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National Post: “Mosque says to avoid Western holidays” [Updated]

It seems that only a handful of wingnut blogs (which I find amusing for the same reason I find the TV show COPS amusing; namely that nothing’s funnier than other people under stress) are covering this National Post piece, but since fundies of all stripes annoy me, I thought it would be worthy of mention on a more level-headed blog:

A Toronto mosque is telling Muslims not to say “Happy Thanksgiving” or invite friends into their homes for turkey dinner on the holiday weekend.

The Khalid Bin Al-Walid Mosque says to “avoid participating” in dinners, parties or greetings on Thanksgiving because it is a kuffaar, or non-Muslim, celebration.

A two-part article on the mosque Web site says Muslims should also “stay completely away” from “Halloween trick-and treat nonsense,” Christmas, New Year’s, anniversaries, birthdays and Earth Day.

(Earth Day? Well, there’s one holiday on which mosque and the more right-wing blogs see eye-to-eye.)

“How can we bring ourselves to congratulate or wish people well for their disobedience to Allah? Thus expressions such as:Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday, Happy New Year, etc, are completely out,” it says.

In 2003, the Khalid mosque, which mainly serves the Toronto Somali-Canadian community, apologized for a newsletter that compared wishing someone a Merry Christmas to congratulating a murderer.

At the time, a junior employee was blamed for the slight, but the mosque’s Web site has since posted similar edicts covering not only Christmas but also virtually every other Western celebration.

I couldn’t find the reference to Thanksgiving in casual search of the mosque’s site, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find some interesting (and unintentionally funny) reading in its “Questions and Answers” pages:

  • Movies are right out. “No Muslim can doubt that the cinema that exists nowadays is a house of sin, which spreads images of that which Allaah has forbidden, pictures of women who are clothed yet naked, walking with an enticing gait. Indeed in many cases it propagates and promotes sinful sexual relationships between men and women. This is in addition to the music and songs, and the films of crimes that corrupt society. It is haraam to spread and propagate each of these things, so how about if they are combined?”
  • A little more reasonable on circumcision: “Circumcision is prescribed for both males and females. The correct view is that circumcision is obligatory for males and that it is o­ne of the symbols of Islam, and that circumcision of women is mustahabb but not obligatory.”
  • You are not allowed to “send yourself email”, to coin a phrase.
  • The sharif don’t like it when you rock the casbah. “If singing is accompanied by musical instruments then it is haraam to do it or to listen to it, whether it is done by a man or a woman…If they are free of musical accompaniment, and are done by a man and contain good and beneficial meanings, then they are permissible, but o­ne should not listen to them too much.”
  • Someone had to ask if sex-change operations were allowed? Maybe they wanted to be sure.
  • Writing fiction: not allowed. “Firstly, as for writing these novels, which is lying; lying cannot be avoided if o­ne is to write in an attractive and compelling manner about things that do not exist…Secondly, it is a waste of time. People are deceived by the idea of ‘free’ time, for it is o­ne of the things about which they will be questioned o­n the Day of Resurrection.”
  • Not just belly piercings, but belly sleeping. “Do not lie like this, for this is how the people of Hell lie.”

Can anybody find the edict on Thanksgiving mentioned in the Post on the site?

Update

Thanks to Chris Taylor for finding the page! It’s page 2 of the article To You Be Your Celebrations, and To Me Mine.

16 replies on “National Post: “Mosque says to avoid Western holidays” [Updated]”

@Chris Taylor: Hmmm…I ran a search on Thanksgiving, got that article as a result, hit that page, did a search on that page for the word “Thanksgiving” and got nothing. Perhaps I mistyped the word. Thanks for the heads-up!

So, who wants to submit the question “The ‘Cleveland Steamer’…okey-dokey or forbidden? How about the ‘Hot Karl’?” I’m tempted.

@Chris Taylor: Found it out why I didn’t see the term “Thanksgiving”; it was on page 2. I didn’t notice a link to a second page of the article. Thanks again for doing the legwork!

Some Christian denominations similarly ban movies and plays because the actors are lying. I know my parents (very mainstream protestants) were raised hearing this. Nowadays I think it is only the more extreme fundamentalist churches that still rattle on about it, (although I’m sure the Passion of the Christ was legit to them)…

I’ve attended attended Christian congregations of varying degrees of ah, fundamentalism. From the tame United, Anglican and Catholic denominations to the odder Vineyard Churches — and the Christian & Missionary Alliance, spiritual home of Stephen Harper [cue ominous music]. They are all very sane about the performing arts.

I can’t say that prohibition of movies and plays comes up at all in sermons or pronouncements of the church leadership. They might bark about the content of the performance, but doing away with them entirely is simply not in their headspace. The C&MA in particular likes to throw together huge musical and performance extravaganzas around the major holidays.

The key, as with anything, is how you interpret the source. If a denomination likes to cherrypick single verses devoid of context, then you get ridiculous things like prohibition of performing arts based on a biblical injunction not to lie.

If you use proper hermeneutics and consider the source in the context of its surrounding paragraphs, the epistle it is a part of, the author, the social and cultural environment it was written in, etc, then you realise that Biblical prohibitions against lying are generally restricted to personal moral conduct, as opposed to the performing arts.

Additionally, when Jesus spoke in parables, he wasn’t always speaking of events that had actually happened. Sometimes he used hypothetical examples to illustrate a larger point — which is exactly what the performing arts do too (to greater or lesser degrees of success).

That said, there an awful lot of people who do not take a hermeneutic approach to Biblical study — that’s how we ended up with 1 Corinthians 13 being used as a scrupture reading for weddings, despite the fact that the author, Paul, isn’t talking about marital love at all. The previous chapter and the following chapter all discuss “spiritual gifts” and how church members ought to treat each other. In chap. 13 Paul is emphasizing that any “spiritual gifts” must be exercised with love. He didn’t have a massive derailment of his train of thought and go off into a tangent about marriage in that one section.

The guys that don’t take the time to understand ancient text and understand their whole context are the guys that end up with the wacky ideas. This stuff was written in ancient languages, by cultures that no longer exist. It takes time and effort to understand it.

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