Prominent Islamic scholar Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi yesterday criticised the public celebrations of Christmas in Qatar, saying that such celebrations would “undermine” the country’s Islamic identity.
In his Friday sermon, Sheikh Qaradawi called the current practice of displaying Christmas trees and other Christmas-related decorations by local stores “un-Islamic”.
“This is not the image of the Muslim capital city of Doha,” Sheikh Qaradawi told a congregation of faithful at the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque at the Khalifa town.
“I don’t know if we are in a Muslim or Christian community. It is unreasonable that such celebrations can take place in Qatar which lies in the Arab peninsula and whose native population is Muslim,” he said.
Qaradawi, who is the head of International Union for Muslim Scholars, blamed the practice mainly on local stores which, he said, were owned by Muslim businessmen. The recent Eid al-Adha festival of Muslims, he said, had not seen such exaggerated celebration in stores.
“I wonder how owners of these stores, who belong to famous Muslim families, accept their stores participating in Christmas celebrations and putting up four or 5m high Christmas trees,” he said. This would only undermine the Islamic image of the community.
“Such appearances are prohibited by Islam and Muslims participating in them are ignorant of Islamic teachings in this regard,” he said.
“According to the Holy Qur’an, Jesus Christ’s birth was not in the winter season,” he added.
The scholar expressed his surprise that such public celebrations of Christmas could go on at a time when a European country banned the minarets of mosques and others were thinking of following suit. He was referring to the recent Swiss ban on new minarets in the country.
“How could store owners accept to celebrate a religious occasion that has nothing to do with their religion,” he wondered.
“This means that they are ignorant of how to deal with others. There was a poll in France that showed that 41% of the surveyed had opposed more mosques and 46% opposed more minarets,” he said, quoting the result of a recent survey published in a French newspaper.
The scholar also criticised US President Barack Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace prize days after ordering a surge in the number of American troops fighting in Afghanistan.
“I don’t know for what achievement Obama has won the Peace Prize. Obama pulled some of his troops out of Iraq only to send them to Afghanistan. He even failed to force Israel to suspend the building of settlements in Palestine so that peace talks could be resumed,” he said.
“How come that several countries of the world are still embroiled in war and conflict and Obama is getting the Peace Prize?”