Why Muslims do not celebrate Christmas

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Last Updated on 26th January 2022

Shamshad Ahmad Nasir, Missionary, USA

With Christmas just gone by, I feel that it is an opportunity to write about the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s beliefs and views about Christmas and its related celebrations. Do muslims celebrate christmas? No, Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. Many people know this, but they do not know why. If Jesus, peace be upon him, is so revered in Islam, why do we not celebrate his birthday? It is necessary to point out that Jesus (as) and his mother Hazrat Maryam (Mary), are revered highly by Muslims.

Muslim and Christmas celeberation
The Quran and Bible both give evidence that 25 December is not the date of birth of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).

The Holy Quran mentions the name of Jesus (as) 25 times and that of Hazrat Maryam 34 times. In fact, a whole chapter in the Holy Quran has been dedicated to Hazrat Maryam (Surah Maryam, chapter 19) which gives a detailed account of the birth ofJesus (as) and the related circumstances.   

As far as celebrating Christmas as the birthday ofJesus (as) is concerned, we, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, do not celebrate it, just as we do not celebrate the birthdays of any other prophet.

We believe that celebrating a prophet’s birth amounts to adopting that prophet’s teachings as a way of life. If the teachings are not followed, the Almighty’s displeasure is invoked. To quote an example from the Gospel,Jesus (as) preached non-violence to his followers. He said that if someone slaps you on one cheek, do not retaliate violently, but to turn the other cheek towards the attacker (Matthew 5:39).

If this policy of non-violence, and humbleness was strictly adhered to by the followers ofJesus (as), surely peace would reign on earth. This is just one example, there are scores of others related to everyday life.  

WasJesus (as) born on 25 December?

The other question that needs to be addressed regarding Christmas is whether 25 December is the actual date of birth ofJesus (as). According to the Bible, whenJesus (as) was born, shepherds slept outside in the open to tend to their sheep and date palms were the seasonal fruit. When the baby (Jesus) was born, Hazrat Maryam shook a date palm tree and ate the dates that fell:

“And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree; it will cause fresh ripe dates to fall upon thee.” (Surah Maryam, Ch.19: V. 26)

She drank water from a nearby stream. It was the season of the ripening of dates, probably around August or September. Both the Quran and Bible (New Testament, Luke 2:7-8.) give evidence of the actual time of Jesus’ birth as autumn rather than winter.

Winters, and especially winter nights in Bethlehem are too cold to sleep in the open. Christians themselves are unsure of the actual date of the birth ofJesus (as). The consensus was to adopt the date of the ancient rituals related to the Winter Solstice, as the day of his birth (Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition).

When the authenticity of the date of an event is doubtful, how can it form the basis of a celebration reflecting Christian faith and beliefs? And last but not least, the Christmas spirit has become a business and marketing venture leading to wasteful expenditure and activities that negate the spirit and teachings of Christianity.

Today, Christmas has been all about receiving and not giving. Children expect adults to give them expensive gifts, rather than being content with what they have. 

Why Muslims do not celebrate Christmas in a nutshell

In a nutshell, Ahmadi Muslims do not celebrate Christmas because:

1. People should follow the teachings of their prophets and take the time for reflection, rather than make their birthdays’ occasion for merriment and enjoyment.

2. The Quran and Bible both give evidence that 25 December is not the date of birth of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).

Editor’s notes

Today, if Muslims do celebrate Christmas day or Christmas eve, they should keep in mind that Christians take Jesus Christ to be the son of God (and God within Trinity). Therefore, Christians are celebrating the birth of their god on Earth, God forbid! This is shirk and associating with shirk is the greatest sin according to the Holy Quran. Thus, how can Islam allow celebrating Christmas? Or why would a Muslim think they can celebrate Christmas when it so strongly opposes the core tenets of their religion?

We should educate our children about Islam and not compromise our faith due to cultural influences. We can live harmoniously with other Christians in their country and be their friends too without commemorating a core tenet of another faith as nowhere does Islam say you can join their festivals, especially when they go against your own religion – in this case, shirk and pagan traditions.

