Cultural Uniqueness ... Christmas, An Islamic Perspective

January 15, 2010
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painting of Mary with the baby, Jesus

As the preparations for the Christmas Holiday are underway in the U.S. and around the world, it might be of interest to see how Muslims
perceive the birth of Jesus.

It is worth noting that there are no detailed descriptions of any other Prophet’s story in the Qur’an like that of the story for Prophet Jesus’ and his miraculous birth.

When I see my fellow Christian Americans celebrate Christmas, it occurred to me that this would be a good opportunity for the YES and other cultural exchange students, who come here from predominately Muslim countries or Muslim communities, to better understand Christmas from the Islamic perspective.

It will also give them an opportunity to share, with their friends and host families, what the Qur’an and Prophet Mohammad said about Jesus, as one of God’s greatest prophets and messengers to mankind, as well as the reverence that Muslims feel toward Jesus and his family.

This type of discussion could be one of the memorable experiences in America.

The Angles Deliver the “Word of God” to Mary

“Behold! The angels said: „O Mary! God gives you good news with a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.”

Chapter 3, Verse 45

Merry Wonder!!

The Qur’an recorded the question of wonderment by Mary when she said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has ever touched me? He said: Even so, Allah creates what He pleases; when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, Be, and it is.”

Chapter 3, Verse 47

Details of Jesus’ Birth

Chapter 19, titled Mary, gives a full description of the birth and miracles surrounding Jesus’ birth in verses 16 - 36, which may be recited daily by 1.4 billion Muslims all over the world in their five daily prayers.

Miracles in the Qur’an Performed by Jesus

In addition to the birth of Jesus, the Qur’an recorded many of the miracles, which God bestowed upon Jesus such as speaking from the cradle and the ability to cure lepers and the blind.

Chapter 5, Verse 110.

Christians in the Qur’an

In the following verse, Muslims are instructed to consider all of these blessings when they are dealing with the followers of Jesus: “We gave (Jesus) the Gospel (Injeel) and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers.”

Chapter 57, Verse 27

Spiritual Unity

The following verse, among others, is a testimony for all the Muslims that their belief is not complete, if they do not believe in and revere all the prophets and, in particular, Moses and Jesus, their followers and the scriptures they received from Almighty God, who also revealed the Qur’an. It gives a clear message for the family of the house of Abraham to stand united, and not to let the forces of hate, fanaticism and ignorance, which existed during the time of Prophet Mohammad, as well as in 2008 and beyond, separate them: Say ye: ‘We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.’”

Chapter 2, Verse 136

Prophet Mohammad affirms Unity

Prophet Mohammad himself sought to erase any distinctions between the message he taught and that taught by Jesus, who he called God’s “spirit and word.” Prophet Mohammad said: “Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.”

Peace Be Upon Him

With all of that in mind, it is incumbent on every Muslim to repeat (A’laihi assalam – peace be upon him) when they say or hear Jesus’ name.

The author, Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat, is the President of the Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation of Baltimore, Maryland