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behind the Christmas traditions my family celebrated every year of my
childhood. My mother was able to transform our Southern California home
into a Winter Wonderland as soon as we walked in the door; it may have
been 75 degrees and sunny outside, but inside we felt we were in a
Currier and Ives world of red velvet beribboned pine boughs, twinkling
lights and beautiful music. I loved it. The Christmas season and our
small traditions remained the same no matter how many years passed. My
mother worked extremely hard to build warm, and loving holiday memories,
and I sincerely cherish them.
Like many American homes, there wasn’t much Christ in my family’s
Christmas. There would always be some discussion surrounding the reason
for our celebration, but we didn’t attend church services or talk too
much about what my parents believed. The beautiful nativity on the
mantle, hand-painted by my grandmother, was flanked by tasteful, secular
decorations. This led to a kind of vague confusion between the
miraculous birth of Jesus, and the magical feat of Santa Claus zipping
around the world in one night.
Nostalgia not withstanding, thinking about Christmas is now far more
meaningful to me on a spiritual level than it was when I was young. The
fact that Muslims accept and believe in the virgin birth of Jesus has
been a golden thread that links my childhood Christmas memories to my
very fulfilling adult life as a Muslim.
The world’s more than 1.5 billion Muslims would like their Christian
neighbors to know that we believe in the Annunciation; in the Quran we
read that God sent the angels to Mary:
“When the angels said: O Mary, surely God gives you good news
with a Word from Him of one whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of
Mary, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who
are made near to God. And he shall speak to the people when in the
cradle and when of old age, and he shall be one of the good ones.” Quran 3:45-46
The Quran has only one chapter named after a woman; Chapter 19 is titled “Mary”, or as it is translated in Arabic — Maryam. The Quran tells us that the infant Jesus, (or Isa as it is translated in Arabic), spoke from Mary’s arms: “…He said: Surely I am a servant of God; He has given me the
Book and made me a prophet; And He has made me blessed wherever I may
be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity so long as I live; And
dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed; And
peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I
am raised to life.'” Quran 19:30-33*
While Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas, we believe in the awesome
and miraculous birth of Jesus, in the miracles he performed by God’s
Grace, and in the message of love and peace Jesus brought to the world.
I hope my family knows that I am more attached to the account of
Jesus and Mary than I ever was as a child, now that I am a practicing
Muslim. It is a vital part of my faith; a faith that I share with over a
billion and a half people around the world.
This is my Christmas card to my family, and all my Christian friends and neighbors: Peace on earth and goodwill toward men.*Muslims understand this verse in reference to the to death of
Jesus after the second coming and resurrection on the Day of Judgment.
See Quran, 4:157
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