By Hesham A. Hassaballa
No, I do not celebrate Christmas as my Christian friends and neighbors do. December 25 is like any other day for me. In fact, it is quite a boring day for me, because, the whole world is off, and I am not. A few years ago, I worked overnight on Christmas, and I was looking for some place to eat: NOTHING was open…not even the Dunkin Donuts or the Chinese restaurants! Thanks be to God, the Muslim-owned Mediterranean restaurant was open, and I was spared a night of ravenous hunger.
Yet, that does not mean that the day has absolutely no significance for me as a Muslim. As I walk the halls of one of the hospitals at which I work, I see several Nativity scenes on display, and it gets me to thinking about Jesus Christ (pbuh). It reminds me of him and what a powerful and wonderful Prophet and Messenger he was. Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, it does not mean I don’t have Jesus in my life.
When I think about Christmas, which is a Christian commemoration of the birth of Christ, it reminds me of God’s love for us.
What is a Prophet? He is a guide; he is an example sent to us by God to help us navigate the treachery of worldly life and the hypocrisy of the human condition; he is a direct link between the servants and the Master. When God sends a Prophet, it is manifest evidence of His undying love for us. So, even though I am not exchanging gifts on Christmas Day, the birth of Jesus Christ (pbuh) makes me very happy indeed.
The Precious Beloved showed us His tremendous love by giving us life when we were lifeless. The Precious Beloved showed us His tremendous love when He gave us breath when we did nothing to deserve or warrant such a gift. The Precious Beloved showed us His tremendous love by giving us the opportunity to make a good life on this earth. Yes, this worldly realm is full of difficulty; yes, it is full of evil; yes, it is full of temptation and strife and myriads of chances to fall.
But, the Lord did not leave us alone on this world; He did not leave us to fend for ourselves; He sent us guidance, principles by which we can live and navigate in this realm of treachery that is earth. That guidance comes in the form of scripture, and that guidance comes in the forms of human beings: the Prophets. And thus, when Jesus Christ (pbuh) was born, it was another manifestation of God’s love: he was born so that we as humans can live better lives, in the way Our Heavenly Master wanted us.
Yet, there is more reason for me to be happy that Jesus Christ (pbuh) was born. For, if it was not for Jesus Christ (pbuh), our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would not have come. Jesus Christ (pbuh) was the latest in the long line of holy Prophets come to guide humanity, and it was necessary for Jesus Christ (pbuh) to come for my beloved Master Muhammad (pbuh) to follow him:
And [this happened, too,] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O children of Israel! Behold, I am an apostle of God unto you, [sent] to confirm the truth of whatever there still remains of the Torah, and to give [you] the glad tiding of an apostle who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” (Qur’an 61:6)
“Ahmad” is the name of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). All of the Prophets are one; they all come from the same Source; they all hail from the One True God. And so, when one of them is born, I am not distressed in the least. Rather, I am very glad indeed.
And so, it may be true that I do not celebrate Christmas like my Christian friends and neighbors; it may be true that I do not decorate my home or light up a Christmas tree in my living room; it may be true that I will not be exchanging gifts this December 25. No, I do not worship Christ as God.
But, you must know, that when I think of Christmas, it makes me happy, for it reminds me of the blessed, glorious day my Master Jesus (pbuh) was born.
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. His latest book is Noble Brother: The Story of the Last Prophet in Poetry. To read more articles by Hesham visit his blog: God, Faith, and Pen