POCATELLO, Idaho – A local mosque in the northwestern American Idaho state will be hosting a free Christmas dinner to the public, hoping the initiative would bring people of different faiths closer.
“In Islam, we don’t celebrate Christmas, and I realized the mosque is open,” Mustafa Rahim, who suggested the idea at the Islamic Society of Southeast Idaho, told Idaho State Journal.
“It’s a good way to show interfaith relations, as well as a good way to give back to everyone.”
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he was born miraculously, conceived with no father, to his mother, Mary, but not that he was the Son of God.
While Muslims regard Jesus as a holy prophet, most do not celebrate his birthday, a date historians note could not have been in December at all.
The idea of hosting the dinner came to Rahim, who is studying pre-medicine at Utah State University when he drove past a food pantry on Thursday and saw long lines of people waiting.
The next morning, during prayers, he thought of hosting a meal at the mosque.
“If we have the option to give back as much as we can, why shouldn’t we,” he said.
Serving food at the nonprofit foundation’s Community Open Table and Christmas Dinner, Rahim family hopes the dinner would become an annual tradition.
As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, zakat or donating and charity is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth. It’s a mandatory charitable contribution, the right of the poor to find relief from the rich, and is considered to be tax or obligatory alms.
Islamic Shari’ah also has another type of optional donation called Sadaqah. This term was used in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah for both zakat and charity.