A Not So Merry Christmas From Islam and Isa, The Muslim “Jesus”

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Muslim immigrant Man Haron Monis recently declared, in the Christmas spirit of his adopted Australian refuge, “Islam is the religion of peace and a Muslim should be a peace activist.” December 15, 2014, consistent with legions of his Muslim co-religionists across the globe, Monis demonstrated otherwise, causing the deaths by jihad of two innocent hostages he had taken, plus his own death.

One of Australia’s largest mosques, two years earlier, in December, 2012, also reflective of such “seasonal ecumenism”—albeit non-violently so—sparked outrage with a religious ruling (“fatwa”) posted on its Facebook page warning Muslims it was “sinful” to wish a Merry Christmas to their fellow, vast majority, Australian Christian countrymen. This sectarian Islamic message, subsequently removed from the Lakemba Mosque social networking website, came on the heels of a sermon at the Sydney mosque’s Friday congregational prayer session, during which head imam Sheikh Yahya Safi described Christmas Day as a “falsehood that Muslims should avoid.” He further warned that “disbelievers” were trying to draw Muslims away from the “straight path”—i.e., Islam.

The good Sheikh Safi s views, and those expressed at this major Australian mosque’s website, are in accord with formal Islamic rulings about Christmas celebrations issued by the “Fatwa Center” of IslamWeb. This website touts itself as designed “particularly” to provide accurate knowledge about Islam for “the non-Muslim who may need clarification of common distortions of the media and misrepresentations of ill-informed followers.” We are further told IslamWeb adopts, “balanced and moderate views, devoid of bias and extremism,” covering all aspects of Islam: “Aqeedah (Islamic Belief), Koranic Issues, Hadeeth (Traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Fiqh (Jurisprudence), [and] Seerah (Prophet Muhammad’s Noble Biography).”

Addressing the questions, “Can a Muslim celebrate Christmas?” (December, 2010), and “What is the ruling about congratulating non-Muslims on their holidays and celebrations?” (December, 2013), IslamWeb’s authoritative Muslim scholars stated:

A Muslim should be thankful to Allah for His great blessings upon him as He is Who guided him to the right path [Islam]. So he should keep on supplicating Allah to make him steadfast on this path which is the path of blessed people and to keep him away from the path of those who deserve His anger and of those who went astray [Note: A reference to Koran 1:7, although not cited in the fatwa. A continuum of thirteen centuries of Koranic glosses on this verse by Islam’s greatest Koranic commentators reveal the Jews have incurred Allah’s anger; the Christians have gone astray. Koran 1:7—and these claims—are repeated 17 times per day by Muslims over the course of their 5 daily prayer sessions]. The disbelievers spare no efforts to draw the Muslims away from the straight path and to cut their relation with their true religion. Allah says (what means): {“Many of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy on their own account, even, after the truth (that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger) has become manifest unto them. But forgive and overlook, till Allah brings His command. Verily, Allah is able to do all things.” [Koran 2:109]}. We the Muslims are proud of our religion that was revealed to us by Allah and are thankful that Allah has chosen us for his religion. Allah says (what means): {“…This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…”} [Koran 5:3]. 

The non Muslims’ celebrations such as…Christmas Day, etc. are among the falsehoods that a Muslim should avoid. Allah says (what means): {“And those who do not bear witness to falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity.”} [Koran 25:72]….participating in the festivals of non-Muslims is a kind of cooperation in the disobedience of Allah. Allah says (what means): {“…Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression…”} [Koran 5:2].

Moreover, no Muslim is allowed to congratulate non-Muslims on their festival celebrations. Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim [al-Jawziyya; d. 1350, a renowned jurist/theologian, and Koranic commentator] reported the consensus of all scholars that greeting non-Muslims on their religious occasions is forbidden. He said: “As for congratulating the disbelievers for their rituals, it is forbidden according to the agreement of all scholars- like: congratulating them for their feasts and fast by expressing good wishes: happy feast or enjoy your feast… etc. If the Muslim who says this does not become a disbeliever himself, he, at least, commits a sin as this is the same as congratulating him for his belief in the trinity, which is a greater sin and much more disliked by Almighty Allah than congratulating him for drinking alcohol or killing a soul or committing fornication or adultery…etc.” In a word, congratulating non Muslims for their feasts is synonymous of accepting their wrongdoing and disbelief in Allah. Is there a greater disbelief than attributing a son to Allah or saying that Isa (Jesus) is Allah or that Allah is the third of three “gods”? So, any Muslim who congratulates a person for a sin, an innovation or an act of disbelief has exposed himself to the hatred and anger of Almighty Allah. Finally, if the non- Muslims congratulate us for our feasts, we do not congratulate them for their feasts as we are on the right path and they are not. Allah says (what means): {“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”} [Koran 3:85]

