EDITORIAL ========= We would like to invite everyone to spare a few moments of their life and read what the Holy Quran says about Mary and Jesus (may peace be upon them). While we as Muslims believe that the entire Qur’an is the word of God and we would like every one to accept it as such, God Himself has given the freedom of religion which we respect. With that in mind, all we hope is that non-Muslims will at least enlighten themselves by knowing what Islam is. We hope that Muslims, Christians and Jews will find ways to work together to bring peace on earth by eradicating immorality, fear, hate, disease, poverty and injustice. We hope that the following articles will be useful in understanding basics of Islam as they pertain to Jesus, son of Mary(peace be on them). There is also a message for Muslims living as a minority in a non-Muslim country. We hope these holidays will help them find time to go back to the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be on him) and the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). As always we look forward to your contributions and thoughts. ********** +++++ CONTENTS +++++ ********** 1. CHRISTIANITY, JESUS- AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE 2. A MUSLIM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE for CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS(U.S.A. Edition) 3. SANTA CLAUS, NOT OF CHRISTIAN ORIGIN 4. ‘JESUS IN ISLAM’ BY AHMAD DEEDAT AVAILABLE ON WWW =================================================================== ******************************************************************* =================================================================== 1. CHRISTIANITY, JESUS- AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE ============================================== Christmas holidays come and go each year with a lot of shopping, hustle and bustle, Santa Claus, Christmas trees, decorations and lights. The Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. In this article, we will address the following questions relying mostly on quotations from the Holy Quran: What are the origins of Christianity? Was Jesus born without a father? Is Jesus a son of God? Did Jesus speak as a baby? Was he crucified? THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTIANITY ————————— Historical facts reveal that Jesus did not use the word Christianity. He and his followers used to worship in the temple which other Israelites used. The message of Jesus was to call people back to the religion of Abraham and Moses from which they had gone astray. After the disappearance of Jesus, Paul declared that belief in Jesus sufficed for salvation. The Jewish scholars of that time called the followers of prophet Jesus the misguided sect of Nazarene or Galilaens. In 43 C.E., when Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch to preach, they were ridiculed and were called Christians by the masses. The ones who were called Christians felt that if they are being given a name in reference to Jesus, there is nothing wrong in accepting it. A present day analogy may be the case of Muslims being called Mohammedans in the West and Muslims giving in to the name. PAUL ALTERED THE MESSAGE ———————— At the beginning, Paul was a staunch opponent of prophet Jesus and remained so for many years after his ascension. When he did join the followers of Jesus later on, he initiated many alterations in the teachings of Jesus in hopes of winning over the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). He introduced the following concepts into Christianity: 1. the concept of Jesus as son of God; 2. Jesus died on the cross to wash eternal sins of Adam’s children through his blood; and 3. the Law of Torah was renounced. He eliminated all regulations concerning food and abrogated the injunctions of circumcision. The real followers of Jesus opposed these blatant misrepresentations of the message of Jesus. Their struggle to reject the notion of Divinity of Jesus continued for about two hundred years. Since these alterations were very appealing to the Gentiles, the true believers were unable to stop the misguidance. In 325 C.E., a council of Christian leaders met at Nicaea and officiated Paul’s beliefs as their religion. Roman Empire declared Paul’s religion as the religion of the State and all those books which denied these beliefs were banned. In 367 C.E., the State announced a list of books acceptable to it and fifteen years later, a council held under the presidency of Pope Damasius gave its approval to these books. At the end of the fifth century, Pope Galasius published a list of unauthorized books (Apocryphal) to further conform with Paul’s religion of Christianity. JESUS BORN WITHOUT A FATHER ————————— The true story of Jesus’ birth from Mary is told in the Holy Quran. We are told that he was born without a father by the command of God. Mary was single and a chaste woman. 21:91 And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and We made her and her son a Sign for all peoples. 19:16 Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. 19:17 She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. 19:18 She said: “I seek refuge from thee to (God) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear God.” 19:19 He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.” 