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Saturday, December 24, 2005

CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th. It is a statutory holiday throughout Canada. If it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the next working day is considered a legal holiday.

Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the ‘birth of Jesus Christ’. In the third century, efforts were made to find out the date of the Nativity (birth of Jesus -Eisa a.s.), but only in the year 336 was the date of the December 25 festival set in commemoration of Jesus' (Eisa a.s) birth. Pope Julius formally selected December 25 as the day of Christmas in 349 C.E..

Origin of Christmas

The early pagans & mushrikeen (those who associate partners with Almighty Allah) of the Northern countries have always observed the period of time when the cold season reached its peak and the days began to shorten. Hence, December 21st is regarded as the shortest day of the calendar year. These early pagans would worship their gods and goddesses during this transformation of the season. For example in ancient Rome, from Dec 17th to Dec. 24th the mushrikeen would celebrate a festival in honor of Saturn, the god of time. Similarly during this period, the Druids would celebrate a festival in honor of the Sun god. The ancient Germanic tribes celebrated the pagan feast of twelve nights from Dec. 25th to Jan. 6th. The conflicts of the forces of nature were represented as battles between the gods. The birthday of the Sun god (Mithra) was celebrated on Dec. 25th and was known as the Lord’s Day long before the Christian Era. (Source: Mithras, the Fellow in the Cap, Holiday Myths)

Christmas (Dec. 25th) is not the actual date of the birth of Jesus (prophet Eisa a.s) but rather a compromise with paganism. The Gospel does not clarify regarding the seasons of the year when Jesus (prophet Eisa a.s.) was born. On the other hand, they do tell us that shepherds were guarding their flocks in the open air (see: Luke 2:1-20 - King James Version). This is why, many of the early leaders of the Church considered it most likely that the birth of Jesus (prophet Eisa a.s) occurred in the late summer or early Fall/Autumn. It is due to this and other innumerable facts which indicate that Christmas (Dec. 25th) actually has nothing to do with Jesus (prophet Eisa a.s). In the TIME magazine (Canadian version dated Dec 13th 2004) the cover story (Behind the First Noel) by David Van Biema, writes “Indeed, the Christmas story that Christians know by heart is actually a collection of mysteries. Where was Jesus actually born? Who showed up to celebrate his arrival? How do the details of the stories reflect the specific outreach agendas of the men who wrote them?”

The Christmas of Today – Merriment & Materialism

Nowadays, when Christmas is mentioned, most people immediately think of Santa Claus instead of Jesus (prophet Eisa a.s.). The image of Jesus (prophet Eisa a.s.) son of Mariam (a.s.) (Mary) is secondary and many a times lost in the enjoyment and materialism. People spend thousands of dollars purchasing gifts & presents for each other during Christmas. In fact most people sink into debt that can last for a year or two, if not more.

Jesus (Prophet Eisa a.s.) was a very humble and simple man. He distanced himself from the material world possessing almost nothing of this world. He was full of good character and worshiped the One true God, the Almighty. Only those who follow his lifestyle can be regarded as nearest to him.

Symbols of Christmas

SANTA CLAUS & GIFTS: Santa Claus is not of Christian origin. Santa Claus is a mythical old man who brings gifts to children at Christmas time (Nowadays, gifts are purchased by parents & friends and the children are told lies that the gifts have been brought by Santa Claus). Today's version of Santa originally developed from a real person, Saint Nicholas, who lived 1700 years ago. He was bishop of Myra, an ancient town of Lycia, now in Turkey. He was extremely kind and often went out at night, taking presents to the needy. His generosity was not bound by any particular time of the year. He was much loved by his community for his kindness. After his death which occurred on the 6th day of December, school boys all over Europe celebrated a feast day every year on the anniversary of his death. Children were so fond of Saint Nicholas and his habit of bringing gifts that the custom of celebrating his feast day on the 6th day of December was maintained for hundreds of years. In England, Saint Nicholas Day festivities were banned when Henry VIII founded the church of England. They were later resumed when Queen Victoria married German Prince Albert, but Saint Nicholas in his return was transformed to Father Christmas and appeared on Christmas Eve, the 24th day of December, not the originally celebrated date of December 6th. The N. American tradition of Santa Claus was taken from the altered English version. Santa Claus (a German translation of St. Nicholas) was modeled after a man of kindness, generosity and compassion. It was only in the last few hundred years that Santa Claus was associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas.

