Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has got it right, where, dare I say, many Christians have not. He has banned all celebrations of Christmas in his tiny but very wealthy kingdom. He has banned Santa Claus and any impersonation of the grand old man. His Imams, the Islamic Religious leaders, cannot agree more. To flesh out the ban, they included the display of crosses, lighting of candles, singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings...all of which, according to these learned people, are "against Islamic faith". Well, they could also add that these have nothing to do with the Christian faith - not the red nose reindeer, the sleigh, the snow, the hats, the bells, the puddings, the turkeys, errmm...the turkeys? When did they come over from Thanksgiving?
Over the years, Christmas has been hijacked by non-Christians and businesses who have converted it to a time to dine, dance and conspicuous consumption. Just today, I passed by a celebratory signboard which featured a Santa Claus in a backdrop of reindeers and snow. In sunny Singapore? And this sizeable poster wasn't even in a church. Nothing can be more fake!
So yes! The Sultan has unwittingly got his understanding of Christmas correct. Its just the cutting off of the hand and the jail time that I can't quite place, though. And how did the imams confuse the new year as being part of the Christmas celebrations? Oh....yes, those un-Christmas of Christmas cards do mention having a happy new year.
All these are superficial as superficial gets, including the ban.