Since Christmas falls during the winter break of schools and universities, many Muslim families take vacations during this time. Some go overseas to visit relatives in the Old Country; some Midwest Muslims go to warmer climates; some, like my uncle, go the holy city of Mecca to perform a "Lesser Pilgrimmage," or Umra, during the Christmas season.
For many years, my family and I attended religious conferences that were held during the Christmas holiday. I have fond memories of those conferences. My friends, cousins, and I would always ditch the (very boring) lectures and go and explore the city where the conference was held. Although the venue for the conference changed from year to year, one thing did not: there was absolutely NOTHING to do on Christmas Day.
Salvation for Muslims necessarily includes belief in Jesus, as outlined by this saying of the Prophet Muhammad: "If anyone testifies that none has the right to be worshipped but God alone, Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His Slave and His Apostle, and that Jesus is God's Slave and His Apostle and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, God will admit him into Paradise..."
Furthermore, the Virgin Mary (peace be upon her) is also greatly revered. The story of her birth was also recounted in the Quran. In addition, God set the Virgin Mary as an example for the ideal believer in the Quran: "And God sets forth, as an example to those who believe . . . Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into her of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)" (66:11-12).
Just this month, American Muslims strongly criticized as "tasteless and insensitive" a television commercial promoting professional wrestling that shows "Jesus" gambling with the devil in a sports bar. The "devil" says, "We've been hyping this [Armageddon] for two millennia." At the end of the commercial, he asks the "Jesus" figure, "Do you want to go double or nothing on the Saints?" I, too, was offended by this commercial. It was utterly disrespectful and no way to treat one of God's Holy Emissaries.
Still, Christmas will not be as merry for me this year. I am on service in the hospital and will have to work on Christmas Day. Although I would rather have the day off, I do not really mind working on December 25. In fact, in past years, I have worked on Christmas for my colleagues in exchange for their working for me on Eid, the last day of the Ramadan fast.
It usually works out great. And besides, it is not like there is anything for me to do on Christmas Day, anyway.