Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of the small Muslim nation of Brunei has banned any display of Christmas celebrations by those who follow the Islamic faith in his country.
The Sultan has imposed stiff fines for Muslims found celebrating Christmas and one of the nation’s imams had this to say:
“During Christmas celebrations, Muslims following that religion’s acts – such as using their religious symbols like cross, lighting candles, making Christmas trees and singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings, using signs praising the religion, putting up decorations or creating sounds and doing anything that amounts to respecting their religion – are against Islamic faith…Some may think that it is a frivolous matter and should not be brought up as an issue. But as Muslims and as a Zikir Nation, we must keep it (following other religions’ celebrations) away as it could affect our Islamic faith.”
Christians are allowed to celebrate only in their communities and only after warning law enforcement as not to damage the Muslim faith. Those caught celebrating illegally could face up to 5 years in prison!
In case you don’t know where the extremely small nation of Brunei is, look at this map:
From the Telegraph:
Brunei has banned public celebrations of Christmas, warning that putting up festive decorations or singing carols could threaten the country’s Muslim faith.
The conservative Islamic country on the island of Borneo allows non-Muslims to celebrate Christmas, but only within their communities, and they must first alert the authorities.
At least 65 per cent of the 420,000-strong population of the oil-rich state are Muslims.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs said in a statement: “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.”
In a warning to Muslims earlier this month, a group of Imams warned that any celebration “not in any way related to Islam” could lead to “‘tasyabbuh’ (imitation) and unknowingly damage the ‘aqidah’ (faith) of Muslims”.
Will more Muslim nations do this? Share your thoughts in the comments below!