Saying ‘Merry Christmas’
Over the past few days – with the festival of Christmas being celebrated all over the world – well at least in parts of the world that get most airtime on media channels – my social media feed has been flooded with messages forbidding
- Celebration of Christmas for Muslims
- Wishing Merry Christmas to those celebrating Christmas.
While I do not celebrate Christmas actively, I must admit, I am not convinced about the edicts forbidding me from wishing ‘Merry Christmas’ to my friends, colleagues and neighbors celebrating. I may be wrong – Allahu Aalam – but please hear me out without getting huffy. Islam allows for us to use our intellect and have differing opinions on issues. Alhamdulillah.
I disagree with most of the edicts because:
They assume a negative intention in my wishing non-Muslims on their festivals. They assume that when I say Merry Christmas I am in fact saying:
“I agree with your beliefs regarding Jesus and his birth”
Where-as what I am really saying is “I disagree with your beliefs, but I respect your right to have them. We agree to disagree. And while I may not agree with aspects of your theology, I respect your right to believe it and celebrate it.”
In the Quran Almighty Allah says: “O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (Al-Hujurat: 12)
There are also several ahadith about assuming the best of your Muslims brethren. Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” [Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]
Most of the edicts to not wish non-Muslims in their festivals do not seem right to me because:
- They are based in doubting the Iman of your fellow Muslims
- They seem to create divides between people when there is no direct instruction in the Quran to not wish others in their festivals. Participating actively in a festival and wishing others as a good will gesture are very different.
- We cannot expect people of other faiths to wish us on our festivals – the two Eids – if we don’t wish them on their festivals. It goes contrary to the core Islamic principal of justice.
- Living as Muslims who are in a minority in society and at the work place … it is courtesy to wish colleagues and neighbor’s.
Having been the only Muslim woman present in a class room, boardroom and office I have experienced first hand how not wishing can be extremely awkward in a multicultural setting.
Some scholars rule that wishing is not permissible, while others say that wishing others on their festivals is in the interest of generating goodwill and there is no harm in it. While I may not know which is the better way, I do know, that instead of rushing to judge, I will be assuming the best intention for my brothers and sisters in faith InShaAllah.
May Allah guide us onto the straight path.