Even Prophet Muhammadsa told Muslims not to imitate Christians and Jews:

“The one who imitates those other than us [in faith and religious rituals] is not from among us. Do not imitate the Jews and Christians.” (Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, Chapter on Seeking Permission)

Other aspects of Christmas traditions, like Christmas trees, Santa Clause and Christmas decorations also have Roman paganist origins – and paganism is shirk.

Muslims should celebrate their own festive days like Eid to the fullest and respectfully allow other religions to celebrate theirs.

We can agree to disagree with Christian doctrine, theology and practices peacefully and steer clear of being influenced by them or participating in them. Other religions do not celebrate Christmas either, so why does the need arise for Muslims to celebrate Christmas then?

That is why it is essential to study Islam deeply and teach the upcoming generations about why Muslims do not celebrate Christmas – or, for that matter, any other non-Islamic traditions. In this way, the essence of Islam and the pure teachings of Prophet Muhammadsa will be instilled within the new generation of Muslims, especially those living in the West.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Regarding this portion of your article: “If this policy of non-violence, and humbleness was strictly adhered to by the followers of Jesusas, surely peace would reign on earth. This is just one example, there are scores of others related to everyday life.”

    I would like to say that it is not fair to single out followers of Jesus as you say of falling short of fulfilling his teachings. Nor are Christians solely responsible for the fact that there has never been peace on earth. Many who have Christian affiliations do not practice. This is also the case in all religions including Islam. Sadly we don’t have to look far at all in this world to see examples of heinous crimes committed by so called “believers”. Those who claim to follow Islam have also been responsible for terrible acts. Humans are deeply flawed but that does not take away from the great teachings found in their Holy books.

  2. I think the point being made here is that the belief of “turning the other cheek” is flawed and impossible to follow and against human nature. It is rarely, if ever, observed that when one is slandered, derided, attacked physically, verbally or otherwise, that one remains quiet and turns the other cheek. If it were possible to follow such a belief (which is being stated here as flawed) then surely there should be peace throughout the world. Thus, the teaching is not pragmatic in itself.

    Islam promotes the belief that “turning the other cheek” is beneficial only to a certain extent. When limits are crossed and you are required to respond, then turning the other cheek proves futile. A person cannot and should not compromise their self respect and esteem AND most importantly their truthfulness in the way of “turning the other cheek”.

    I agree with you in this much that Christians are not solely responsible for the lack of peace in the world and religion in general is targeted when speaking of a lack of peace in the world. Christianity had and still has some teachings, which, if followed, can enhance our spirituality. But the point being referred to here is that celebrating Christmas is a compromise of Islamic values and adopting beliefs which go against Islamic teachings.

    • Jesus set us the perfect example of turning the other cheek. He taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us even to the point of death. That is the most sublime of all human philosophy. Whereas Mohamad taught fighting those who do not accept Islam until they accept that Allah alone is the supreme deity.

      • What you said about the teachings of Jesus being peaceful may be true, however, we do not have the full record of what Jesus did and say. Most of what is found in Christianity has gradually changed. Just look at the Bible and the various books that were taken out.

        As for your statement about Prophet Muhammad, well that is simply untrue. From your comment, I can tell you haven’t even studied Islam. It seems like what you know if it is what the media or others have told you. If you study the history of Islam, you will see that the Holy Prophet Migrated to Medina and lived in harmony with Jews and Christians.

        With regard to fighting, the Holy Prophet only stood up to protect all regions, not just Islam. He stood up to protect all religions.

        I am a Muslim and I have many Christian friends, and we talk and respect each other.

  3. Can you share this slide with me please? One of my muslim friend is truly misguided and does the whole shabang on Xmas, Easter etc. I really want to help her and bring her back into the deen. As a muslim it is my responsibility. Any help would be appreciated thank you.

  4. My husband has just converted against my wishes. He has celebrated Christmas as we are a Christian family. Any religion which would stop him from doing this is immoral . I just hope he comes to his senses soon and leaves soon.

  5. My husband is Muslim and I am Christian and Christmas is a time of reflection, family, and feast. You can have a celebration without having to compromise your beliefs. It may not be “Christmas” in the stereotypical commercial or “Christian with touches of pagan” but it is our own.

