I recently had a reader contact me and ask me if I thought he should wish his Muslim friends a happy Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Fitr is the festival at the end of Ramadan in which Muslims are commanded to break their fast. My initial reaction was to say no, but I did not quite know exactly why. I’ve had a chance to reflect on it and I wanted to throw some thoughts out here.
Christians (ought to) live on what I would call a principle applied reciprocity. This is a fancy way to say that we live by the so-called “Golden Rule”. This rule comes from Matthew 7:12 and states “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Essentially, in a given situation we are to consider how we would like to be treated and treat others likewise.
Now, many Christians reading this might say “But I would want my Muslim friend to wish me a merry Christmas” so why shouldn’t I wish them a happy Eid? Well, here is my reasoning.
Muslims don’t believe that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, in fact they believe that those who DO believe this are committing an act of blasphemy. So, when they say “merry Christmas” they are saying something akin to “enjoy your blasphemy.” Or, if they aren’t convinced that it is blasphemy but don’t believe Christ to be God “enjoy your fairytale.” I absolutely wouldn’t want a Muslim to say either of those things to me. Now, if they mean something more akin to “enjoy this time of celebrating family and good will” then that’s a nice sentiment… but that isn’t really what Christmas is about. Either way, for them to truly be able to wish me a merry Christmas, they must actually affirm the truth behind Christmas itself. Anything less than that is just giving lip service to a day that Christians (ought to) consider an extremely holy celebration. I wouldn’t venture so far as to say that it is sinful in itself for a non-Christian to wish someone a happy holiday, but from a Reformed perspective, it is certainly testimony for the prosecution in the day of judgement.
So, that brings us to Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. I don’t want to get into all the details about what Ramadan is and why we should be opposed to it. Primarily because I’m not qualified, you can read Wikipedia just as well as I can on the subject. However, whatever it is, it is an extremely holy celebration for Muslims, and Eid al-Fitr isn’t just a chance to eat after fasting for a month. It is a command that is part of Ramadan. I have read in some places that a Muslim who does not break his fast on Eid al-Fitr is not considered to have celebrated Ramadan correctly, and since Ramadan is one of the five pillars… it is a HUGE deal if you screw it up.
I don’t want to give lip service to someone elses holy celebration because I wouldn’t want someone to casually give lip service to mine. This principle of applied reciprocity is one of the ways that Jesus sums up the whole Old Testament Laws, so I shouldn’t take it lightly. To treat someone other than I desire to be treated is not just unwise, it is sin.
Now, I’m not saying that those who wish their Muslim friends a happy Eid are sinning, but I would be if I did.