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Christmas

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message 1: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments Hi everyone,
I haven't posted in awhile but i am curious to know how Muslims view Christmas (not the commercial aspect!!!) because Jesus and Mary are very important in Islam and because the story of the virgin birth is also in the Quran and because Muslims recognize the Prophet Mohammed's birthday (correct?). Anyway, the first Sunday of Advent just passed, so I'd just like to know what Muslims from around the world and from different backgrounds and traditions think of Christmas.

Thank you,
Marieke


message 2: by Maria (new)

Maria (mriakhn) are you a muslim? just wondering. I'm not saying anything on this topic cause i'm not that knowledged


message 3: by Maria (new)

Maria (mriakhn) *yes i know knowledged is not a word but that's the only way to get the point across at this point with my hungry head


message 4: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments no, i am not muslim...i am christian by default. i have been learning about Islam for a number of years and in learning about Islam, i have been relearning about Christianity, especially Jesus and the Gospels. Anyway...i really don't mean to offend anyone with my questions...
If anyone is shy about posting publicly, please feel free to write to me privately.



message 5: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments it has occurred to me since yesterday that maybe this is simply a boring question. perhaps Christmas is just too irrelevant for Muslims to have any opinions/perceptions? maybe we could just start a conversation about Jesus, instead. Jesus is fascinating.

anyway, EID MUBARAK to everyone here who is Muslim!


message 6: by Farhana (new)

Farhana Faruq (sketchedsoul) Hello Marieke,
I'm sorry no-one seems to be taking part in this discussion. It's not a 'boring question'. I don't have enough knowledge nor have I even thought about this topic to be of much help.

Humm.. in my opinion, yes Mary and Jesus are very important in Islam - however we don't celebrate any births, including the Prophet Mohammed birthday - peace be upon him (note: you do find some Muslims who do celebrate his birthday, that's a whole different topic - one I don't want to get into)

As for Christmas, even if Jesus was really born on that day (I believe he wasn't - from the little knowledge I have), we would not celebrate it.

The Qur'an tells us that Muslims should NOT differentiate between the Prophets of God, how can we celebrate the birth of one or two and not the rest? As well, the Prophet Mohammed never celebrated Christmas, nor did he mention it. He did tell us we have TWO celebrations - and those are the two Eids.

Anyway.. I hope that helps a little.

Take care.


message 7: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments Thank you farhana, this helps a lot. I will write more later but I want to wish you Eid Mubarak. I hope others will also share their thoughts.


message 8: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments i don't want to botch anything i want to say about christmas and the month leading to christmas day...but i do want to say a little bit about how it's about much more than just celebrating a birthday. and i do agree that in all likelihood jesus was not born on the day that we celebrate as christmas day. i'm also not sure what Jesus would think of it. but like many things in all traditions of christianity, these things were developed after Jesus's time...i don't know enough about how the church calendar/traditions developed to comment much on that, though. but that stuff isn't so relevant to the question i originally posted. i think i want to ask all of you questions about the so-called christmas story...the events signaling Jesus's birth, the "star of Bethlehem," the arrival of visitors from all over (like the Magi...who we now believe to have been zoroastrians from persia), the announcement of who Jesus was/would become (regardless of whether you believe he was the messiah, a prophet, the Lord, the son of God, the son of Man...). Other than the surat telling of gabriel visiting mary to explain her miraculous pregnancy, is any of this included in the Quran/Islamic tradition?


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Marieke,
In the book I just read she speaks a little about some areas, like in Lebanon, where christians celebrate Eid & muslims celebrate Christmas. I've never been to Lebanon, but I thought it was interesting & am curious if anyone here knows about it? Most muslims I know (Sunni) only celebrate the 2 Eids. Shia, of course, have more holidays. In reality, I know many muslims with Christian family on one side or the other here who celebrate the Eids & Christmas with family (but do not attend any church services). I've also read several fatawa that say it is okay to attend Christmas celebrations & dinners, etc, with family. I know a lot of families where they go to Grandma's for Christmas dinner & then have everyone over for Eid at their house. One of the fatwa I read said it is more important not to alienate family & not be divisive. Families with all muslims forego Christmas altogether in most cases I know of, but some do celebrate Muhammad's birthday & even Christmas. Of course, Christmas was set on the date it is to offset pagan celebration of the winter solstice. I just saw an article saying they think Jesus (pbuh) was born in July.



