Today must have been a slow news day in Australia but it most definitely was a day that really puts up on display the idiocy, inaccuracy and hype of the Media. Yet this is a trend that we tend to notice every year- the “War On Christmas” usually coming – according to the media- from the Muslims in Australia who apparently hold great offense to the festive season, everything from the Christmas Displays to the Carols. This years “War” apparently came from a Fatwa from the most populous mosque in Australia; Lakemba mosque. According to the article, which soon became the most read article in most Australian News sites- The head imam at Lakemba, Sheikh Yahya Safi, apparently told the congregation during prayers they should not have anything to do with Christmas. The Facebook fatwa reportedly warns: ”Disbelievers are trying to draw Muslims away from the straight path.”
It says Christmas Day and associated celebrations are among the ‘‘falsehoods” for a Muslim to avoid.
”Therefore a Muslim is neither allowed to celebrate the Christmas Day nor is he allowed to congratulate them” it says.
The News outlets very openly put up the Facebook page of Lakemba Mosque and suddenly a wave of hatred, bigotry, racism, xenophobia persisted and was the underlying theme until eventually the post was deleted. Yet one thing News Outlets failed to do- not surprisingly– was get their facts right. First of all the Imam of the mosque never made any of these statements himself, but a junior from the organization posted a “fatwa” from an online website. Comments came on by that were posted on the Mosques Facebook page along the lines of “Go back to where you came from“, “Muslims are Parasites“, “Why do Muslims Smell?” “You cannot trust a single one of them“, “We’re going to drink the beer and eat the bacon” and other taunts directly insulting the religion and its adherents. I seemed to be one of only a few reasonable people, everyone else just wanted to vent their hatred and they did.
Only hours later the mosque hired a plane to write “Merry Xmas” above the mosque in the sky to prove that they did not live by the supposed message. The media then quickly edited their text and took back all that they said and the story had a complete 180 degree flip around within hours. Yet that is what happens when you jump the bandwagon, when you don’t have a story to begin with and when you do not give a story time to grow before making assertions. Yet as i said, this is the yearly narrative- the cycle that i expect every year at Christmas time, there will always be some Muslim “Grinch” to spoil the day. Islamic Friendship Association spokesman Keysar Trad said the Lakemba Mosque post was damaging.
“When I saw it I was quite shocked … It just gives people the wrong impression” he told AAP on Sunday.
“I’m happy that they are not sticking by those comments and that they are distancing themselves from them” he said.
Now let us look at the subject at hand- first of all- even IF Muslims are taught not to practice any Christmas festivities, nor take part in Christmas, nor go out of their way to wish others a “Merry Christmas” specifically- what is the big deal? Do we put the same pressure on other Non-Christian groups to conform to Christmas? Do we tug them by the collar and tell them to shape up or get out? Traditionally what the post said is not entirely inaccurate but it was very poorly said. Muslims technically are not permitted to take part in Christian activities (especially those that relate Jesus to God or any superior status beyond being a messenger/prophet). For example a Muslim is not expected to sing Christmas carols, light their houses up and imitate the Christians during their holidays but it also does not mean we are to be rude, intolerant or ignorant of their beliefs and customs.
I have never met a single Muslim person that wanted to destroy Christmas, nor a single Muslim that declared a war on Christmas. I live in the Muslim hub of Sydney and Christmas and Muslims tend to get along just fine. This supposed war on Christmas is quiet a fabrication, it is non existant- especially from a Muslim angle. In fact when you look at who are the most hostile when it comes to Christmas it is the anti-theists (NOT Atheists: There is a difference) who have taken over nativity scenes with secular concepts, it is they who post “work of fiction” stickers on bibles all across the world and it is they who constantly taunt the Christians for their fictitious beliefs on a day that was stolen from the Pre-Christian Pagans. Yet they get away scoff free because you cannot tell them to “go back home” nor call them “parasites” because it doesn’t fit with the narrative of Muslim=Bad.!
Muslims are more than welcome to wish the Christians to have a fantastic day this Christmas – so long as we do not take part in the activities. Yet the fact is Muslims DO like to get others involved in their festivities. For example during Ramadan many Muslim households invite non Muslims over to enjoy the breaking of the fast. So it’s only natural that some Christians would expect the same level of engagement from the Muslims. Yet Islamically speaking it is not possible, mainly because we would be supporting the only unforgivable sin in Islam- which is associating partnership with God (Idolatry). Yet that does not mean we cannot get in there for a Santa photo, or admire the beautiful night lights and cool decorations that Christians put up, all of this is part of the festive message- not the religious one. Some Muslims claim that what the Mosque did was cowardly, and that indeed Muslims must have NOTHING to do with Christmas and that they are bowing down to the pressures of society and sacrificing their beliefs- the bottom line is no answer is wrong- so long as we are respectful. The general all about Muslim attitude to Christmas are along the lines of:
“And if they deny you, [O Muhammad], then say, “For me are my deeds, and for you are your deeds. You are disassociated from what I do, and I am disassociated from what you do.” (Quran 10:41)
“Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter being of those nearest to Allah.” (Quran 3:45)
Say, “O People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) come to a word that is equitable between us and you – that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah .” But if they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we are Muslims” (Quran 3:64)
Disassociation is a great peaceful way to highlight disagreeing. Instead of attacking Christians and Christmas Muslims are advised to simply disassociate themselves from things they do not believe in, nor feel complies with their world view. Yet the media decided to create a huge spin from this and make it out like Muslims are attacking Christmas, which they clearly are not. Stop giving in to this imaginary war on Christmas. Muslims are not at war with Christ or Christmas- open a Qur’an and see the kind, loving things the book says about Jesus. Muslims are not trying to destroy the culture or way of life of the majority of Australians that do celebrate Christmas. The fact is people tend to ignore that Muslims do not expect non Muslims to wish them a happy Ramadan, nor we get offended if you do not- heck most people don’t even realize it’s Ramadan. Likewise for Christmas, people should not get offended if not only Muslims but ANYBODY decides to not partake in its festivities or customs- it’s simply disassociation- not hatred, not anger, not a war.