Society and Culture
5 Reasons Why Some Muslims Celebrate Christmas and New Year
Ifeoluwa Siddiq Oyelami*
Christmas and New Year’s celebrations among Muslims across the globe have grown significantly in recent years. Festival emblems can be found across the cities. Christmas trees, lights, “jingle-bell” tunes, and so on are all over the media and the internet. Unfortunately, certain “officials of the fatwa” began to endorse the importation of this culture.
The Prophet’s saying, “Whoever tries to imitate a people is one of them”, makes it clear that Muslims cannot celebrate the non-Muslim holiday. Emphasising the Islamic eid festivals, he said, “Every nation has its festival. This is our festival”. In other words, suggesting that Christmas and New Year celebrations are not to be observed by Muslims is not novel. In any case, interactions between Muslims and non-Muslims did not begin today. Why, therefore, are we seeing such a high rate of festive imitations now?
Ignorance must be man’s greatest foe since it leads people in the wrong direction. Some Muslims do not care about what is happening around them and do not bother to find out the facts. If one asks, what exactly does Christmas entail? New Year — what is it? Only a tiny fraction of people who celebrate these days can provide reasonable answers.
Christmas and New Year’s Eve, independent of each other in essence, have now been combined and emerged as the “festival season” in the popular culture emerging in the west. Many of the symbols used in this season have emerged as a reflection of superstitions. For example, the Christmas tree all over the world is described by devout Christians as an emblem that represents “the birth of Jesus and his resurrection from the cross”; On the other hand, in predominantly Muslim societies with religious sensitivities, this tree is presented as a symbol of the New Year, since that is less theologically sensitive.
Obviously, some of those who celebrate are unaware of the connections of the symbols they dress themselves or their children with superstition or idolatry. As a matter of fact, many conscientious Christians do not celebrate this day because of the superstitious origin of Christmas. In fact, eastern Christian countries like Russia do not observe December 25 as a holiday, as they have their own Christmas.
2. The Trend of Emulating Non-Muslim
Today, there is hardly an area where Muslims do not desire to be like non-Muslims, from education to clothing, from economy to family matters. We try to do what they do. This problem is experienced individually and officially as in other areas. This is what the Prophet was saying when he said, “If they enter the lizard hole, you will follow them.” This is so evident that many Muslim countries now compete to make the most fabulous New Year fireworks and similar things. With an inferiority complex, some think celebrating these festivals will make them appear “civilised”. However, it should be known that parodies only keep the originals stronger. The more you imitate, the more you are defeated. The more you are defeated, the more you imitate. A Muslim should live a life built on Islamic values and struggle to live that life.
3. Losing Self-worth
The Hijri calendar, a central part of Islamic culture, is of little importance to the vast majority of Muslim society in the twenty-first century, except for calculating the dates of Ramadan and Hajj because our mundane affairs are always related to the west. The irony of the case is that the Hijri calendar was established based on a demand for originality. When the early Muslims needed to document their affairs, a new calendar system was adopted in order to differentiate themselves from the non-Muslims by accepting the zero (0) point of the hijra of the Prophet (the event that differentiated Truth from Falsehood). However, today’s Muslims have abandoned the Hijri calendar as they disregard the Hijra event and its significance. They ignore the hardship and strength it symbolises, and glorify the Christian calendar imposed on them.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that calendars have an extremely important connection with the beliefs of societies. For example, the Ethiopian calendar originated from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo churches. The same is true of the calendar adopted by the Buddhists and Chinese.
4. Commercial Opportunists
With the approach of Christmas in Western countries, consumption is reaching a crazy point. Some studies show that consumption per household increases by 29% during Christmas in the UK. Of course, this is no surprise, given the glamorous lights, lots of persuasive advertising, and expensive gift-giving culture, as consumerism is an integral part of this season.
Companies engaged in e-commerce and intercontinental marketing, which have recently increased, have begun to impose this consumption culture on the world outside the west.Unfortunately, domestic companies have started to adopt ornamental, tree and light cultures to compete with these companies.Constantly exposed to this situation, Muslims have begun to accept it as a norm and sometimes, they even look forward to this season because of the discounts and profits.
Christmas and New Year celebrations are inseparable from the immoralities and sins that plague our society as they pass. Although this season has a religious and familial basis in Christianity, it has become a time of much immorality. All kinds of parties, holidays and fun-making are seen this season, and of course, the lottery games, a modern form of gambling that Allah has forbidden, are emerging in many countries. Meanwhile, since certain Muslims are predisposed to these sorts of behaviour, they are more concerned with protecting the festival than denouncing it. Not only that, they will not tolerate any preaching against it.
In conclusion, as we have seen, the issue is not just about celebrating Christmas or New Year. Thus, Muslims cannot be stopped from celebrating this festival through sermons and writings alone. Of course, these will have a significant share in the solution point. However, the problems need to be solved from the root. For example, it is necessary to work hard to increase people’s knowledge of history, to let them know that they should look at issues critically, appreciate their self-worth and celebrate their own glory.
Let us repeat it, as you imitate, you are defeated, as you are defeated, you imitate. From economy to politics, from culture to education, from art to sports, we need to live a life built on our own values and make an effort to live this life.
*This article was translated from Turkish to English language by Zekiyenur Gök
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