Penjihad's Blog

"To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

Bilal Philips and Innovations (Christmas etc.,) in Islam

Normally, when I receive an e-mail with a link and “Must See!!!”, without any further explanations, I delete it because I do not have the time to check it out to see if the link will actually lead me to an interesting site where I might learn something. I figure if the sender does not have the time to explain what s-he is sending, then it is not worth my time to read it either.

This time, I received an e-mail saying, ” Innovation in the Religion -‘Christmas’,  Birthdays’“. Inside was a comment:

Here is one of many Lectures provided by Sheik, Dr. Bilal Philips, on the topic of Innovations in our Religion 

“Innovation” as used in Islam, is a re-designing of the religion in a way that is different from the Quran. I had to learn more…

With Christmas approaching, I was once again, seeing opinions flying around that it is “Haram” (forbidden) to celebrate Christmas or, even to respond to someone’s “Merry Christmas”. Not just Haram, it is actually a rejection of Islam to do so!

I also wanted to see what was being identified as “innovation in our religion (Islam)”.

A quick search revealed a Wikipedia source that outlined Dr. Bilall Philips’ life:

  • Philips was born on 6 January 1946 in Kingston, Jamaica, but grew up in Toronto, Canada, where he converted to Islam in 1972. He received his B.A. degree from the Islamic University of Medina and his M.A. in Aqeedah (Islamic Theology) from the King Saud University in Riyadh, then to the University of Wales, where he completed a PhD in Islamic Theology in the early 1990s.

I sat through all 42’48” minutes of his talk on the Youtube presentation “Innovations in Religion…Bidah“, I was disappointed and dismayed by what I heard. Here was a scholar, a PhD in Islam, a graduate from a noted university…on Islam and all he could talk about was narrow-mindedness, intolerance and ignorance. I was also ashamed that a non-Muslim might watch this presentation of Bilal’s and believe that this is what Muslims believe in and then turn away from us in disgust.

I fail to understand how people who have studied Islam in-depth, can have such distorted perspective and can be so intolerant of everyone and everything that does not fit within their tight walls of ignorance. I will discuss some of his points in his presentation “Innovations in Religion…Bidah”  in a little detail now.

Amazingly, one of his early points was, “Islam promotes knowledge while other religions discourage knowledge“. My own experience of many Churches and Synagogues in the Puget Sound area is that they are eager to have Muslims come and explain Islam to them, they want to compare Islam with their faith and want to find common features that can serve to bring us together. On the other hand, I know of VERY few Mosques in this area that have gone out of their way to get Jews and Christians to come and explain their faiths to Muslims.

He went on to tell his audience that Christmas was false because it was never celebrated by Jesus or his disciples, that the origins of the tree and the lights were Pagan and Christmas is a celebration of a birthday which is a Pagan custom as well therefore, we are abandoning our faith by even acknowledging Pagan things such as Christmas; Christmas is a lie because nobody knows when Jesus was born and by wishing someone “Merry Christmas”, we are joining in the lie. Even celebrating our children’s birthdays is an affront to our faith.

Suddenly, the penny dropped; This man had studied Islam in Arabia and is working in Qatar, he is obviously intolerant of everything outside his own way of thinking…he MUST be a Selafi (a.k.a. Wahhabi)!

Why should it matter that Christmas is not actually Jesus’ birthday or, that the tree and lights are later adaptations? People want a celebration, it gives them joy, why do we want to pour hate on it?

He said, wishing people “Merry Christmas” meant that we were accepting the divinity of Jesus, why should that be the conclusion? Saying “Merry Christmas” simply means, “Enjoy your Christmas” or, “Be happy in your Christmas”. It certainly does NOT mean an embracing of Jesus as god. I don’t see why we cannot be generous enough to allow people their traditional sources of joy.

Bilal Philips gets carried away with his sermonizing and leaps into areas that leave us gasping…some of us anyway; because Christmas is a lie, it is a creation of Satan (Shaitan/Iblis) and therefore, we are joining in a celebration of Satan’s birthday.

