Saying “Merry Christmas” – Haram?

Yes you read it right; believe me I am equally surprised I am writing on this “issue.” Apparently, as Christmas is nearing, a not-so-unpopular notion that “Greeting on the occasion of Christmas is haraam (forbidden) according to scholarly consensus” is circulating the internet again. Saying “Merry Christmas” is tantamount to committing “shirk” or associating partners with Allah, it is claimed.

True, Islam is based on the fundamental principle of Oneness of God (Tauheed). Accordingly, associating any partners with God (Shirk) is the biggest sin in Islam. The Holy Quran preaches that God begets none and is not begotten. But is there “shirk” in wishing someone a happy Christmas?

Islam is the only faith (other than Christianity) that makes it mandatory for its followers to believe in the truth and divine mission of Jesus (on whom be peace). The Holy Quran teaches that Jesus (on whom be peace) was a true prophet of God. In this role, he was similar to other prophets viz. Prophet Adam, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Moses, Prophet David and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all). Jesus (on whom be peace) was sent as the Messiah to the Children of Israel to reform and lead them spiritually.

Christmas is the supposed birthday (though this is debatable) of Jesus Christ. Millions of Christians around the world celebrate this day in different ways.  How saying “happy birthday to Jesus” implies an agreement with the notion that he was son of God is beyond me? I believe this is a long over-stretch.

If saying Happy Christmas implies belief in Jesus’s godhead, so would saying the phrase “GoodBye”, originally “God be with ye” (http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/1505/what-is-the-origin-of-the-word-goodbye). You know of course what a Christian means by God when he uses the word – not Allah but Jesus, whom he believes to be son of God. Is saying GoodBye “haram” and equal to Shirk too?

Similarly, when a Christian says “God Bless you,” do we question what they mean by God and are we guilty of equating partners with Allah?

It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) even allowed a delegation of 60 Byzantine Christians from Najran in Yemen to worship in his own mosque in Madinah. Lead by their bishop, they had come to discuss a number of issues with him. When time of their prayer came, they asked the Prophet’s permission to perform this in the mosque. He answered, “conduct your service here in the mosque. It is a place consecrated to God.” Did Prophet Muhamamd (pbuh) commit shirk (Nauzubillah) by allowing Christians to worship in his mosque, knowing that they believed Jesus (as) was son of God?

It is also argued that Christmas was originally a pagan celebration.  It was adopted much later around three centuries after Christ and was meant to appease the pagans.  History aside, how does a mere birthday wish imply that we have become pagan or followed a pagan ritual? Once upon a time, the pagans did Tawaaf around the Kaaba with 365 idols within its majestic walls. Even though I agree that the Kaaba was originally a House of the one true God, saying that wishing Merry Christmas makes one guilty of paganhood is simply ridiculous.

The names of the days of the week are based on pagan gods too – Sunday is Sun’s day, Monday is Moon’s day, etc. (http://www.crowl.org/lawrence/time/days.html) Is it shirk to say these names too? May be we should replace the names of pagan gods with our own and just call every day Allah’s Day?

Here’s my point. All that matters is your heart and Allah rewards all actions according to intentions. If your intention when wishing a fellow colleague, “Merry Christmas” is to admit Jesus’s partnership to godhead, you might as well not say it. My intention is to wish my fellow Christian friends and brethren a happy day and express my happiness on Jesus Christ’s miraculous birth. Other than spreading love and tolerance, I intend to read and study a full chapter from the Holy Quran dedicated to Hadhrat Maryam (Mary) (on whom be peace) on Christmas- Surah Maryam

“Oh but they drink alcohol and do other haram stuff on Christmas,” someone said on a forum I was discussing on. Well, just so you know, “they” do that everyday! Stay away from the “haraamland.”

GoodBye (God be with ye) and by God I mean Allah. Just saying!

  • MikeGhouse

    Kashif, thanks for sharing this… well written

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, here is Quraan

    I am not worshipping Jesus, but simply celebrating his
    birth, he is one of my guides, my hero and my mentor along with Prophet
    Muhammad, Mahatma Gandhi, MLK and My parents and several other great men and
    women who offer inspiration to me, guidance to me in my day to day life. They
    put the world on the right path, Christmas is celebration of the glad tidings. (Check
    Quraan below).

     Quraan is my guide in
    creating a cohesive society (Q49:23) for the benefit of humanity.  If I were to do things to appease others, I
    would not have done anything in life- someone or the other is going to be
    pissed off. Was any one of the mentors I have mentioned gone scot free? They
    were hounded and pounded (except my parents) but pioneered new ways of looking at

     I am inspired by them
    and I do because it is the right thing to do and not because I want something
    from someone, as a matter of fact, the right wing Hindus, Christians, Muslims
    and Jews have made every effort to derail me, harass me and even threaten me. I
    want to live a life that is worth living and do the things that my mentors did
    – a cohesive society.  The right wingers
    and the fundos have a right to interpret negating every good just as much as
    the right you and I have to do the good things.

    Take a look at chapter 19 of Quraan.


    19:26 (Asad) Eat, then, and drink, and let thine eye be gladdened! And
    if thou shouldst see any human being, convey this unto him:
    [19] `Behold, abstinence from speech have I vowed
    unto the Most Gracious; hence, I may not speak today to any mortal.


    The preceding verses are here below

    ·  19:25 (Asad) and shake the
    trunk of the palm-tree towards thee: it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon


    ·  19:24 (Asad) Thereupon [a
    voice] called out to her from beneath that [palm-tree]:
    [18] “Grieve not! Thy Sustainer has provided
    a rivulet [running] beneath thee;


    ·  19:23 (Asad) And [when] the
    throes of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree,
    [17] she exclaimed: “Oh, would that I had
    died ere this, and had become a thing forgotten, utterly forgotten!”


    19:22 (Asad) and in time she conceived him, and
    then she withdrew with him to a far-off place.




  • RT

    Directed here from AhmadiyyaTimes, well done! Insightful piece. 

  • Amtul


  • Bushra Wains

    A very thoughtful write-up. Merry Christmas!

  • Daayiee

    Great commentary and hopefully our brothers of various faiths will learn that Islam is a faith of breathe, depth and ease. We are only as narrow as we try to make ourselves, not that it is necessary to be so narrow for all of our lives.  Merry Christmas and well wishes for the new year.

  • Waheed

    Very well said

  • bkrissy

    Finally someone who can think rationally. Thank you for this article.