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Aceh Ulema Ban Xmas Celebrations

Published: 17/12/2013 04:47:53 PM GMT
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CAIRO – Muslim scholars in the Indonesian province of Aceh have taken a strict position against celebrating Christmas, calling on the government to shut down public New Year’s parties, including those held in cafes, hotels and entertainment venues. “Christmas greetings by Muslim are clearly haram, because they’re a kind of acknowledg...(more)

CAIRO – Muslim scholars in the Indonesian province of Aceh have taken a strict position against celebrating Christmas, calling on the government to shut down public New Year’s parties, including those held in cafes, hotels and entertainment venues.

“Christmas greetings by Muslim are clearly haram, because they’re a kind of acknowledgment,” Abdul Karim Syeikh, head of Banda Aceh’s Ulama Consultative Council (MPU), an official body that advises the local government on Islamic affairs, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday, December 17.

“[Christian] New Year celebrations are not in Islamic teachings, as we have our own new year to celebrate: Hijriyah New Year, which is celebrated on the first day of Muharram,” Syeikh added. Can Muslims Celebrate Christmas?

The scholar’s opinion was based on a fatwa issued last November 12 banning both Christmas and New Year’s greetings and celebrations for Muslims in the provincial capital.

Though the council’s ruling is not legally binding, it holds a strong sway in the conservative province — the only in Indonesia to enforce Shari`ah law.

The fatwa is not the first in Indonesia.

In 1981, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) issued a fatwa against Christmas celebrations nationwide.

The issue has attracted controversy in pluralistic Indonesia, where select religious holidays from all six recognized religions are public holidays.

Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.

Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.

In the Noble Qur’an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).

Muslim scholars assert that Muslims have their own identity and in order to keep this identity they must not celebrate Christmas or holidays of non-Muslims.

By participation in Christmas, they say, it is possible that slowly one may lose his or her consciousness of this basic point of difference between Islam and Christianity.

Non-Muslims

Though banning Muslims from marking the seasons, the Muslim scholar confirmed the Christians right to celebrate their religious holiday.

“This is matter of Islamic teaching, not about tolerance,” Syeikh, the head of Banda Aceh’s Ulama Consultative Council, told the Jakarta Globe.

“We say, ‘oakum dinukum waliyadin‘[for you, your religion; for me, my religion].”

The Muslim leader said that non-Muslims can celebrate Christmas and New Year, but that they should do so in a way that maintained good relations with the Muslim residents of Banda Aceh.

He added Muslims and non-Muslims get along well in the semi-autonomous province.

In Banda Aceh, New Year’s is typically a time of celebration. Residents take to the streets, blowing trumpets and setting off fireworks before the start of the next year.

Aceh, located on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, is gradually implementing Shari`ah under a broad autonomy package granted by the central government in 2001 to pacify demands for independence.

It also has a religious police force whose task is overseeing Islamic regulations on dress, alcohol, gambling and immoral acts.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here

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