In recent years, I have noticed an increase in the number of Western Muslims celebrating Christmas in different capacities. This may be more understandable for those new to the faith, or for those who have non-Muslim family members with whom participating in this holiday may be tricky to navigate.
Unfortunately, there is also an increasing number of Muslims who have jumped on the bandwagon of celebrating Christmas with really no compelling reason to do so – putting up decorations in their homes, Christmas trees, giving Christmas presents to their children, etc.
Frankly speaking, I do not think this is because people are unaware of the Islamic teachings on the matter; in fact, I would venture to say that most people are aware of its rulings and prohibition by scholars, and could not counter the strength of those arguments or its proofs. Instead, what I have seen as the most common response is the genuine feeling that there is no harm in it. In simple terms: It’s just a tree! It’s just for fun. What’s the big deal?
There are two points I would encourage us to reflect on in response to these thoughts and beliefs.
Why the ‘Petty’ is Powerful
The first is about how we look at matters of haram and halal and fiqhi rulings in general. There is a certain outlook that has become increasingly popular in our times — a feeling that these issues and rulings are petty, trivial, and irrelevant, and that religion should not be about these ‘small’ matters, but instead about larger ideas of spirituality, belief in God and just being a good person.
This is contrary to our understanding of religion as Muslims, in which these larger spiritual ideas are actually deeply and essentially connected with an everyday practice of the faith. When one is divorced from the other, there is a severe imbalance, a fracturing, that does not allow faith to remain in tact nor for spirituality to actually be enlivened. Abiding by religious teachings is the first step and the portal to spiritual heights.
The ‘petty’ is in fact powerful! It is the means to spiritual growth and connection to God Most High.
Instead of dismissing these matters as topics for the small-minded, we should know that they are what make up the path to the Vast (Al-Wasi’). We are reminded by Allahto consult those of knowledge – that is, the scholars – on matters that we do not know the rulings of.
“So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” [Surah An-Nahl:43]
It’s All Fun and Games Until…
Secondly, many see their participation in this holiday as a way of having fun, with no deeper intent behind it, and also a means of fitting in a little better in a society that often makes us feel excluded. While these things may seem harmless and light to us, we should broaden our vision to consider what weight it may have on our children and their children. What family culture, traditions, and norms are we establishing and nurturing? What legacy are we leaving behind?
We must realize that we are not the first Muslims in this land, and study the waves of immigrants who came before us, as well as the African American Muslim community. We need to consider what helped keep people strong in faith, and what eroded it. While some held fast to faith, others assimilated such that they only came to know Islam as a religion their grandparents vaguely practiced, or the source of their Muslim last name. I would especially encourage every Muslim to read about the African Muslims enslaved in the Americas, and how they strove to keep their faith and religious traditions even in the most difficult of circumstances (Sylviane Diouf’s ‘Servants of Allah’ is an amazing book on this).
Preserving Islam for Our Children
The best legacy and treasure we can leave for our children is faith and a connection to Allah. If we want to do this, we must make Islam a vibrant reality in our lives, families, in the big decisions we make as well as in our everyday life. We should seek to attach our children’s hearts to Allah , Allah’s Prophet , Allah’s Book, Allah’s House, Allah’s people, and Allah’s Deen. Putting aside the legal ruling, celebrating and embracing with love the holiday of another faith tradition does not benefit this effort, but will only harm it.
Our beloved Prophetsaid that there would come a time in our community when someone would wake up a believer and go to sleep in disbelief. Never feel confident or arrogant in faith; it is a gift the heart is graced with, and that needs nurturing and care through those things that give it life. Learning, being in good company, remembrance of God, Quran, making our homes blessed spaces imbued with Prophetic teachings… all of this and more.
Our beloved Prophet said that there would come a time in our community when someone would wake up a believer and go to sleep in disbelief. Never feel confident or arrogant in faith; it is a gift the heart is graced with, and that needs nurturing and care through those things that give it life.Click To Tweet
O Allah, guide us and guide our children and keep our hearts firm on Islam. Make us a means of a beautiful legacy of faith that continues far beyond our lifetime. O Allah , protect us and our loved ones from trials in faith, and guide us to that which You love. Keep us in the Shade of Your protection and draw us ever closer to You.
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Source: Muslim Matters