This is an absurd leap of logic. People in the past, decided to observe a day marked for the birth of Jesus and in doing so, they co-opted a pagan date so that the pagan day then was replaced by a sanctified day for Christians. This is a classic tactic to make the opposition’s revered traditions disappear and to encourage them to seamlessly join in the new tradition. On a lesser scale, we have, “My country ’tis of Thee“, which co-opted the British national anthem, “God Save the King” (or Queen, as the case may be) and created a de facto national anthem for the US until “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1931. To say that Americans were embracing the British Monarchy by singing “My country ’tis of Thee” is laughable. Empires co-opt existing practices often and religion often takes the shape of an expanding Empire; the principles for religion and Empire are very similar.

To point to the decadence of the America, he informs us that the days of the week are named after Greek gods. So what is to be done about that? Here he undermines his own earlier thread of “logic”; surely he is not implying that by saying to someone that we will see him on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or any other day of the week, we are embracing the gods of the ancient Greeks? The days are named, this has become a current convention. The names we use for the days are simply to distinguish one day of the week from another, nobody gives any thought to the Sun-god, The Moon-god or the Norse gods Tiw and Woden.

As if driving the final nail in the Coffin of America, Bilal Philips proclaims that since the nation promotes Santa Claus and since Santa Clause is a lie and the entire nation is involved in this lie, America is a nation of liars!

I will agree that much of the practices in the united States are bothersome, especially as they affect Muslims but one must be fair in dispensing judgments. To be brutally honest, there is more honesty in any one state of the union, than we will find in all of the Muslim-majority nations put together; I have long maintained that while there may be more Deen (Religion) in Muslim-majority countries, there is MUCH more Iman (Faith) in the United States.

Bilal Philips is currently a resident of Qatar and no doubt, gets much of his support from Arabia. If he is looking for places where Islam is truly undermined, he needs look no further than his front door (Qatar) and his backdoor (Arabia). His Selafi brethren have written changes in translations of the Quran and in the Hadith to make them vastly different from what was originally sent down by God or, spoken by the prophet Mohammed (saw) and even vastly different from what we would understand from the original Arabic text that often accompanies the vile translations…if only we understood Arabic! they have erased entire swaths of Islamic history, they have wiped away memories of the prophet Mohammed (saw) and his family, they have changed the very core of Islam so much that anyone going for Haj today, would have his senses overwhelmed by the opulence of the mansions that tower over the holiest sites in Islam, the Ka’aba.

Apparently not satisfied with his attack on Christians and on America, he launches into an attack on Muslims; Because Pagans celebrated birthdays, therefore, celebrating birthdays is an acceptance of Pagan gods and therefore, replacing the God of Islam and Abraham with false gods (Shirk)…including the celebration of the birthday of the prophet Mohammed (saw). Presumably, this includes all anniversaries because they too, are birthdays of sorts…that would include independence days and all other anniversaries we all celebrate and observe.

According to Bilal Philips Music and qawwali (South Indian Spiritual songs) are all Haram (forbidden) in Islam because ‘Islam’ means the worship of God in the purest way possible! He fails to explain what “pure Islam” would look like. There hasn’t been a “pure” Islam since the death of the prophet Mohammed because ever since then, there have been different interpretations of the Will of God and on the meaning of His message in the Quran. Obviously, the Selafis are convinced that theirs is the only practice worth keeping in Islam and this kind of a message is exactly what creates the violent intolerant fanatics that are plaguing this world, especially in Muslim-majority nations.

Instead of telling the world how wonderful Islam is, he focuses on telling the world how evil and disgusting the world is. In a single sermon, Dr. Bilal Philips has succeeded in transforming Islam from a joyful expression of decency that so many people have been attracted to, into a dark, cold, humorless, passionless, practice that sheds no light or joy on the people around it. He has proven that Jahilliyah (Rule of ignorance) cannot be eradicated simply by acquiring a doctorate degree.

One must thank God that there are more people who can show Islam as the representation of Good that it is, than there are Bilal Philips’ who focus only on promoting ignorant fanaticism.


Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind. (Bukhari and Muslim)

December 23, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. You have completely misunderstood his lecture. This lecture is for the muslims to be away from bidah. By just listening to this lecture, you said he attacked non-muslims and not telling the world how beautiful islam is. You have to listen his other lectures – Responsibilities of Muslims towards non-muslims, and many other lectures. They are just beautiful lectures, that would explain the islamic values.


