Do Muslims Celebrate Christmas?

As Christmas has just passed one can observe that a lot of non Christians and perhaps even some Muslims partook in the festivities. However, is it religiously ethical to “celebrate” Christmas? People argue that Christmas has become a commercialised global occasion and so being a part of it is a social and cultural celebration, not so much religious.

The truth however, is not the case, no matter how overwhelmingly large the Christmas industry becomes, at the core it is a religious celebration. Christmas as believed by Christians, celebrates the birth of the son of god, which by default goes against the teachings of Islam. In Islam, such a belief is blasphemy- denial of God’s oneness.

Therefore taking part in such celebrations or norms such as decorating a tree for instance isn’t just part of being socially accepted. Instead, it validates the Christian faith, and demeans the Muslim belief.

No ones saying to shun the holiday period or be anti Christmas, just be aware that instead of wishing your colleagues “Merry Christmas” a good Muslim is better off wishing them a “Happy Holiday” 

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What is Sunnah?

Sunnah consists of the practices of the prophet Muhammad pbuh during his life aimed at setting an example for Muslims everywhere. Sunnah is inclusive of the Prophet’s routine, practices, and habits. The word Sunnah literally translates to a pathway or flow which in religious context relates to the recommended shari’ah lifestyle.

Sunnah is also relatively synonymous with Hadith. Sunnah (the prophet’s actions) were recorded by his companions in the Hadith.

Muhammad pbuh was the prophet of god, however his job was not just to deliver the holy scripture and be a mere vessel for dissemination of knowledge. The prophet exemplified the words he preached from the Quran. He related the Quran to the people and lived as a moral example so that people better understood the Quran, also avoiding the chance of misinterpretation.

The Quran recognises that the Prophet is the best example for other believers as it commands 3:32 “Obey God and his Messenger”

However this is not to be mistaken for worshipping the Prophet, instead he is shown as the ultimate role model, which is why his way of life is Sunnah, the clear path. By adhering to the Sunnah, Muslims are following the way of life prescribed in the Quran and accordingly becoming closer to Allah and living their lives perpetually following the word of Allah.

What if your Dua is not accepted?

Dua(supplication) is a fundamental aspect of Muslim prayer. People are encouraged to make Dua after each prayer, before bed, before starting something challenging, before anything really. There is no confinement or limitation on Dua.

However sometimes when people want something and make Dua for it they find themselves in facing a stale mate as there Duas are not fulfilled in a miraculous instance.

So there are 3 possibilities that can occur after one makes Dua. (For instance, you pray for a new job- an overly simplified example)

1. The Dua will be granted immediately (you get a job offer the following morning)

2. Allah will not accept your Dua in terms of giving you the job, but will lift the hardship that would have resulted from having no income because of that Dua perhaps you would not run out of food.

3. If neither of the prior two occur, then Allah saves the reward from your dua for the day of judgement, where all your unaccepted Duas from the world will be transformed into good deeds.

So making Dua only results in a win win situation and one should always make Dua and never fail to recognise how just, fair and merciful Allah is.

Surah Al Qadr – Dua for Laylat Al Qadr

97:1

Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree.

97:2

And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree?

97:3

The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.

97:4

The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.

97:5

Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.

Innaa Anzalnaahu Fiy Laylatil Qadr (1)

Wa Maa Adraaka Maa Laylatul Qadr (2)

Laylatul Qadri Khayrum Min Alfi Shahr (3)

Tanazzalul Malaaikatu War Ruuhu fiyhaa Bi Idhni Rabbihim Min Kulli Amr (4)

Salaamun Hiya Hattaa Matla’Il Fajr (5)

Ayut Al Kursi – The Verse of the Throne

اللَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَاءَ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاو ;َاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

 

Allahu la ilaha illa Huwa, Al-Haiyul-Qaiyum La ta’khudhuhu sinatun wa la nawm, lahu ma fis-samawati wa ma fil-‘ard Man dhal-ladhi yashfa’u ‘indahu illa bi-idhnihi Ya’lamu ma baina aidihim wa ma khalfahum, wa la yuhituna bi shai’im-min ‘ilmihi illa bima sha’a Wasi’a kursiyuhus-samawati wal ard, wa la ya’uduhu hifdhuhuma Wa Huwal ‘Aliyul-Adheem

