Milad-un-Nabi Mubarak Isa (Merry Christmas!)

This article was first published on Facebook.

By Nicola Hendriksen

For all those that hold dear a symbolic day of the birth of a noble soul Jesus, peace to you all.

Islam expects the highest moral traits from believers. The cultivation of good manners is a crucial part of the believer’s training and elevates him on the ladder towards perfection. One of the qualities emphasized by GOD as mentioned in the above verse is to return a greeting with that which is better than it, or at least of equal merit.

In the Quran, Christmas is not mentioned. I am just trying to gather all the verses from my memory that can be even distantly related to how to communicate with people of other religions.

So, it is exclusively God’s job to declare anything forbidden.

There is no such verse of prohibition existent in the Quran, that says do not say MERRY CHRISTMAS nor one should say anything Haram or Halal on their discretion; here are some verses to ponder:

Quran 16:116 “Hence, do not utter falsehoods by letting your tongues determine ˹at your own discretion˺, "This is lawful and that is forbidden", thus attributing your own lying inventions to GOD: for, behold, they who attribute their own lying inventions to GOD will never attain to a happy state!”
Quran 19:33 "And peace be on Jesus the day Jesus was BORN and the day that I die and the Day that I shall be raised up to life".
Quran 4:86 And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better ˹greeting˺ than it or return it; surely GOD takes account of all things.
Quran 60:8 GOD does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, GOD loves those who act justly.
Quran 4:86 If they greet you return with a better greeting.
Quran 6:108 Never insult the other people's GOD.

Another verse I can think of which is loosely connected to the issue is about the permissibility of walking between the two hills as part of Muslim pilgrimage ˹hajj˺.

Quran 2:158 When the pagans were converted to Islam they were hesitant to do tawaf as part of hajj since they still had the memory of doing the tawaf for their pagan goddess “Manat” between these two hills. So the tradition was still linked to idol worshipping in their mind. In this verse, GOD says that there is no blame in including that walking part in pilgrimage keeping GOD in mind since the area is a sign of God and not inherently linked with paganism. Thus a pre-existing pagan culture was not outlawed but was made permissible since it was not initially linked to paganism ˹Muslim tradition links this area with Ishmael˺.
Quran 2:158 Lo! ˹the mountains˺ As-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the indications of GOD. It is therefore no sin for those who is on pilgrimage to the House of GOD ˹or visiteth˺ it, to go around them. And those who do good of their own accord. lo! GOD is Responsive, Aware.

To the Muslims, Jesus is also a miracle or sign of GOD as “Safa” and “Marwa”. In the Quran, Jesus even shows some more miracle or sign that is not described in Bible. To the Muslims, Jesus is a miracle or sign of GOD. And 25th December would be the day of this miracle If it was a real date but unfortunately, it is not.

Maryam and Isa, old Persian miniature
Quran 21:91 AND ˹remember˺ Mary who guarded her chastity, whereupon GOD breathed into her of GOD's spirit and caused Mary, together with her son, to become a symbol of all people. 

All Muslims believe that Jesus was not sent as the son of GOD and Jesus never preached that. When a Muslim hears the word “Christmas”, Muslims never imagine for a fraction of a second that this was the day when GOD came into this world. But the festival is still considered as a festival of another religion though it is becoming a secular holiday day by day. Unlike the ˹tawaf˺ which was still very strongly associated with paganism in people’s minds.

Details in the Quran may surprise Western Christians: Mary grows up in the Temple under the protection of Zacharias, she gives birth to Jesus under a palm tree in the wilderness. Baby Jesus speaks from the cradle, to defend his mother against accusations of adultery, and performs a miracle: creating a live bird from a piece of clay.

These details can be found, with slight nuances, in other Christian sources: The Gospel ˹of James˺, the Syriac Infancy Gospel, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. All are Eastern Christian texts, historically deemed doubtful ˹apocryphal˺.

Their unmistakable parallels with the Quran have pushed scholars to seek the nexus between some lost strains of Christianity and the very foundations of Islam.

Muslims and non-Muslims would probably disagree about the exact nature of that connection. For the latter, the Quran must be the result of human borrowing from earlier sources, but for Muslims, it is the divine revelation of GOD.

We can agree, that Islam and Christianity, these two great religions of our troubled world, are deeply connected and have much in common.

Muslims light the Christmas tree in the Church of the Heart of Jesus in Jordan

And we can all find inspiration in the timeless ethical wisdom of Jesus of Nazareth, and see meaning in his birthday.

Therefore, as a Muslim, I don’t see why Christmas greetings should be held back, or why every faith tradition must be reduced to a colourless ‘holiday’.

Rather, I respect Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, that most amazing man Jesus.

And I believe Muslims should join their Christian neighbours in saying: “Merry Christmas!”

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