HULL, East Yorkshire – A Muslim Santa might sound strange for many. Yet, for Waseem Khan’s family in Hull, East Yorkshire, this is the name he usually gets during the holiday seasons from young family members.
“The kids around here call me Father Christmas and ask me to get them a present because of my white beard,” taxi driver Waseem Khan, 63, told Hull Daily Mail on Sunday.
“I joke with them and tell them to make me a list and I’ll see what I can do.
When Tesco launched its Christmas advert featuring 14 different families, many protested the ad for including a Muslim household.
Like many Muslims, Khan’s family marks the festive season, saying it has moved on from its religious values to a cultural celebration.
“Christmas celebrations have moved away from religion to some degree now,” Waseem said.
“Christmas is good, we enjoy it. As a taxi driver, it also brings me a lot of business and so you have to make the most of it.
“I am happy to work Christmas Day when others maybe don’t want to so it works out quite well.”
The Khan family moved to Hull 22 years ago and love living here.
“We don’t have any decorations as we don’t celebrate the birth of our prophets,” Waseem said.
“But we do exchange cards and gifts with our Christian friends.
“However, Christmas Day is just a normal day for us. We pray five times a day every day for everyone, including Christians and Jews.”
Waseem’s son Badar, 27, embrace the Christmas celebrations, which do not impinge on his own faith.
“Most of my friends enjoy Christmas and I celebrate with them,” he said.
“I work with Men In Charitable Endeavors (MICE) and we help hold Christmas functions and I have no problem getting involved in that.
“I have also helped put up and decorate the Christmas tree. I work with Filipino groups in Hull who are Christians and I have been invited to their Christmas do.
“We enjoy Christmas tremendously and there is always a really good atmosphere at this time of year.
“I have friends who live away but we have a Christmas tradition of coming together at Christmas for a meal each year.”
Khan confirmed that Muslims’ celebration of `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adha are close to those in Christmas and Easter.
“In many ways, these celebrations are similar to Christmas,” Waseem said. “We eat and celebrate together and we give our children presents.
“We have our beliefs but that does not mean we can’t enjoy the festivities of all religions. At this time of year, you just get sucked into it.
“Why feel isolated at this time of year when you can just enjoy it?”
The furor that followed Tesco ad was shocking to many British Muslims, including the Khan family.
“People ask us what we do at Christmas quite a lot,” Waseem said.
“What we always say is that we pray every day for them, every day whether it is Christmas or not.
“I was a bit surprised by the negative reaction to the Tesco advert. It was about families coming together and really had nothing to do with religion.”