Q&A: Should a Christian wear black during the month of Muharam?

Should a Christian wear black during the month of Muharam?

Question

I’m a Christian and live in Iran. During the month of Muharam, everyone wears black. Is it a sin for me to wear black?

Answer

For a Christian it’s okay to wear any color, including black, because we see this as a liberty. However, there are many ethical issues to weigh in your specific question. For instance, 1 Corinthians 10:23 states: “'All things are lawful,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful,' but not all things build up'” (cf. Rom. 14:19; 15:2; 1 Cor. 6:12). Though it is lawful for Christians to wear black, a new believer in Christ may not understand why we are doing it during the month of Muharam. They may think we are honoring the death of Imam Hussein and his family to commemorate the tragedy of Kerbala, or they may suppose we have gone back to abiding by the laws and traditions of Islam. So, our actions can possibly present a stumbling block for someone else (cf. Rom. 14:20; cf. Rom 14:2, 14, 15; 1 Cor. 8:9, 11-12).

On the other hand, Paul had Timothy circumcised according to Jewish law so he could more effectively minister to other Jews (Acts 16:1-5). The question then could also be, "Should I wear black during the month of Muharam so I can be a more effective evangelist for Christ?"

Moreover, we need to examine ourselves and ask, "Are we being drawn into the traditions of Islam?" After all, we don’t desire to be like some of the Jews who, after they heard the word of truth once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), considered going back into Judaism (cf. Heb. 6:1-6; 10:28-31). We shouldn’t attempt to live in two worlds at once. We can’t practice Christianity and Islam at the same time (see "What is Chrislam" below). We’re one or the other; we can’t be Christians and still be Muslims.

Being a Christian in an Islamic country is very difficult. I sympathize and pray for those that are faced with this dilemma. Islam is very demanding of a certain type of worship. It can and already has cost some their lives when they refused to submit to Islam’s severity. We recall that Daniel refused to worship other gods and, though rescued, went to the lion's den for it (Dan. 6:1-28). But not every Christian who refuses to worship another god will be rescued. God may ordain that martyrdom would be more be suited as a greater witness to others. Such was the case of Stephen when he preached the message of Jesus (cf. Acts 7:54-60).

Everyone’s situation in Iran and other Muslim countries isn't the same. How to deal with these types of ethical issues, such as wearing black during the month of Muharam, depends on your particular circumstance. I first suggest praying, but also recommend discussing these ethical issues with your pastor and others you trust. Then go in the strength of the Lord and act accordingly.

Related Links

What is Chrislam?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).