Christmas And American Muslims
Wednesday - December 23, 2009
When Christmas comes, you cannot miss it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in Honolulu, New York, London, Frankfurt, Rio, Nairobi, Moscow, Tokyo or Hong Kong. You’ll see it in the lights, the decorations, the tradition of gift giving. It seems to be everywhere.
But not in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria or most countries with 80 percent or 90 percent Muslim population. There are about 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. Some feel hemmed in by Christmas. In the Western cities I mentioned above, you’re unlikely to ever see a display commemorating Ramadan, Islam’s most holy month-long observance (never called a holiday.)
Interesting, because Muslims do believe in Jesus. The Koran says he was a prophet and messenger of God, but not the son of God.
“Such was Jesus, the son of Mary; it is a statement of truth, about which they vainly dispute. It is not befitting to the majesty of God, that He should beget a son.” (Koran 19:34-35).
And Muhamed established a peace sanctuary in Medina, Saudi Arabia, to “protect their (Christians) lives, faith, land, property, those who are absent and those who are present, and their clan and allies.
They need not change anything of their past customs. No right of theirs or their religion shall be altered.”
Of course, the Crusades and many subsequent events have altered that relationship. So has the worldwide encroachment of Christmas.
Now that our Christmas has become more secular, some Muslims in our communities go with the flow. Reluctantly.
Hesham Hassaballa, a prominent Muslim author (Taking Back Islam and The Beliefnet Guide to Islam), puts it this way: “Dec. 25 has always been just another day for me, and it is typically a pretty boring day. Almost every business is closed on Christmas Day. One year, my cousins and I were desperate for something to eat on Christmas Day, and the only place we found open was Dunkin Donuts (the doughnuts were horrible, by the way). But, hey, I’m not bitter. Such is the fate of a Muslim living in a predominantly Christian society.”
Others are much more radicalized. Anjem Choudary is chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers. He says: “Many Muslims, especially those residing in Western countries, are exposed to the evil celebration of Christmas. Many take part by having turkey dinners. Decorating the house, purchasing Christmas trees or having Christmas turkey meals are completely prohibited by Allah.
“Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas because its observance will lead to hellfire. Protect your paradise from being taken away - protect yourself and your family from Christmas.” However ... there are three days of celebration at the end of Ramadan called Eid. And it’s no longer unusual to hear one Muslim wish another a “merry Eid.” And those celebrations are starting to look more like Christmas! Eat lots, wear new clothes, hang up house decorations.
Might some Westernized Muslims start wishing each other a “merry Eid-mas?”
The thought drives the traditionalists nuts, but they’re already seeing some recycling of Christmas lights as Eid lights and people sending out Eid cards much like our Christmas cards.
I guess you can chalk it up to globalization.
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