Despite the cheerful and religious fervor that Christmas brings about, it has many controversies associated with it. Some of the most orthodox Christians in history refused to celebrate Christmas because of them. The first of these is that December 25th is not the birthday of Jesus PBUH. The origins of this festival lie in the pagan worship of the sun. The pagans in ancient Rome used to mark the winter solstice with a festival of lights which was adopted by Christians as Christmas. The second controversy is around the figure of Santa Claus who also has no connection with Christianity and in fact represents a pagan god Odin of the Germanic peoples. Many Christian parents, however, continue to encourage their children to believe in the existence of a gift giving Santa. This has also led to the commercialization of an otherwise religious festival.
According to Islam, Jesus AS is considered to be one of the greatest prophets to have ever lived who taught his followers to worship only one God and to love each other. However, when Christians embraced these pagan traditions, they opened up Christianity to sorts of other pagan ideas as well. Belief in the Oneness of God was eventually lost, Christianity was reduced to folklore and materialism took root. It is for this reason that Islam has criticized paganism in the strongest terms. Once people adopt even a small falsehood as part of their religion, more and more falsehoods begin to adulterate their faith. The end result is a religion that is nothing more than stories and superstition. This drives intelligent people away from worship of one God and into the lap of atheism and materialism.
Eid, which is thought of as equivalent of Christmas in the Muslim world has no such connection with the ancient pagan rituals. Even though Eid-ul-Azha was celebrated in Arabia in pre-Islamic times, its origins lie in commemorating the great sacrifice of Abraham who was a monotheist. Although, as materialism has taken hold of the world, many Muslims like Christians use this festival for display of wealth and it is also not uncommon to see Muslims make their only visit to the mosque in a year on this day.
However, God promised the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH that the true teachings of Islam would never be lost and raised the Promised Messiah to guide Muslims in this age. Therefore, there will always be a party of Muslims who would adhere to the sunnah of the Holy Prophet PBUH. As Ahmadis, who have accepted the imam of the age, we must always remain cautious in this regard and refrain from adopting unislamic ways in our lives that go against the teachings and spirit of Islam.
-- Prepared by the Taleem Department --