I *know* that Christmas is not a Islamic holiday. While Muslims have great respect for Prophet Jesus, son of Mary (or Isa in Arabic), many do not celebrate the December 25th holiday for a variety of reasons.
The most common reason was to “avoid prophet worship”. Those people often also avoid Prophet Mohammad’s birthday [Mawlid un-Nabi]. Others have stated that since December 25th was an arbitrary date and not a historically proven date for Jesus’ birth, it would be inaccurate to celebrate that day. I have also heard that it would simply be a sin to celebrate anything that the non-Muslims celebrate, especially considering the pagan roots of the Winter solstice celebration.
I respect everyone’s celebration or non-celebration of whatever they want. That is up to each individual. However, personally, I enjoy celebrations.
I blame my mother who would celebrate everything from religious holidays, to birthdays, to end of semesters, and A+s on tests with cards, decorations and over-the-top enthusiasm. While I won’t go scavenging discount stores for “Congrats on your new job” cards every time one of my millennial friends finally get off unemployment, I did inherit her love of celebration.
I fully understand that as a Muslim, our religious holidays are the Festival of breaking fast [Eid ul-Fitr] and the Festival of sacrifice [Eid ul-Adha] but life is too short not to celebrate with others. So I celebrate holidays and birthdays, Halloween, Valentine’s, mother’s, father’s and family day. I even celebrate national and civic holidays. I have accumulated friends from various backgrounds and I am now invited to Channukah, Kwanza and various pagan solstice celebrations at this time of year. My best friend is Hindu and she also has included me in her celebrations throughout the year. I join these celebrations as a guest; celebrating the kindness of my peers and the spirit of intentions rather than the worship of a particular deity, person or nation.
With that said, I would be lying if I said Christmas means nothing to me. As a Canadian/Acadian convert from Catholicism, I was raised observing Christmas both religiously and traditionally. My large extended family meets almost exclusively during the holidays and most of my fond memories were formed during these gatherings.
So every year, I make special intentions to celebrate the tradition of Christmas. I don’t do it for the returns though I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge that friends, family and colleagues each pick up the slack when I am fasting. They make me meals or join me for meals at the breaking of the fast [iftaar] during Ramadhan, they join me for the festivals, they makeup for my reduced productivity during fasting days.
To me, participating in Christmas activities is my way to build ties with my family members, friends and with my community. With family members, I take part in the holiday baking, I buy and exchange gifts, I wear conventional reds and greens, I embarrass myself with a Santa hat or reindeer antlers. So that my colleagues are given the opportunity to sit back and enjoy fully their holiday, I take time to volunteer for workplace celebrations and offer to help at the door or handle the photo booth.
I do not worship Prophet Jesus, son of Mary but I am grateful to God for my family, friends and colleagues. So I take this time, during this period so special to many, to celebrate this gift and I pray that that you and yours find peace amongst yourselves and your communities.