Short Answer: The celebration of Christmas has almost nothing to do with Jesus, and it’s well-known he wasn’t even born on December 25th, but Mithras was, a Roman god who was worshipped as a son of God before Jesus was ever born. Muslim scholars can’t agree on celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday: some say it’s totally forbidden, while others say it’s ok if there is moderation. Above all: Muslims are warned against venerating the Prophet excessively as the Christians did with Jesus. Therefore, what can be said about Christmas can also be said about the Mawlid (Prophet Muhammad’s birthday).
Salam (Peace) Debbie,
Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.
First let’s agree that Islam is a religion of moderation. Islam is against going to the extremes. Midway is the best option in Islam.
Before Jesus, There was Mithras
The celebration of Christmas is a controversial issue among Muslim scholars.
In practice, the date chosen for the celebration of the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him-PBUH) has nothing to do with the actual birth date of Jesus as told in the Quran.
History tells us that there was someone else who is believed to have been born on the 25th of December.
He was Mithras who was a god of the ancient Romans.
The Romans believed that he was born on the 25th of December. More astonishingly, they also believed that he was the son of god who sent him to save people.
Romans worshiped Mithras about five hundred years before Jesus existed. And now instead of Mithras, Jesus is celebrated on the 25th of December.
Christmas: Not About Jesus
Now comes the issue of the practices observed by people at Christmas.
These practices have nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus.
The true teachings of Jesus are totally ignored and forgotten. Therefore, Jesus is not part of the celebration.
It is more or less a celebration of commercialism where decorations and presents are sold by the millions.
When some scholars allow new Muslims to celebrate Christmas, their intentions are for the convert to introduce Islam to their family members, so the convert can feel that they are still a part of the family, and enforce the message to them that Islam encourages good family relations.
Therefore, not everyone is prohibited from the celebration. Thus, the fighting you mentioned in your question cannot be generalized.
A very important point that must be highlighted here is that Muslims love and respect Jesus.
A Muslim’s belief is incomplete if he does not have a firm belief in Jesus as one of the prophets of God (Allah).
Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday: A Difference of Opinion
Now we come to the issue of celebrating the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. This is a hotly debated issue.
Some scholars condemn it because the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) never celebrated it.
The celebration is a means of expressing Muslims’ love for the Prophet and reviving his tradition, which many Muslims have neglected nowadays.
Muslims are warned against venerating the Prophet excessively as the Christians did with Jesus.
Therefore, what can be said about Christmas can also be said about the Mawlid (Prophet Muhammad’s birthday).
As I said in the very beginning, moderation is the best option in Islam.
The Right Way to Commemorate Prophet Muhammad
But these practices have nothing to do with the way the celebration should take place.
The occasion should be an opportunity to tell our children about the Prophet’s life and how he lived it according to the teachings of the Quran.
We should remind them of how the Prophet dealt kindly with the people around him whether Muslims or non-Muslims.
It should be an opportunity for introducing the Prophet to non-Muslims by focusing on his good manners and how he changed the world for the better.
I hope Muslims will not fall into the trap that the Christians have fallen into. If Muslims decide to express their love for the Prophet by celebrating his birthday, they should have the intention of connecting the past with the present; remembering, spreading, and implementing his teachings.
If you are looking for the truth, moderation will lead you it.
I hope this answers your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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