message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh, I forgot to add, I have never heard any traditions in Islam about the star or the magi (which I find fascinating) or the shephards, etc, but they also are not refuted in anyway. There may be one out there I don't know of if anyone wants to correct me? There is the part about Mary giving birth under a date palm tree & a few traditions (I don't know how reliable) about Mary being 13 or 15 years old & besides the date palm, being sheltered by a cave of some sort. Of course, his birth is miraculous as he is conceived without an earthly father. Speaking of Jesus (pbuh) I found a list of the names used for him in the Quran which I thought was interesting: God's Word, Sure Word, Spirit from Him, Messiah, Prophet, Messenger, Son of Mary, Servant of God, Amongst Those Close to God, Worthy of Esteem in this World & the Next, Blessed. The number related to Jesus name in the Quran is 33, which I thought was interesting, too.


message 11: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments hi jeannie, thanks! i just saw now that you posted this. i'm also very intrigued by the magi...

a good friend of mine is lebanese...one parent is muslim, the other christian...your description of lebanon sounds accurate to me. i have also read books by both christians and muslims from the levant who describe sharing the feast-days of each tradition with their friends and neighbors. but other than that, i wasn't sure, generally speaking, what muslims think of christmas. i mean, it made sense to me that in areas where christians and muslims had lived side-by-side since the coming of Islam to christian regions, that they would share...but what of the rest of the Muslim world, and in Islam in its broadest sense?

i've been curious about muslims and christmas ever since i began to grasp the importance of Jesus in Islam...and also i saw a woman in hijab at Christmas-time a couple of years ago carrying a small decorated tree to her car. i couldn't help but think, "what do muslims think of christmas?"

i'd never seen those names for Jesus before...very interesting. Farhana, you were right! it's not such a boring question afterall! :)


message 12: by Femmy (new)

Femmy | 120 comments Marieke, I think most Muslims in Indonesia consider Christmas to be a strictly Christian celebration, not an Islamic one, and therefore do not celebrate it.


message 13: by Farhana (new)

Farhana Faruq (sketchedsoul) Haha... yes Marieke it's a wonderful topic, and I'm happy to see more people are joining in :D


message 14: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments 8-) thanks farhana!

Femmy, i've had acquaintances from Indonesia and they were all Muslim, except one. I know Islam has been in Indonesia for a long time, but I'm not sure about Christianity...did it come to Indonesia after Islam with the colonists? Do Muslims and Christians tend to live in different areas of the country or are they mixed together in some places, they way people in Palestine and Lebanon, for example, have lived since forever?
sorry for so many questions...i'm just curious. :)


message 15: by Nisa (new)

Nisa | 5 comments Hi everyone. I rarely visit Goodreads, but I like to join this discussion after viewing your post, Marieke. hehehe...

I'm a muslim, and I live in Indonesia (in Jakarta for precise).

As far as I know, yes, Christianity was brought by the colonists which mostly came from Dutch.

Nowadays, we the muslims and the christians are living together. Even I am close with some friends who are christians (one of them is a nun!). The issue of religion does not bother us, as long as we can respect the beliefs of each other. I'm wearing hijab, for you to know, and we still go to campus and hang out together.

Although some media tell you about the conflict between muslims and christians (not Islam and Christianity, coz nothing more to discuss about our difference), I guess you have to look that case per case. Coz I also do not have many relatives or acquaintances who like to be in that conflict, hehehe...

Regards,
Nisa


message 16: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments Thank you Nisa for your wonderful post!

i am thinking your friend who is a nun also wears hijab ;)

you are right, the media likes to make things seem rather awful. i really like the way you expressed that about conflict. none of the indonesians i have known had any problems with anyone who were different from themselves...i knew a christian and a muslim from the same city (jogyakarta...i might have spelled that wrong) and they were very good friends and were anxious for americans to know that the media emphasizes certain things too much. and the muslim man, he was a student and staying with my mom while he waited for his apartment to be ready, showed us pictures of his family. some women wore hijab and others didn't. there were no tensions over that.

he has moved away with his family to a university in a different state (his wife and daughter joined him here a few months after he came to start his phd work) and we have unfortunately not stayed in touch.

