It is very important that we prepare ourselves for this imminent occasion. As always, at the end of each year, day in and day out – and all through the night, we are constantly pummeled with the lights, decorations and music of the season at every turn. You won’t be able to take a trip to the grocery, the library, or even your front yard without noticing it.
But this year we too were, just days before, celebrating our Islamic ‘Eed Al-Adh-Ha, not in the same manner of course, but it was our time for celebration nonetheless. These unusual circumstances may present confusion and curiosity amongst children, teenagers and even new Muslims. It is essential that we address their questions and concerns in an honest, straightforward manner. The most effective method of clarifying and conveying accurate and detailed information is to deal with facts in an efficient and appropriate manner. Replacing normal curiosity with knowledge, will, Insha Allaah (Allaah willing), strengthen everyone in his conviction.
Among the numerous situations that may arise during this season are the Christmas lights. Little Omar –with awe and delight, one evening as you’re passing by lit up houses on the way to the Masjid –may exclaim: “Look, the lights are so pretty!” you look at him frowning, “No, no, no! Omar, those are ugly!” you reply scolding him.
Omar may never tell you he thinks the lights are pretty again, because he doesn’t want to disappoint you. However, that doesn’t mean that this is what he thinks. He may still believe that the lights are pretty; and in addition, he may feel that this is untrue!
It may even be hard for you to tell someone the lights are ugly – possibly because you don’t even believe that yourself. Why? Because the lights are delightful to most, young and old alike, that’s why they are used for all sorts of festive occasions. The fact is, although they may be nice to look at, the underlying reason is that they are used at this time of the year, and this is what is ugly… not the lights themselves.
All the children can see are the lights in a rainbow of colors, flashing and twinkling. They don’t see the Kufr (disbelief) that is being celebrated inside the lit-up houses. This is why it is so vital that the situation be fully explained and not simply brushed off. We must tackle these situations with a detailed explanation, and only with that will a new Muslim or a child fully understand why the lights or decorations are so unappealing during this time of the year.
It is important that they understand that the lights themselves are not Haraam (forbidden). They are simply small colored light bulbs on a string that can be used to any purpose whatsoever, just as any other light bulb. In many places all over the world, they are used for various reasons totally unrelated to any religious holiday. It is not the lights that should be the focus; it is what lies beneath that which is important.
You could spend the entire afternoon arguing your point that lights are ugly and the end result may still be that they don’t agree. Even after a debate on the issue, you may feel that you have come out the winner, but think about this: what was really won – your opinion? Unfortunately, that’s not a good enough reason for anyone, even a child, to agree with you and change their mind. Furthermore, by only discussing the irrelevant issue of the lights – what did they learn? Probably not much, except may be how to become a better debater next time.
Christmas, this year in particular, is a good opportunity to sit down and fully explain the major differences between Islam and Christianity to a new Muslim or a child. The explanation should be according to the age level of the child, and according to the knowledge of the teenager or adult. One should emphasize on the Kufr that is behind all of it, and how non-Muslim parents lie to their children about the fictitious Santa character! One should explain that the time of the year Christmas falls in is an ancient pagan holiday and that adorning the evergreen trees with decorations is a practice of pagans, and that it’s even forbidden in the Bible (Jeremiah 10:3-4)!
To further emphasize this fact, have them research this information in any encyclopedia and remind them of the following verse in which Allaah Says (what means): “And from those who say, "We are Christians" We took their covenant; but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded.” [Quran 5:14]
Next, take a few moments to allow them to ask questions. After you have fully explained to them the differences, and informed them in regard to the extreme Kufr that the decorations and lights are representing in pagan religions and in Christianity, ask them what they think of the lights and decorations now. Most likely, their response will be dramatically changed!
The distinction between a hasty incomplete answer and one with a full explanation is that you are not leaving room for lingering curiosity and also are not undermining their intelligence or opinion. By respecting their intelligence and opinion you are opening their minds to listen.
With an honest, straightforward explanation, you will, Insha Allaah, be able to take all the sparkle out of the lights, and instead, turn on the light of knowledge in their mind.