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.
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.
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.