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 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.
Is it forbidden (Haram) for Muslims to celebrate Christmas?
Jesus in Islam
Prophet Jesus (PBUH) is among the Prophets whose name 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 as 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)
Taking part in Christmas parties for Muslims
The ruling on taking part in Christmas parties is the same as taking part in any other parties. 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.
Do Converts Have any Duty Regarding Their Christian Family?
“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
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.
The Duty of Muslims in Celebrating Christmas
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)