    Comment by Aasiya | December 13, 2016 | Reply

    • I am pretty sure many of his teachings are great. However even one with intolerance and hate is enough to taint the rest of his speeches because it reveals who he really is…unless of course, he rescinds his words and explains his new thoughts.
      What is “Bidah”, it can be anything in the hands of different people. Bidah is good bidah (acceptable innovations) and bad Bidah (unacceptable innovations) and unfortunately, there are no shortages of people who claim to defend Islam by declaring who is in and who is out, what is good Bidah and what is bad Bidah. Our changes for times of prayer from seeing if we can tell the difference between a black thread and a white one (Fajr) to setting times on a clock or watch is bidah but good bidah.

      I am not saying I know more about Islam than the scholars, but God has instructed us to use our brains, eyes and ears to check out matters for reason and rationale (17:36), (49:6) etc,. God did not create Islam just so only the scholars could understand it, He created Islam ans instructions for how we may lead our lives and yes, that can and has, led to different views of the same topic. Here too, God has said He will ultimately decide who is right and who is wrong (75:18-19), (76:29).

      Far too many “scholars” think Islam is for them to decide what it is and not for the “normal” person. They are wrong but humility or peace are not seen as paths (25:63) to fame and fortune or glory even though that is God’s command, righteousness and intolerance seems to win..


      Comment by penjihad | December 13, 2016 | Reply

  2. Brother what Bilal Philips said is according to Quran and Sunnah and all major scholars agreed on that , Christmas ,celebrating maulid , music etc, are all haram and is innovation in Islam, You can celebrate independence day of your country as it do not have religious roots and significance.By not agreeing on that point simply reflect that you better know than all the scholars who have understand Islam and devoted their life in educating people about right and wrong ,,

    Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him said ” Muslim is not the imitator”….so do not imitate disbelievers .

    Allah says that only acceptable religion is” Islam ” and whoever come with any other religion will not be accepted.

    There is No God other than Allah ….when we utter this statement it simply means that we deny all other practices of pagans and innovation in Islam. May Allah give you correct understanding of religion.


    Comment by islamicarticleblog | January 26, 2017 | Reply

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am sure you are aware the while we must respect Hadith and Sunnah, nothing may contradict the Quran. The Quran says anyone who believes in ONE God (“La Ilaha Illallah”) is Muslim and the would include ALL faiths that believe in one God. God has said he has sent messengers to all tribes and nations and that all messages were the same (41:43). So yes, we can respect our brothers and sisters in humanity and no, we cannot reject anyone who believes in ONE God, whether they are of our faith or another (2:62), (2: 136, 3:84).

      One disease some Muslims suffer from is their desire to look as if they (we) hold the monopoly over God and so we readily engage in Takfir (declaring people as Unbelievers). That in itself, is Haram (forbidden). Only God has that right, not even the prophet Mohammed was permitted to declare people as “Kuffar” (Unbelievers…(6:108).

      Some scholars allow their own biases and bigotries to guide their faith and then spout rubbish over their audiences, this is true of all faiths. God said He has given us a brain, eyes and ears and we must question matters placed before us. If a scholar cannot give us good enough explanations and if that scholar resorts to “I know better because I am a scholar” then that scholar uis useless.

      If we do not speak for Haq (Right/Justice) in this life then surely God will ask us why we failed to speak up when we saw things that do not meet the criteria for haq.


      Comment by penjihad | January 26, 2017 | Reply

      • Thank you your comment, but brother the religion which is followed today by other faith is not the same as the religion sent by God, The book and the messages had been distorted. They are not following their own religion today.They know there is one God but there are other God also that they worship.The Bible said that “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:Exodus 20:4, even in Zoroastrianism and Hinduism they are not following what is being still remain in books,they make images of Gods , drink wine ,eat pig, promote adultery and usury etc.and moreover they said that it is allowed in their religion.Allah said in Quran “obey Allah and his messenger”, so to be a Muslim we have to follow both Quran and Sunnah..Alllah said in Quran that he had completed his Religion and who ever denies it , he will put him into Hell Fire. So do not follow the desire of you


        Comment by islamicarticleblog | January 27, 2017

      • So brother do not follow the religion of your own desire rather than follow what Allah said and his messenger said ,,,,born as Muslim is not ticket to Jannah the important is what you have in your heart . If you with doubt in mind about Islam then you will be loser in the end,,If you have any doubt , try to get the answer,,with open mind , remove your doubt , pray Allah to show you the correct understanding of his religion , if you do this you find way Insha allah….Always remember that “lack of knowledge is , knowledge of Lack”,,,so read Quran with explanation under some good scholar who can answer your doubt.
        Wasalam,wa jazak hu allahu kulla khairan…….


