from the article by Umm Muhammad:

In some societies, refusal and resistance may require actual jihad, but those who seek the acceptance of Allah and fear Him will undertake the task with knowledge that they are striving for salvation and will thus be firm and resolute. [emphasis added]

In other words, in some places the purity of Islam must be protected by killing Yuletide celebrants.

As always, a cheerless and violent subtext accompanies Islam's isolationist and non-assimilating message.