In honor of the Prophet Issa AS, on this day where my Christian cousins in faith celebrate the life and Message of the Lord, I will share this excerpt from a new piece by my friend Haroon Mogul in the Boston Review. Haroon points out that Christmas is a uniquely MuslimoChristian holiday rather than a JudeoChristian one:
The serious divisions among the three great religions begin with Jesus. Jews, of course, do not recognize Jesus as divine or as a godly messenger. For Christians, Jesus is the son of God who died on the cross to save us from sin—the original sin of Adam and Eve. Muslims take a middle view: Jesus is one in a long line of prophets beginning with Adam and culminating in Muhammad. All prophets—including Abraham and the prophets sent to the Children of Israel—are human beings and all preach the same religion: monotheism.
Muslims do not resent, as some have suggested, the West’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage. Jews and Muslims share monotheism and the prophetic tradition, and have no idea what to make of Christianity’s Trinity. At the same time, Christians and Muslims share deep affinities, most importantly with regard to Jesus. Islam accepts Jesus as the messiah and word and spirit of God, and Muslims believe in the virgin birth. The big difference between Muslims and Christians is not over whether Jesus is a man of God, but whether that is all he is. In Islam God creates space and time, but is apart from it and does not take human (or any other) form. Whereas Christians know Jesus as the son of God, Muslims know him simply as the son of Mary.
It is important that on Christmas Day, Muslims embrace the love that Christians express for the Prophet Issa AS and join in that expression of love. Doing so does not mean we should forget that we have differences in belief about Jesus; but neither should we use those differences as an excuse for standing apart.
On this day, Christians express their love for our Prophet. Any response other than love is an insult to our Prophets, on our part.