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Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

Christmas time every year is always slightly different: the weather is different, the cultural context is different, and even the political climate is different. The Presidential Election season definitely has changed the flavor of this Christmas season, especially with respect to Islam and Muslims. Yet, unlike any other Christmas in decades, perhaps, this year Christmas will be completely unique.

December 24, Christmas Eve, will also be the very same day that many Muslims around the world will be commemorating the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). While it is not the same as Christmas, the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday – also known as Mawlid-un-Nabi – is a special time for Muslims, where they commemorate the birth of the man who brought salvation to them as well. The reason it fell this year around Christmas time is because of the Islamic lunar calendar, which circumnavigates the solar calendar backwards. Thus, this year it is on December 24, and next year it will be around December 12.

The celebrations around the Muslim world commemorating this day are as varied and beautiful as the cultures from where they hail. Many Muslims hold festivals where poetry extolling the Prophet’s virtue are read and sung; other Muslims fast and have communal meals; others have elaborate dances and other celebrations; many Muslims distribute candy and other sweets to children. It is a very special day for many, many Muslims around the globe, and it is amazing that this year it will fall right around the day Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ (pbuh).

It is my hope and prayer that this fact of Christmas in 2015 will allow a moment of pause and reflection over relations between Muslims and Christians. While many Muslims may not be officially celebrating Christmas, it does not mean that Jesus Christ is not special in their hearts. There is a great deal about Jesus in the Qur’an, in fact, and Christ is mentioned more by name in the Qur’an than the Prophet Muhammad himself (peace be upon he and Jesus both). The Virgin Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an. These are facts, and I wish that more people would know these facts about Islam and its honor for Jesus and Mary.

In addition, if both Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them both) were alive today, they would be extremely close. The Prophet Muhammad called Jesus, and all other Prophets, his “brothers,” and he commanded us to make no distinction between any of the Prophets of God. That is why, despite the hostility of some Christians towards the Prophet Muhammad, no Muslim would ever dare attack or malign Jesus Christ or his mother. That would be utter blasphemy.

At a time when some Christians believe Islam is “inspired by Satan himself,” and other Christians dispute whether they and Muslims even worship the same God, it is my hope and prayer that the common love for Jesus between Muslims and Christians can bring them together. There is so much more in common between Christianity and Islam than there is in distinction. I hope and pray that more people come to know this and resist the forces of division and hatred that seek to tear our two communities apart.

From my family to yours, a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy Mawlid-un-Nabi to one and all.

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