Sheik Safi addresses the audience at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, Australia in 2010. (Getty Images)
The largest mosque in Australia posted a Facebook "fatwa" against Christmas -- warning followers that it's a "sin" even to wish people a Merry Christmas -- before taking it down, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The ruling, posted Saturday by the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, said the "disbelievers are trying to draw Muslims away from the straight path" and that "a Muslim is neither allowed to celebrate the Christmas Day nor is he allowed to congratulate [Christians]." It went up following a sermon from the mosque's head imam against participating in any Christmas-related activities.
Part of the Lakemba Mosque's Facebook posting before it was removed. (Image source: Sydney Morning Herald)
On wishing people a Merry Christmas, the fatwa stated that a "Muslim who says this does not become a disbeliever himself, he at least commits a sin as this is the same as congratulating him for his belief in the trinity, which is a greater sin and much more disliked by Almighty Allaah than congratulating him for drinking alcohol or killing a soul or committing fornication or adultery."
The president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which oversees the mosque, told the Herald that the message had been posted by a young worker who copied the text from another Islamic website. The fatwa did not represent the views of the mosque's imam and was taken down, Samier Dandan said.
Before it was removed, the fatwa drew condemnation from other Muslim leaders: The Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, said Islam believes in peace and respect for others and that the view was not shared by the majority of Australia's Muslims.
"There is difference between showing respect for someone's belief and sharing those beliefs," he told the Herald. "We are required to have good relations with all people, and to congratulate them on their joyous events is very important."