By Saadia Faruqi
Source: Houston Community Newspapers
My first grader came home yesterday with news about his school Christmas performance. Tentatively he informed me that his class would be singing “Deck the Halls” in front of all the parents a couple of weeks from now. I say tentatively because I think he wanted to see my reaction and to give him some answers. At 6 and-a-half he is starting to become aware of the differences between “us” as Muslims and the majority of his school as Christians. It’s nothing new of course: this time every year, in schools and workplaces everywhere, Muslims, Jews and Hindus start feeling slightly uncomfortable during a holiday they cannot identify with.
The conversation got me thinking. Muslims and Christians have many things in common… values of justice, love, brotherhood, honesty… and Christmas? Yes, you may not think so, but Christmas is another way we can come together to a common understanding. Thanks to school and media, most Muslims know the Christmas story. But many Christians don’t realize that Muslims already know much of the story from our own scriptures. The Quran includes the narrative of Jesus’ birth as well, and it is similar to the one in the New Testament.
For instance in Quran 3:46 it is written: “When the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah gives thee glad tidings of a word from Him; his name shall be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, honored in this world and in the next, and of those who are granted nearness to God.” And in Chapter 19 we are told: “…We sent Our angel to her, and he appeared to her in the form of a perfect man. She said, ‘I seek refuge with the Gracious God from thee if indeed thou dost fear Him.’ He replied, ‘I am only a Messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a righteous son.’ She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me, neither have I been unchaste?’ He replied, ‘Thus it is.’ But says thy Lord, ‘It is easy for Me; and We shall do so that We may make him a Sign unto men, and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing decreed.’” (19:18-22)
I don’t know about you, but I feel that’s a pretty powerful message of interfaith harmony – one that I teach my son. Please accept heartfelt Christmas wishes from a Muslim. Merry Christmas!
Saadia Faruqi is the interfaith liaison for the women's group of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and editor of Interfaith Houston. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Ahmadiyya Community or Interfaith Houston.