By Ahmed Sharma, AsAmNews Staff Writer
The holidays have arrived, and people are getting ready to celebrate the most wonderful time of year. Indeed, with Christmas lights decorated on ordinary homes and Christmas music blaring from the radios, you can’t avoid the holiday spirit. Especially here in the states, it’s common for people to share their Christmas plans.
However, what is the proper etiquette when encountering Muslims this holiday season? Do Muslims even celebrate Christmas? Should you even say the words, “merry Christmas” to a Muslim?
While the point of this entry is not to delve into the dogmatic practices of Muslims and Christmas, we would be remiss to ignore some of the debates associated with them. One article in the Huffington Post says Muslims do not celebrate Christmas. However another article contends, that some Muslims can and do celebrate Christmas and recognize Jesus in their celebrations. Moreover, some countries are celebrating Christmas in an effort to establish interfaith harmony between Muslims and Christians.
What does this mean though, for the non-religious folk that celebrate Christmas? A Pew Research statistic showed that in the U.S., about eight in ten non-Christians celebrate Christmas. This included
“Americans who are religiously unaffiliated (atheists, agnostics and people who describe themselves, religiously, as “nothing in particular”)” as well as “some American Muslims.”
As a Muslim, I can tell you plainly, I do celebrate Christmas, but not in the religious sense. For myself, and I’m sure most American Muslims will agree, Christmas has been a time to spend with loved ones. It’s a time to relax briefly and catch up with people we don’t normally get to see every day.
As a child, Christmas meant getting toys. Now as an adult, it means getting toys, for children. There was no religious aspect to this. Most importantly, there was no religious aspect to exchanging gifts with friends and family. Although even for non-religious reasons, some might condemn the concept of buying presents.
Ultimately, even if Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, how is it any different from non-Christians celebrating Christmas without honoring Jesus? Muslims treat the holidays as they are: holidays. Those that have time off, will use it to spend with those they care about, or just enjoy the day off work. Some might watch Christmas specials on TV or movies, take their children to take photos with Santa, or go to Christmas parties hosted by their non-Muslim friends. It’s about time people live and let live.
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