During my childhood, Christmas was the happiest time of my life. Being spiritually inclined, there is a sacredness and poignancy about the season.
It was not the presents for me; it was the warmth that everyone felt this time of year. It was the beauty of the first snow and the colored lights reflecting on the snow.
The beauty of the Christmas tree warmed my heart. I would go ice skating and sledding with my friends. I loved to walk in the silent woods and hear the snow fall softly off the trees.
The family would gather in Christmas Eve and drink eggnog, fruitcake, and coffee. I would try to locate the Christmas star.
On Christmas day, the poignant moments would be over after opening up the last present, and I would sink into depression, going back to my lonely life.
For many years after becoming Muslim, we did not celebrate Christmas. It was like any other day. We knew that Jesus was not born on Christmas day or that he was the Son of God.
But I missed the nostalgia of my home in Massachusetts, and that Christmas represented a time when people were more kind and giving.
To me, the decorations were beautiful and the carols, although I am not a Christian, reminded me of something I would never regain again. Am I wrong to feel the need to remember the good things about Christmas as a Muslim?
There is an extreme consumerism and materialism in the modern world. This time of the year, people expect gifts and you feel obliged to give gifts. But this doesn’t mean that you are celebrating Christmas.
Mary, Mother of Jesus
The story of Mary and the Virgin birth of Jesus in both the Bible and the Quran is a beautiful story.
Mary was so favored by Allah, that she was the only woman that angel Gabriel visited.
Allah said “Be,” and she became pregnant with a child. She was provided for. Whenever Zachariah would visit her in the temple, he would find her meditating and praying, and would find provision with her.
During the birth of Jesus, Allah told Mary to shake the palm tree, giving sustenance by letting dates fall from a date tree, that even eating three dates is like eating a full meal.
Is this not an analogy of what Allah can do for us? Allah is in the background providing us with love and sustenance that we would need.
Raising to a High Position
Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) had similar stories. Both were born in poverty. Both lived hard lives. Allah raised both to a very high position.
The Quran became the Prophet Muhammad’s miracle, and Jesus raised people from the dead. They both gave back what was given to them to their followers. They taught a message of Mercy and Love.
Both Prophet Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon him) gave spiritual food. Both performed miracles.
Is it not possibly that God could take us from spiritual and physical poverty, to spiritual richness?
Allah is a God of Love
The Quran and Bible remind us that Allah is merciful and we are very much loved by Him, and that we are reminded this time of year.
As Muslims we do not believe that Jesus in the Son of God. In Islam, there is no concept of having a savior or having an intermediary. We already can be close to God. He exists within us, and outside us. But still we can live by Jesus’s example that he was a Prophet of love, and revered by Muslims.
Going beyond Consumerism
If we go beyond materialism and consumerism, would it mean more to give those who have less, and visit those who need our company? Would it mean more than buying useless gifts?
I prefer the effort and consideration of someone who puts in the effort to spend time with me above all else.
I rather prefer spiritual gift than a physical gift. You can give a spiritual gift anytime from your heart, and meaningful.
Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had so little. Whatever he had, he would share with his heart.
Christians celebrate this generosity a few weeks a year, but Jesus and Prophet Muhammad commanded us to be generous and kind year round as an act of worship.
Allah is Always with us
They say that Allah is mostly with you when you are alone. He is there in the beauty of nature; the fact that the sun comes up every day is a comfort. I wake up grateful that I have a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head.
We forget about the homeless, and go on with our materialistic lives; and despair when we do not get what we want. We believe that things and position will make us happy, and fill the holes in our hearts, but we are ungrateful and we only think about ourselves.
The Prophet Muhammad says that we cannot enter paradise if we eat and we know that our neighbor is hungry; we should share our hearts and our wealth with the less fortunate.
Christmas has Something to Teach us
Christmas has something to teach us, that Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad have something in common; they inspire us to be genuinely more generous the whole year.
Allah is always with us, even in our loneliest moments. We can strive to be remembering the birth of Jesus, and to be born spiritually.
We should make the world better for ourselves and for others, just by being there and caring.
That is the greatest gift.