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Christmas & I

I'm giving below my personal experience and future vision regarding Christmas and Easter celebrations by
British Muslims in the UK.
Every year, British Muslims are missing two golden opportunities to propagate the message of Islam, a
message of peace, tolerance and justice, and to show how do they integrate into the British society without
losing their religion or watering it down.
The two occasions are Christmas and Easter celebrations.
The literal meaning of "Merry Christmas" is that I wish you a happy celebration of Jesus' birthday'.
Unfortunately, many Muslims respond in an aggressive, rude or impolite way if someone wishes them a
Merry Christmas. Instead of saying thank you or I also wish you the same they say "No thanks, I don't
celebrate Christmas." Although God commands them in verse 86, chapter 4 of the Quran that they should
return the greeting in a more courteous way or at least just return it.
Muslims believe in all the Prophets and Messengers of God without making any distinction between any of
them, as stated by God in the Quran.
So if they believe in Mohammed and Jesus, why do they celebrate the birth of Mohammed and not the birth
of Jesus? To celebrate I mean to emulate, to study the life style of these Messengers, the great sacrifices
they made and the legacy they left behind.
Let the family get together during the Christmas holiday and forget about their differences. Let them talk
about the purity and chastity of Mary, the role model to every and each Muslim girl who must remain pure
and chaste until she gets married. Let them talk about how kind Jesus was to his mother who faced her
angry people who accused her of committing adultery. Let them talk about the miracles of Jesus who gave
life to the dead and healed the lepers and the blind, all by God's Decree. And in spite of all this he remained
to be a man not God or the son of God.
When Prophet Mohammed was asked: "Why do you fast every Monday?" He replied: "A day I was born on
and a day on which I received the first revelation ". So he was celebrating the two occasions by fasting
every Monday.
When he arrived in Madina he noticed that the Jewish community were fasting. He asked them: "Why are
you fasting?" They answered: "It is a great day"? "Why is it a great day"? asked Prophet Mohammed.
They replied: "It is the day God saved Moses and the Israelites from Pharaoh and his army, so Moses
decided to fast on this day (as a form of recognising the favour of God and giving thanks)". So Mohammed
said: "I have more to do with Moses than you", and he declared it a fasting day for the Muslims as well. This
is the 10th day in the first month in the Islamic calendar. Regrettably there are Muslims who are not aware
of this.
Mohammed did not ask the Jews to prove what was the correct date when Moses and the Israelites crossed
the Red Sea. Because it was something which has already happened. So the exact date is irrelevant.
The same with Christmas, whether Jesus was born on 25th December or 7th January is irrelevant as Jesus
was born already. The day he was born on was full of Peace, as stated in the Quran. The Quran tells us that
he was born in the season of fresh ripe dates, which could in the Middle East be in the month of September.
But it does not give the exact date, because it is irrelevant.
Muslims have two feasts which they celebrate every year. The Arabic word for a feast is Eid. These two
feasts are the feast of ending the fast in the month of Ramadhan and the feast of sacrifice following the
annual pilgrimage to Makkah.
However, there are certain days in our lives and our history, which we should remember. In verse 5, chapter
24 of the Quran God commands that we must remember "His Days".

