December 07, 2023 | Jumada I 24, 1445
Al-Anam (The Cattle)
Chapter 6: Verse 108
"And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides God, lest they insult God wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fair-seeming to each people its own doings; then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do."
God expects us to stay away from mocking the religious beliefs of others, no matter how much we disagree with them. Christmas is an annual Christian religious holiday commemorating the birth of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. For many Muslims who even do not celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, it becomes an issue of what stand they should take.
There have been a number of legitimate criticisms of the holiday from Muslims and non-Muslims based on theological and cultural considerations. However, this cannot be used to disregard the holiday as merely an exercise in ancient pagan practices, for instance, or excessive consumerism. Muslims have to remember that for practicing Christians, Christmas really is about Jesus.
We also have to remember that even if for many nominal Christians, the celebration is not really about participating in religious traditions, Christmas is a time for families to get together. In a number of cases it is the only time of year families get together, either because family members are scattered in different parts of the country or the world, because of communication and relationship problems, or because in America today, the family unit is becoming weaker and weaker.
Christmas is a great time to relate to our neighbours. We should not forget though, that "relating" does not mean "preaching". Dawa cannot be made in a rude manner. This may not be an occasion to emphasis the differences as much as the commonality of our beliefs, unless someone is really asking you about them.
A starting point for a discussion about Christmas could be the Islamic belief in all Books revealed by Allah and all Prophets sent by Him. In this discussion, special emphasis could be made on Prophet Jesus. Non-Muslims are often surprised to discover that Muslims also believe in this noble Prophet and his great mother Mary (peace be upon her).
Remember that respect does not mean compromise. You have freedom of religion given by God to believe in what you believe in. But in a world where conflict is increasing, a Muslim should be a bridge- builder and a peacemaker. It was due to the Muslim practice of Islamic ideals of respect and tolerance that the key of the holiest Christian Shrine in Jerusalem, the church of the Holy Sepulchre, remains entrusted with a Muslim family, as it has been for over 1400 years.
"Treating Christmas With Respect" - Abdul Malik Mujahid
From Issue: 507 [Read original issue]
The Secret of Love
Muhammad's (peace be upon him) life journey offered at every stage an existence devoted to the worship of God. The heart cannot but commune with such a being as he follows the path to freedom: freedom not only to think or act, for which Muhammad fought with dignity, but also the freedom of a being who had liberated himself from his attachments to superficial emotions, destructive passions, or alienating dependence. Everybody loved, cherished, and respected his ego, to give himself, and, in turn, to love without bondage. Divine love was free from human dependence. He submitted, and he was free: he submitted in the peace of the divine, and he was free from the illusions of the human. He had once told one of his Companions the secret of love: "Keep away from [do not envy] what men love, and men will love you." [Ibn Majah]
God had inspired him to follow the path to the Love that continues this love: "My servant keeps getting close to Me through freely chosen devotions until I love him; and when I love him, I am the hearing through which he hears, the sight through which he sees, the hand through which he holds, and the foot through which he walks." [Bukhari] God's love offers the gift of proximity to the divine and transcendence of the self. God's Love is a Love without dependence, a Love that liberates and elevates. In the experience of this closeness one perceives the presence of the Being, of the divine.
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 215
From Issue: 580 [Read original issue]
The Divine scheme, as outlined in the Quran, is designed to operate equally well under all circumstances and at all stages of human development, on the macrocosmic as well as the microcosmic scale. It makes full allowance for a human being's own abilities and potential for improvement and gives careful consideration to his strengths and weaknesses. It neither devalues a person's role on earth nor denigrates his status as an individual or as a member of society.
In its view of the human being, God's scheme is neither idealistic, raising the human being far above his deserved position, nor does it describe a human being as worthless or dispensable.
A human being is a unique creature who can, through his natural talents and innate abilities, adapt himself to the Divine order of life and so rise to the highest levels of progress and achievement. The Divine order is a universal plan for the long term. It is neither oppressive nor arbitrary. Its perspectives and prospects are broad and not restricted to the life or interests of one individual: it looks far into the future. Human ideologies, on the other hand, are usually limited to the lifespan of their proponents, who are bent on achieving all their ambitions and settling all their scores within a single generation. This inevitably comes into conflict with human nature, resulting in oppression, conflict, bloodshed, and the destruction of human values and civilisation.
Islam adopts a very gentle approach towards human nature, encouraging, prodding, pampering, cajoling, reprimanding and, where necessary, disciplining and restraining. It prefers the patient, caring attitude, confident of the eventual outcome. It is a continuous process of growth and development that can only get better as time goes on. There is no need for compromises, half-hearted solutions, or arbitrary or foolish measures. In God's scheme, things must be allowed to take their natural course.
Islam: The Way of Revival, "Living In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, pp. 96, 97
From Issue: 736 [Read original issue]