Dec 25, 2014

Muslim Memories of Christmas

By Saadia Faruqi
Today is Christmas Day, and I want to take this opportunity to wish my friends and colleagues a very happy Christmas. Some among my circle express surprise, even shock, at my supposed participation in this very non-Muslim tradition each year. These are the people who don't know me, I suppose. These are the people who don't know what Islam is truly about. Christmas to me and countless other Muslims is a very positive, joyous occasion for a number of reasons. Here then, are a few of them:

First the disclaimer: I don't celebrate Christmas, because I am a devout Muslim. But I enjoy witnessing Christmas celebrations by my neighbors and community members. I love the carols, the special foods and drinks, the Santa-shaped cookies, everything. My family too, has a Christmas tradition: driving around the neighborhood to see the lights on all the houses. We do it several times during the holiday season, and my kids literally talk about it all year long.
Why do I care about Christmas? Because I grew up in a catholic school in Pakistan, and Christmas (and Easter and Advent) was the norm around us. In music class we learned Christmas carols, in art class we drew Christmas trees and mistletoe. What we didn't know was Santa or the Reindeer. What we didn't imagine was how commercialized Christmas could be in a country like America. I found Christmas to be more devout and religious an affair in a Muslim country than a Christian one. I wonder if the nuns in my convent knew the difference.
So for me, Christmas is a time that brings back fond memories of my childhood. It is a time when I can sing carols along with the radio and hum with my kids in their holiday performance. It is a time when I can talk about Jesus with my interfaith group and tell them the story of Jesus birth from the Quran. It is a time when I can highlight my love for Mary, or Mariam as we Muslims call her, and tell people proudly that my daughter is named after that esteemed lady.
So yes, as a Muslim living in the United States, I enjoy the Christmas season more than most. And I miss no opportunity to wish my Christian friends a Merry Christmas! May we all have a peaceful and prosperous new year. Amen.

Saadia Faruqi is editor of the Interfaith Houston blog and interfaith liaison of the women's group of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Interfaith Houston or the Ahmadiyya Community.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great blog, I will be back