By Zulhilmi Zainal
COMMENT: In recent years, a lot has been said about what Malaysian Muslims can and cannot do with regard to Christmas celebrations. According to a growing number of tinpot ustazs, even the act of wishing Christians a “merry Christmas” is haram, never mind that the greeting has no basis in the Christian religion and that it simply means “be merry on Christmas.” But who can blame them? English is hard and a “bahasa penjajah,” after all.
They argue that a Muslim uttering a Christmas greeting or visiting Christian friends on Christmas is acknowledging the truth of the Christian religion and the belief that Jesus is the son of God, which is considered “shirik,” or polytheistic. This is despite a 2005 fatwa issued by Jakim that it is not wrong for Muslims to utter festive greetings to non-Muslims as long as it is done in the spirit of kindness and there are no “shirik” implications in the words.
But fair enough; we in Malaysia still have a little freedom left, and that includes not celebrating whatever celebration we don’t feel like celebrating.
But if their main concern is to prevent Muslims from “menyerupai orang kafir” (behaving like infidels), they should take their piety a step further. It would not be too far a leap to say that taking the day off from work on Christmas Day is partaking in that Christian celebration. Muslims should ignore the holiday and go to work as usual.
Resting on a public holiday given for a non-Muslim celebration should be made haram, and the ustazs and independent preachers on the sermon circuit should start telling their followers that. They can’t simply pick and choose when it comes to protecting their piety, refusing to show kindness to non-Muslims and accepting a rest day in their honour at the same time.
So this Friday, Malaysian Muslims need to get up early as usual, travel to their workplaces, and do their work like there’s no public holiday. If their employers or office security turn them away, they should threaten to report them for trying to proselytise by way of making them observe a non-Muslim holiday.
And Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), which is so concerned about Christian proselytisation, should put its money where its mouth is by ensuring that classes are still held on Christmas Day. We can’t have weak willed Muslim UiTM students running off doing Christian things now, can we?
Malaysian Muslims should also do this on public holidays given for other religions’ celebrations, such as Deepavali and Wesak, and even Chinese New Year, which has nothing to do with religion, but hey, everything can be made haram if you try hard enough. – FMT