We recently discussed how rabbis have issued warnings to hotels and other businesses not to display Christmas trees as offensive to Jewish values, even threatening to pull the kosher certification from businesses. Now, a leading Muslim authority has declared that even wishing neighbors a “Merry Christmas is worse than murder. It is “haram” or forbidden. The view of Dr. Zakir Naik is not new (and he stated this view years earlier), but there is an interesting alternative take on the issue in The New York Times by a Muslim writer on the shared traditions between Christianity and Islam.
Dr. Zakir Naik warned on his Twitter account @DrZakirNaikFC that
“Wishing Merry Christmas to Christians is worse evil, worse than fornication or murder.”
“Please avoid it my dear Muslims. It’s a big sin. Retweet and spread the message.
“I hope no Muslim wishes or updates any status on Christmas because celebrating Christmas is against Islam, against Allah, against Prophet Mohammed [saw] so be aware of that very big sin.”
It is an odd position. I wish my Muslim neighbors best wished on Islamic holidays like Eid and I have enjoyed breaking the fast with Muslim friends. They do not think that I am converting to Islam but showing my respect and affection for them and their traditions. It is this type of intolerance that fuels the interfaith conflicts around the world as religious leaders seek to isolate their followers (and in doing so increase their control over their congregations). The commentator in the New York Times shows a more tolerant view and one shared by many Muslims.