It is not permissible for the Muslims to congratulate the Christians for their holidays and celebrations because this would be cooperation on that which is sin and transgression. Allah Says (what means): “…And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression…” [Koran 5: 2]. This also leads to repeated visitation with them, and indicates solicitation of their love and the acceptance of who they are and their rites. This is not permissible. It is an obligation on the Muslim to show them dislike for they oppose Allah and ascribe partners and sons to Him. Allah Says (what means): “You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred…” [Koran 58:22] He Almighty also Says: “There has already been for you an excellent pattern in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah Alone’…” [Koran 60:4]

Dr. Habib Malik, in an eloquent address delivered February 3, 2003  at the 27th annual Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Presidents Conference, decried the platitudinous “least common denominators” paradigm which dominates what he aptly termed the contemporary “dialogue industry,” especially the spurious contention, vis-à-vis Muslim-Christian dialogue, that “the Isa of the Koran is really the same as the Jesus of the New Testament.” Malik’s inference—demonstrably correct—that Isa, the “Muslim Jesus,” does not bear any substantive resemblance to the Jesus of the New Testament, is particularly apposite to the hateful Muslim attitudes towards Christmas, highlighted above

The orthodox, mainstream theological view of Islam and Muslims is that the Jews themselves claimed to have killed Jesus Christ. Specifically, Koran 4:157158 iterates,

And because of their [the Jews] saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they [the Jews] killed him not [i.e. Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)]… But Allah raised him [Isa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All Powerful, All Wise.

Ibn Kathir (d. 1373), a pre-eminent Muslim historian, theologian, and Koranic commentator, provides this elaboration of Koran 4:157-158, which emphasizes the Jews overall perfidy, especially their gloating (but unknowingly “false”) claim to have killed Jesus:

When Allah sent Isa (Jesus) with proofs and guidance, the Jews—may Allah’s curses, anger, torment, and punishment be upon them—envied him because of his prophethood and obvious miracles…the Jews defied him…and tried their best to harm him. Allah’s Prophet Isa (Jesus) could not live in any one city for long and he had to travel often with his mother…Even so, the Jews were not satisfied, and they went to the King of Damascus at that time a Greek polytheist who worshipped stars. They told him there was a man…misguiding and dividing the people in Jerusalem and stirring unrest among the king’s subjects. The king became angry and wrote to his deputy in Jerusalem to arrest the rebel leader, stop him from causing unrest, crucify him and make him wear a crown of thorns. When the king’s deputy in Jerusalem received these orders, he went with some Jews to the house that Isa (Jesus) was residing in, and he was with twelve, thirteen, or seventeen of his companions. That day was a Friday, in the evening. They surrounded Isa (Jesus) in the house, and when he felt that they would soon enter the house or that he would sooner or later have to leave it, he said to his companions, ‘Who volunteers to be made to look like me, for which he will be my companion in Paradise?’A young man volunteered, but Isa (Jesus) thought that he was too young. He asked the question a second time and third time, each time the young man volunteering, prompting Isa (Jesus) to say, ‘Well, then you will be that man.’ Allah made the young man look exactly like Isa (Jesus), while a hole opened in the roof of the house, and Isa (Jesus) was made to sleep and ascended to heaven while asleep…When Isa (Jesus) ascended, those who were in the house came out. When those surrounding the house saw the man who looked like Isa (Jesus), they thought that he was Isa (Jesus). So they took him at night, crucified him and placed a crown of thorns on his head. The Jews boasted that they killed Isa (Jesus) and some Christians accepted their false claim due to their ignorance and lack of reason.

In his commentary on the related Koranic verse 4:159, {“And there is none of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), but must believe in him [Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), as only a Messenger of Allah and a human being], before his [Isa (Jesus) or a Jew’s or a Christian’s] death (at the time of the appearance of the angel of death). And on the Day of Resurrection, he [Isa (Jesus)] will be a witness against them.”}, Ibn Kathir elucidates the Islamic version of the “Resurrection” from the hadith (oral tradition recording Muhammad’s words and actions) in which Isa (Jesus), who is merely a Muslim prophet preaching Islam, returns to “break the cross, kill the pig, and banish the jizya [Koranic poll-tax signifying a non-Muslims subjugation under Islamic rule] and call all the people to Islam.

