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Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: the Infinitely Compassionate and Merciful Beloved Lord

As is the case every year, Christmas Day is just another calendar day for me. In fact, I will be working in the hospital on Christmas Day this year, one of 11 shifts I am scheduled to work until the end of the year. Yet, that does not mean that Jesus is not in my heart. Christ, in fact, is a major part of Islamic belief. There are dozens of verses in the Quran that speak about Jesus, including his birth (3:45-49), his miracles (5:110), the Last Supper (5:113-115), among many others. Chapter 19 of the Quran is named “Mary,” after his mother, and many verses speak very highly of Jesus Christ.

Jesus, as the Quran says, “shall be of the righteous” (3:46). “Peace be upon me the day I was born,” says Jesus in the Quran, “and [will be upon me] on the day of my death, and on the day when I shall be raised to life [again]!” (19:33). The Quran also calls upon its readers to remember “she who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed into her of Our spirit and caused her, together with her son, to become a symbol [of Our grace] unto all people” (21:91), referring to Mary and Jesus. Many will be surprised to know that Jesus Christ is mentioned by name in the Qur’an many more times than the Prophet Muhammad himself, peace and blessings be upon them both.

Still, despite all this love and devotion for Jesus Christ, Muslims – including this one – do not typically celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. You know, it is funny: when I say “Merry Christmas” to someone, I usually get widened eyes of surprise. He or she does not expect a Muslim to say something like that to them. Likewise, so many people – who know I am Muslim – will say, “Happy Holidays” to me – thinking that I would get offended if they said to me, “Merry Christmas.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I say, “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends and colleagues, I mean it sincerely: I pray that they have a very happy time on Christmas, that special day when they get together with friends and family to celebrate the birth of Christ. And when it is said to me, it is also a very nice wish: that I have a happy time on Christmas Day. There is nothing over which to be offended. Nothing whatsoever.

The birth of Christ was a very momentous occasion in the religious history of the world, and it makes me, as a Muslim, just as happy as my Christian brothers and sisters. And so, during this Christmas season, I say to one and all: A Very Merry Christmas. From the bottom of my heart, I send a message of peace, love, brotherhood, and sisterhood to all my Christian sisters and brothers. May the grace of our Lord, Hallowed be His Name, be with us all, and may He bring all of us – Christian and Muslim – closer together as common worshippers of the Lord our God and lovers of Jesus Christ and his mother.

Lord our God hear this prayer, which I make in Your Most Holy Name. Amen.

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