The following pages deal with three of the Christian Holidays, Halloween, Christmas and Easter. that are commonly observed. For those Muslims and Muslimahs who are recent reverts, I cover the origins of these holidays, their purpose and why we should not observe them in anyway. For those of you who are not Muslim read the following for information on these holidays. You may be surprised about what they are all about.
Complete Lecture by Sheikh ABDULLAH HAKIM QUICK
TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHY WE SHOULDN'T CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS
History of Winter Celebrations
In ancient times, people living in cold areas of the world, such as Europe and Scandanavia, saw the darkness and cold of winter as a symbol of death, since many of them did not survive the winter. They looked to the power of the sun to return warmth and life.
Ancient Northern Europe & Scandanavia:
Dec. 25 - Jan. 6 Celebration of the 12 Nights, time of Winter Solstice
They believed that their celebrations and the objects they placed in their homes at this time affected whether or not their family would survive the winter. This was their way of hoping to ensure the return of the sun and of life.
In these areas, Druids, or types of priests, performed ceremonies and encouraged symbols to help preserve life through winter and help the sun's power to return.
- Yule log: Was to be kept burning in every household (still a Christmas
- Mistletoe & Holly: Symbols of fertility; if a couple needed a child, they were placed under these items to help them be fertile. (Modern tradition says a man & woman found under mistletoe at the same time must kiss).
- Fir Tree: In winter, this is the only tree that is visible alive, still having leaves. Ancient people placed these trees in their homes hoping that it's life would sustain theirs (the Modern Christmas Tree).
Winter, particularly around the time of modern Christmas, was the time of the devil. Small children were told not to go out because the devil, which they called "Nicker", would take them away in his sack (similar to St. Nick and his bag of toys).
Dec. 21 Bacchanalia celebration for their god of wine and sport, Bacchus
Also, Saturnalia, celebration for their main sun god Saturn, in which their arenas were decorated with lights and Christians were sacrificed to wild animals. As Christianity became more powerful in the area, the human sacrifice was replaced with dolls, and were given as gifts to each other at this time.
Ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome:
These ancient people had a god called Mithras. The similarity between the worship of Mithras and the modern Christian view of Jesus is surprising. He was the son of their main sun god.
- His birthday was Dec. 25
- He was said to have been sacrificed for the sins of the people
- The day of Mithras was Sunday
- He had a special sacrament of bread and wine
- He symbolized the victory of light over darkness
- He was said to have been sacrificed for the sins of the people, they had
a special sacrament of bread and wine
People who celebrate Christmas say that the modern Santa Claus is based on
St. Nicholas, a bishop who lived in the 14th century in what is now Turkey. He did love children, but he was also said to be thin, serious and religious, and fasted most of the time. The modern chubby, jolly, laughing Santa looks more similar to pictures of the ancient gods Bacchus and Saturn, gods of wine, sport and adultery.
Christmas a Mixture of Christianity & Pagan Celebrations
When Christianity was under threat in Rome, they adapted their practices to make it easier for the Romans and Europeans to accept. One aspect of this was to allow the people to keep their traditional pagan ceremonies and festivals by giving them a Christian meaning and purpose.
Recognizing this pagan origin of Christmas, the Church of England banned
the celebration of Christmas until 1647.
Dec. 25 is not Jesus' Birthday
Qur'an 19:16-40 Describes the birth of Jesus, son of Mary, and indicates that dates were ripe at this time. In the Bible, sheep were said to have been out in the fields. Both of these facts indicate that he was born in the summer, not winter.
TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHY WE SHOULDN'T CELEBRATE CERTAIN HOLIDAYS
Jesus' Teachings Opposite of Modern Christmas
Jesus (pbuh)was a humble prophet who sacrificed material things and taught his followers not to focus on the riches of this life, but to worship God and do good. Modern Christmas' main focus is on buying, spending, and getting gifts. People compete over how much is given and received, and go into deep debt to ensure everyone has enough gifts from them, often paying interest while repaying this debt. This is certainly not in accordance with the teachings
of Jesus (peace be unto him).
