Hi. So I was wondering if it's okay for us as Moslems to say "Merry christmas" to our Christian friends. There's a lot of people around me, including my parents, who told me to not say it because it's haram. If it's not okay, how do we explain it to our Christian friends without offending them?
It is perfectly fine to say “merry Christmas” to non-Muslims. The Quran does not forbid us from being kind and civil to non-Muslims, and there is no clear evidence in the Quran or the sunnah to forbid such greetings.
Source: European Council for Fatwa and Research (which includes the famous scholars Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Abdullah bin Bayyah).
Answer from a reader:
“Congratulating (on Christmas) is worse of a sin than congratulating drinking alcohol, killing, zina etc.” Ibn al Qayyim| Al Ahkaam Ahl Al Dimmah (1/441)
We worship God, not Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Taymiyyah (who are the main inspiration for today’s Wahhabis). To Wahhabis, non-Muslims are not really humans, so all of our interactions with them should be done through the lens of power and politics. Any kindness shown to non-Muslims (and to Muslims who disagree with Wahhabism) is a way of “supporting the enemy”.
Thankfully only a tiny minority of Muslims follow that way of thinking. The way of thinking of ordinary Muslims, who number in the hundreds of millions, is that all humans are worthy, and that it is perfectly possible to have a close relationship with a non-Muslim. We are humans guided by Islam, we are not robots programmed to view everything through some dim-witted and hateful ideology that considers all humans enemies until proven otherwise.
Wishing a Christian a merry Christmas is a way of saying that despite our differences, we recognize worth in these people and wish that they have a good time. This is of course unacceptable to Wahhabis, since to them Christians are “infidels” who are worthless. Wahhabis, exactly like Marxists, neo-Marxists and radical feminists, do not believe in the transcendent worth of human life, to them if you disagree with them, you are a non-human who deserves to die. I explain this in detail in my essay The Psychology of Radical Leftists: GamerGate, SJWs and the War on Post-Modernism.
As for those of us with some common sense and conscience, we read the Quran and are guided by its ethics, and we see that it leaves the door wide open for us to act according to the intellect and conscience in most scenarios, so that we have a million choices in how we interact with non-Muslims as long as no evil is involved.
So the difference is not about whether we follow Islam or not. It is about whether we see the world through the lens of a rigid and inhuman ideology that has zero empathy for fellow humans, or through a Quran-guided humanism that is kind and understanding toward everyone. I do not go out of my way to say “merry Christmas”, but if a situation requires it, then I have no problem with saying it. It is a very small act of respect that barely matters in the big scheme of things–if you have an intelligent understanding of Islam.
As for a Wahhabi, being a normal human with common sense and conscience is unacceptable, since one is instead always required to follow the Wahhabi party line on everything (the same is expected of Marxists and neo-Marxists).
To me and many other Muslims the acceptability of saying “merry Christmas” when needed is so obvious as to not be worth talking about. If the Quran allows it, if there is no clear command of the Prophet ﷺ forbidding it, and if my intellect and conscience have no problem with it, then it is not your business or the business of any cleric to tell me I cannot say it.
Question from a reader:
is it fine if muslims give christmas presents to christian friends with the intention of giving them a little treat of kindness (not exchanging gifts)?
According to Dr. Abdul Sattar Fathullah Saeed (professor of tafseer and the Quranic sciences at al-Azhar University) it is acceptable to give presents when congratulating Christians on their holidays, since there is nothing in the Islamic texts to prohibit this.
What is prohibited is taking part in the celebrations as if you yourself are a Christian, such as attending church on Christmas Eve.
Question from a reader:
I don't want to come of as rude but wishing someone a merry Christmas while knowing its based on a pagan belief that has been bent to fit the Christian standards as a Muslim that knows that its illogical to say them to have a lot of fun sinning.If someone tells you happy holidays and you reply with you too or something is another thing. But in my opinion you shouldn't start it. Not congratulating a celebration we don't celebrate isn't rude. Its not our religion,so we should act as every other day
It very much depends on context. A Muslim convert to Islam who still lives with his or her non-Muslim family can set a good tone on Christmas day by saying “merry Christmas” to his/her family. There are circumstances where a Muslim is moved by some feeling to say “merry Christmas” to a non-Muslim, Wahhabis will say that is a sin since to them the personal is always political, I am saying that it is not a sin and that it is a matter of personal choice.
If for you it would be strange to say “merry Christmas” because you do not live in such a context, then it is perfectly fine for you not to say it. The point is that instead of holding to a rigid “it is haram” line, a Muslim can instead use their own judgment to decide if it is appropriate to say it.
I agree with you that in most cases a Muslim can simply say “you too” and that would be the end of it.