19:20 She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” 19:21 He said: “So (it will be): thy Lord saith, `That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is a matter (so) decreed.” 19:22 So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. 19:23 And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): “Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!” 19:24 But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; 19:25 “And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. 19:26 “So eat and drink and cool (thine) eyes. And if thou dost see any man, say, `I have vowed a fast to (God) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’ ” JESUS SPOKE AS A BABY ——————— 19:27 At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: “O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! 19:28 “O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!” 19:29 But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” 19:30 He said: “I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; 19:31 “And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; 19:32 “(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; 19:33 “So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! 19:34 Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. 19:35 It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. 19:36 Verily, God is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a Way that is straight. 19:37 But the sects differ among themselves: and woe to the Unbelievers because of the (coming) Judgment of a momentous Day! HE BEGETS NOT! ————– We note that the Holy Quran refers to Jesus as ‘Jesus ibn Maryam’, i.e., Jesus son of Mary. It is in contrast to the common usage in which children are referred to by their father’s name and not by their mother’s name. He is not a son of God. The following chapter from the Holy Quran explains the position of Islam in absolute terms: SAY: “God is Unique!! God, the Source [of everything]. He has not fathered anyone nor was He fathered, and there is nothing comparable to Him!” (Chapter 112) JESUS WAS NOT CRUCIFIED ———————– The Holy Quran also rejects the claim that Jesus was killed on the cross. 4:157 That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God”; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow for of a surety they killed him not. 4:158 Nay, God raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise. 4:159 And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them. Based on the statements of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), Muslims believe that Prophet Jesus will return to earth at a time when Muslims will be in a dire need of a leader. He will not initiate a new religion but rather obey the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and lead Muslims to victory over the disbelievers. We hope that this short essay will help our readers understand the origins of Christianity and Islam’s position on Jesus. We encourage everyone to read the Holy Quran to obtain a better understanding of Jesus and Islam. The Holy Quran also gives a detailed account of the mission and lives of “Jewish” prophets like Abraham and Moses. Altogether, twenty-five prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran. References: 1. Manual of Dawah for Islamic Workers, The Islamic Circle of North America, 166-26 89th Avenue, Jamaica, NY 11432. (718)657-4090 2. The Message, monthly magazine by ICNA, December 1993 issue is devoted fully to the Christianity. =================================================================== ******************************************************************* =================================================================== 2. A MUSLIM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE for CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS =================================================== (U.S.A. Edition) Christmas season is upon us. It is nice to enjoy a long break from our work and schools and spend the time with the family and friends. We may also find many good bargains at the shopping malls. It is the season when millions of christmas wreaths and trees add to the decor in and around the houses, businesses and streets of every town in the country. Thousands of Santas also come into life all around us. Children write letters to Santa Claus asking for toys they want for Christmas. Many civic and church organizations donate food and clothes to the homeless and the needy. Toys are collected for children who have no family or whose families can not afford the expenses. The Jewish Hanukkah also falls in the same season. While the rest of the country is busy and involved in these celebrations and activities, what does a small minority of about seven million Muslims do? Because Muslims are scattered throughout the United States, small Muslim communities sometimes find it difficult to practice their faith due to the lack of a community of believers with whom to interact. Muslims may react to non-Islamic feasts in three different ways. A good number of Muslims feel that they can not indulge themselves in activities which have pagan, Christian, Jewish or any origin other than Islamic. Then there are those who participate in activities such as Christmas tree decorations and placing toys under the trees for their children to pick up in the morning of December 25th. They may not hesitate in narrating the story of Santa Claus to their kids or let them watch television programs about Christmas. Yet another