Why don’t Muslims celebrate Christmas? Are Muslims allowed to have Christmas dinner? Can a Muslim attend a Christmas party?
Questions like this come up every year.
So, do Muslims celebrate Christmas? No.
There are lots of different reasons why Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. Some may be doing this out of culture while others may not believe in the commercial aspects of the holiday.
However, we will provide Islamic reasons backed by references from Quran and Hadith.
It should be noted that many Muslims attend Christmas events, hold a dinner or put up lights for the holiday season. Whether this action is Halal or Haram (allowed or forbidden) is beyond the scope of this article and one should consult with a scholar.
Also, while Muslims do not celebrate Xmas, the ones I know certainly like to shop the Boxing Day sales. So, here’s a list of top Muslim products for later.
Before we go further, let’s look at what Christmas is all about.
What Is Christmas Really About?
The answer might surprise you.
The definition of Christmas can be broken down into two:
- A Christian celebration of the day Jesus was born
- A Pagan celebration of the end of the Winter Solstice
Hang on, a Pagan holiday?
That’s right. Christmas was originally a celebration of the end of Winter and not related to Jesus Christ or Christianity at all.
Let’s take a look at the two view points:
Christmas From A Christian Perspective
The general belief is as follows:
One day God sent the angel Gabriel to visit Mary. The angel told Mary that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would give birth to this child and name him Jesus.
Despite being engaged to Joseph, Mary was a virgin and therefore surprised by the news.
There was a census on that year (some things never change) and therefore Joseph and Mary were required to travel back to their town of Bethlehem (Currently in Palestine).
All the hotels were booked up due to the census, and therefore May and Joseph found a stable and gave birth at that location.
Then, an angel informed three shepherds of the good news:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”(Luke 2:10-11)
Jesus’ birth took place when Herod was king of Judea. At this time, wise men (Magi) from the east saw a great star. They followed it, knowing the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews.
Then, the wise men gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Furthermore, his birth took place on the 25th of December.
For those interested, here is a cartoon showing the Christian version of the story:
So, do Muslims agree with the above?
Muslims do believe in part of this story, that an Angel visited Mary and she gave birth with no man involved.
However, Muslims do not believe that Jesus was born in a stable or in Bethlehem. Also, Muslims reject the idea of the wise men following the north star. More on the Muslim version coming up.
But, let’s now take a look at the pagan holiday.
Christmas from a Pagan Perspective
Many Muslims, Atheists and even learned Christians do not hold the view that Jesus was born on the 25th of December.
Instead, they believe that the 25th of December is a celebration to mark the end of the Winter Solstice.
What is the Winter Solstice?
Winter was a difficult time in the northern parts of the world.
Because, there was no central heating back then. Therefore, many people got too cold and died of illness. Additionally, it is dark almost all the time.
So, those living in the north would see winter as a depressing time. But, once the days get longer, they celebrate.
In fact, many of the practices of Christmas came from the pagans:
The Christmas Tree
Pagans saw the Evergreen tree never lost it’s leaves during winter, so believed there was something special about it. Therefore, they brought it into their homes, viewing it as a life-giving source.
Farther Christmas was originally an evil man named Saul, while others believe his character is based around St Nicholas, a kind loving man.
This marks the end of the Winter Solstice. Because, the stars line up and the sun makes it’s first appearance after many months of hiding.
So, it’s more like: the sun is born instead of the son is born.
A video of the real story behind Christmas:
The following video is extremely educational in providing a detailed overview of the story of Christmas as a Pagan holiday, and how the story of Jesus became fused into it:
So, back to your question. Do Muslims celebrate Christmas?
After reading the above it should be clear why Muslims do not celebrate the event, regardless of which way you look at it.
Muslims do not believe in the same version of Jesus’ birth as Christians, and therefore it does not make sense to celebrate his birthday on this date.
Also, Muslims do not agree with Pagan practices, and therefore it is not from our religion to celebrate the birth of the sun.
But, there is more.
So, let’s take a look at the top reasons below:
Reasons Why Muslims Do Not Celebrate Christmas
Scholars tend to argue that Muslims should avoid celebrating Christmas, and here are the top reasons they provide:
Reason 1: Muslims do not believe in the same story of Jesus as Christians
The Christian narrative has been described above.
But, what is the Muslim version?
The story can be found in Surah Maryam of the Quran, which is chapter 19.
