One of the most frequently used words during Christmas season is peace. Indeed, it is a reflection of the innermost desire within each one of us, whether we are Christians or not. Christmas is an annual milestone that intensifies the desire to have peace for oneself and for the world.
Christmas evokes kindness, empathy and goodness toward fellow beings; it's a euphoric feeling of renewal that Jesus taught to the world, it is a sense of completion one feels when he or she finds in tune with humanity. Jesus showed the way by embracing the whole humanity regardless of who they were. He is my hero, he is my mentor, and he is the first known pluralist on the earth. Christmas is a celebration of that refreshed feeling.
Jesus holds a special place in every one's heart, but particularly among Christians and Muslims, comprising over half the population of the world.
The Muslims call him Isa-Masih, the one who heals and one who brought life to the dead. The name of Jesus appears 27 times in Quran and one of the 114 Chapters is dedicated to Maryam, Mother Mary and the virgin birth.
Quraan, Surah Al-Imran 3:49 (Asad):
"I have come unto you with a message from your Sustainer. I shall create for you out of clay, as it were, the shape of [your] destiny, and then breathe into it, so that it might become [your] destiny by God's leave; and I shall heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life by God's leave; and I shall let you know what you may eat and what you should store up in your houses. Behold, in all this there is indeed a message for you, if you are [truly] believers."
Indeed, Muhammad Asad interprets it as,
"it is probable that the 'raising of the dead' by Jesus is a metaphorical description of his giving new life to people who were spiritually dead; cf. 6:122 - "Is then he who was dead [in spirit], and whom We thereupon gave life, and for whom We set up a light whereby he can see his way among men -- [is then he] like unto one [who is lost] in darkness deep, out of which he cannot emerge?" If this interpretation is -- as I believe -- correct, then the "healing of the blind and the leper" has a similar significance: namely, an inner regeneration of people who were spiritually diseased and blind to the truth."
Following Jesus is a tough calling.
It means we have to be prejudice free; free from ill-will and malice, must be willing to forgive and embrace those whom we don't like. Indeed, Jesus taught us to create the kingdom of heaven on earth, where no human has to be apprehensive of the other. It was the same calling by Moses, Krishna, Muhammad, Buddha, Mahavira, Nanak, Confucius, Bahaullah, Zarathustra and all the spiritual masters from different traditions, their mission was to bring an order in a disorderly world, restore trust in each other with kindness care and dignity to everyone in the society.
Christmas is also a day of expressing our gratitude for everything we are blessed with, least of which is breathing, ability to smell, see, touch and care. Then, someone needs to be thanked, beginning with the creator all the way to someone who gave you hope to live.
Christmas is also a time to wish well to someone you don't like and benefit from the idea of forgiveness Jesus taught. There is nothing like the feeling you get from wishing someone well. Try it, may this Christmas bring you peace of mind and free you from all that hurts.
As a Muslim I will be celebrating Christmas, recommitting myself to listen to Jesus and follow his path. And in my Islamic tradition, I will reflect on chapter 19 of Quran, dedicated to Maryam, Mother Mary, and pray on his birthday. I will pray that we all honor his message of creating peace and building cohesive societies where no one has to be apprehensive of the other. Amen!
Merry Christmas y'all.