        Comment by islamicarticleblog | January 27, 2017

  3. I have no doubt about Islam in my heart and in my mind and indeed, I do keep my mind open that is why I take to liberty to question extremist claims about what Islam is. Bilal Phillips is giving us the true definition of “Fanatic”; “Someone who does what he believes God would do if only He had all the facts”.

    We Muslims are so pre-occupied with Bidah (unacceptable innovation) and Takfir (Declaring others to be “Kuffar”…unbelievers) that we have lost track of what Islam is and what God has said in the Quran…the same Quran that the prophet Mohammed preached. By all means, read the commentaries provided by the vast numbers of scholars, but, as the Quran says, use your own mind.

    “And when ye read it, follow thou the reading. Then lo! upon us (resteth) the explanation thereof.” (75:18-19)

    Take a few moments to open the Quran and read the refernces I gave you earlier and then also check this out:

    “Say: O Disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor shall ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion and unto me my religion.” (109:1-6)


    Comment by penjihad | January 27, 2017 | Reply

  4. Subhan Allah !
    Do this verse mean that you can celebrate birthday, or do you have any proof or any hadith which claim that celebrating birthday is not innovation(Bidah)…,Brother celebrating , wishing merry Christmas etc are all form of Bidah(innovation in religion) . The first time the birthday of Jesus Christ was celebrated after 300 years of his death , before that it was pagan practice..Even though Christmas had no root in religion, that was also pagan practice..which was later developed as the main festival of Christian,,,now this innovation of christian is now becoming part of Muslim culture.Today Muslim want to celebrate the Birthday of prophet Mohammad , peace be upon him,,,In reality the actual date of Birth of prophet Mohammad and Jesus, (peace be upon both),,is not known.

    Follow Allah and his messenger, because prophet Mohammad(sallalahu alayhe wassallam) lived the revelation…,,,
    So follow the above verse ,,stop birthday celebration and other Bidah.. because all forms of Bidah is Kufr and not acceptable and is way to Hell…..

    Jazak hu allahu khair


    Comment by islamicarticleblog | January 28, 2017 | Reply

    • I apologise, I did not know Birthday celebrations were banned in the Quran!
      Unfortunately, all people who follow their religion blindly, learn only to reject this thing or that in order to feel they are really devout. If we all spent more time embracing each other instead of siptting “Bidah!” and “Kuffar!” at each other, the world would be the kind of place God commands in all His holy books.

      You said, “Follow the above verse”, but you did not specify what that verse is so I am not sure I can understand oyur message.

      Every Muslims accepts that Hadith can be followed IF…IF we are certain they don’t contradict the Quran. Yet we constantly embrace Hadith that have little or no relationship with Quranic texts. It is a matter of FACT that the first Hadith was compiled almost two hundred years after the death of the prophet. It is also a matter of fact that various rulers changed, deleted or even added Hadith in order to strengthen their own positions. I find it interesting and tragic that Muslims say they do not know the prophet Mohammed’s birthdate but they claim to know with absolute certainty, that all intolerant Hadith are 100% accurate.

      There is no Quranic ban on celebrating birthdays even if the date is off by a bit. The prophet’s birthday is observed by Shia as Eid Milad unnabi and by Sunnis as “Seerat Conference” but no matter how you paint the event, it IS a brithday.

      All religions co-opt holy days from the existing folk, Christmas is taken over from Pagans. Kaaba and Haj were taken over from the pagans and made into Islamic practise and other faiths have done the same. This is not to say that these are not legimate events, but the precedence is not unique to a single faith.