In short, the angel visited Maryam and informed her that she would be having a child, despite no man touching her. So, she migrated to a place to the East of Jerusalem (Potentially near the Bethlehem area).
Then, the pains of labour drove her to a palm tree, and a voice called out from under her instructing her to shake the tree. So, she did and dates fell from it to provide her with nutrition to give birth.
Finally, Maryam travelled back to town and the people accused her of a grave crime, having a baby while being unmarried. Then, Jesus spoke as a baby and informed the people that he was a prophet of Allah, his first miracle and a sign that you cannot deny.
Here is a short simple video explaining the story of Jesus from a Muslim perspective:
(Faces are blurred as some believe we should not create images in Islam)
Therefore, Muslims should not celebrate Christmas as they believe in a different story to the biblical version.
So, this leads onto the second reason.
Reason 2: Jesus was not born on the 25th of December
In fact, the Bible itself suggests that Jesus was born in the summer months. Because, the shepherds were attending to their flocks outside (which took place in summer).
Additionally, the narrative in the Muslim holy book (Quran) suggests that the dates were ripe, which again happens in the summer.
Then the pains of labour drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She cried, “Alas! I wish I had died before this, and was a thing long forgotten!” So a voice reassured her from below her, “Do not grieve! Your Lord has provided a stream at your feet. And shake the trunk of this palm tree towards you, it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon you.(Quran 19:23-25)
So, Muslims do not celebrate Christmas because they simply do not believe Jesus was born on the 25th of December. But, by celebrating, one could argue they are confirming the incorrect date.
Reason 3: Muslims do not believe in Jesus as the son of God
Although Muslims believe in Jesus as a prophet, they do not believe in him as the son of God.
Allah has not taken any son, nor has there ever been with Him any deity. [If there had been], then each deity would have taken what it created, and some of them would have sought to overcome others. Exalted is Allah above what they describe [concerning Him].(Quran 23:91)
After all, Christmas is a celebration of the ‘Son of God’, and the celebrations place emphasis on his being a son.
Therefore, Muslims should not celebrate Christmas as they are agreeing with the view that Jesus is son of God. Furthermore, associating partners with God is the worst sin in Islam.
Reason 4: We should not imitate non-Muslims
Muslims are told not to imitate non-Muslim practices according to a Hadith (saying of the Prophet).
It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3512; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 2691)
But wait, Non-Muslims breathe, eat and drink. Does that mean we cannot imitate these behaviours? Of course not.
Actually, the Hadith is refers to the imitation of things that are outside of Islam in order to fit in. For example, drinking Alcohol or celebrating a non-Islamic religious holiday, such as Christmas.
Therefore, Muslims should not celebrate Christmas as it involves the imitation of an un-Islamic practice.
Reason 5: It is an innovation, and all innovations are in the fire
Most Imams read a hadith during Friday prayers, the translation of which is:
…The worst of things are those that are newly invented; every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.’(Sunan an-Nasa’i 1578)
Therefore, inventing something new into the religion of Islam is a terrible thing to do.
So, Muslims should not celebrate Christmas as it is not part of the religion of Islam (or even Christianity as we have shown). Celebrating Christmas could be seen as an invention, a dangerous territory.
Reason 6: It’s not a religious event
As described above, Christmas is in fact a Pagan holiday and has nothing to do with religion. Christianity was actually fused with the Pagan holiday by the emperor of Rome, Constantine.
In the Quran, we are told that the religion is complete and therefore, like the last point, we should not add to it.
Today, I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed My blessing upon you, and chosen Islam as Dīn (religion and a way of life) for you. But whoever is compelled by extreme hunger, having no inclination towards sin, then Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.(Quran 5:3)
However, if one is forced to break the rules then there is no sin on them.
So, Muslims should not celebrate Christmas because the religion does not mention it, and Islam is perfect as it is.
Recap of Muslims and Christmas
In summary, Christmas can be split into two very different holidays.
- A Christian festival
- A Pagan festival
Regardless, Muslims should not celebrate Christmas because they do not agree with either view.
By celebrating Christmas, we are confirming we believe in the other narrative of the story of Jesus, we are confirming that he was born on December 25th and we indirectly agree with Jesus as the son.
Also, we imitate non-Islamic practices which are directly forbidden in the Hadiths.
Finally, the Quran confirmed that Islam is perfect the way it is, and therefore there is no need to incorporate other events into our lives.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.