Lights: The mushrikeen Druids would celebrate a festival in honor of the Sun god during this period because of the change in season. During their celebrations torches were lit and strange ceremonies were enacted in honor of the Sun god. (Source: Holiday Myths)

The Christmas tree: Mushrikeen during their festivals would decorate trees in honor of the god of time. At the very tip, the representation of a radiant sun would be placed there in honor of Apollo, the sun-god to whom the final days of December were dedicated. (Source: 1001 Christmas Facts and Fancies)

Islamic teachings regarding Jesus (Eisa a.s.)

The Holy Quran and noble ahadith explain the true story regarding Jesus (Prophet Eisa a.s.). Jesus/Eisa (a.s.) is regarded as a prophet who was sent to the Israelites. His whole life was full of miracles (through the power of Almighty Allah) from the birth without a father, then the rest of his life filled with miracles from curing the leprous and blind, making the dead alive etc. And his leaving this earth, as he was uplifted alive. He will also return before Doomsday and live a normal life and face his natural death. For details you may read the Holy Quran which explains the life of Jesus (Prophet Eisa a.s.) thoroughly.

Birth OF JESUS AS MENTIONED IN THE HOLY QURAN

The detailed story of Jesus' birth from Mariam (a.s.) (Mary) is told in the Holy Quran. We are told that he was born without a father by the direct command of Almighty Allah. Mariam (a.s) (Mary) was single and a chaste woman.

“And We blessed the woman (Mariam), who guarded her chastity, We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for the whole world.” (Holy Quran 21:91)

“O Mohammed, relate to them the story of Mariam in the book (the Quran) when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She chose to be secluded from them. We sent to her Our angel and he appeared before her as a grown man. She said: “I seek Allah’s protection against you, leave me alone if you are god-fearing.” He said: “Don’t be afraid, I am merely a messenger from your Rabb (Lord) to tell you about the gift of a righteous son” She said: “How shall I bear a son, no man has ever touched me nor am I unchaste?” The angel replied: “So shall it be – your Rabb (Lord) says: ‘It is easy for me. We wish to make him a sign for mankind and a blessing from us’ – And this matter has already been decreed.” So she conceived the child and she retired with him to a remote place. The pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She cried in her anguish: “Ah! Would that I had died before this, and been long forgotten!” (An angel) from beneath consoled her saying: “Do not grieve! Your Rabb (Lord) has provided a brook at your feet. If you shake the trunk of this palm tree, it will drop fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat, drink, and refresh yourself. If you see any human being, say: ‘I have vowed a fast for Rahman (Almighty Allah), so I will not speak to anyone today. Carrying the baby, she came back to her people. They said: “O Mariam! You have brought something hard to believe! O Sister of Haroon! Your father was not a bad man nor your mother an unchaste woman.” In response, she pointed towards the baby. They said: “How can we talk to a babe in the cradle?” Whereupon the baby spoke out: “I am indeed a servant of Allah. He has given me the book and made me a prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I may be. He has commanded me to establish salah (prayer) and give Zakah (obligatory charity) as long as I live. He has exhorted me to honor my mother and has not made me domineering, hard to deal with. Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I shall die and the day I shall be raised to life again” Such was Eisa (Jesus) the son of Mariam, and this is the true statement about him concerning which they are in doubt. It is not befitting to the majesty of Allah that He Himself should beget a son! He is far above this for when He decrees a matter He need only say: “Be” and it is. Eisa (Jesus) declared, verily Allah is my Rabb (Lord) and your Rabb (Lord): therefore, serve Him. This is the right path. In spite of this, the sects from among them are divided concerning Jesus (Eisa). So woe to the disbelievers. (Holy Quran 19:16 – 37)

Conclusion:

In light of the above one can realize that Christmas is a collection of distortion, shirk (associating partners with Allah) and events of worship which revolved around the worship of many gods and goddesses. This ideology on its own clashes with the basic fundamental teachings of Islam namely Tawheed (the belief in the existence and Oneness of Allah). Therefore as Muslims we must refrain from such events, actions, festivals and functions which can seriously damage our belief and Iman (faith). Iman is the foundation of Islamic society, and tawheed is the essence of this faith and the very core of Islam. The safeguarding of this iman, and of this pure tawheed, is the primary objective of all Islamic teachings and legislation. In order to keep the Muslim society purified of all traces of shirk and remnants of error, a continuous effort must be made to refrain from all customs and practices which originate from societies' ignorance of divine guidance. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had mentioned to us: "Whoever imitates a nation is one of them!" (Abu Dawood).

May the Almighty guide us all towards truth and keep us steadfast on it. Ameen.

Jami’yyatul Ulama Canada (CCMT)

Note: Muslims respect the faith of others, however Muslims do not participate in religious celebrations which infringe Islamic beliefs & principles.

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