“Allah! There is no god but He – the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him Nor Sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede In His presence except As he permitteth? He knoweth What (appeareth to His creatures As) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass Aught of his knowledge Except as He willeth. His throne doth extend Over the heavens And on earth, and He feeleth No fatigue in guarding And preserving them, For He is the Most High. The Supreme (in glory).”
[Surah al-Baqarah 2: 255]

 

What is Laylatul Qadr?- The Night of Power

The month of Ramadhan has been singled out for special worship . It is a month unlike other months. One reason for this, as defined by the Qur’an, is because the Holy Qur’an was revealed in this month. 

Laylat al-Qadr is to be found in the last five odd nights of the last third of Ramadan. While there is no specific date revealed in the Quran, Laylat al-Qadar is found to be on the last nights of Ramadan. Mostly it is on one of the odd nights: 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th night. However there is inclination towards the night before the 27 of Ramadan.

Laylatul Qadr is a celebration of the arrival of the final word of God for humans. It is a tribute to the  message revealed to mankind by their Creator, that was sent for the purpose of educating the means to achieve happiness in both the worlds. 


We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.Therein come down the angels and the spirit by Allah’s permission, on every errand:Peace!…This until the rise of dawn!—Sura 97:1-5 (Al-Qadr)

 

Laylatul Qadr is regarded as equal to one thousand months of worship in terms of the reward received. 

Muslims are encouraged to stay awake the entire night praying, reading quran, and doing zhikr for blessings and forgiveness. Considering laylatul Qadr are the holiest nights of the year, it is wise to heed the tremendous benefits of the nights.

 

The Meaning of Islam and Common Misconceptions

The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root “SLM” which means, among other things, peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense the word Islam means submission to the Will of God and obedience to His law. The connection between the original and the religious meanings of the word is strong and obvious. Only through the submission to the WIll of God and by obdedience to His law can one achieve true peace and enjoy lasting purity. 


Some outsiders call Islam “Mohammedanism” and address the believer of Islam as “Mohammedans”. Muslims both protest and reject the use of these words. If Islam is classified as Mohammedanism, it is implied that the religion takes after a mortal being, namely Muhammad PBUH, similar to perhaps Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Another misconception that may arise is that “Mohammedans, are worshippers of Muhammad as perhaps Christians are of Jesus. However muslims worship God alone. Muhammad PBUH was only a mortal being commissioned by God to teach the word of God and lead an exemplary life. He stands in history as the best model for a man of piety and perfection. He is a living proof of what man can be and of what he can accomplish. 


Moreover Muslims do not believe that Muhammad PBUH founded Islam (in a sense of what its core values are), although it was restored by him in the last stage of the religious evolution. The original founder of Islam is no other than God himself, and the date of the founding of Islam goes back to the age of Adam. Islam has existed in one form or another all along form the beginning and will continue to exist till the end of time. 


From the book “Islam in Focus” by Hammuhad Abdalati

Who is Allah?

For everyone that believes in God, there is always a thirst to know more about the supreme deity that has created all the planets and galaxies. 


In Islam every perfection and absolute goodness belongs to him and no defect or wrong applies to him. In specific terms, one should know and believe the following:

1. “God is only one, has no partner or son, and neither gives birth, nor is He born. He is eternally besought by all and has no beginning or end and none is equal to him.” (112:1-5)

2. “He is the merciful and compassionate, the guardian and the true guide, the just and the supreme lord, the creator and the watchful. The first and the last, the knowing and the wise, the hearing and the aware, the witness and the glorious, the able and the powerful.” (57:1-6; 59:22-24) 

3. “He is the loving and the provider, the generous and benevolent, the rich and the independent, the forgiving and the clement, the patient and the appreciative, the unique and the protecter, the judge and the peace. (3:31;11:6; 35:15; 65:2-3)

Each one of these names and attributes of God mentioned in various places of the Holy Quran. We all enjoy the care and mercy of God who is so loving and kind to his creation. 

