As a Muslim who grew up with many Christian relatives, friends, and neighbors, I was always surrounded by Christmas and its festivities. At the many private and Christian schools that I attended, I remember, like all my peers, enjoying the candy and mostly the presents. Though it was not a Muslim holiday, Muslims that I knew appreciated the festive, generous and caring spirit that came with that holiday.
As I grew up, I learned that the holiday is a commemoration and celebration of the birth of Jesus (peace be upon). Yes, I know that historians agree that Jesus was definitely not born on that specific date. And I know that this specific date and some of its traditional practices are actually rooted in a Roman pagan holiday. And I realize that today's Christmas has been so commercialized and mostly devoid of its spiritual meaning. And for Muslims in specific, I know that we strongly disagree with our Christian brothers and sisters on the deity of Jesus. However, to me Christmas is about remembering the great blessing sent by God to mankind: Jesus the son of Mary.
As a Muslim, this day serves to remind me about the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, his teachings, his sacrifices, and his believing and persevering mother. It is a day to thank Allah (God) for sending us Jesus and all other prophets before and after him. To Muslims, Jesus is one of the most important prophets sent by the Almighty, he is the Messiah/Christ who was mentioned and praised throughout the Quran. Like Christians, Muslims await his second coming after which he will lead a struggle to bring peace and justice to our suffering world.
I might not have a Christmas tree (btw, that's one of the leftover pagan aspects of the holiday), I might not host a Christmas dinner or exchange Christmas gifts, and I will not attend a Christmas mass; however, I will certainly pray in gratefulness to God for sending us Jesus. I will join my Christian friends and relatives in celebrating Jesus's birth by recommitting myself to his true teachings of faith in God, and justice, care, mercy, and love for fellow human beings.
Have a safe, blessed, and merry Christmas.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html