I have been going back and forth on whether or I not I wanted to write on this subject because based on social media posts these last few weeks, it is a contentious subject. I am not giving any fatwas here but asking you to think clearly for yourself.
Living in a non-Muslim society, the holiday season is all around us. Stores hold Christmas sales, ABC Family runs their 25 days till Christmas special and every TV show has a Christmas episode before going on their Winter hiatus. Does being surrounded by Christmas mean you have to celebrate it though? Personally, I do not think that Muslims should celebrate the Christmas holiday or observe it in any way. I am not referring to simply wishing your neighbour Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays but going to the extent of putting up lights, decorating your household, having a tree and exchanging gifts.
When you observe Christmas, examine what it is you are celebrating. You are either celebrating the birth of Isa(AS) whom Christians believe is the Son of God or you are celebrating the pagan tradition of the Winter Solstice(which is actually what Christmas is derived from). Yes there are some people who argue that Isa (AS) is a prophet in Islam as well so there is nothing wrong with celebrating his birthday. While this claim might sound accurate you must remember that first, Isa(AS) was not born in December and that Christmas is not observed because he is recognized as a prophet or else Christians would observe the birth of other prophets. The birth of Isa(AS) is observed because of the beliefe that he is the Son of God, a belief that does not align with Islam and is seen as an example of shirk. Therefore when you are celebrating Christmas, regardless of how secular you consider it to be, you are commemorating the observance of shirk. Besides, surely if it was ok to celebrate the birth of Isa(AS), prophet Muhammad(SAW) would have endorsed the practice and made it a part of his Sunnah. Also, if Muslims are not supposed to celebrate the birth of any other prophets, including Muhammad(SAW), why would the commemoration of Isa(AS) be permissible.
Growing up in the US, my immigrant family did celebrate the Christmas holiday. As a child, I really did not understand why and one day decided to ask. I was told it was because it was an American thing and my parents did not want us to feel left out from all of the other kids in school. This is an argument that I have heard from mainly immigrant Muslims as to why they choose to observe Christmas with their families, for them it is seen as a method of assimilation. While the idea of not wanting your child to feel left out can be commendable, why is it that this is the one aspect of American culture that is chosen to be observed. My parents did not have us celebrate Halloween, Valentine’s Day, or Easter yet those are also ‘American’. Instead of observing Christmas so that your child does not feel ‘left out’, why not just teach them about why Muslims don’t observe the holiday. I am sure that teaching your kids the reasoning behind not engaging in haram will be better for them than engaging in it simply for social purposes.
While there are many Muslims who live in Muslim countries, a large portion of the ummah live in environments that do not align with Islamic principles. The "Navigating Non-Muslim Society" section of SFC is geared towards discussing the challenges that occur in these situations.