In Arabic it is called Ayyam and the singular is Yawm. The words Eid and Yawm have completely different
meanings in Arabic. The days of God are the days when He showered us with His Mercy, Blessings and
favours. For example, the days when His prophets were born, the day when He saved prophet Abraham
from the fire, the day He saved Ismael from being sacrificed, the day He saved Moses and the children of
Israel from Pharaoh, the day He saved Jonah from the tummy of the whale, the day He saved Jesus from his
enemies and raised him alive onto Himself, the day He saved Mohammed from his enemies when he
emigrated from Makkah to Medina, the day He took Mohammed on a journey by night from Makkah to
Jerusalem and then into heaven, the day He started the Revelation to Mohammed, etc....
There are many other Days of God in addition to the above which we should remember.
So how do I celebrate Christmas?
I do celebrate Christmas by exchanging cards and gifts with my Christian fellow human beings and
organising talks about Mary and Jesus in the Quran, and getting my family together to study the virgin birth
from the Quran. Also by remembering and helping the poor and the needy and the lonely people. I don't
celebrate Christmas by consuming alcohol or clubbing.
The BBC calls me "The Imam who wears a tie and sends Christmas cards". I'm happy to be called like that.
Let me explain in more details my personal interaction with Christmas:
A) Almost ten years ago I decided to design a set of special Christmas cards talking about Mary and Jesus
from the Quran. I print about 4000 cards every year. I send them to the members of the Royal family,
members of the Houses of Parliament and Lords, churches, neighbours, colleagues at work, the Pope, all the
EU leaders, etc.... Amazingly I receive so many responses and interesting comments. I am pleasantly
surprised and honoured that HM the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Pope respond to my card every year.
In Dec 2014 I received a very interesting response from the Rt Hon Desmond Swane, the minister of state
for International development comparing my card to a paper written by a Muslim called Abdul Hurriya
condemning Islam, which he received just before Christmas. At the end of his article to the Salisbury Journal
Mr Swane said: "In the days before Christmas I also received a Christmas card from Dr Mohammed Fahim,
the head Imam at the Woodford Muslim community centre, wishing me Gods peace, mercy and blessings.
The card pointed out, something of which I was unaware: that over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide believe in
Jesus Christ, his virgin birth, his message, all his miracles, his ascension into heaven, and his second coming.
On the reverse of the card is the following statement:'Islam is a religion of peace, justice and tolerance. It
rejects violence and condemns the killing of civilians anywhere in the world irrespective of their race or
religion even if Islam is Insulted or ridiculed' Abdul Hurriya may think that Dr Fahim is deluded or dishonest,
but I think we need to hear a great deal more from Dr Mohammed Fahim, and millions like him."
The constituency office of the Rt Hon Steve Baker, MP requested more cards to be sent to his office to show
them to other people in his constituency.
On the other hand when I gave these cards to some Imams, they were so critical: "How dare you say peace
be upon you to these Christian Kafers (unbelievers)?", they asked. So I responded by saying: "Don't you
know that my parents could be Christians, or Jews or even pagans, and God commends me to keep their
good company and honour them. Don't you know that God allows me to marry a Christian or a Jewish
woman and she can continue to practice her religion? Don't you know that our food is lawful to them and
theirs is lawful to us. Don't you know that God commands us to have a good relation and deal equitably with
everyone, except those who fight us for our religion or force us to leave our homes." I supported each
statement by verses from the Quran but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears.
I wonder what message these radical imams deliver to their congregations especially the young ones?
I always say to Muslims who condemn Britain and call it "a land of blasphemy", that they should leave, to
stop claiming benefits or using the NHS or sending their children to state schools here.
In trying to deliver this message of peace to as many people as possible, I
congregation as well as my friends, to send my cards to their contacts as well.

encourage members of my

B) Another way of me celebrating Christmas is that I exchange gifts with my Christian friends, colleagues,
neighbours, etc... According to Islamic history the Prophet Mohammed, exchanged gifts with non Muslims.
But unfortunately I find it extremely difficult to even talk to radical Muslims as they don't know even how to
debate or respect the view of the other.
C) For the last 20 years, I dedicate the four Fridays in December to talk to my congregation about Mary and
Jesus in the Quran. During the school Christmas holidays I arrange a lecture for the Muslim children and
their parents. I also invite the non Muslim neighbours and church representatives. At the end we have a
Q&A session which is usually so exciting.
D) This year I thought of something new. I would like to have a nativity play from an Islamic perspective,
performed by the Muslim children of our mosque's school. I will direct it myself. I will ensure that it will be in
the news and the newspapers.
How do I celebrate Easter?
A) I dedicate Good Friday to talk to my congregation about what Islam says happened to Prophet Jesus on
this day and how God saved him and raised him unto Himself.
B) I organise a lecture to the children and their parents to talk about the same topic.
Non Muslim neighbours and church representatives are invited. The lecture has a Q&A session to enable
everyone to participate.
My Vision:
I would like to see every mosque and Muslim school in the UK emulating the above strategy to educate
Muslim children and the public about Jesus and Mary in the Quran. I want them to participate and celebrate
the two occasions in the way I described above. I want them to show the world that Muslims are integrating
without losing their religion or watering it down whilst embracing British values which don't contradict with
Islamic values.

Dr. Mohammed Fahim

Ph.D, M.Sc, B.Eng, MBCS, CITP, FCMI, C.Eng
Chair & Head Imam, Qurani Murkuz Trust
South Woodford Muslim Community Centre