Ibn Kathir’s 14th century commentary on Koran 4:155-159, also discusses Isa’s role in defeating the Dajjal, the often identifiably “Jewish,” Muslim equivalent of the Antichrist (or more accurately “Anti-Isa”) figure, and his Jewish minions, invoking the apocalyptic canonical hadith of Jew-annihilation, Sahih Muslim Book 41, Hadith Number 6985. This tradition has been routinely cited over the past century by mainstream Muslim leaders and clerics from ex-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin el-Husseini (in the 1930s), through the current Palestinian Authority Mufti Muhammad Hussein, and Muhammad Al-Mahdi, presently, a senior scholar and head of the Sharia association at Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s Vatican equivalent. Permanently incorporated into the Hamas Covenant as article 7, this murderous tradition declares:

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: ‘Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him;’ but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.”

A “Muslim Jesus” variant of this tradition which takes place in Jerusalem, was described by scholar of the hadith, James Robson:

[M]ost of the Arabs will be in Jerusalem when Jesus will descend. The imam will give place to him, but Jesus will tell him to lead the prayers. Afterwards, Jesus will order the door to be opened, and the Dajjal will be seen there with 70,000 armed Jews. The Dajjal will begin to melt, but Jesus will pursue and catch him and kill him at the east gate of Ludd. Allah will rout the Jews who will find that even the places where they shelter will shout out where they are hiding.

Armand Abel, the renowned Belgian scholar of Islam, includes this summary characterization of the Dajjal (from his official entry, “al-Dajdjal,” in the Encyclopedia of Islam):

A giant, false prophet, king of the Jews, representations of him vary according to the degree of literary information available or the predominating prejudices…the ultimate term of comparison to describe false doctrine and going astray…he [the Dajjal] would perish at the hands of Jesus [i.e., Isa, the Muslim Jesus] who, in that way, would be converted to Islam after killing pigs, scattering wine and taking his place for prayer at the [Meccan] Kaba.

It is critically important to understand that all the essential themes of Ibn Kathir’s 14th century narrative regarding Isa, the Muslim Jesus, are reiterated in the authoritative modern edition (February 1991 English edition) of a classical manual of Islamic Law (‘Umdat al-salik wa’uddat al-nasik), Reliance of the Traveller, certified by Al-Azhar University’s Islamic Research Academy, as conforming to the contemporary “practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community.” Reliance of the Traveller reaffirms the accepted interpretation of Isa’s return as described in the Koran and hadith, connecting it seamlessly to the real world jihad against Christianity (as well as Judaism, and Zoroastrianism), articulated by the Koranic verse 9:29. Under the heading (pp. 601-602) “THE OBJECTIVES OF JIHAD,” Reliance of the Traveller proclaims,

The caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya; My note: from the etymology of the word, per Edward Lane, the great 19th century Arabic-English lexicographer, “the tax paid in lieu of being slain”)—in accordance with the word of Allah Most High, (Koran 9:29) “Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”—the time and place for which is before the final descent of Isa. After his [Isa’s] final coming, nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Isa’s descent, which is the divinely revealed law of Muhammad, The coming of Isa does not entail a separate divinely revealed law, for he will rule by the law of Muhammad [i.e., the Sharia]

My colleague, the Islamic scholar, human rights activist, and Christian theologian, Dr. Mark Durie, once shared this concise, blunt assessment of the understandable reaction of believing Christians to Islam’s simulacrum of Jesus Christ, Isa: Christians would be appalled if they knew that Isa, the Muslim “Jesus,” is merely a Muslim prophet, whose ultimate “job description” is to destroy Christianity, and help impose Islam, and its totalitarian Sharia, upon all of humanity.

Islam’s Isa comports with the creed’s foundational and ongoing modern contempt for Jews, the Judeo-Christian heritage, Christianity as a distinct faith, and most significantly, at this time of year, how Christians celebrate Christmas with joy for marking the birth of Jesus Christ, as they—not Muslims—conceive Jesus.

Habib Malik ended his February 2003 analysis of what he termed the “pathetic” state of so-called Muslim-Christian “dialogue” with these searing observations, germane to Islam’s continuing theological animus towards Christmas, Christianity, and Jesus Christ:

[W]hen you get into the nitty-gritty, you find that even in what you supposed were common ethical foundations, there are vast differences, incompatibilities. Suicide bombers is one recent example. Condoned by major authoritative Muslim voices; completely unacceptable by Christianity.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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