I appreciate your responding to my tweet censuring your planned attendance at midnight Mass, despite the lingering suspicion that it was motivated more by a desire to win plaudits as a man of moderation standing up to “extremists” rather than understanding my (and many others’) objections.
First of all let me start by saying that I was deliberate in my choice of words: “potential acts of kufr”. I didn’t assume you would be participating in any singing, recitations or litanies. I have no idea what you meant by the “living in the UK” part. The UK isn’t a religious institution conducting a continual religious ceremony. For sure there are many potential pitfalls involved in living here and one must navigate them as adroitly as one can (a good start would be by not attending church ceremonies when there is no compulsion to do so).
I understand you are an Ithna Ashari Shia so I won’t bother quoting Sunni ahadith or classical ulema to you. Let’s restrict ourselves to the Qur’an and ‘aql (which the Usuli Ithna Ashari rely upon for deducing points of aqeedah).
In a parallel thread on the same topic with sister @anonymousey you stated:
Let me explain why this is utterly confusing (and to the more cynically minded highly disingenous). The reasons are threefold:
(i) One does not need to attend a ceremony to understand what it entails. A Christian or a Jew can understand perfectly well the rites of Hajj or the ritual of salah by reading a book on it, googling it on the internet (which helpfully includes very detailed YouTube videos), or by questioning a Muslim about it. For example, I do not need to attend a Hindu temple to understand what goes on there – on that note why don’t you do something similar with the Hindu community? By your logic merely attending their place of worship and observing their idolatrous practises isn’t the same as participating or approving so why not reach out to that (1 million+) faith community also?
(ii) You state with some sense of pride that you’ve been doing it for 10 years. So in ten years you still haven’t learned what it involves? You’re seriously contending the need to go for the 11th, 12th, 13th…in fact exactly how many times do you need attend before you’ve gained a thorough enough understanding? One might be forgiven, Miqdaad for suspecting that you’re being somewhat economical with the truth here.
(iii) You clearly state that it you choose to attend “on one or [sic] the most holy nights in their calendar” and that attendance “…has built strong relations with our Christian friends.” Taken in conjunction with the previous points and the fanfare of your original tweet, it strongly suggests that your going along is not for any educational purpose but rather a form of honouring them and their beliefs.
Both Sunnis and Shias agree that Shirk is the ultimate sin. It is the most heinous of crimes – ranking above all others. Allah (swt) can forgive murder, robbery, rape, theft etc. yet He will not forgive shirk. It is the one unpardonable sin.
“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him [yushraka bi hi], but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray.” [TMQ 4:116]
From your tweets you seem clearly to acknowledge that the mass ceremony involves the open profession of shirk – your excuse is that you are merely a witness (albeit one who has consciously chosen that status) not a participant.
Given that we’ve established shirk is the most heinous of crimes and that it outranks all others in offensiveness to Allah, would you be happy to attend a religious ceremony which involved, par exemple, an act of murder (as in the course of human history some have done)? Remember shirk is worse than murder according to the Qur’an. Of course you wouldn’t. It would revolt and disgust you. You wouldn’t want to witness such an obscenity even by chance let alone make a conscious effort to present yourself at its performance. Well, as politically incorrect as it maybe to state it, the profanity of trinitarian invocations and benedictions is a greater obscenity. So why would any Muslim who feared his Lord wish to attend such a spectacle? Is their [the Christians] friendship or Allah’s more important? Would you propitiate them at the expense of angering Him?
Allah (swt) says:
“When you hear God’s revelations disbelieved in and mocked at, do not sit with them until they enter into some other discourse; surely then you would be like them.” [TMQ 4:140]
Much is made by proponents of such interfaith spectacles of Surah Maryam; it is often wheeled out to prove just how akin Muslim and Christian beliefs are. It is a pity that some of these individuals seem not to have read it fully or perhaps have but don’t care to take heed of its message.
“And they say: “The Most Gracious (Allah) has begotten a son. Indeed you have brought forth (said) a terrible evil thing. Whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins, That they ascribe a son (or offspring or children) to the Most Gracious (Allah).” [TMQ 19:88-91]
Again, why a Muslim would wish to attend an event where such profanity is uttered is quite beyond me. I suppose I don’t need to quote the myriad verses that condemn trinitarianism as you already acknowledge it to be shirk.
The majority of Muslims in the UK have their roots in the Indian sub-continent where the Hanafi school of thought holds sway. The following is a verdict by the renowned Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, giving the Hanafi perspective (I’m sure you already know the ‘extremist Salafi’ point of view) on church attendance:
[I did a search of Ayatollah Sistani’s website but could not find anything pertaining to this issue. Not being au fait with the maraji followed by UK Ithna Asharis, I wasn’t able to find a relevant ruling for your school of thought.]
Maintaining cordial relations with other faith groups – something (especially in the current climate) I am all in favour of – must NEVER come at the expense of compromising or diluting the message of Islam. It’s true the advance of aggressive atheism and secularism has provided opportunities for cooperation with other faith communities (or sections of them at least) and where it serves a beneficial purpose these should indeed be pursued. Attending midnight mass for 10 years running, however, is not one such instance. The only message a Muslim should be conveying to our Christian compatriots tonight is an invitation to abandon their falsehood and embrace the Truth before it is too late.
Your stance on this issue, and practically every other, strikes me as just another step in your perennial quest for the re-anointment of establishment respectability. I’ve warned you and the MCB on numerous occasions that that ship has long since sailed, my friend. Since your fall from grace in 2009  and the election of the Tories to power a year later, the last eight years should have hammered home the very clear message that nothing short of complete abdication is what is being sought. No number of rosy, ecumenical meet and greets, interfaith stunts or #VeryMerryMuslimChristmas hashtags on Twitter will get you back through the door of Number 10. Nor for that matter will denunciations of Anjem Choudhary or acts of disassociating from “extremist Salafi” elements. As David Cameron made perfectly clear in his Birmingham speech on extremism back in July 2015 the rules of the game have changed. Nothing short of a complete overhaul of core Islamic theology and its scriptural foundations will be acceptable. Under the new rubric holding the Qur’an to be the literal, inerrant word of God is now seen as one of the lineaments of extremism. Henceforth, it is only the Maajid Nawazs and Sara Khans they are interested in a
dialogue monologue with.
Tonight as you attend mass perhaps you might care to share these two Qur’anic verses with your hosts:
“Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion. Say: “Verily, the Guidance of Allah that is the (only) Guidance. And if you were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur’an), then you would have against Allah neither any Wali (protector or guardian) nor any helper.” [TMQ 2:120]
“Say: ‘O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah (Alone), and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah . Then, if they turn away, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims.’ “ [TMQ 3:64]
Your brother in Islam.