On Christmas

Syed Saud Ashraf, MD

Whereas, the humanity of Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, is an uncontested article of faith in Islam, consistent with theological facts as revealed in the Qur’an and held to be the Truth; on a more cultural note, can the acknowledgment and commemoration of his birth not be mutually shared by the Muslim and Christian communities? Would, to extend a meaningful and heartfelt “Season’s Greetings” or even a “Merry Christmas”, be out of sync; or, rather, would it not be more consistent with the Prophetic etiquette of reaching out to the other?

While certain Muslim communities the commemoration of the birth of our “beloved” Prophet Muhammad is displayed in different ways, it is nevertheless a contested issue as well. Islam, being a religion most seriously concerned with theological integrity and strict adherence to its prescribed articles of faith, in both its literal and mystical dimensions, treads the path of cultural expressionism of faith cautiously lest the truth become tainted and confused. Although I am no faqih (Islamic jurist), as a Muslim believer it is my contention that there is room to be more flexible in this regard vis-à-vis “Christmas”.

There is a much needed exchange of the goodly word between these two great historical civilizations rooted and springing from the same fountain of life. These are dark times. Perhaps a common ground may be found in this cultural overture!

“Hence, peace [salaam] was upon me the day when I [Jesus] was born and on the day of my death, and on the day when I shall be raised to life”

(Surah Maryam, V. 33)

Such are the sentiments of the Qur’an from the mouth of Jesus Christ, the son of Mary. And similar expressions of endearment are found with regards to other great Divines and Prophets of God, for instance, John the Baptist (Yahya) in the same chapter of the Qur’an, entitled “Mary”, has a similar honor bestowed upon him from God. May the Peace and Blessings of God be upon all the Prophets and Divine Messengers!

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