CELEBRATING WITH NON-MUSLIMS
When the Holy Prophet made it to Madeenah on the divine order of his Lord, he met the natives therein with a plethora of festivities. Rather than join in the commemoration, he called them to the heavenly sanctioned ones – Eidul Fitr and Adha – as replacements. The Prophet was never commanded by his Rabb, neither did he discretionarily take to participation, to show solidarity or tolerance, like some self-glorified liberals or ‘moderatists’ do claim today. For the submissive mind, it would be deduced that jettisoning the former for the latter signaled that a Muslim should do no other festivity beside Allah’s.
That a Muslim does not celebrate with Christians on occasion of Christmas and/or other festivals is not in any way close to intolerance or extremity. Any Muslim who holds such a stereotype has invariably accused the Holy Prophet of unfriendliness with people. Whereas the Prophet symbiotically lived with Christians and jews in Madeenah but distanced himself from their fiestas. He entered their houses; ate their foods, drank their water; spoke with them, etc. This gesture of simplicity made many of them embrace Islam despite his apathy to their festivals.
But there was no scholarly argument – be it in the era of yore, or in the days of now – that the Prophet took either active or quasi part in the festivities of the non-muslims of Madeenah or elsewhere. Such never happened. Therefore, wining and dining with them on ordinary days was just a manifestation of what was revealed to him thus:
“…and the food of the people of the Scripture is lawful to you, and yours is lawful to them…” Q5 V5
So who says the food of a Christian friend isn’t a lawful consumable? Who says a Christian neighbour cannot be extended some gesture of fellowship by finishing up his food and even breaking the meat bones for calcium? Who says a Muslim cannot eat Emmanuel’s (or Mary’s) sumptuous, succulent food and even ask for more like Oliver Twist? Who says…? Says who? It’s just that the Christian’s delicacy ordinarily is fundamentally different from his Christmas food. The celebration is the contention, not the celebrator. The festivity is the issue, not the facilitator. The various myths surrounding the day are the cause for alarm, not the mythologists. After all, the Christians hold house warming, convocation, wedding, naming ceremonies et cetera, and we celebrate with them and enjoy their delectable eatables and sweet drinkables.
Christmas is a celebration of the birthday of the son of God – as acclaimed. It is rejoicing about the birthday of God like some other Christianity practitioners would say. This, apparently, is fundamentally contradictory to the tenets of Islam, as enshrined in copious verses of the Qur’an:
“Say: He Allah is One. Allah is the Self-sufficient Master. He begets not, nor was He begotten. There is none co-equal or comparable to Him.” Q112 V1-4
“Surely, in kufr (disbelief) are those who say Allah is the Messiah (Jesus), son of Maryam. Say: (o Muhammad), who then has the least power against Allah if He were to destroy the Messiah, son of Maryam, his mother and all those who are on earth together? And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earths…” Q5 V17.
“Surely, they have disbelieved who say: ‘Allah is the Messiah (Jesus), son of Maryam. Whereas, the Messiah said: ‘O children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord, your Lord; for whoever sets up a partner with Allah, Allah has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Hell will be his abode…” Q5 V72
“Surely, disbelievers are those who said Allah is three-in-one (trinity). But there is no god but One God. And if they cease not from what they say, surely a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them.” Q5 V73
Why will a Muslim celebrate what is against his faith? Why should a Muslim be tagged unbearable sobriquets for upholding scriptural dictates? Isn’t it grossly lax that a Muslim takes pride in jettisoning his faith for liberality? What is wrong with you? Can’t you see that you have been largely overridden by your blurring whim?
Even Christians aren’t in unison regarding the celebration of Christmas. Some of them do not take part in it, because it has no biblical stance. They say since it is nowhere to be found in their Scripture, it is not worth their happiness. So what then is your headache, o Muslim?
Some Christians, such as Pastor Kumoluyi have never and may never celebrate the festival because, according to them, it is idolatry – that it was invented in Rome centuries back as a mere compromise to usher in fetishists into the Christendom. They say it was smuggled into their religion. Femi Aribisala, a pastor and veteran columnist did a page-consuming, episodic epistle on the topic a few years ago proving that Christmas was not worth the attention of any serious Christian. What then is the business of any serious Muslim in what does not concern him?
BY SANNI KAY. YUSUF