At the time of year, when Christmas carols are in the air and shopping and wrapping is in full bloom, it seems a good idea to look beyond the obvious festivities revolving the birth of Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him).
Isn’t it interesting that even after 2000 years and having more than 2 billion followers worldwide, people are still questioning his existence? It may be because from his conception, birth and then death or resurrection, every aspect of his life has been shrouded with mystery. One atheist group went so far as to have an ad campaign in Time Square declaring him a myth just recently.
Muslims, however, have a firm belief in not only his existence but also of his noble character. Their belief has a sound foundation in their holy scripture, the Holy Quran.
Some might think how is it possible for Quran to have anything to do with the founder of Christianity? Amazingly, the Quran not only confirms existence and acceptance of Jesus (PBUH) as a prophet of God but also to all those who came before him," Say ye: We believe in God and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, and Jacob, and his children, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to all other prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between any of them; and to Him we submit ourselves." (2:137)
Not only Jesus (PBUH) but also his mother, Mary holds a special status in Islam. So, it’s not surprising to see a whole chapter in Quran “Maryam”, named after and dedicated to her making it a unique honor since no other chapter of the Quran is named after any other woman. This chapter captures all the details pertaining to the conception of Jesus, his birth and other aspects of her life and confirms both her virgin status and of her chastity at the time of Jesus’s birth just as the Gospels have stated.
It is true that Christmas is celebrated on December 25, but according to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church, and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come into the calendar. The exact day and year of Christ's birth have never been satisfactorily settled.”
And now, just last month Pope Benedict XVI’s in his latest book "Jesus of Nazareth -- The Infancy Narratives," tackles the accuracy issues related to his birth and also traditions that have become a big part of Christmas over the centuries. He has declared the commonly thought birth date to be a “blunder.” According to his research of the gospels, neither cattle were present at the time of the birth of Jesus nor did angels sang at that time.
So it is interesting to note that according to the Quran once Jesus (PBUH) was delivered, an angel spoke to Mary and asked her to shake the trunk of palm tree to get some fresh ripe dates (19:26). Since dates are not found in the winter, Ahmadi Muslims believe that it must have been summer and not winter.
Even though Muslims might choose not to take part in the festivities of Christmas, nonetheless, they love and respect the founder of Christianity.
He was undoubtedly a noble being and it is his teachings of love, compassion, charity and kindness that attracted billions and turned them into spiritually elevated humans.
In remembrance of this historic figure whose coming changed the world for the good, may this celebration be a source of blessing and peace for everybody.