British Law Firm Norton Rose Fullbright held an interfaith Christmas performance by the Khayaal Theater Company via zoom on December 17th to celebrate Jesus Christ in the Muslim tradition.
Opening the program, Mohammed Paracha, a partner at the firm focusing on Islamic Finance, said, “Muslims recognize Jesus and his birth in the Qur’an. We even have a chapter named Mary, Maryam (in Arabic).”
“We grow up with stories about Jesus, his miracles and his life. He was a Prophet before Muhammad, peace be upon them both. And in order to be a Muslim you have to believe in Jesus as well,” he added.
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The dramatic monologue was delivered by Eleanor Martin, the associate director of Khayaal who mesmerized the audience with her captivating and engaging performance. The zoom chat was full of complimentary remarks.
The production began by sending peace and blessings upon Prophet Jesus, while the narration covered aspects of Prophet Jesus’s life from prior to his birth, his life, and how he was lifted up to heaven.
One of the biggest themes which plucked a particular chord in my heart was the part where Jesus was standing outside a temple and helped an elderly woman light a fire for warmth, as well an account of Jesus giving a poor child food to eat. But as Prophet Zakariya had died, those in the temple had become corrupt and Jesus was criticized for helping them instead of helping the temple.
This reminded me of the wisdom of kindness and generosity. It should be sincere and to help people, not necessarily to support groups and organizations solely.
Stories of the Prophets
Various iterations of the production have been performed over the past five years at different locations, from events to schools.
In order to find an as accurate account of Jesus, the production company used various sources: the Qur’an, Stories of the Prophets, a text named Christmas in the Qur’an, and even the New Testament. The idea was to create as wide and holistic view of Jesus as possible.
After the program, a Q&A was held and the host Mohammed Paracha elaborated on an important point that the Qur’an includes many stories of Prophets, from Adam all the way to Jesus. These are not historical accounts, rather, they are themes, to share a message about these historical personalities with the audience.
For example, the story of Pharaoh and Moses was to teach us about tyranny and its effects and consequences, and every Prophet had a different story to share.
When the production company were asked how Christians responded to the play, they said that the response varies from appreciating the format and story, to others being surprised by the narration.
In one case, a Christian minister, upon watching the performance broke down into tears as he didn’t know the extent to which Jesus featured in the Muslim tradition. The event was part of the law firms Compass Network, which brings Christian and Muslims within the organization together, and invites external guests to engage and interact in some of their programs. A wonderful model showing us how all of us can work and live better together in peace.