Well, it’s officially the season to be jolly. Decorations are up. Christmas carols by Mariah Carey are playing in stores. People are knocking each other over during their shopping sprees. There is car-park-like traffic within a 10km radius of any major shopping mall.
People often ask me if I celebrate Christmas. As a Muslim, I don’t. The next question is often ‘oh… are you offended by it?’ Am I offended that Christmas seems to vomit on everything from about mid November?
Uh… I FREAKIN’ LOVE IT!
Something about this time of year is really comforting. Everything is wrapping up. We all know that work and school is starting to slow down. We’re moving towards a new year; the official restart for everything (and thank God for that!). There are Christmas parties everywhere and people are just celebrating life. Yes, people may be a little wound-up, but it’s only because they’re trying to impress their friends and family. (Ever the optimist? Maybe! Just roll with it).
I understand that Christmas has stopped being a religious holiday and has turned into a commercialised free-for-all, but whatever. People are showering each other with love. And hey; at least we get to watch entitled teenagers complaining that their parents got them an iPhone 6 instead of the 6 Plus, and who doesn’t enjoy reading those tweets?
I’ve heard stories – and they appear to mostly be made up stories – of Muslims being offended by Christmas celebrations, carols, decorations and even Christmas cards. It’s all a bit ridiculous. There is nothing offensive about Christmas or any other religious celebration. People are allowed to believe what they want and live their lives in the way that they want. People should be allowed to celebrate Christmas freely. Not to mention, Jesus is also a prophet of Islam. Sure, Muslims may not believe that Jesus is God or son of God (read about what Muslims believe about Jesus here) but I’m not going to have a nervous breakdown because people are celebrating the life of Jesus in a way that I don’t.
I won’t speak for others; but me (and my family) have never been offended by anything Christmasy – or even been remotely offended.
Well. That’s a lie. My mum was offended by Christmas one year. When I was in primary school, my teacher pulled us Muslim, Jewish and Hindu children out of class when everyone was making Christmas decorations. My mum was an unhappy lady that day and told the teacher that she had no right to exclude us from these activities. My parents didn’t want my brother and I to think that it was okay to shun someone else’s religious beliefs. As long as we weren’t compromising ourselves or our doing anything that was against Islam, there was no reason for us not to participate. There is nothing unIslamic about it.
Let me answer some of the most common questions for you
Do you really not celebrate Christmas?
Now, when I say we don’t celebrate Christmas I really mean that we don’t celebrate Christmas. Christmas day is just another day. It just means we don’t have to go to work and we can sleep in a little. Don’t worry! Muslims have their own celebrations throughout the year. We celebrate Ramadan and two Eids which are essentially two events which are as important as Christmas.
Is it weird to give you a Christmas present/Christmas card?
Not even a little bit. In fact, I try to hand out Christmas cards every year as well. This year, I gave out Christmas cards that were in the shape of little animals. I even gave them out to my Muslim friends! I received many as well. Some made me laugh. A couple made me tear up. It’s all beautiful.
I want to wish you a good end of the year… but… ‘Merry Christmas and a happy new year’ isn’t a very appropriate thing to say to a Muslim.
Maaate. Just say Merry Christmas and a happy new year. I’ll try and take away the pressure by saying it first. But it’s fine. You’re just wishing me a good end of the year and a good break. I accept your well wishes and send them right back atcha.
Are you offended by Christmas decorations?
Uhm. I decorated my office this year. So nuh.
So wait… why do people say that Muslims are offended by Christmas?
This is probably where my disclaimer should go. I’m sure there are some Muslims who may be offended by Christmas. But they’re probably the same person offended by the colour blue or offended by the fact that sand feels sandy. The protests of a few disgruntled grinches are not indicative of what the rest of the Muslim community thinks. I watched my parents call their Christian friends tonight to wish them and their loved ones a happy Christmas. And clearly, I’m the Muslim spirit of Christmas. This isn’t a unique experience. My parents and their friends reminisce about their younger years in Lebanon, when they would go and visit their Christian friends and neighbours on Christmas day to wish them well and celebrate with them. I intend on showing the same love and acceptance. It really is the only way to be accepted right back.
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