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Imam Muhammad Answers Question About Christmas

Imam W. Deen Muhammad


 (Editor's note: The following question was raised on radio program "Al-Islam in America, " a program heard in the New York metropolitan area, produced by Masjid Muhammad -Bronx, N. Y., hosted by Imam Abdul-Haqq Muhammad.

QUESTION: My name is Abdul Shaheed and I would like to ask a question of Imam W. Deen Muhammad concerning Christmas, the so-called pagan holiday. I have children, and I would like to know what is the approach that I should take concern-ing them during the holidays?

WDM: That is a problem because it's almost impossible to isolate ourselves or seal ourselves off from the Christian influences, but these are really a lot of commercial influences more than anything else. The religion is used but the influences are commercial.

The thing that is harmful about Christmas is not so much the green tree that they light and decorate but the spirit of the time when people are trying to get money, to have a good time, to put on their finest clothes and go out on Christmas Eve and have a party — spending money and having a good time.

That's the worst thing about it, however, the tree does present a danger too because it is one of the remains of pagan ideas and pagan practices in Christianity that the Christians themselves don't give any sacredness or holiness to. In fact it's part of the gaiety of Christmas rather than the religious idea.

We know that the tree as a symbol goes back to pre-Christian days in Europe when the pagans would bring in trees/logs, set them afire and burn them in the square, and have a celebration. 1 think the expression "yuletide" comes from the pagan language in those times.

I believe that Muslims should try as best they can sometimes circumstances won't permit us to keep the tree out of our home environment. We might be living with non-Muslim relatives or friends — but if you have your own apartment or place, you shouldn't have a Christmas tree because these symbols are pagan in origin. A lot of Christians are complaining that the Christmas tree and this heavy commercializing is hurting also the idea of Christianity and the contents of the Christian faith as well as the followers of Christianity.

As Muslims, we should support those Christians who are protesting that.

If we  ourselves feel threatened -and even if we don't feet threatened -still, if we know Christians who are trying to bring about change or remove that kind of burden from the Christian  faith, we should support them.

The best we can do is try to keep our young children from being exposed to that kind of celebration where commercialism and a tree are given so much importance in the life of the people.