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Two days ago, many people celebrated Christmas around the world. Although nearly a third of the world’s population is Christian, a lot of the time this festival ceases to have deep religious connotations. Many atheists, non-religious people and also people of other faiths celebrate simply because it is a huge part of their culture.
We too, grew up to wake up on Christmas morning with stockings full of chocolates and fruit (!) and a big roast dinner in the afternoon (while listening to the Queen’s speech), as my parents were happy to indulge in the celebration on a cultural level. Even now, I enjoy this time of year as it’s full of warmth and good wishes and joy. It serves as a time of happiness and celebration; the twinkly lights and crazy shopping expeditions make the long Winter more bearable, it seems!
Thinking about Winter without the celebration of Christmas going on around us would be very strange indeed. As CS Lewis wrote, the Pevensie children thought it a huge crime to erase Christmas from the lives of the Narnians. “Always Winter And never Christmas” -they couldn’t perceive such a world!
So what can Muslims get from this remembrance of our Prophet Jesus (Isa), May peace be upon him and the terrifying but ultimately empowering birth his beautiful mother Mary (Maryam) had?
It is a time for reflection and contemplation. Who were Mary and Jesus to us? And how do the stories compare?
It was a miraculous birth because no man touched the Virgin Mary. However the difference occurs in that Muslims believe he was created, just like Adam was created- without the need for conception. God is One, He has no partner or son. Mary was a very pious woman, indeed she was highly praised when she was mentioned in the Quran (along with Asiya, the wife of the Egyptian Pharoah from the story of Moses, Musa, may peace be upon him) and when she was told of the impending birth by Angel Gabriel, Mary said
‘How can I have a son, when no man has ever touched me, nor am I a woman of loose morals?’ Qur’an, 19:20].
Tradition states that she found a tree (of Frankincense) under which the birth occurred. The story of Mary and Joseph and the donkey, sweet though it is, has no origin in the Holy Books. There are various stories of Joseph recorded in some Islamic books but they are said to have been founded directly from the accounts written in the Old Testament and therefore, taken with a pinch of salt. These accounts mention that Joseph was a carpenter who was to marry Mary, when the birth occurred.
Muslims believe that Jesus was able to miraculously speak whilst he was still in the cradle. At this time he was given this miracle in order to clarify any doubt regarding Mary’s virginity and as a proof that he was indeed, sent as a messenger to renew the message of One God.
The Quran devotes a chapter to this story that is called ‘Maryam’. It is an account of her virtues and piety and the difficulty she encountered when dealing with the judgement of people around her.
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So that’s it from me for now,
Until next time,
Peace and Love,
PS To help me on my journey to enoughism I will write down 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each post. These are:
1. Holidays! With the holiday season well and truly in swing, I am grateful for the break- for time out of the incessant cycle that is life and family time. AlhamduLillah!
2. Central heating and my car! I was a late starter when it came to driving and I have many memories of taking three little ones out, fully dressed and ready to combat the cold when we ran out of something simple like milk. My heart goes out to those people who have to battle the cold weather without these two gifts that we mostly take for granted. I am so grateful for the ability to stay warm in this cold season. (I am also grateful it hasn’t snowed yet! I now have negative memories connected to the snow now and rather than playfulness I’m reminded of my fall…No matter! I must be strong and focus on the positive side- the transformation of the world as we know it, the morning after heavy snowfall is a glorious sight to behold! Plus, days off school and work are always good!)
3. My new WordPress app! It’s fantastic to keep in touch with you guys whilst I’m on the go. It’s so much easier than sitting down with the laptop. I’ve had it for a while but I’m recently realising the benefit of writing my blog post from it. I’d advise anyone who is interested in writing to download it and begin using it today!