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Educating Children on Why We Don’t Celebrate Christmas

Question:

Salaam IR!

Pray this finds you well.

Wanted to ask how do you explain to kids that Christmas isn’t allowed in Islam. Like Santa Claus and Xmas tree. Like I reside in not a Western country but it’s like during this festive season they are everywhere even in supermarkets so it’s hard to escape these things.

They tend to ask why can’t we celebrate, so I tell them it’s coz we are Muslims and we have the two eids for us to celebrate. They still ask why, you know. By the way they are around 2 and 6 years. They still get mesmerized as kids and wanna go and just touch these things. Its like unavoidable.

Please advice how to prep them mentally and physically to stop these actions.

Thanks IR

May Allah be with you all.


Answer:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakathahu.

Christmas is everywhere. Every year, around Christmas, many Muslims wonder what to do about the holidays and what to tell their children about Christmas, Jesus (peace be upon him), and why they are different.

What are you going to say this year when your children ask you why Muslims do not celebrate Christmas? Your children are the product of a hybrid culture. What will you tell them about Christmas?

Let’s See How the Term Christmas Is Defined

You can see Christmas-related content in stores, on screens, and in schools; hence, chances are that your children have been exposed to Christmas events and have likely developed some understanding of what Christmas is all about, which may be incorrect.

At a basic level, define what Christmas is. The word “Christmas” actually comes from two separate words – “Christ” means “Messiah”, or leader. “Mass” means a religious ceremony. Therefore, Christmas, at its roots, is a religious celebration of the life of Jesus Christ. In Islam, we call him Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him).

Talk to Your Children About Similarities

Muslims and Christians have differences as well as similarities in their beliefs and practices. We should educate our children and make them understand that we believe in the same prophets as Jews and Christians do and the fact that they all came from Allah ﷻ to teach us what is right and wrong. Educate your children about the prophets and how they are related to one another.

At this time of the year, we can focus specifically on Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him), telling our children what we believe about him and the lessons we can learn from his life.

Here are some points you can share with your children:

  • Islam teaches us that Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him) is among the five greatest Messengers of Allah ﷻ. The others are Ibrahim, Musa, Nuh, and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
  • Just as the Holy Qur’an was sent to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him) also received a revelation called the Injil (or Gospel) from Allah ﷻ.
  • Prophet ‘Isa’s (peace be upon him) mother, Maryam (peace be upon her), is one of the four greatest and most honoured women of Islam. In fact, there is an entire chapter in the Holy Qur’an by her name, which we read to learn about this pious lady.
  • We believe in the miracles of Prophet ‘Isa (peace be upon him), including the virgin birth, speaking from the cradle, healing the blind and lepers, and bringing the dead back to life – all through the power and will of Allah ﷻ.
  • The purpose of prophets is to serve as role models for all of humankind. From Prophet ‘Isa (alayhis salaam), we should take his example of absolute humility, simplicity in worldly possessions, and the love and compassion he showed to all those around him.

Be Clear About the Differences

While it is necessary to talk about the similarities shared by Muslims and Christians, it is also essential to be clear about the differences.

We do not believe that Jesus is the son of God. Allah ﷻ says, 

Verily, the likeness of ‘Isa (Jesus) before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: ‘Be!’ – and he was.” [Qur’an 3:59]

This ayah puts forth the idea that we should believe in Prophet ‘Isa’s (peace be upon him) miraculous birth in the same way that we believe in the creation of Prophet Adam (peace be upon him).

Allah ﷻ cautions us further, “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, (‘Be!’ – and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him; so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: ‘Three (trinity)!’ Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) One Ilah (God), Glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs.” [Qur’an 4:171]

And make sure your children cultivate respect for other people’s beliefs and practices.

Usually, when we forbid something, children get more curious about it. So, help them understand. Help them find ways to decide and accept that Christmas is not our holiday, and that celebrating Christmas and wishing others for the festival is not allowed for us as Muslims.

Inculcate a Love for Islamic Holidays

If you want your children to love Islamic festivals, then make them a real part of their lives. Make Islamic celebrations more attractive and create memories so that they learn to love our festivals and our deen.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Plan in Advance
    Call a family meeting a week before Eid and plan what you want to do on Eid day. Discuss ideas with the family, including all children. Talk about the menu and delegate cooking responsibilities instead of dumping the entire workload on the women at home. Make sure EVERYONE has a day off from work, school or any other commitment.

  2. Clean and Decorate the Home
    Get everyone in on this. Make the house as clean as you can. Decorate the house with balloons, lights, banners, streamers and more. Get the younger children involved in this process. Have them make decorative signs saying “Eid Mubarak” and post these around the house.

  3. Make Special Food
    Make something special that the family does not normally eat. It can be sweet or savoury. The point to be made is that Eid is special, and the food we eat on this day should be better and different from our usual meals.

  4.  Let Children Make Gifts for Each Other
    Arts and crafts are the best tools for making gifts. They are personal and cheap and save useless trips to the shopping centre. You can have the kids collect all of the odds and ends they find during the pre-Eid clean-up. They can then use these things to make creative and meaningful Eid gifts.

  5. Wear Nice Clothes
    Children will not feel as though their Eid is special if they are sporting the same shalwar kameez, suit or thobe they’ve worn for the last several Eids. Invest in Eid and get them something new, or get everyone to prepare nice clothes for Eid by washing them or getting them dry-cleaned.

  6. After the Eid Prayer, Look for Those Who Are Alone and Invite Them Over
    At the place of Eid prayer, where a lot of people greet each other, you will find some Muslims standing alone. They are either new Muslims or new immigrants without relatives and friends in the area. Do hug and greet them. If possible, invite them to your home for a meal. Also, inform them of any planned Eid celebrations at any community centre.

  7. Share Eid With Your Neighbours
    Make dessert (something simple that almost everyone likes, like a chocolate cake) and write up a short explanation about Eid on a decorative card or a small poster board. Share these with your neighbours.

  8. Make the Eve of Eid a Family Entertainment Night
    Prepare a few poems for the eve of Eid. Make one of the teens the in-charge of this event. Help them establish the criteria for halal entertainment.

Islam encourages kindness towards non-Muslims. We should respect them, visit them when they are sick, give them food and help them. However, this does not mean we should sacrifice our deen in order to make them happy by following or taking part in their religious activities.

Our religion is one and straight; it has taught us everything. Indulging in the celebration of the non-Muslims can influence our eeman. Therefore, it is better to stay away and stick to the roots of success: the Quran & the Sunnah. Allah ﷻ has given us a beautiful path, why then would we choose to follow another?

Written by: Fouzia Rehaman 
Edited by: The Editorial Team
© The Islamic Reflections Blog

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