Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Santa's Shocking Announcement to the World: "I am Now a Muslim"

Stating that "In my heart, I have always believed in the oneness of God Almighty", Saint Nicholas, the jolly, venerable Christmas figure known for centuries as Santa Claus, announced that he had taken his Shahada, or declaration of faith, and formally 'reverted' to the religion of Islam.

It is believed that this religious transition is unprecedented in the thousands of years of Christmas celebrations that take place every December 25th.Nicholas, who is thought to be some 1100 years of age, apparently made the transition to Islamic belief during one of his recent visits to the Arab world. He is thought to have made the declaration in Egypt last December 25th, at a private ceremony in Cairo.

It is not immediately known if his wife, any of his elves, or other North Pole denizens joined him in leaving his (presumed) religion of Christianity and declaring faith in Islam, although sources at the North Pole have indicated that the Santa workshop is in "utter confusion and chaos" following the announcement from Claus.

Commenting on his embrace of the world's fastest-growing religion, Claus-who will now be formally known as Mustafa Jabbar Ali Al-Islam-noted to reporters that he was "sick" of bringing Pagan traditions into the veneration of the traditional birthday of Jesus, and that "the December 25th date was really an invention that came from the celebration of the (Pagan) Winter Solstice, and had nothing to do with the birth of Christ, Peace Be Upon Him."

"And what's more", Claus reminded the stunned reporters, " the so-called Christmas holiday is really a money making scheme for business, and not a genuine celebration of the birth of Jesus. I'm just sick of the deception, and although he is certainly a prophet but not a deity, Islam-true Islam-is the real way to honor him".

The stock prices of major retailers and toy manufacturers plummeted by 50 per cent on major exchanges throughout the world as the news of Claus' conversion to Islam spread throughout the post-Christmas investment community.

When asked about his future plans, Claus/Al-Islam told reporters that he did plan to resume his December flights around the globe, but instead of toys, he would be carrying "translations of the Qur'an and the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be unto him, to children around the world."

Spokespersons for major Christian denominations, including the Vatican, expressed "shock and outrage" on hearing the news. Also, Air Force Brigadier General John Watson, a spokesperson for NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command responsible for monitoring the flight of Santa's sleigh every December 25th, noted that "we will do everything we can to prevent future flights of the sleigh and the Reindeer, and we reserve the right to take military action if Claus decides to test us and fly next year."

"After all", General Watson concluded, "If he's a Muslim now, we simply can't trust him, or know what he's really carrying in that big bag of his."

Ibrahim Ramey

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Muslim Greeting on Christmas Day

December 25th is just a few days away. And for Muslims, this day of Christmas celebration is
a time for deep reflection.

For some of us, of course, this Christian holiday is one that underscores our religious alienation from the majority Christian culture in America. We have no trees, no Santas and little elves, no reindeer, and certainly no ham or spiked egg nog on our dinner tables. Our children receive no special gifts on this day, as do their Christian ( and secular) schoolmates and friends.

And, more important, we do not revere Jesus as a deity or celebrate this time as his authentic birthday. Muslims are incorrigibly monotheistic, and we dismiss the trinitarian understanding as our primary, and irreconcilable, difference with Christianity.

But for Muslims like me who were born into Christian families, the day is far from painful or strange.

We remember the gatherings of mothers, fathers and grandparents and friends in a spirit of holiday sharing. The Christmas gifts that we exchanged were reminders of the legendary gifts presented to the baby Jesus by the wise men from the East. And even though the Nordic mythology of Santa and yule logs is conflated into Christian religious symbolism, there was, and is, an undeniable feeling of joy in the holiday celebration.

For me, as a Muslim born into a Christian family, Christmas is a time for contemplating the gift that God Almighty gave to humankind in the form of the birth of Isa (Jesus). And even if, in our tradition, this event did not happen at this time of year, it is worthy of our respect as a time when much of the world celebrates the arrival of this blessed child.

Perhaps Christmas, if not a time of religious celebration for Muslims, can be a time for building bridges of solidarity, and even mutual forgiveness, with our Christian neighbors, friends, and family members. It can also be an occasion to share our different, and parallel, scriptural understandings of Jesus; Many of my Christian friends, for example, are startled to discover that the 19th Book of the Holy Qur'an is the Book of Mary (Suratul Maryum), which, from the Quran'ic perspective, narrates the wonderful story of Mary's visitation by the Holy Spirit and the virgin birth of this most wondrous child, whom Muslims revere as the Messiah, and a mighty Apostle of God.

There are, to be sure, theological and cultural divides between the global Islamic community and the Christian world. As Muslims, we do not worship Jesus, and we certainly remove ourselves from the deity of commercialism that feeds on the this particular holiday celebration.

But despite our theological differences with the Christian world, , Muslims can, and do, honor a pervasive social spirit of charity, caring, and good will that can do enormous good in our world as it helps bind wounds of religious conflict and create new possibilities for genuine interfaith cooperation and respect.

Perhaps this day, more than any day on the calendar, might also evolve as an opportunity for Muslims to consider the evocation from the Qur'an that there is no compulsion in religion-and certainly, no tolerance in our text for religious discrimination or oppression by any community, including our own.

My late Christian mother, who loved her Christmas trees and decorations, gave love and charity to all of her neighbors, without any regard for their faith or religiosity. December 25th was a special day for her, and for her family.

And for all Christian families, and for Muslims as well, I pray that it will be a day that symbolizes the renewal of love, tolerance, and caring for humankind in the name of God, and in the spirit of Jesus the Messiah.

Salaaam Aleikum to all. And Merry Christmas.