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Feb 02 2013

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Recognising the Birth of Prophet Isa Alaihis Salaam

Question:

Assalamu Alaikum,

I recently attended a grand Milad Un Nabi gathering, in which I heard a statement made by the leader of a local (Trinidad and Tobago) religious organisation, for which I require some clarification.

The individual noted in his address to the gathering that the Birthday of Prophet Isa Alaihis Salaam was a couple weeks ago and that the organisation which he represents was going to begin recognising the Birth of Prophet Isa Alaihis Salaam in their schools.

I would like to know if according to the Quran and authentic traditions, we as Muslims have any substantial evidence as to when Prophet Isa Alaihis Salaam was born.

Also, is it permissible to take the 25th of December as the date in which Prophet Isa Alaihis Salaam was born, as implied by this individual, and will it be permissible for us as Muslims to recognise the Birth of Prophet Isa on this date?

May Allah continue to shower his infinite mercy and blessings upon you.

Wasalaam.


Answer:

Wa Alaikum As salaam,

All praises are for Allah and Peace and blessings be upon the final Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (SAS).

First of all, it is not permissible to celebrate the birthday of any prophet.

Secondly, there is no evidence in the Quran and authentic traditions that gives an indication as to when Prophet Isa (AS) was born. In fact, this is not even evident from the Bible (of the Christians), nor is it proven in their religious literature.

History shows that December 25th was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Jesus was born on that day, but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations.

While answering a question regarding this topic, a Christian organization bearing the name ‘the United Church of God’, an international association based in the United States stated, ‘Lacking any spiritual pointers to Jesus’s birthday, early Christian teachers suggested dates all over the calendar. Clement….. picked November 18th. Hippolytus….. figured Christ must have been born on a Wednesday. An anonymous document, believed to have been written in North Africa around A.D 243, placed Jesus’s birth on March 28th. (Joseph L. Shefer, U.S News& World report, ‘In search of Christmas’, Dec.23 1996 P.58)’.

The ‘United church of God’ continued in the article by saying, ‘A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that December 25 couldn’t be the date for Christ’s birth’.

It further states, ‘Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, the important fact then which I have asked you to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th. was a compromise with paganism’, (William Walsh, the Story of Santa Klaus, 1970 P62)’.

While concluding the (above mentioned) article, the ‘United Church of God’ wrote, ‘Although it is difficult to determine the first time anyone celebrated December 25 as Christmas Day, historians are in general agreement that it was sometime during the fourth Century. This is an amazingly late date. Christmas was not observed in Rome, the Capital of the Roman Empire, until about 300 years after Christ’s death. Its origins cannot be traced back to either the teachings or practices of the earliest Christians’. ( Article posted by ‘United Church of God’ on their webpage at www.ucg.org).

From the above article, (which concurs with the writings of many Christian scholars and theologians) it is well established that:-

  • December 25 was not the birthday of Jesus.
  • The Bible does not give any date with respect to when Jesus was born.
  • Early Christians in the first four centuries of Christianity never celebrated Christmas.
  • This practice cannot be traced back to Jesus.

This shows that when Christian literature cannot establish the birth of Jesus, then to a greater extent, we, as Muslims will not be able to do so. Hence, no one, (including the Muslims) knows exactly when Jesus was born. As such, how can we, as Muslims, celebrate or even recognise his birthday.

So, to answer the last part of your question, it is not permissible to take the 25th December as the date on which Prophet Isa (AS) was born. It will not be permissible to recognise the birth of Prophet Isa (AS) on this date.

And Allah knows best,
Mufti Waseem Khan

2/2/2013

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