On January 18, 2020, a Syrian woman named Umm Muhammad called in to a show on Abu Dhabi TV (UAE) hosted by Jordanian-born UAE Islamic scholar Sheikh Waseem Yousef. She said that she is a refugee in Norway along with her family, and that she sends her six children to public schools in Norway, where they are being taught about Judaism, Christianity, atheism, and other non-Islamic religions. She said that the curriculum includes a visit to a church during the holidays, and she asked what she should do to prevent her children from leaving Islam. Sheikh Yousef responded that she should raise her children as Muslims and that she should teach them to integrate and coexist with members of other religions. Harshly criticizing Muslims who believe that saying "Merry Christmas" or "Happy New Year" to non-Muslims is heresy, Sheikh Yousef elaborated that since Norway is welcoming Umm Muhammad's family as refugees and providing them with education, healthcare, housing, protection, and financial support, her family is obligated to be grateful and to integrate and live in brotherly coexistence with the Christians and Jews who are welcoming them. He argued that the Muslims are the real infidels because they allowed sectarianism to destroy countries such as Syria in the name of God, and he instructed Umm Muhammad to not sow the seeds of sectarianism in the very country that is keeping her safe and providing for her family. Sheikh Yousef also said that Umm Muhammad should view the non-Muslims in Norway as her friends, compatriots, and brothers. He added: "Heresy is denying the grace you have been given."
To view the clip of Sheikh Waseem Yousef on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
"To What Extent Can I Prevent My Children From Entertaining The Idea That There Is A Little Truth To The Jewish Or Christian Religions"
Umm Muhammad: "I live in Norway with my six children.
"At school, they have a course called 'religions' – not 'religion.' It includes Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and even atheism.
"To what extent can I prevent my children from entertaining the idea that there is a little truth to the Jewish or Christian religions, lest they convert from Islam to any other religion?
"During their holidays, all the children at school are taken to a church."
"Why Would He Remain A Christian After Congratulating Me [On Ramadan], Yet I Become A Heretic If I Congratulate Him [On Christian Holidays]?"
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "We are being swarmed by a wave of being condescending [towards others]. I used to be condescending myself, before Allah guided me.
"If [a Christian] congratulates me on Ramadan, does he become a Muslim?"
Umm Muhammad: "Of course not."
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "Right. He would remain a Christian. Why would he remain a Christian after congratulating me, yet I become a heretic if I congratulate him? Answer me. He does not acknowledge Ramadan or the holiday. He just said 'happy holiday' to me or 'happy new year, Waseem.' Has he become a Muslim because of that?"
Umm Muhammad: "Of course not."
"You Fled A War And They Welcomed You"
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "So how is it that when I say 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy New Year,' people accuse me of heresy? Why... Some people have said that congratulating Christians on their holidays is worse than witchcraft, suicide, drinking alcohol, and adultery combined. That is what you call... I don't want to say it... Whoever adopts this fatwa considers those who commit adultery, commit suicide, practice witchcraft, and drink alcohol to be lesser [sinners] than people who congratulate [Christians]. This is backwardness! Ma'am, you live in their country and they have given you safe refuge. Where are you from, by the way?"
Umm Muhammad: "From Syria"
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "You live in their country and they have given you safe refuge. You fled a war and they welcomed you. After all that, you still want you and your children to be religiously segregated [from them]? Educate your children on Islam and let them integrate with all the other religions. You came there and they welcomed you. Imagine that people from a Christian country ravaged by war came to the United Arab Emirates as refugees, and then, at school, when invited to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Christian students refuse and say they are forbidden from entering a mosque. We would say to them: 'Go back to where you came from!' Ma'am, a guest is morally obligated to be polite to his hosts. Visiting a church does not make you a heretic. You haven't left Islam."
Umm Muhammad: "Of course not."
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "If you congratulate them, it doesn't mean you are leaving Islam. [The Caliph] Omar entered a church. Christians prayed in front of the Prophet Muhammad."
"Fear Allah And Reflect The Most Beautiful Image Of The Muslims You Can"
"I should go to [my Christian neighbor] and tell him: 'Happy new year,' even though I'm a Muslim. And on Ramadan, he will congratulate me, even though he is a Christian. We should live in coexistence! Islam permits me to marry a Christian woman – should I not congratulate her? Let's say I'm married to a Christian and she celebrates her holiday. Shouldn't I congratulate her? Would doing so make me a heretic? What kind of backwardness is this? Sister, you live in their country and are sustained by them. They provide safety and education for your children, and after all that you want to prevent your children from going to a church to congratulate them?"
Umm Muhammad: "So there is no problem?"
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "There is no problem. Educate your children on Islam and let them coexist with all the other religions. Fear Allah and reflect the most beautiful image of the Muslims you can."
"Syria Was Destroyed Because Of Sectarianism..."
"When we destroyed our countries because of sectarianism... Syria was not destroyed by any specific person. Why was Syria destroyed, my sister?"
Umm Muhammad: "Because of the ideology of..."
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "Syria was destroyed because of sectarianism. It was burned because of sectarianism. Don't sow the seeds of sectarianism in Norway! Live like they are living."
Umm Muhammad: "Inshallah..."
Sheikh Waseem Yousef: "You have your mosque and your mihrab and they have their churches and crosses. It doesn't concern us. 'Peace be upon you, you are my friend and my compatriot. I have my mosque and you have your church.' When will we get to the point where the country is for all of us, and every person can have his religion? Let every person worship according to whichever religion he wants.
"We burned Syria in the name of religion and sectarianism, and now we want to be refugees in the West. They provide us with education, healthcare, housing, protection, and a living allowance, but our children cannot visit [their churches] because these people are infidels. Infidels? We are the infidels! We were the ones who destroyed our own countries! Heresy is not associated only with religion. Heresy is denying the grace you have been given. We burned and destroyed our countries. We killed each other. We killed each other in the name of God. We killed each other. ISIS slaughtered Muslims. We slaughtered each other and destroyed each other's mosques. We cursed each other, we accused each other of heresy, we burned [the Jordanian pilot] Mu'adh Al-Kasasbeh for the people to see. We are the ones who drowned people in the sea. Yes! We did it in the name of God. And after that we want to know if we can visit a church or not?"
"The Christian Is My Brother... The Jew Is My Brother, As Long As They Don't Attack Me"
"If their country is safe and we are the ones who came to them, we should adhere to their terms. Do you understand, sister? If you are afraid for your children, educate them at home, and teach them about coexistence. Do not tell your son [bad things] about the church. Tell him that [the Christian] is his brother. The Christian is my brother, regardless of his nationality. The Muslim is my brother and the Jew is my brother, as long as they don't attack me. If someone points his weapon at me – even if he is a Muslim – I'll point mine at him. It is important to protect myself and my country. As for the rest – whoever is friendly to me is my brother, regardless of his religion. Whoever is friendly to me is my brother, whether you like it or not."