Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Celebrating ‘Christmas’

The very basis of modern Christianity and its foundational theological concepts are shrouded in mythical haze. No less a festival than the ‘Christmas’- celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ (as)- itself reminds one about the extraordinary theological engineering that underpins and sustains the constructed belief systems of contemporary Christians. In his Friday Sermon of December 23, 2011 Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) spoke about the dimensions of mystery surrounding the faith and the futility of Christmas when viewed through the prism of pristine spirituality. As the Divinely-raised Warner of this (spiritually) empty age, Hadhrat Sahib reminds Muslims-including Ahmadis and their leader- against indulging in vain pursuits-such as celebration of Christmas- that takes one away from the true path of Allah.

Read the extracts from the Friday Sermon:     

That Jesus is the central figure and the very soul of Christian theology is manifestly clear. Without some kind of belief in his Christhood, whichever way may it be defined by various denominations and scholarly theologians, the very foundations of Christianity are totally altered. Throughout the last two thousand years, hundreds of millions of Christians have been sustained in their beliefs through their deep faith in the life of Jesus. The miraculous character attributed to his birth, the stories of the miracles he performed, his encounters with the Romans, Israelites and other gentiles, and finally, his crucifixion provide the basic ingredients which have continued to nourish this leading religion of the western world not only today but through the centuries past.

Yet, it is rather strange, indeed ironic, that most important events of his life have always remained veiled in mystery. Was he born of a virgin mother? When was he born? Why is hardly anything known about his life from early infancy to the time when he proclaimed his ministry? How long did his ministry last? Who were really responsible for his being led to the cross – hostile Jewish leaders or the Roman rulers? Did he really die during the few hours that he was on the cross or was he only unconscious when he was taken off the cross with unusual haste? If there was a resurrection, then who were the eye-witnesses, if any? What is the significance of the blood stains of the shroud in which he was temporarily wrapped and which is now preserved in the Cathedral of Turin, Italy? [Inset: An image of Christ which corresponds exactly to the Shroud of Turin]. Did he leave Palestine for the eastern regions to accomplish his proclaimed mission of having come for the lost tribes of Israel? These and several other issues about the life of Jesus of Nazareth have continued to challenge the curiosity of the Christian as well as the non-Christian scholars.

To illustrate, let us briefly comment on just one issue of his birth. Since as early as the second century A.D, the Christian world has been celebrating his birth on the 25th of December. The Christian Calendar leads us to assume that he was born on this date, 2011 years ago. On the other hand, Christian scholars have never come to a consensus either on the exact year or the exact date of his birth.

Mr. David E. Anderson, UPI Religion writer, commented: “Scholars say that there is no hard evidence to determine the precise date of Jesus birthday although most biblical experts now place the date about 6 B.C.” (Newsday – December 22, 1983).

Most biblical scholars of our times not only conclude that Jesus was born 6 years earlier than the popularly acknowledged year but they also do not accept the widely-held belief that he was born on December 25th.

As Mr. David Anderson explains, this practice of celebrating Christmas on this date started in “reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that marked the winter solstice – the return of the sun – and honour to Saturn, the god of sowing.” In other words, Christmas became “a means of replacing the worship of the sun with worship of the son.”

He further observes that: By 529 A.D, after Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire, Emperor Justinian made Christmas a civil holiday and prohibited any work on that day. From then on the observance of Christmas became so firmly established that even though English Parliament outlawed this holiday on June 3, 1647; it was forced to repeal this law and restore Christmas observance under popular pressure.

It is distinctly clear that the popular beliefs of both the year and the date of the birth of Jesus are totally erroneous and quite contrary to the findings of the historians, scholars and the experts of the Christian faith. The question is this: if the same kind of fictional bases surround the story of the ‘resurrection’, does it not strike a fatal blow to the most fundamental pillars of the Christian theology such as atonement and belief in Jesus as the Saviour?

O you my Muslim brothers and sisters in Mauritius, Rodrigues and in all corners of the world, if your belief is in the Tawheed (unity of God) and in the five pillars of Islam, then why are celebrating Christmas day as if it is your festival. Remember that we, Muslims; Almighty Allah has given us two festivals: (1) Eid-ul-Fitr, (2) Eid-ul-Adha. Christmas is not our festival. On the contrary, it is an insult to Islam, an insult to the Muslim faith.

I also address myself in particular to all Ahmadi Muslim brothers and sisters in the world and especially in Mauritius, why do you celebrate Christmas? Is this the true teaching of Islam and is this what the Promised Messiah Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (upon him be peace) taught us? It is very sad to see Ahmadi Muslims and other Muslims in Mauritius buy and put the fir “Christmas” tree in their house, with big decorations and they spend a lot of money in buying toys for their children and firecrackers of all sorts to be wasted at night, and moreover there are great family get-togethers around barbecues to celebrate Christmas. Are these our teachings?

Does the actual fifth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Community (Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad Sahib) tolerate all these innovations in the Community of the Promised Messiah (upon him be peace)? Does he tolerate the so-called great defenders of Ahmadiyyat in Mauritius when they are foremost to be the worst of role models for the Ahmadi Muslims? Is there not any boycott on them? They are still in the Jamaat while someone who says that he received divine revelations is expelled from the Jamaat. Whenever there are people coming to talk to us, there is severe warning and menace given to these people not to talk and maintain friendship with us.

He is playing with the religion of Allah and with Allah and His Messenger. There is talk of Justice but no actual justice, but innovations are welcome for the Ahmadi Muslims while he and his circle scoff off the message of Allah. Soon,very soon now. Allah is not in a hurry to punish people whereas there is still an opening for them to repent and turn into a new leaf.”

For a Summary of the Friday Sermon, see @: