Discussion and advice for parents and teachers…
  • We don’ celebrate christmas!

    December 13th, 2011fariArticles, Free Learning Resources, Parenting

    We don’t celebrate Christmas !
    Santa, tinsel, glowing snowmen and the sound of piped carols, wherever you are in the world, there is no getting away from Christmas. As ‘the season to be jolly’ approaches songs, films, cards and plays will all be depicting only one version of the birth of Jesus (Isa) and that will be the Christian one. We all know that the religious element of Christmas has been pushed aside by the new holy trinity - wealth, consumption and celebrities and that the worship of these 3 false gods takes place devoutly in shopping centres globally, especially during the season of good will. So, is it a problem if Muslims take part in the festivities after all it’s no longer really a Christian festival?
    Like all Muslim kids who attended a non-muslim state school I was told the feel-good story about Jesus (Isa) the ‘Son of God’, being born to Mary (Maryam) who was married to Joseph the carpenter. Three wise men followed a star and found baby Jesus lying in a manger and gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. The shepherds and the lambs all came to have a look and then they all lived happily ever after… The End. To further cement this idea in my impressionable mind I was taught catchy carols - whose words I can still remember -with great enthusiasm, I played a leading role in the nativity and spent my pocket money on Christmas cards and presents for my Muslim, Sikh and Hindu friends. During the Christmas holidays the brainwashing continued with reruns of every Christmas film and cartoon under the sun.
    Although I had been completely indoctrinated at school the only thing that stopped me from believing the fairytale were my parents. They sat me down and explained that Isa (as) was a prophet of Islam and that “We don’t believe in what the Christians believe”, I wasn’t given a lot of detail but alhumdulilah, what they said stuck in my head. They also forbade me from attending Christmas parties as a teenager and we never celebrated Christmas at home. Having said that, I knew of countless Muslim families who didn’t see the harm in celebrating Christmas, they didn’t want their kids to feel left out and they didn’t realize that they were teaching their kids -you do not have to follow Islam all the time, you can pick and choose – But, what is the natural conclusion of teaching a young child that? It starts with a Christmas party, then, as they become teenagers a New Years Party where there is alcohol, then down to a nightclub and finally you have a Muslim who no longer cares about what is halal and which actions are haram.

    So, how are we going to equip our kids to deal with the confusion that will occur during the Christmas period, how do we explain to them that “We don’t celebrate Christmas”. Well, to begin with we teach them the truth, the truth is simple it doesn’t need bells and tinsels wrapped around it, the truth stands out clearly from falsehood, we teach our kids the correct Quranic view of Isa (as) birth. There are many lessons to be learnt from the life of Isa (as) and his mother Maryam (as) and the crystal clear message of tawhid, which he propagated even as a mere infant.

    We first need to delve into the life of Isa (as) pious grandmother. Maryam’s mother was a widow from the family of Imran, who were descendents of prophet Harun (as). She was born after her devout mother made dua to Allah.

    “My Lord I dedicate to you [the child] that is in my womb, to be devoted to your service. Accept it, then, from me because, You hear, and know everything!” (3: 35)

    Maryam’s mother had thought she would have a boy who would be able to grow up and become a rabbi. Only men could be rabbis women were not allowed to touch the holy books or even go to the temples because they were thought to be unclean. After Maryam was born her mother said,

    “A male child is not the same as a female child at all. So I will name her Maryam and place her and her children in Your protection from the cursed shaytan.” (3: 36)

    She had full faith in Allah that He would protect and guide her daughter, which Allah did. Prophet Zakariyya financially supported Maryam and her mother even though he was poor. He also taught Maryam religious lessons that no one else would. Zakariyya was a true follower of Allah and didn’t discriminate based on gender. He realized Maryam was blessed after food would appear miraculously in her study chamber. He would ask her where the food came from and she would reply,

    “It is from Allah, for He provides sustenance to whomever He wills without end.” (3: 37)

    Maryam grew up to be a steadfast believer in Allah however, the people around her knew very little of the truth and instead practiced all kinds of superstitions and cultural practices. The teachings of Prophet Musa (as) were being hopelessly twisted and the rabbis were making up their own laws and fighting over meaningless issues. Allah sent her this message,

    “Maryam! Allah has chosen you and made you pure. You are chosen above the women of all nations. Maryam! Serve your Lord devoutly, bow down (in prayer) with those who bow.” (3:34-43)

    Relate in the book (the story of) Maryam when she left her people and traveled to a place in the East. She built a shelter to screen herself from passing (people). Then We, (Allah) sent Our Angel to her and he seemed to her like a man in all respects. She cried out, “I ask the protection of the Merciful from you (Stay away) if you fear Allah.” (19: 16-18)

    Maryam wanted to be alone and when she saw a man approaching her tent she was alarmed. Note how she called on Allah’s name to ward the stranger off. Little did she realize who the stranger was! (The angel) announced,

    “No. I am only a messenger from your Lord to you (to inform you about) the gift of a pure son. (19:19) His name will be Isa, (Jesus) the Masih, son of Maryam. He will speak to people in childhood and manhood and will be one of the righteous.” (3:45-46)

    She asked, “My Lord how can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?”
    The angel replied, “So it will be. Your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me to make him a sign for humanity and a mercy from Us. It is decided.” (19:21) Even so, Allah creates what He wills. When He decides a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be’ and it is (3:47)

    You can imagine Maryam’s surprise at his momentous news. Allah chose her! She would have a son who would be a sign from Allah! Before departing, the angel informed her that her son’s mission would be to call the Bani Israil back to true faith, the very thing she hoped and dreamed of! By the will of Allah, Maryam would soon become a mother, before long she began to show that she was pregnant. Before anyone could question her about it, she packed up her few belongings and retreated into a more remote and secluded place.

    And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She cried out in her anguish), Oh! If only I died before this! If only I was no more – gone!”
    But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-free): “Grieve not! For your Lord has provided a trickle of water below you. If you shake the trunk of this palm-tree, it will drop fresh ripe dates in your lap. So eat, drink and refresh yourself. If you see anyone, tell him: `I have vowed a fast to Rahman (Allah), so I will not speak to anyone today’.” (19:23-26)

    Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said:
    “0 Maryam! Indeed you have brought a thing Fariyya (an unheard mighty thing). 0 sister (i.e. the like) of Aaron (not the brother of Moses, but he was another pious man at the time of Mary)! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.” (19:27-28)

    Then she pointed to him. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” (19:29)

    Then something miraculous happened, baby Isa spoke: “Verily! I am a slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; And He has made me blessed wherever I am, and has enjoined on me prayer, and Zakat, as long as I live, and be dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, and Salam (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (19: 30-33)

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