With the gleam of holiday lights on every street and the sweet smell of sugar in the air, we know Christmas Day is nearly upon us. But what is the holiday really about? I mean besides giving to the poor and spreading joy to the world, how did the holiday originate? Most Christians believe the holiday falls on or around the time Prophet Jesus (peace be on him) was born. But why is it that Muslims don’t celebrate the festive holiday? Some have the misconception that we don’t believe in Prophet Jesus. On the contrary, Muslims believe in all the prophets of God and especially hold Jesus very high.
In chapter 5, verse 76 of the Qur’an, God says, “Surely Allah gives you good news with a word from Him of whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter.” This shows that we too believe that Prophet Jesus was the Messiah. Interestingly, Jesus’ name is mentioned more times in the Qur’an than that of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him).
The only difference is that Muslims don't believe Prophet Jesus is the son of God or that Jesus died on the cross and rose to the heavens. Instead, we believe he died a natural death and that he will not return to Earth. As members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, we believe that the second coming of the Messiah already happened in the late 1800s in a man named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India. There is also a lot of respect given to Holy Mother Mary (peace be upon her). In fact, there's a whole chapter (19) of the Qur’an, Maryam, dedicated to the honorable figure.
We even believe that Prophet Jesus foretold the coming of the prophet of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad. In John, chapter 14 verse 26, it says, “But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom Father will send in my name, he shall teach you things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said onto you.” We believe that the Holy Ghost refers to the Holy Prophet of Islam and that this verse foretells the coming of yet another great prophet with a divine message.
So if Muslims, do believe and love Prophet Jesus, why not celebrate his big day? Well, as Ahmadi Muslims, we actually don't celebrate anyone's birthday, including our own or Prophet Muhammad's. This is for the same reasons the early Christians didn't celebrate Prophet Jesus' birthday. In the Roman Empire, the 25th was the designated day of celebration for the pagans. The birthday of Mithra was celebrated by some, while others celebrated the birth of the Sun god, Saturn on that specific day. Some Christians allowed them to keep their traditions, even when the groups converted to Christianity. Over time, their culture was slowly integrated into that of Christianity.
Even though Muslims don’t take part in the traditional Christmas festivities, we happily share in the joy of our fellow neighbors, colleagues, classmates and friends. The Qur’an teaches us that though we may have differing beliefs we can all live together in peace and harmony. So when you bake your holiday cookies, don’t hesitate to pass a batch over to your Muslim neighbor. Merry Christmas!
Esha Bhatti, Fulton
The writer is a student at Reservoir High School and a youth member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
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