Forum: Can Muslims say 'Merry Christmas'?
Wed, 12/31/2008 10:50 AM  |  Reader's Forum 

I only have one question. Why on earth does it take a doctorate degree holder 
from Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University and a lecturer from the 
University of Indonesia to answer the question as to whether or not Muslims can 
say "Merry Christmas"?! 
Ubud, Bali

There are so many religions in the world and it is not wise to say which one is 
the best. But it should be wise to measure any individual with their character 
and attitude and how they relate these toward harmonious living in the 

I'm a Muslim, but my closest friend is a Christian. And I once lived in the 
U.S. where I made friends with a Jew. As a matter of fact, I had a wonderful 
Jewish roommate. And one of my good friend is an atheist .... So What? We are 
all humans. 

So, you can say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy this religious 
celebration, and so on and so on. Common sense should be the measurement here 
to deal with global diversity, as that is what God has created humans with -- 
making us different from animals.

What is not forbidden is allowed. The importance of an issue is proportional to 
the number of mentions it receives in The Holy Koran or Haddith. All things in 
Islam depend on the niat (intention). 

By the above principles, it seems to me that this issue is not a major one for 
faithful Muslims who wish to convey good wishes to a Christian celebrating the 
birth of Prophet Isa. 

The line to be drawn is clear as a person named Prophet Isa was born, as stated 
in the Koran. Clearly, a good Muslim cannot, in good faith, pass good wishes at 
some other times -- Easter is much more complicated as the Christian beliefs 
differ from what is written in the Koran. 

Such is the tolerance of the majority of Indonesian Muslims, that Easter passes 
without discussions about the differences in belief. My personal view is that 
most Indonesians value tolerance and harmony. 

Hence they have a desire to know if they can give a Christmas greeting without 
being contrary to their religion. That is, behind the question there is good 
will. In my opinion, acknowledging points of common belief can do no harm. 

Indeed both giver and receiver of the greeting benefit, even with momentary 
human warmth resulting from the good will passed back and forth. 

Regarding Christians knowledge of Islam, my belief is that neither Catholic nor 
Protestant church leadership encourage that Christians look into Islam, or 
indeed any other religion. That is natural in any human group. 

However, on a larger scale, the world is not helped by an ignorance of Islam 
that is found in influential people, such as world leaders and opinion formers. 

Also it is not one monolithic "thing" to be understood easily in a short time. 
There are basic large differences in religious practice and beliefs between, 
say, Saudi Wahhabis, Indonesian Sunnis, Nigerian Sunnis and Iranian Shia, more 
related to the cultural differences "hard wired" into the people. 

As a Muslim I do not have any problem at all in wishing someone Merry 
Christmas. Why can't we? As far as I am concerned Christmas is celebrating the 
birth of Jesus which is also our second most beloved prophet.

Do to others as you would want others to do to you. So, if a non-Muslim says 
"Happy Idul Fitri", you would appreciate it. Why should that be different to 
you greeting them on their special days? 

It's about being courteous, it doesn't mean you are converting to their 
religion or believe what they believe. It is so sad this is even an issue you 
need to think about.

This is indeed an issue that should be clarified by the Ulemas and experts of 
this area in this country, so that the same question will not come up again and 
again every year. 

As a layman, I understand the hesitation Muslims have in wishing Merry 
Christmas because it somewhat touches the Tauhid side of religion which is very 
sensitive and also a principle. 

Wishing "Merry Christmas" is considered by some as acknowledging that Jesus is 
God and not a prophet, as believed by Muslims. However, there is also some that 
are wishing it just as a courtesy and it has nothing to do with acknowledging 
the above. 

There is one thing though that I would like to ask the writers, I stumbled 
across information that Dec. 25 is not really the date of birth of the Prophet 
Isa. If this is true, can we still wish it as if it were the celebration of the 
prophet that was born on that day? 

Many of my friends and acquaintances are non-Muslims, and as a courtesy I 
usually send them best wishes on their important days. I believe that 
everything depends on niat (intention).

We have to differentiate between greetings, wishing, saluting and cursing. When 
one says "Good morning" what does this mean? When one says "Happy birthday" 
what does it mean? 

The Betawi people said: Ente jual anne beli! (You sell, I buy). If you sell 
anger people will buy with hatred; if you sell sympathy, people will buy with 
love. What you get is what you give away. 

Nietzsche said, more or less: "I am afraid we can't get rid of God because we 
still believe in grammar"; I am asking everyone on earth to deploy reason, to 
use logic. 

Islam, the religion of salam, the religion of peace is to shed love to the 
universe. I am a Muslim, so let us prove that we are the khalifah to shed love 
over the universe. Saying greetings, salutations, wishing and celebrating is 
only one way to shed love. The power of language strengthens human ties. After 
all we're just human.

It was interesting to read the article. While I do not harbor any hatred for 
Christians as individuals I do not necessarily think that I should show 
solidarity with their false believes. 

If I'm not mistaken the concept of X-mas originated somewhere in the middle 
ages or the 18th century and it has nothing to do with the birth of the prophet 

This should also give you some answers to your question why the prophet did not 
come across a situation of wishing someone "Merry Christmas". 

Therefore, my advise to Muslims is that you respect your Christian colleagues 
for the human beings that they are but that does not require you to ratify 
their believes that are utterly false and have no solid basis.

This is a good article, and just to comment about the subject that all Muslims 
are prohibited from saying "Merry Christmas" to Christians. I am a Muslim and I 
have no issue with saying "Merry Christmas" to Christians. In addition to that 
we need to be aware that not all Muslims believe in the Hadith from Aisha.

American (not verified) - Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:10am

When I greeted a Muslim Indonesian's family's neighbor, who wanted to meet me, 
I used "Assalamualaikum", and they told me "she cannot answer because she is 

When I tell that to my friends here from Iran and Eritrea (both places with 
Islam and Christian populations too), they thought that was incredibly 
strange.... wishing peace on someone they said doesn't need to be limited on 
only a Muslim, especially in a nation where even non-Muslims know the meaning 
of it. Obviously that's different in Indonesia.

Anyway here in the USA, we use a generic Happy Holidays quite often to get 
around the issue of what holiday someone celebrates...apply it to whatever 
holiday(s) you do celebrate.

Sheikh (not verified) - Thu, 01/01/2009 - 2:20am

Hi friends,
I believe the guy is asking because he dont know what it means generally and 
especially what the word christmas i implying at. because there are a lot of 
wishes and words used in religion, like Om Shiva in hindu. Some of the wishes 
and celebrations are for the particular God , so , muslims are not allowed to 
say such things which means something like " I wish you your lord Shiva's 
So , the poor guy is just asking to the people who knows better, is that so 
wrong? In this case , he is told that he can wish Christians 'Merry Christmas'. 
But with you all liberal people, anything goes, even gays should be allowed to 
get married.

Andrew (not verified) - Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:02pm

Very interesting artlcle. We wish all our friends a Happy Christmas. To tell 
you the truth, we dont check their religion first. It's just a sign of 
friendship. To tell you the truth it's kind of automatic for us during the 
Christmas season. I hope no-one gets offended by this. Surely not, right?
Let's make 2009 a year for building bridges, not walls. Happy New Year to 

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