i had one classmate in my arabic class several years ago from indonesia and she wore hijab. she was very comfortable, from what i could tell, with being in america, being muslim, and wearing hijab and interacting with non-muslims. i really liked talking with her and wish i had been able to stay in touch with her after we no longer had classes together. i took it for granted that she would come back the following quarter and i didn't exchange emails with her when i knew her. :(

oops...this is getting off the topic of christmas. nisa, do you ever talk to your friend who is a nun (or other christian friends) about the things that islam and christianity have in common? like the miraculous birth of jesus christ? i'm sincerely interested in what parts of the christmas story exist in Islam and i'm also sincerely interested in how people of different religions learn about religions other than their own.

thank you everyone for joining in this discussion!


message 17: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments if anyone would rather send me a message privately rather than post in the public space about any of the things in this thread, please feel free. i know some people are shy or may simply have reasons why they may not want to participate publicly. thank you so much everyone!


message 18: by Nisa (new)

Nisa | 5 comments Hi again.. :)

Like I said before, the issue of religion does not bother us, as long as we can respect the beliefs of each other. So we've never talked any about religion (either the common or the difference between Islam and Christian). We'd rather talk about any issue that everyone can join and share (like the issue of politic, or our social life, or just our lectures at class). When it is time for me to pray (because a muslim has to pray 5 times a day), then I will just go to the mosque a(masjid) and pray and they will just wait for me at cafe or at class.

But trust me, just because we never (or rarely) discuss about religion, it does not avoid us to be close friends to each other. It's just about the perspective, the way we think about the difference of each other, will we consider that as our threats to get closer, or we see that as something that can make this life feels rich because of our difference.


One day when we just started to get closer, the nun who is my friend, asked me if I ever went to a christian private school. Then I said, no, I always went to public school. And it makes me think, maybe she asked that because I seem enjoy being together with friends with different beliefs/religion, and that's right. I'm glad because my friends with different beliefs/religion also think the way I am, we see each other as human being with equal rights and our specialty, and not see each other with some disease or something because of our difference.

Warm regards,
Nisa


message 19: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments Nisa, i really like the way you express all of that. i also feel this way about mankind. unfortunately in the united states, too many people (not everyone, though!!) are afraid of people they think are too different. sometimes it helps if the things that we have in common are pointed out. so i like to find out what the common things are and show people who are "afraid." for example, many americans who do not have muslim friends have no idea that Jesus is so important in Islam. when they find out Jesus is important in Islam and that "Allah" is just the Arabic word for "God," people begin to feel more open to muslims and Islam. I have a copy of the Quran and I have a copy of the Bible in Arabic. I like to show people the word "Allah" in both. Even though they don't read Arabic, they can see it looks exactly the same. i think you are lucky to live in a place where differences are not scary and people can be friends with one another with no worries!


message 20: by Nisa (last edited Dec 18, 2008 05:45PM) (new)

Nisa | 5 comments I think the American people (in general) need to learn about how to respect each other with different backgrounds or ideas or anything else. I believe that America has its long history in building the concept of democracy, human rights, and equality between the human beings. But in my personal opinion, I'm sorry to say this, most of the American are still only good in theory, not in practice.

I guess from every single house in America, from every neighborhood, and from the pre-school age, people need not just to learn more the theory of democracy, human rights, and equality between the human beings, but also how to practice those things in a good way. The adults also need to learn more how to be open minded, I guess. Hehehe...

cmiiw :)


message 21: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments i totally agree, nisa. it can be frustrating to be an american, sometimes! but i have hope for my country, i really do.

what does cmiiw mean? i can be dumb with internet acronyms. :D


message 22: by Nisa (new)

Nisa | 5 comments cmiiw is an abbreviation for "correct me if I'm wrong". hehee...


message 23: by Femmy (new)

Femmy | 120 comments Marieke wrote: "when they find out Jesus is important in Islam and that "Allah" is just the Arabic word for "God," people begin to feel more open to muslims and Islam. I have a copy of the Quran and I have a copy of the Bible in Arabic. I like to show people the word "Allah" in both."

You know, Marieke, Christians in Indonesia also use "Allah" for "God". As you know, Islam came into Indonesia first and many religious terms in Arabic were absorbed into the Indonesian vocabulary. So when Christianity came later, Christian religious texts were translated into this "Arabic-flavored" Indonesian.

