The following is an edited Friday sermon delivered by His Eminence, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra).
The birth of Christ is an occasion we celebrate, since Christ (p.) is one of Allah's messengers, through whom the power of God, the most Exalted, was manifested and who gave the world a message of love, peace, tolerance and justice.
We are going to focus on two points
1- What do Muslims believe in? Do they have anything against any other heavenly religion or any other prophet? Or do they open up on all Heavenly Messages?
2- What is the Islamic conception of Christ (p.). The Christians themselves differ towards this issue. The majority believes that Allah, the most Exalted, was embodied in Christ, and thus he is not a messenger but God, the most Exalted, himself. They also say he is the third of three; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but they say that the three of them are united in one. Therefore, they say that they believe that God, the most Exalted, is one since the relationship between the father and the son is not similar to the one between human beings.
Believing in Messages and Messengers
As for the first issue, the Glorious Quran has emphasized that the Muslims should believe in all Messages and all Messengers: “The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers; We make no difference between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course (2:285).
And the Quran asks in the Family of Imran, the Messenger and all those who follow him to declare their belief in all messages: “We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoub and the tribes, and what was given to Musa and Isa and to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.” (3:84)
Moreover, when the Holy Quran talks about the dialogue with the people of the Book, Christians and Jews, it uses a unifying discourse: “And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our Allah and your Allah is One, and to Him do we submit.” (29:46)
This is the Islamic doctrine that says that all the Messengers represent the message of Allah, and that the religion that Allah, the most Exalted, has sent is one: The Message of Islam. “And whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he shall be one of the losers.”(3:85) and this is what Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) said: “When his Lord said to him: Be a Muslim, he said: I submit myself to the Lord of the worlds And the same did Ibrahim enjoin on his sons and (so did) Yaqoub. O my sons! Surely Allah has chosen for you (this) faith, therefore die not unless you are Muslims.” (2:132-133)
In the light of this, we differ in our belief from the others, for the Jews do not recognize Jesus and the Christians do not recognize Muhammad (p) while Muslims believe in all the books that Allah, the most Exalted, revealed.
Thus, you might find certain fanatics of the adherers to other religions who might insult the Quran or the Messenger (p.), but we cannot do the same because we believe that all of them are sacred, and we are told that we ought to be tolerant and opened up: “Say: O followers of the Book! Come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate aught with Him, and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah; but if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.” (3:64)
When the Quran treated the Jews as enemies, it was because of their practical behavior, as they started to treat the Muslims as their enemies. On the other hand it praises the Christians.
“Certainly you will find the most violent of people in enmity for those who believe (to be) the Jews and those who are polytheists, and you will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who believe (to be) those who say: We are Christians; this is because there are priests and monks among them and because they do not behave proudly.” (5:82).
Our belief towards Christ
It is very important to understand the difference in what that Muslims believe in and what the Christians now believe, for some missionaries might use social and welfare services to change the belief of some, while any change should be based on intellectual dialogue.
Let us read how was the beginning and the end of Christ (p.) as it is stated in the Holy Quran:
“When the angels said: O marry Allah gives you glad tidings of a word from Him.” (3:45). A word here means the power of Allah, the most Exalted, that creates. He is also the word of Allah, the most Exalted, because he was not born in the normal way like other human beings, although we are all born as a result of Allah's will and word.
This word will be transformed to a human, who will be held in honor in this world and the hereafter- in this world, where all the people will know him and learn how great he is, and in the other world for he was pious and suffered great pains for the cause of Allah.. “He will speak to the people in the cradle”.
When he said as Allah, the most Exalted, says in the Surah of Mary when her people accused her of being immoral. “But she pointed to the babe. They said: "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet And He has made me blessed the meaning of blessed as interpreted by the members of the house is he who benefits people and elevates them to a higher spiritual level wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer which the way that gets the believers closer to get and poor-rate the worship of giving, so long as I live and made me kind to my mother” (19:28-34), because this is the sign of gratitude
Thus, we conclude that Jesus was born, as it is stated in the Quran, without his mother being touched by a man, for God, the most Exalted, has created Adam without either a father or a mother. Yet, the BBC has broadcasted a program that says that Mary was not a virgin and thatshe was raped and Christ was born as a result. What is more saddening is that about 25% of the Christian religious clerics do not believe that Mary was a virgin.
To continue with the story of Christ, we go back to the Surah of Imran: “When the angels said: “O Mariam, surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him (of one) whose name is the Messiah, Issa son of Mariam, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near (to Allah). (3:45). This indicates that Christ's mission was to teach the Book (The Bible) and wisdom, the way to make use of the Book in practical life. He was sent to the Children of Israel who were extremely fanatic. And that is why Christ was sent as a shock to them. “Make him a messenger to the children of Israel: That I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I determine for you out of dust like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with Allah's permission …and I heal the blind and the leprous, and bring the dead to life with Allah's permission and I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses; most surely there is a sign in this for you, if -For Allah, the most Exalted, has prohibited certain things as a punishment for the Children of Israel, and Jesus came with Allah's mercy to make them lawful -And a verifier of that which is before me of the Taurat (bible) and that I may allow you part of that which has been forbidden t you, and I have come to you with a sign from your Lord therefore be careful of (your duty to) Allah, the most Exalted,” (03:49-51).
But when Christ felt that they were too fanatic and hateful to believe in him he asked: “who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?” Said the disciples: “We are Allah's helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed and we follow the messenger, so write us down with those who bear witness. We are Muslims.”(03:52-53).
In the end, we have to talk about the crucifixion, consider the following verse:“Surely we have killed the Messiah, Issa son of Mariam, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so”.
Certain Christians of Najran came to the Prophet (p.) to argue about the Islamic conception of Jesus… Muhammad (p.) told them in accordance to what he was commanded to say:“If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge Hath come to thee, say: “Come! Let us gather together,- our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!” (03:61).
Thus the Prophet(p.) brought along Ali, Fatima, Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein (a.s.). When the people saw who came with him they refused because he would not have brought those who are most dear to him had he not be sure that he was right.
New Year: A time to think about responsibility
At such occasions, we advise the Muslims if they wish to celebrate to sit at home and read the verses in the Surahs of Mary and Al-Imran, as well as others, to teach yourselves and your children about Christ and his mother who are pure and blessed in our view. We ask you not to adopt Western traditions as the Christmas tree, and the like. Moreover; do not party at New Year in the way that make people become absolutely mad.
We say that the new year is a time for rethinking: Each of us should sit down and hold himself accountable for what he did during the past year and about what you intend to do next year.