Source / Courtesy: YourHoustonNews.com
By SAADIA FARUQI
Guest Columnist |
Growing up in a Catholic convent school in a Muslim country I remember being immersed in the spirit of Christmas every year. My American-born children growing up in a multi-cultural environment in Houston have similar opportunities to learn about this prevalent holiday – albeit more about Santa and presents than about Jesus.
For many Muslims, there is a healthy curiosity this time of the year: What is Christmas really all about?
Everything the average Muslim knows about Jesus comes from the Quran, the holy book of Muslims. Jesus in the Quran? Strange as it may sound to some, the Quran relates in detail the story of Jesus, including his birth, mission as a prophet to the Israelites and his crucifixion. For example, the Quran states, “…and to Jesus, son of Mary, We gave manifest Signs, and strengthened him with the Spirit of holiness” (2:88).
Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Quran and Mary, 34 times. Indeed, an entire chapter is titled “Mary,” who is described as the most pious and righteous woman of her time, worthy of being emulated: “O Mary, God has chosen thee and purified thee and chosen thee above the women of all peoples” (3:43). As a sign of respect to her, hundreds of thousands of Muslims, including myself, have named their daughters Maryam, the Arabic form of Mary.
That Jesus deserves the love and respect of every Muslim is evident from the Quran: “When the angels said, ‘O Mary, God 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” (3:46). That Christmas is a time to remember the work and accomplishments of Jesus is sometimes not too clear to Muslims.
So this year I am going to make a conscious effort to understand what Christmas signifies by knocking on my neighbors’ doors to wish them Merry Christmas, and by taking my Muslim friends to visit area churches and learn about their special Christmas traditions. At the same time I will endeavor to tell others that as a Muslim, I too honor and respect Jesus. Merry Christmas. Season’s Greetings, and peace to all.