It’s Christmas Eve Day. Kids are out of school; there are last minute shopping for stocking stuffers; cookies are laid out, and presents go under the tree for tomorrow morning.
Little ones will wake up super early, eager to rip open their gifts.
Some even go to church.
Before I get too deep into my post, I submit to you one of my favorite clips of the holidays:
I try not to speak too much about faith on this blog because that subject can get very touchy due to all the perversions of the beliefs in all the different world religions. However, I think it’s appropriate today, given all the expectations of tonight and tomorrow. But first, I think it’s only fair that I tell you a little bit about who I am so you have a little perspective on the woman who’s writing this Christmas Miracle post…
I am Muslim. I converted (some prefer the term ‘reverted’) when I got married to my husband several years ago. I thought it was important to have a united front as a family. His whole family is wonderful and they all live the true Islamic way. They love God (Allah) and have shown me more love since meeting me a few years ago than I’ve experienced my whole life by my family of origin.
Before that, I was studying Buddhism. (I still do.) Before that, I was not much of anything. Before that, I was a hard core Catholic. Like, leading the Sunday mass as a cantor in high school Catholic. My journey has had many twists and turns, but my path right now has me wearing a scarf. (I suppose when I decide to commit to something, I really embrace it.)
People see the scarf and make all kinds of assumptions. People think I’m oppressed, crazy, brainwashed, a terrorist… all those great media-perpetuated stereotypes. People somehow think Islam is the Anti-Christian religion. As a result, I feel like I need to go out of my way to really get into the holiday spirit, just to show that Muslims are not some Godless group. I’m sure most of the general public would be shocked to learn that we “believe” in Jesus- he’s in the Qur’an. He was born of the Virgin Mary. He traveled and preached the Word of God. He was prosecuted for his teachings, and he will come back at the end of days as the Messiah. The main departure is that Muslims do not concede that Jesus is God, and that he did not die on the cross for our sins. But many surveys have been conducted asking self-proclaimed Christians if they believe that Jesus is the only way to everlasting life, and the numbers are in the teens.
I could go on and on about the topic of the faiths and how they are observed, but in short, I am NOT anti-Christmas. When people ask me if I “celebrate” Christmas, I have to really gage how they ask it. Are they worried about offending me? Are they asking about Islam? Is it just a passive aggressive poke? So to answer, while I do not acknowledge Christmas as a day to give praise to the birth of God incarnate, yes, I do observe that this is the time to recognize the birth of Jesus.
It’s also the time of the winter solstice and the new calendar year.
So do I decorate for the season? Yes. In fact, we’re the only house on the block with religious decorations! (We have an light up angel hanging off our porch banister.)
Do I give gifts of affection when we visit relatives over winter break? Yes. We have pictures of our son sitting on Santa’s lap (taken for free at the YMCA). In Turkey, Santa is called “Noel Baba” and in fact, the original St. Nicholas is from Turkey! You see him and decorated trees in Turkish malls this time of year.
In short, do I participate in the wide-spread secularism of Christmas? Like most of the general public, yes. But our household keeps it low key for two reasons:
- we truly embrace what Christmas is all about and treat the true meaning with respect
- we are trying to teach our children moderation and not buy into the sense of greed and entitlement of the season.
I held this position even before I met my now husband. I’ve always thought that Jesus has been lost along the way and capitalism has taken over. Sad on all accounts. In that sense, Charlie Brown and I are of the same mind.
So my point is that I’d love to see some Christmas Miracles tonight and tomorrow… if you celebrate Christmas, please take your children to church. Pray to God for peace on Earth. Think of Jesus and what he preached during his 33 years. Listen to the sermon of your spiritual leaders. Hopefully, he or she will remind the congregation that we are all brothers and sisters in the eyes of God.
And when your children begin with the Gimmie-gimmies, pause for a moment to give them a reality check about where their hearts are Christmas morning. In that sense, a little Buddhist mindfulness would be a great addition amongst the boxes and bows.
What prompted me to make this post?
I was on the elliptical at the Y yesterday, and this came on the machine:
Perfect timing, ironically. Just as the story of the angel of the Lord sends word to Mary that she will be giving birth to Jesus, an Angel from Hell comes to a woman and tells her that, “You don’t just deserve to be happy; it’s your birthright.”
That sense of entitlement is exactly what is wrong with our society.
Yes, I am Muslim. And I am going to truly observe the meaning of Christmas by humbly praying to God that parents everywhere — no matter what faith — make the 153Promise to their families by teaching their children to be thankful for everything that they have. Gifts are not just the items under the tree. Gifts are everywhere: your home, your working body parts, your bosses or teachers, your relatives…
It’s my prayer that Christmas Miracles of appreciation are in the air… no just tonight and tomorrow, but all year around.
That’s how this Muslim observes Christmas.