WHY WE SHOULDN'T CELEBRATE NEW YEAR'S EVE
Based on Same Pagan Celebrations as Christmas
When the Church of England banned Christmas, people simply celebrated their winter festivities on New Year's Eve instead, which involved celebrating the return of the power of the sun and the "new" life that represented.
Who's New Year?
In Ancient Rome, the new year began on March 1st. It is for this reason that September, October, November and December mean the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th
months. At some point they decided to change the beginning of the new year
to January 1st in honor of their god Janus, who was the two-faced god, one of
spirituality and one of materialism.
The number of the new year that is celebrated, such as 1998, is based on the time of Jesus (pbuh). We as Muslims were not told to count our years based
on the time of any particular prophet, and certainly not beginning in a month
chosen for a pagan god.
In Islam, we calculate our months based on the lunar calendar, and the beginning of our year occurs at a different time each year. The number of our calendar year, such as 1419, is based on the establishment of the first Muslim society in the city of Medinah.
Forms of Celebration Un-Islamic
The typical ways in which people celebrate the beginning of the "New Year" are very similar to the pagan celebrations of the ancient Greeks and Roman. These involve such un-Islamic activities as dancing in mixed groups, eating and drinking excessively, including alcohol, and men and women kissing each
other at the stroke of midnight.
WHY WE SHOULDN'T CELEBRATE VALENTINE'S DAY
Roman Lupercalia celebration held on Feb. 15
"Feast of the Wolf" associated with the image of a wolf chasing a young girl Celebrated by gathering young people together in a field and allowing them to act as if they were married
St. Valentine died on Feb. 14
* He was a Roman Bishop in the 200's
* Marriage was banned for Roman soldiers, Valentine performed secret
marriages for them
* He was jailed, tortured and beheaded for his actions
* He left a note in his jail cell that said "Your Valentine"
- We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices
- We do not need to honor or celebrate the death of a Christian "saint"
- Islam does not encourage flirting or suggestions of romantic
relationships before marriage
- Love between families, friends and married people does not need to be
celebrated on a day with such un-Islamic origins
THE HISTORY OF EASTER
Ancient pagan fertility celebration
- Spring = death returning to life, rebirth, resurrection
- 1st Sunday after the full moon
- Northern European god Austern believed to cause fertility and rebirth on
Rabbits, chickens and Easter eggs
Pagan symbols of fertility and rebirth
Death and Resurrection of Jesus (pbuh)
Christians combined this Christian concept of Jesus' death and resurrection
with the pagan celebration of the rebirth of nature in Spring and
The cross was an ancient Egyptian symbol adopted by pagan Europeans as a
symbol of eternal life. The crosses used for crucifixion at Jesus' time
looked more like a "T" than the modern Christian symbol.
- We should take no part in holidays with pagan origins, created to worship
false gods and call on them to return life or cause fertility, powers held
by Allah alone.
- Muslims do not believe that Jesus was crucified and killed and the
resurrected, so we have no reason to celebrate this aspect of the holiday
(Qur'an 4:157-159) "And their saying ‘Surely we have killed the Messiah,
Jesus son of Mary, the apostle of Allah', and they did not kill him nor did
they crucify him, but it appeared to them so and most surely those who differ
therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it,
but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. Nay!
Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise. And there is not one
of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his
death, and on the day of resurrection he (Jesus) shall be a witness against
Part 3- WHY WE SHOULDN'T CELEBRATE CERTAIN HOLIDAYS
ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN
~ Halloween - the name means the evening before All Hallows or All Saints' Day, November 1 - is Christian, the day itself is of Druid origin.
~ For the Celtic tribes November 1 was New Year's Day - it also was a joint festival honoring their Sun God and another deity, Samhain, the Lord of the Dead.
