Saudi cleric Khaled al-Felaij ruled it is forbidden for Muslims to give or receive Christmas presents, since it “glorifies” the holiday.
“It is haram for Muslims to celebrate this holiday,” he said, “to greet those who celebrate it, to take part in their celebrations, or to give them presents or accept presents from them.”
Strict monotheistic interpretations of Christmas regard the holiday as idolatry.
In Brunei public displays of Christmas decorations are banned. Sultan Hassan Bolkiah, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, introduced the ban last year. His Ministry of Religious Affairs released a statement saying “these enforcement measures are … intended to control the act of celebrating Christmas excessively and openly, which could damage the aqidah (beliefs) of the Muslim community.”
Other countries are more tolerant. In Lebanon, once wracked by violent sectarian war between Sunnis, Shiites and Christians, an ensemble of demurely hijabbed Muslim choir girls delivered an Arabic rendition of Silent Night in the St Elie Greek Catholic Church in Beirut.
In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, Christmas is a statutory holiday for everyone. This is despite the fact that a plot to carry out a terrorist attack against Christmas celebrations in Jakarta was thwarted last week by police officers. Three ISIS-linked jihadis were killed by counter-terrorism forces.
In Iraq a Muslim businessman purchased a large Christmas tree for celebrations in Baghdad. The 88-foot tall artificial tree cost an estimated $24,000 and was displayed in solidarity with the Christian community following the persecution they suffered at the hands of the Sunni jihadist group ISIS.