    • Hi! Can you expand a little on how you’ve merged your traditions? I’m a Christian in a committed relationship with a Muslim man (we were married/divorced 30 years ago because of cultural differences and reconnected last year) Both of us are divorced now with young adult children and I’m curious about how we can incorporate both of our traditions harmoniously with our grown children. Any suggestions / insight would be super helpful and appreciated! 🙏🏻🤲

      • I think find the common ground. In this day and age atheism is on the rise, so you both believe in God. Both are Abrahamic religions and Quran hugely praises christians at times especially the young christian youth of the caves who used to hide from persecution from the Romans – they are spoken about in surah al-Khaf. Quran also gives a whole chapter to Mary (Maryam) and Quran talks about Jesus and his qualities a lot! So find common ground and learn to respect each other’s beliefs as at least you both believe in a religion and in God. All the best.

  6. Christians, Muslims, or Jews, do not know when Jesus was born, no one does, December 25th is just a day that is set aside to celebrate the birth of the world’s savior, common sense will tell you that. As far as there being peace on earth by turning the other cheek, well if we all did it as the Bible teaches us to do, there would be peace on earth, but since (we) “every living person” , don’t bother to turn the other cheek and would rather slapback, there will never be peace, and this goes for Christians, Muslims, Jews, and all religious believers and also non-believers. You can’t blame Christians or anyone else for this because Muslims and Jews and all other religions do not turn the other cheek either. It was said above that (A person cannot and should not compromise their self-respect and esteem) well, Jesus did, when he walked/crawled towards the place where the cross he carried would be erected, he was spat on, people threw rocks and rotten food at him, he was humiliated beyond belief, but he did what he was supposed to do.

  7. Question if I don’t celebrate Christmas or birthdays and someone give me a Christmas or Birthday gift am I celebrating? If I eat someone’s birthday cake even if it’s the next am I celebrating the person’s birthday since that is what the cake was for?

  8. I don’t celebrate Christmas because of the points stipulated in the above article… but if a neighbour, friends or family member invites me to celebrate their special celebratory day such as Christmas, I would honour that friendship/ relation by attending. Honouring Family ties and relations are part of the Islamic faith.

    I have attended Christian, Sikh and Hindu religious events on invitation, the only thing I exempt myself from is when the food is believed to blessed by an idol.

  9. Christian historians have considered various sources of information to decide upon a day (December 25) called “Christmas,” to celebrate the coming of The Savior of the World. That not withstanding, those variables could have come up as any date, it just so happens it’s December 25. But what does it matter the accuracy of the real birthdate?More important might be the unity in people coming together, everywhere, to acknowledge the beginning of God’s plan for saving mankind. True, marketing has long since gotten out of hand playing on our emotions to prove love by buying and giving gifts. It’s our own fault if we don’t learn to show love in ways that count and last. Often, a year later, we don’t even remember what we gave or received as gifts for Christmas. Most, probably agree that the purpose of the gift was to show love, regard and/or affection. More valuable might be something like a promise to come together for dinner once a month. That, could last all year, provide for happiness, give so much joy, mirror love and support. Folks would remember that. So, Jesus being the reason for the season…not just His name…but all he stood for…what religion can find fault with that? Believers won’t be able to. Remembering “the fruits of the spirit? We could remember to “Let Love Reign.” All religious persons- Christians, Jews, Muslims might just consider that. Questioning the date set aside to celebrate Christ’s coming…I just don’t see how that really matters, if one agrees that He did come to earth. It simply amounts to a point of contention…just for the sake of argument…just to make a point.

  10. Thank you, this has been really helpful when all my friends were talking about Christmas. Christmas trees, Christmas presents, Christmas decorations … I have been reminded that none of this is true. At first I was jealous and wanted to celebrate it too or at least get into the Christmas spirit. JazakAllah.

  11. In the Name of Allah.
    Thank you for this article.
    My issue is that the Christians want you to integrate you with their Christmas and when you say will you attend our Eid Feast the holiday celebration for the Muslims celebrating the Revelation of the Holy Quran that has never been altered they look at you like a terrorist even your own family members they have a whole new narrative and attitude.
    We are taught by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad that anything associated with Xmas is Pagan 🤔
    To each is his own!
    Jeremiah Chapter 10

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