Is Christmas a pagan ritual?

Christmas

[:en]If you are a person of mild temperament and sensitive nature; this article is not for you.  We

[:en]     If you are a person of mild temperament and sensitive nature; this article is not for you. We will be discussing a lot of emotional ideas so don’t stress yourself if you can’t take it. But if you can, this is going to be an interesting trip so ride along!

Definition of Christmas

     The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Christmas as, Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. The English term Christmas (“mass on Christ’s day”) is of fairly recent origin. The corresponding terms in other languages: (Navidad in Spanish, Natale in Italian, and Noël in French) all probably denote nativity. The German word Weihnachten denotes “hallowed night”.

How people came to celebrate Christmas?

     Let me start off by a small shocking piece of information. Christmas day the 25th of December is, in fact, a secular family occasion not a “Holy Day.” It has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Peace be upon him who may have been born in spring or autumn; it is said. The date of the Birth of Jesus is unknown. Also, it was three to four centuries after his demise that the 25th of December became accepted as his date of birth.

A theory speculates that date as the Christianizing of a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice (the day where there is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting; on December 21st or 22nd). Another theory is the Jewish festival of Lights, Hanukkah starts on the 25th of Kislev (the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December). Hanukkah celebrates when the Jewish people were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple, in Jerusalem, again following many years of not being allowed to practice their religion. 

It is amazing enough to know that the Christians to this day do not agree on a specific date of Jesus’s Birth; 25th of December, 6th or 7th of January or others. Actually, numerous early Church Fathers offered sarcastic comments about the “Pagan ritual” of celebrating birthdays and held the view that the day of “Martyrdom” is more deserving of celebration than a birthday.

How Christmas is Celebrated Nowadays?

     Christmas day the 25th of December as it is secularly experienced now is a twentieth century innovation of festivities. To illustrate, there is a mythical figure named Santa Claus that plays a pivotal role, feasting, giving (doing charity work) and exchanging gifts. All those semblances were innovated and interjected into Christianity not more than two centuries ago. The history you can find in links below but here we are more interested in the fact that it has nothing to do with Jesus’s birth (PBUH) and that early Fathers of the Church considered this a pagan sort of celebration. Moreover, some would even go as far as saying it’s a marketing expedient to mobilize trade and sell goods.

Putting aside the pagan origins and the unorthodox innovated ideas, the most truly commendable and eye catching about nowadays Christmas is the “Christmas spirit” which is all about, 

  • Sharing of warm-happy feelings 
  • Friendship, brotherhood, family ties and kinship strengthening
  • Gift exchanging
  • Feeding the poor 
  • Charitably giving spirit 

All of that enveloping everyone and everything is truly wonderful. THAT IS SO ISLAMIC!!!! Oh sorry. I forgot to mention this is an article about Jesus being a Muslim and how all what is called “Christmas spirit” is SOOO Islamic. 

How Islamic is “the Christmas Spirit”?

     First of all, Jesus, as all Messengers of God, was a Muslim in the sense that he believed that “There is only One God worthy of worship and that Muhammad (PBUH) was His last Messenger”… AND YES … all Messengers believed this. God states in Qur’an; which is the final all authentic word of Allah,

And [recall, O People of the Scripture], when Allah took the covenant of the prophets, [saying], ‘Now that you have been given the Book and wisdom, if there comes to you a messenger confirming what you have, you must believe in him and support him.’ He added, ‘Do you affirm this covenant and accept this commitment?’ They said, ‘Yes, we do.’ Allah said, ‘Then bear witness, and I too am a Witness’.”   [Qur’an 3-81](1)

This verse clearly states that God/Allah has taken a covenant from all His Messengers to humanity to worship only Him and to believe in Muhammad peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and in what he came with. 

     Secondly, Muhammad PBUH was sent by Allah, as a final Messenger being the best human created by God and the best among His Messengers, to deliver the final Divine Revelation “Qur’an” and guide Humanity to the righteous path out of the darkness and into the light of Islam. Muhammad was of the best manners and had the noblest characters, Allah describes him in Qur’an saying,

And you ˹O Muhammad˺ are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character.” [Qur’an 68-4](2)

Furthermore, Abu Huraira reported Muhammad PBUH as saying:

I shall be the most eminent among the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah).”    [Sahih Muslim](3)

This means that he was foretold of his eminent status on Judgment Day

“The Christmas Spirit” in Qur’an

     Finally, being a good human, a productive person of knowledge and efficiency, and a reformer in this life are core teachings of Islam. In fact, those are essential requirements for being a Muslim mentioned by Allah in Qur’an and Muhammad PBUH in his Sunnah right after bringing up elements of faith and before acts of worship. Allah reviled in Qur’an,

Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger (Muhammad SAW)] and work deeds of righteousness, the Most Beneficent (Allah) will bestow love for them (in the hearts of the believers and angels/on earth and in heavens).”    [Qur’an 19-96](4)

Indeed, that correlation between true belief and righteous doing is mentioned more than sixty times in Qur’an only in this form. Adding to that, there are more in other forms. Also, Muhammad’s teachings (PBUH) are all about; obedience, love and mercy to parents, righteous living, compassion, giving of all sorts (material and moral), mercy to all, brotherhood in Islam, strengthening of kinship, hardworking, learning, equality, justice. Thus, all that would rectify/reform the world and life of all those in it. This, if any, shows how pivotal in Islam are good characters, righteous deeds, spreading happiness, and worship Allah alone.

In conclusion

     Christmas is not an authentic Christian religious occasion or celebration. That is because numerous early Church Fathers considered celebrating birthdays is a pagan custom. Also, this is due to the fact that Jesus was most probably born in spring or autumn. Furthermore, the so called “Christmas Spirit” is, in fact, a great thing invited to by Muhammad (PBUH) the last Messenger of Islam of Allah/God. He was not alone; all previous Messengers also did.

Tell us what you think now and how you feel about this?


More reads:

Christmas – Encyclopedia Britannica.
Santa-Claus – Encyclopedia Britannica.

References:

(1) English interpretation of verse 81 – chapter Ali ‘Imran.
(2) English interpretation of verse 4 – chapter Al-Qalam.
(3) Prophet’s saying (Hadith) narrated also in Sunan Abi-Dawud.
(4) English interpretation of verse 19 – chapter Maryam.

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