Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrating Christmas is Haram for Muslims

I went to the garage and let the cats in, and then walked out to get the newspaper. It was an overcast, chilly Christmas morning. Our next-door neighbors had not yet turned off their outdoor Christmas lights. The lighted lawn ornaments, two reindeer, were still slowly moving their wire heads, on the alert for Christmas day hunters; the Muslim neighbors, perhaps?

We have two Muslim families living across the street from us. They have no holiday decorations up, which is not surprising, but I wondered what their attitudes are towards Christmas. For example, how would they react to being wished, "Happy Holidays?" What do they think about Christmas decorations going up on houses in the neighborhood, and downtown, or Christmas sales at all the stores, and the incessant Christmas music played in those stores? They might not shoot the wire-lighted reindeer, but, like me, wouldn't they love to shut off that damned music?

Well, of course, a practicing Muslim does not celebrate Christmas, or any other kuffar (kufr, kafir), i.e., unbeliever religious holiday. According to, "Celebrating the holidays and the occasions of the Kuffar is certainly Haram. You are not permitted to do it. Nor are your rulers allowed to make these (Kufr) holidays as official holidays, since it is an imitation of the Kuffar." Haram in this context connotes sacrilege and is forbidden.

According to the Quran, the Prophet صلى الله عليه is said to have provided the people of Islam with two holidays, Fitr, and Tashriq (Tashreeq). Fitr or Eid al-Fitr is the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.  Tashriq are the days of eating and drinking and remembering Allah. The Islamic calendar is lunar, so the timing of these holidays varies according to the Gregorian calendar.

Many American Muslims are said to be tolerant of Christian holidays and are not offended if they are greeted with "Happy Holidays." It would not be appropriate, however, to wish them Merry Christmas.

Since moving here last February, I've had very little opportunity to interact with my Muslim neighbors, and certainly haven't had a heart-to-heart talk about religion. I have talked with Hamid, across the street, about the economic situation and his plans for returning to his country -- Bosnia. I've had more interaction with the other neighbor's son, Ahmed, who tosses the football with me and is like any American boy of 12.

I hope to learn more about my Muslim neighbors in the coming year, enshallah.

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