CHRISTMAS/NEW YEAR FOOD, PERMISSIBLE OR NOT?
*_History of Christmas_*
December 25 is referred to in documents as Christmas Day in A.D. 324 for the first time. Under the Roman emperor Justinian [A.D. 527-565] it was recognized as an official holiday. An old Roman festival played a major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25 in ancient Rome was the 'Dies Natali Invictus,' 'The Birthday of the Unconquered,' the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia, which had long since degenerated into a week of unbridled carnival.
December 25 became the date of Jesus’ birth by a priori reasoning that identified the spring equinox as the date of the creation of the world and the fourth day of creation, when the light was created, as the day of Jesus’ conception (i.e., March 25). December 25, nine months later, then became the date of Jesus’ birth. For a long time the celebration of Jesus’ birth was observed in conjunction with his baptism, celebrated January 6.
*FOODS THAT ARE PROHIBITED IN ISLAM*
إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةَ وَالدَّمَ وَلَحْمَ الْخِنْزِيرِ وَمَا أُهِلَّ بِهِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلَا عَادٍ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
_He only prohibits for you the eating of animals that die of themselves (without human interference), blood, the meat of pigs and animals dedicated to other than God. If one is forced (to eat these), without being malicious or deliberate, he incurs no sin. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful._
You do not need to guess hard to understand the MERCY of the MOST MERCIFUL. God Almighty knows many Muslims will live in the middle of Christians and Jews and will be sharing their food and for this reason God has told the Prophet Muhammad more than 1400 years ago, the following:
الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتُ وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حِلٌّ لَكُمْ وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَهُمْ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْمُحْصَنَاتُ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلَا مُتَّخِذِي أَخْدَانٍ وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالْإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
_Today, all good food is made lawful for you. The food of the people of the scripture is lawful for you, [and your food is lawful for them]. Also, you may marry the chaste women among the believers, as well as the chaste women among the followers of previous scripture, provided you pay them their due dowries. You shall maintain chastity, not committing adultery, nor taking secret lovers. Anyone who rejects faith, all his work will be in vain, and in the Hereafter he will be with the losers._
These verses were revealed at a time when God already told us that the people of the scripture distorted their books and no-one can claim this verse was meant for the early Jews and Christians. God Almighty has also specified a very important criteria for His true believers by ‘mentioning God’s name’ (إسم الله) on everything you are going to eat. See also Q5:4 and Q6:118-119.
فَكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ بِآيَاتِهِ مُؤْمِنِينَ
_You shall eat from that upon which God's name has been pronounced, if you truly believe in His revelations. [Quran 6:119]_
وَمَا لَكُمْ أَلَّا تَأْكُلُوا مِمَّا ذُكِرَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَقَدْ فَصَّلَ لَكُمْ مَا حَرَّمَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِلَّا مَا اضْطُرِرْتُمْ إِلَيْهِ وَإِنَّ كَثِيرًا لَيُضِلُّونَ بِأَهْوَائِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُعْتَدِينَ
_Why should you not eat from that upon which God's name has been mentioned? He has detailed for you what is prohibited for you, unless you are forced. Indeed, many people mislead others with their personal opinions, without knowledge. Your Lord is fully aware of the transgressors._
*(You may reread the verse above again)*
God in these verses puts the responsibility, as usual, on the individual. It is you, I and everyone's responsibility to mention God's name on everything we eat. Notice here that God says "EAT" and not "SLAUGHTER" when it comes to mentioning His name. Those who believe God and the Quran, accept His permission to eat the food of the people of the scriptures and enjoy it and appreciate the mercy of the Most Merciful.
*More reference on permissible food in Islam:*
_Q5:88, Q22:30, Q2:168, Q5:96, Q2:172, Q5:93 among many others._
*More reference on prohibited food:*
_Q2:173, Q5:3, Q6:145, Q16:115 among many others._
After Allah mentioned the filthy things that He prohibited for His believing servants and the good things that He allowed for them, He said next that:
﴿الْيَوْمَ أُحِلَّ لَكُمُ الطَّيِّبَـتُ﴾
_Made lawful to you this day are At-Tayyibat._
Allah then mentioned the ruling concerning the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book, the Jews and Christians,
﴿وَطَعَامُ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ حِلٌّ لَّكُمْ﴾
_The food of the People of the Scripture is lawful to you._
Meaning, their slaughtered animals, as Ibn `Abbas, Abu Umamah, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, `Ata', Al-Hasan, Makhul, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, As-Suddi and Muqatil bin Hayyan stated. This ruling, that the slaughtered animals of the People of the Book are permissible for Muslims, is agreed on by the scholars, because the People of the Book believe that slaughtering for other than Allah (God) is prohibited.
﴿وَطَعَامُكُمْ حِلٌّ لَّهُمْ﴾
_And your food is lawful to them._
Which means, you are allowed to feed them from your slaughtered animals. Therefore, this part of the Ayah is not to inform the People of the Scriptures that they are allowed to eat our food unless we consider it information for us about the ruling that they have. i. e., that they are allowed, all types of foods over which Allah's Name was mentioned, whether slaughtered according to their religion or otherwise. The first explanation is more plausible. So it means: you are allowed to feed them from your slaughtered animals just as you are allowed to eat from theirs too. Just as equal compensation and fair treatment.
With all these facts, as stated by Almighty Allah (God), The Wisest of all the time, the major problem why people are condemning the Christmas food is based on the origin of Christmas which has two sources and those celebrating it today believes in the second source which is celebration of Jesus birth.
*Firstly,* During the period when Allah revealed the verse of the Quran permitting Muslims to eat their food, they are already celebrating Christmas then and Allah is the most wise who can just restrain us from eating there festive food as he restrain us in ‘the same verse’ that we are only meant to marry there ‘girls’ (Allah is most Wise and most Merciful).
*Secondly,* The Quran says in Suratul al-'An'Am (6:108) that:
وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللَّهَ عَدْوًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ كَذَلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ مَرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
_And do not insult those that invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do. *Imagine!*_
Going by the above verse, when you call there festival to be ‘idol worshipping’, it later result to them also calling our Eid festivals as using goat has sacrifice to Allah (as idol worshipping too), in enmity, that is, you are even going against the command of Allah with that, (والله غفر، رحيم)
*Thirdly,* Islam is a religion of peace, as brought by the prophet and practiced by him, Prophet Muhammad convinced many people into Islam through his behaviour and simplicity. Can you now please point out a form of peace or simplicity? In a situation whereby we are neighbours and when you celebrates your festival, you always give me food which I receive and eat with the rest of my family, but when it is time for me celebrating our own festival, you reject our food, condemn our festival openly. Practically, there can never be peace between us which is against the prophet’s teachings.
*_“Islam is a religion of peace, let’s prove this not by mere sayings but by our actions and reactions”_*
Do recall the hadith that says:
إنما الأعمال بالنيات
_“Actions are according to intentions” Our intention says it all!_
*Lastly,* There is a saying that: _"too much of everything is bad"_ we are allowed to eat their food on any occasion provided that it is not what is prohibited for us. It’s only that we are not to celebrate or have the intention of celebrating with them _(theirs is theirs and ours is ours)._ They are our neighbour as we are to them too. We are to love and care for them even if they show the opposite. Brethren! Let’s step forward out of this Christmas, New Year yearly arguments of a thing (and the likes). Let’s be tolerating, be accommodating and hold firm to our religion teachings. Let’s call many to Islam by good conducts.
I love to end with this verse that says:
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
_O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Q49:1)
Allah Knows best.