group may be those who are Muslims by name but had never really practiced Islam and can be assumed lost in the “mainstream” of America. Can Muslims participate in Christmas celebrations or any other similar events such as Halloween and Easter? We need to look at the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) to find an answer. A fundamental question may have to be addressed here before saying anything else. Under what conditions can a Muslim live in a non-Muslim society? This issue requires a careful and detailed answer, which we shall leave for future issues. One thing should be clear to those who have studied the Quran carefully. It is the primary responsibility of a Muslim living in a non-Muslim society to preach and present Islam through their character and conduct. Islam should be a dominating force within and around Muslims instead of being a submissive entity. Islam should stand tall and distinct from un-Islamic ways for everyone to see, admire and appreciate. As we look at the life of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), we find that whenever there was a chance of confusing events between Muslims and non-Muslims, the Prophet made a clear separation. We see this in prayer times, fasting and Eid festivals. We do not pray very close to sunrise or sunset so it does not appear that we are worshipping the sun. It is undesirable (Makrooh) to fast only on Saturday or Sunday. The two biggest Islamic feasts are Eidul-Fitr and Eidul-Adha and nothing else should replace the significance of their festivity. Muslims in America need to get involved in caring for the homeless and needy. They should develop institutions to provide such a support. While giving charity and gifts is encouraged all the times, Christmas season included, special occasions for Muslims to give and launch campaigns should be Ramadan and Eidul Adha days. The biggest gifts you would like to give to your children or relatives and friends should not be the Christmas time, but the times of Eids. This will help us develop a distinct community, a caring community that will thus help present Islam properly to the public. Another point regarding the Christmas season is the position of Jesus (PBUH) in Islam. If Christmas represents a feast of celebration of the birthday of Jesus, then we should observe it according to the Islamic principles and honor Jesus as a prophet of God. Christmas trees and fairy tales of Santa Claus should have nothing to do with such celebrations. These holidays are a perfect time to pick up the Holy Quran and other Islamic books and start reading. As the month of December draws to a close, let us also pledge to be better Muslims, insha’ Allah. Our new year’s eve should not be at a bar or a “party”. It should rather be at the prayer rug. If you are thinking of a gathering at your house, consider reading the Holy Quran together and an activity that involves remembrance of Allah as well. HADITH: “The best word is the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance shown by Muhammad (S.A.W.). The worst practice is the introduction of new elements in the Islamic faith and every innovation amounts to heresy.” (Muslim, Hadith Number 170, Riyad Al-Saleheen) =================================================================== ******************************************************************* =================================================================== 3. SANTA CLAUS, NOT OF CHRISTIAN ORIGIN ======================================= Today in America, Santa Claus is a mythical old man who brings gifts to children at Christmas time. Today’s version of Santa originally developed from a real person, Saint Nicholas, who lived 1700 years ago. He was bishop of Myra, an ancient town of Lycia, now in Turkey. According to legend, he was only a boy when he became a bishop. He was extremely kind and often went out at night, taking presents to the needy. His generosity was not bound by any particular time of the year. He was much loved by his community for his kindness and selflessness. After his death on the 6th day of December, school boys all over Europe celebrated a feast day every year on the anniversary of his death. Children were so fond of Saint Nicholas and his habit of bringing gifts that the custom of celebrating his feast day on the 6th day of December was maintained for hundreds of years. In England, Saint Nicholas Day festivities were banned when Henry VIII founded the church of England. They were later resumed when Queen Victoria married German Prince Albert, but Saint Nicholas in his return was changed to Father Christmas and appeared on Christmas eve, the 24th day of December, not the originally celebrated date of December 6. The American tradition of Santa Claus was taken from the altered English version. Santa Claus (a German translation of St. Nicholas) was modeled after a man of kindness, generosity and compassion. It was only in the last few hundred years that Santa Claus was associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas that celebrates the birthday of Prophet Jesus. =================================================================== ******************************************************************* =================================================================== 4. JESUS IN ISLAM BY DEEDAT =========================== The well-known book by Ahmad Deedat, a Muslim scholar of the Christian Bible.