Christmas:  Cutting Kinship Ties in the Name of Islam?

Christmas:  Cutting Kinship Ties in the Name of Islam?

by Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt

I received a letter from a young Muslim woman who first of all I would like to thank deeply for her keenness to know the opinion of religion on the matter of spending time with her mother during Christmas and I equally admire her kindness in keeping ties with her mother and her eagerness to demonstrate an excellent example of what Islam is like.

I am nonetheless appalled by the unauthentic opinions of some self claimed scholars who equate spending time with one’s non Muslim family during Christmas and the like with shirk or polytheism! This opinion is a mere aberration of the true authentic teachings of Islam both in letter and spirit.

Islam is a religion of mercy and espouses all encompassing values which include all humans regardless of their religious affiliations, cultural differences and ethnic backgrounds and it encompasses plants, and animals along with inanimate objects as well. In other words, if the concept of mercy in Islam is so grand that it envelopes the whole universe, wouldn’t it fit one’s own mother too?

As a matter of fact God in the Quran did not only allow us to keep ties with one’s non Muslim family members, but He raised the level from recommendation to making it an obligatory act which Muslims should abide by and this is obvious in the Quran when God said, ” But if they (your parents) endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]… 31:15

In this noble verse, God commanded us to keep warm ties with our families even when they exert their utmost efforts and place pressures on us to leave our religion — so what about those who show respect to our religious choices and do not insult our belief in any way or form, should we not even be more eager to show extreme kindness and envelop them with mercy in our sayings and deeds, to be a real embodiment of what Islam is all about?

Muslims show utter love to God’s creation in general as a sign of reverence to their divine origin and Islam placed unprecedented importance to the concept of high morals and made a unique connection between good ethical standards and between faith and creed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “The nearest of you to me in the Day of Judgment are the ones who have the highest morals”. Therefore we are commanded to show kindness to people irrespectively and to treat them with mercy and love and to refrain from discriminating against them based on their religious choices, cultural backgrounds or the like.

There is no legal impediment to participating in celebrating the birth of Jesus (peace be upon him). Islam is an open system and its followers believe, respect and honor all the prophets and messengers, and treat the followers of other religions with kindness in accordance to the words of God the Almighty:

And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except in the best way. [Al-‘Ankabut, 46]

Jesus the son of Mary, peace be upon him, is one of the Prophets who are characterized with determination, resolution and patience. Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] said: “I am more entitled to Jesus the son of Mary than anyone in this life and in the Hereafter; no prophet has been sent between us.”  Every Muslim believes that Jesus is a human prophet who performed great miracles, such as reviving the dead and curing the sick by the will of God the Almighty.

This was not because he was a god or the son of God in the sense of physical procreation—God is exalted above this. Celebrating the day of the birth of Jesus is an act of belief regardless of Christian convictions in his regard. Therefore, participate in your friends and family’s celebrations, eat with them and refrain from eating pork and drinking alcohol with tact and civility. Do not pay any attention to anyone who wants to ruin the relation between you and your family and others in the name of Islam because Islam is free from all of this.

Please visit Sheikh Ali Gomaa’s official website

See also other articles by and about Sh. Ali Gomaa on TAM:
Answering Questions from American Muslims, Sheikh Ali Gomaa
Despite Religious Violence, Egyptian Mosques Calling for Muslim-Christian Unity, H.A. Hellyer
Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, prays with generals, urges Muslim-Christian unity  Addressing the sectarian violence that broke out in Cairo this week, killing 13 people, Gomaa said attacks on Christians were un-Islamic. Thousands of Egyptians, both Muslim and Christian, gathered after Friday prayers to call for unity and to condemn the arson attack that ignited the sectarian tension. Thirteen people were killed in clashes between Muslims in Christians in Cairo on Tuesday night after the arson attack on a church. Activists have described the violence as a threat to the revolution.
Response to Raymond Ibrahim’s Attack on Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Sheila Musaji
Violence is never an acceptable answer to provocation, Sheikh Ali Gomaa

Type Christmas into the TAM search engine for many articles about Christmas and Muslims

TAM Editors note:  Sh. Ali Gomaa is listed in the Muslim 500 Most Influential Muslims at number 14.  His entry on that list includes this:  Goma’a’s scholarly influence is derived from his position at the center of many of the most significant institutions of Islamic law in the world. Before becoming Grand Mufti, Goma’a was a professor of jurisprudence at Al Azhar University—the second oldest university in the world, founded in 975 CE—Goma’a also served as a member of the Fatwa Council. He is currently a member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, the highest institute of Islamic law in the Organization of the Islamic Conference—an intergovernmental organization for Muslim-majority countries.  I would appeal to those listening to what he refers to as self-claimed scholars to give serious consideration to the views of mainstream scholars.  A recent example of such a supposed “fatwa” was posted on Islamicity and OnIslam giving an opposite view from that of Sh. Gomaa.  Not surprisingly, the “scholar” issuing this “fatwa” does not even give him name or qualifications.