~ The Celts, were pastoral people and selected this day because it marked the return of the cattle to the barns for the winter, just as their feast of Beltane on May 1 initiated the pasturing of the animals. The one day signified the beginning of winter and the other the beginning of summer.
As in New Year's festivals around the world, this was a time when the dead flocked back to mingle among the living. The Celts believed that the sinful souls of those who had died during the year had been relegated to the bodies of animals; Through gifts and sacrifices the sins could be expiated and the souls freed to claim a heavenly reward.
They also believed Samhain judged the souls and decreed in what form their existence was to continue, whether in the body of a human being or in an animal. Horses as well as human beings were sacrificed. Later Romans prohibited human sacrifice. The tradition did continued in the Middle Ages of Europe when black cats would be thrown to the flames in wicker cages (parallel to the Druids putting humans in wicker cages and burning them alive)
There were also Fire Rites of Halloween:
The old fires were allowed to go out in the Celtic home and a new fire was kindled - usually a sacred fire from which the fires of the village were relit. The fires were thought to rejuvenate the sun and to aid in banishing evil spirits.
In North Wales every family built a large bonfire near the house on Halloween. Into the fire dying embers each member of the household would throw a white stone having marked it later for identification. They would say their prayers as they marched around the fire, then go off to bed. In the morning, they would come out to root among the ashes for their stones. If any stone was missing, the Welshmen believed that its owner would not live to see another Halloween.
Often, the people would jump through the flames, as at other new-fire feasts.
In the Scottish Highlands, lighted torches were carried through the fields on this night in a sunwise direction, with the belief that this would help the crops thrive. Also, stones were thrown into a fire in similar belief with the people of North Wales (who would live and die in the upcoming year)
~A common belief was that ghosts and witches feared fire, and so it became the most trustworthy weapon against evil spirits. While burning was a punishment for witches, it was even more important as a rite of purification.
Christian Church's involvement:
~ In the 8th Century Pope Gregory III moved the church festival of All Hallows, or All Saints' Day to November 1. The following century, Pope Gregory IV decreed that the day was to be universal church observance.
~ The horse sacrifices of the Celts was still being performed at the feast of Samhain in the year 400 A.D. Later, the Church assimilated this practice into its own services with the use of oxen. In the words of Pope Gregory: "They are no longer to sacrifice beasts to the Devil, but they may kill them for food to the praise of Godà"
The Origins of Halloween Activities - Modern Day/Pagan
(MD for Modern Day, P for Pagan)
MD: Going door-to-door begging for candies and foods, masking and dressing in costumes
P: Ghosts were thought to gather about the houses of the living were greeted with a banquet-laden table. At the end of the feast, masked and costumed villagers representing the dead paraded to the outskirts of town leading the ghosts away. ALSO in Medieval times there was the practice of displaying relics of saints and poorer churches could not afford relics so they had parishioners dress up as patron saints, angels, devils, etc and parade around the churchyard.
MD: Mischief Night
P: Old belief in ghost and fairies who roamed the roads on Halloween night curdling mild and riding people's horses to exhaustion. Any practical joke was blamed on these beings.
MD: Apples and nuts (Bobbing for apples, etc)
P: The Romans honored their goddess of fruits, Pomona, with a harvest festival at this time. There was also the practice of placing nuts representing lovers side-by-side before the fire. How the nuts burned determined the quality of the lovers' affections. Apples had been used for telling fortunes and games.
MD: Jack O' Laterns
P: Based on a story (an old tale) involving a man named Jack and the Devil (long, but you get the idea)
MD: Goblins and Fairies
P: The Celtic/Irish Halloween was the time for the gathering of goblins and fairies. They believed them to have started out as ghosts of kings and heroes who may have been divine and were changed by the ringing of church bells and Holy Water. In Scotland, they believed a person could learn the names of those who would die during the year by sitting on a three-legged stool at he meeting of three roads and hear the fairies whisper the names as they congregated. They believed a garment thrown would be sufficient to take away impending death.