Brotherhood: Congratulating Copts on Feasts and Festivals Strengthens Fabric of Society
In a press statement, Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Barr, member of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau and Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Mansoura, said: "Congratulating Christians, partners in the homeland, on feasts and festivals is an act of virtue and goodness, so long as such congratulations do not include anything that contradicts the tenets or principles of Islam. We cannot participate in their prayers, but we can use words of courtesy and congratulation.
"I am most baffled by the huge uproar and flurry of media coverage surrounding my clear position with regard to congratulating non-Muslims on their feasts, to the extent that a journalist claimed that my views are contradictory, and even constitute a doctrinal coup. In fact, the problem is in their misunderstanding of my comments."
Al-Barr added that: "Indeed, I do not see anything wrong with congratulating Copts on the birth of Jesus, for example, since we believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is a Prophetic Messenger, and that his birth was a sign of God, good for mankind.
"Indeed, Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) said: «I am the closest person to Jesus, the son of Mary, in this world and in the hereafter, because all Prophets are brothers of one family, with different mothers, but their religion is one.» (Narrated by Al-Bukhari).
"For this reason, I am always in contact with my Christian friends, including some members of the clergy, particularly on special occasions of theirs. In fact, I paid many visits to churches, most recently to attend Pope Tawadros’ enthronement ceremony, where I congratulated him on that very important event. I never did anything contrary to my faith on any of those occasions."
Al-Barr further said, "By contrast, congratulations that clash with our faith are not allowed, in my view, like specifically mentioning the Resurrection of Christ. This is because, as Muslims, we certainly believe that Jesus was not killed or crucified.
"Meanwhile, greetings or words of courtesy such as ‘Happy new year’ or ‘Many happy returns’ and so on, are perfectly acceptable."