      Comment by penjihad | January 28, 2017 | Reply

      • Brother your knowledge is weak about Islam , the hadith were known and it was written at the time of prophet itself and it was passed as tradition generation after generation. Sahaba like Abu hurarira , Abdullah ibn Abbas etc. were writing down the hadith , just like the Quran was written and later on it was compiled by scholars same as with Quran…There were muhadditun (narrators of Hadith), were present who not only memorized the hadith but it was passed on to generation after generation orally. Abdullah Ibn Abbas the uncle of prophet , who was present at the time of prophet he alone narrated more than 1400 hadith , Abu Hurairah lived in Madinah with prophet and narrated more than 30000 hadith..and there were many more like that.So the same hadith compiled by Bukhari and Muslim after 200 years after verifying its authenticity from the chain of narrator.Same like Quran..So Bukhari and Muslim is the second authenticated book after Quran in which there is no doubt about its authenticity..There are some weak hadith which is due to weakness of memory or if there is any doubt about it was not included by Scholars in these 02 books ..There are some weak hadith mention in rest 04 books , that is only due to weak memory, but that are as Daeef(weak)…There are some fabricated Hadith which had no place in all of the 06 main books..So fabricated Hadith was introduced later on at the time of Abbasid and when Sufism introduced in Islam… As religion was spreading all over the world , so people started introducing their own logic into Islam which was part of their previous religion..E,g. muattzilites and Nusayritis..etc…they introduced innovation is Islam..I cannot explain you Usool of Hadith in this note, I am only trying to brief you,,But you have to understand that what is mention in Quran will never contradict with sahih hadith…because hadith are commentary of Quran…So you have to reject other Hadith and adhere to what is mention in Quran and in Sahih Hadith,,,Prophet Saw only said that he fast on Monday because it was the day when he was born..So he did not mention the date ,,because it was not the tradition of Arabs to remember their date of Birth…It become tradition later , when Muslim started following the tradition of Non Muslim..If you want to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad SAW,,then fast on Monday ,,not on 12 th rabbi u awwal but on every Monday and that is correct Sunnah. So Allah will not ask you about other , he will ask you about your faith in God and in Prophet. Allah allowed contradiction because he want to test us…like same way Allah will test other not born in faith…Do not fall in trap of shaytan , if you have any doubt ask those who know that is what Allah tell us in Quran and then do not turn back when truth is clear to you ,,,,,May Allah bless you with correct understanding of deen,,,


        Comment by islamicarticleblog | January 31, 2017

  5. Follow the above verse mean the same verse that was quoted by you ,,,(from surah kafirun)….


    Comment by islamicarticleblog | January 31, 2017 | Reply

  6. Brother, learn Islam in rt way… Not by ur own ideas or by using ur own ideology. Whatever he said is according to Quran and Hadeeths. Don’t be an ignorant.. Watch it once again and u vl understand it…. We can’t change the rulings of Islam even though it is unpleasant for nonmuslims… Alaah shows Hidaya whomever he likes and they vl accept d teachings of Islam..
    May Allah guide u in rt path and make u understand it….
    In shah Allah


    Comment by Nashrath | August 5, 2017 | Reply

    • “You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.” (17:36)

      Thank you for your message. I don’t care at all, whether something in my religion is pleasant to non-Muslims or not because Islam is not a fashion statement but a way of life. At the same time, I don’t believe in embracing whatever someone tells me is “true Islam” unless I have verified it to my satisfaction, from the Quran. At judgement time, God will not ask me if I followed the instructions of this Islamic scholar or that one, He will ask me if I led my life to the BEST of my ability and followed His instructions (from the Quran) as best as I could.

      There are many people who call themselves scholars of Islam and many who are believed to be scholars of Islam because those who follow them, do not care to understand, they only care to hear. I am very willing to embrace the teachings of a scholar BUT only if it makes sense to me. God has given me a brain and I must put it to the best use I can. Rulings in Islam are contained in the Quran and NOTHING can contradict what is in the Quran, you should know that. Thus, if some scholar spews hatred against people because of some aspect of their lives, I am certain he is not teaching Islam but his own prejudices and I am not willing to follow such a person. Bilal Phillips may be better read in Islam than I am in fact, I am certain he is. But that does not give him the right to decide what God means when he says something. God has told us to use our brain and our reasoning:
      “And when ye read it, follow thou the reading. Then lo! upon us (resteth) the explanation thereof.” (75:18-19)

      God’s lessons to Humanity do not include Hate or, Murder or, Oppression. We should keep that in mind when we listen to “scholars”.


      Comment by penjihad | August 25, 2017 | Reply

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