“If we try to count his favours upon us, we can not, because they are countless.” (14:32-34; 16:10-18) 

God is high and supreme, but he is very near to the pious thoughtful people.  He answers their prayers and helps them, he loves the people who love him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace and happiness, knowledge and success, life and protection. He welcomes all those who want to be at peace with him and never rejects them. He teaches man to be good, to do the right, and to keep away from the wrong. Because he is so good and loving. He recommends and accepts only the good and right things. 

“The door of his mercy is always open to any who sincerely seeks his support and protection.” (2:186 ; 50:16)

The love of God for his creations is immense and beyond human imagination. God takes good care of us, not only from the time of our birth onwards but even long before that, he makes us in the best form of creation. And gives us all the sense and faculties that we need for our growth. He helps us when we can not help ourselves. And provides for us and for our dependant. He creates in man, the mind to understand the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane. 


From the book “Islam in Focus” by: Hammudah Abdulati

Are Women Suppressed in Islam?

Now many cultures in modern society see a very oppressed form of women in Islam and often harbour misconceptions that males and females are not regarded the same in Islam or women are lowly to men and question whether women can enter paradise. 


The Quran states that men and women who practice the principles of Islam will receive equal reward fir their efforts: 

“Surely for men who submit (to God) and for women who submit (to God), for believing men and believing women, for devout men and devout women, for truthful men and truthful women, for steadfast men and steadfast women, for humble men and humble women, for charitable men and charitable women, for men who fast and women who fast, for men who guard their chastity and for women who guard, for men who remember God much and for women who remember- for themGod has prepared forgiveness and a mighty reward.” (33:35)

Again God says

“Whosoever performs good deeds, whether male or female and is a believer, we shall surely make him live a good life, and we will certainly reward them for the best of what they did” (16:97)

Each of the Five pillars of Islam: belief, worship, charitable giving, fasting and pilgrimage are as important for women as for men, and there is no differentiation of their reward. 
As God says in the Quran:

” The nobelest among you before God is the most heedful of you” (49:13)

One may also mention that many famous mystics in Islam are women who became leaders by example and by strict adherence to the Quran and the Prophets teachings- the Sunnah/Hadith. 


-Woman in Islam
B. Aisha Lemu 

The Five Pillars of Islam

pillars-of-islam_small

These five pillars are the core of Islam and the basics prescribed to all Muslims to have an enriched and blessed life.

Shahadah (Declaration)

This means the expression of faith, done through the bearing witness to the oneness of god. This is done by reciting the “kalima” that translates to  “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This proclamation expresses and individuals commitment to Islam through the acceptance of this basic fundamental principle.

Salah (Prayer)

Muslims need to pray five times a day to maintain a constant connection with God. Muslims pray towards The Kaaba (house of god) in Makkah, Saudia Arabia. The five prayers are offered at dawn (Fajr), noon (Zuhr), mid-afternoon (Asr), sunset (Maghreb), and night (Isha). During the holy month of Ramadhan, extra prayer are offered during the night called Taraweeh, as a form of extra supplication.

Zakat (Almsgiving)

Every financially capable muslim is prescribed to donate a fixed proportion of their personal wealth or income to to charity. This is the Islamic way of ensuring prosperity within communities and eliminating the financial gap between the classes. The Zakat is given at 2.5% of total income minus all expenses.

Sawm (Fasting)

Fasting is conducted during the holy month of Ramadhan. Fasting is a way of personal worship where Muslims aim to strengthen and deepen their relationship with their creator. Fasting is conducted through the restriction of food and water from sunrise till sunset. However, there are many more restrictive facets of fasting. A Muslim must also restrain from any sexual activity, aggression and foul language and general negative acts. Ramadhan is also the month of the descent of the Holy Qur’an which is why extra prayer during the night is rewarded greatly (taraweeh).  After Ramadhan, Muslims celebrate for three days by having a feast, Eid Al- Fitr where families unite and be merry.

Hajj (Pilgrimage)

For all financially and physically able Muslims, performing Hajj is obligatory. The Hajj is performed by going to the Holy landmarks associated with the creation of Islam in Makka and Medina. The Muslims follow the order of rituals as done by the Prophet Muhammad pbuh and the pilgrimage is marked a peak in their spiritual journey.