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Is it truly un-Islamic to respect Christmas?

An Indonesian journalist offers some thoughts

Is it truly un-Islamic to respect Christmas?

The Catholic cathedral in Jakarta, Indonesia. Picture: Paul Fell/

Dimas Muhamad for the Jakarta Post

December 26, 2013

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Together, Muslims and Christians constitute over 95 percent of Indonesia’s population. If they do not live in harmony then the country is in huge trouble.

Despite the media hyperbole, the overwhelming majority of Indonesian Muslims and Christians do live in peace, but the increasingly visible cases of discrimination, including the sealing of several churches, is indeed alarming.

The warning from our law enforcers of attacks during the Christmas season is another grim reminder that our longing for religious tolerance remains divorced from reality.

The bias against the religious minority is indisputably repugnant, based on the tenets of democracy, liberalism and secularism. But for those behind the discrimination, it barely matters as they believe that their one and only mission in life is to pursue God’s blessings. The lecture on the creeds of John Locke, Montesquieu or even Pancasila, will fall on deaf ears among those who venerate the words of God and the instruction of His prophet above everything else.

So the big question then is whether Islam really preaches hostility against those who espouse different faiths, especially Christians? If that is the case then those who claim to defend the faith by repressing others would be vindicated.

There are ample commandments in the Koran exhorting peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims. The Koran calls for Muslims to spread the message of Islam but the scripture also stipulates that there is no compulsion in religion (Al-Baqarah/2:256), for you is your religion and for me is mine (109:6), the Prophet is only a reminder not a controller over others (88:21-22).

There are some verses that can be misconstrued as promoting violence, “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of your religion and do not expel you from your homes — from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly” (60:8).

The aversion that some Muslims harbor against Christians is strikingly peculiar not only because of the Koran aforementioned general injunctions for religious tolerance but especially because Muslims and Christians share a myriad of things in common.

It would be disingenuous to claim that Christianity and Islam are identical considering they do have some fundamental differences. Nevertheless, it would also be misleading to argue that Islam and Christianity are antithetical.

Apart from Christianity, Islam is the only world’s main religion that recognizes Jesus or Isa as more than just an ordinary human being. While Islam does not accept him as the son of God, Islam still holds Isa in a high esteem as one of God’s prophets who delivered His words, a messenger who performed many miracles, including his birth from a virgin, someone that those who declare to be Muslims are compelled to revere.

Full Story: Is paying respects to Christmas 

Source: Jakarta Post

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