That's why we see that both Muslims and Christians in Indonesia use many of the same words derived from Arabic--from religious concepts like "jemaat/jamaah" for "congregation" and "iman" for "faith", to the names of prophets like "Ayub" for "Job" and "Daud" for "David", and even the word "Allah" for "God". Indonesian Christians say "Allah Bapa" for "God the Father". So the notion that "Allah" is the God of Muslims doesn't apply here :-)


message 24: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments yes, Femmy; that's right, that is exactly what i was pointing out. a lot of americans think (or used to think...general knowledge about Islam in the U.S. might be better now) that "Allah" is a completely different god than God. so i like to just explain that "Allah" is the word for "God" in Arabic and if they don't quite believe me, i show them a Bible written in Arabic and explain how the word "Allah" is written and show them the word "Allah" in the Quran.

It seems like Arabic might come in handy if i ever want to learn Indonesian!! :)


message 25: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 35 comments Nisa wrote: "cmiiw is an abbreviation for "correct me if I'm wrong". hehee..."

thanks, nisa! now i have another abbreviation to use. as you can see, i don't think you are wrong. but there are plenty of us who don't fit that stereotype. :D


message 26: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 18, 2008 07:52PM) (new)

This is a fun topic & I've learned something new from everyone who posted! Nisa, it's nice to hear such positive things. Sometimes being in the USA it is easy to forget that there is hope for a better way & it is uplifting to hear about your experiences. There is a project in the city I live in of muslims, christians & jews building places of worship side by side (with a shared center for a library, etc) & recently when the mosque was vandalized, the christian & jewish commmunities raised money to repair it. So sometimes there is hope, even here in the USA, but mostly, unfortunately, I have not experienced such an openness & mutual respect as you describe in Indonesia. Everyone I have met from Indonesia & almost everything I have heard make me have great admiration!!


message 27: by Nisa (new)

Nisa | 5 comments Yeah, sometimes it also makes me think that the foreign policy of the American leaders, especially those things related to war or conflict with the Islamic world, all that things make most of the American people become blind about how to live together in peace with the muslims. But, I really appreciate that now, some of American people are building the foundation of a better future between the muslims, the christians, the jews, and the other beliefs.

FYI, in Indonesia, there are also some places where the mosque (masjid) is built near by (or side by side with) the church, and the temples of Buddha and Hindu.

Jeannie, don't hesitate to come to Indonesia sometime, and you will see that many differences here and you will definitely learn many good things.. :)


message 28: by LungHuo* 龍火 * (last edited Apr 15, 2010 01:53PM) (new)

LungHuo* 龍火 * | 31 comments Assalamualaikum wr wb,
so....and again we have an old discussion here....I hope it doesn't bother anyone that I only post in old discussions ^^;;;;.......
Well even if Christmas would only be a christian holyday(sp?) we wouldn't celebrate it. The others explained it already. But I think christians shouldn't celebrate it too, which some of them actually do. Like some Baptists; they don't celebrate it because of it's non-christian roots.
So I think that is a very important aspect, too.
Here's a link to a vid in youtube I've reuploaded:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDjwCK...


message 29: by Wendy (new)

Wendy (wendywins) | 78 comments Major celebration days (holidays) in Christianity, regardless of the meaning assigned to them have their origins in the festivals or celebration days of earlier traditions and of course earlier religions. All religions borrowed from the ones preceeding them. One can follow a story as it moves thru various traditions and religions, with names and some details being changed thru adaption to the new religion or society...but there is no doubt that the later religions borrowed the story. It is not surprising that the choice of dates of important events in one religion tend to be the same dates as celebrated by an older, particularly rival or previously popular religion so that the celebration events traditional and popular can be taken over by the new religion and assigned a meaning in the new religion. The further back you go in history even into the dawn of civilizations, the more you know this is true, and the more they are connected to days of seasonal significance connected to such things as agriculture (spring: time of new life, of growth of plants for food,of warming weather etc...normally connected with the coming back to life of a god or hero ...etc and celebrated...like Easter in the Christian tradition). The vernal solstice and winter solstice are the most common major points around which major celebrations take place and stories are built around them.

By the way, you can often find clues in borrowed stories that show the last culture/tradition/language from which the elements were borrowed.

Did you know that the name "Eden" in the Bible actually is not from Aramaic or Hebrew but from the Sumerian and means paradise? So Eden is not the proper given name of a place but a word translated from a different language. Its like the name of a hero which turns out to be the word"hero"in a different language. Clearly, an indication of copying from a different language and to those of the borrowing culture or society, that origin becomes lost.


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