and Muslims Celebrate Christmas Eve
By Zaki Syed
Garry Cox and Dr. Metwalli Amer
Every year around December Muslim
Americans watch their neighbors put up Christmas lights and
Christmas trees, see the ads on TV, and hear joyful greetings
of “Merry Christmas”. Despite all that the celebration
of Christmas remains a mystery to most Muslims in America.
This unfamiliarity was not acceptable for the Christians and
Muslims of Sacramento. On December 24, 2006, Christians and
Muslims celebrated Christmas Eve together at the Westminister
“Christmas is all about love, knowing that we are all
loved, and can be loved,” said Pastor Dr. David Thompson.
“Its (love) shown when two communities reach out to
each other”. Thompson said that during Ramadan the Christian
community was invited to share in the breaking of the fast.
For that reason he felt it was important to reach out to the
Muslim community so that they could celebrate Christmas together.
Westminister Presbyterian Church was lit with candles, as
members of the congregation sang Christmas carols along with
the choir. The service consisted of a pageant which reenacted
the birth of Baby Jesus. With the elaborate costumes, props,
and decoration the participants of the pageant left the congregation
in awe. Also included in the service were sermons from the
pastor David Thompson, and recitations from the Qur’an
by Dr. Metwali Amer of SALAM. Amer recited the account of
the birth of Jesus both in Arabic and in English. Amer felt
that the service had a great impact as many Christians did
not even know that Jesus and Mary were mentioned in the Qur’an.
Thompson (left) lights a candle as Muslims and Christians
The members of Westminister
Presbyterian were thrilled to have Muslims at the service,
as they greeted and welcomed them with pleasant comments and
served them with refreshments following the service.
“Jesus and Muhammad must be very happy tonight that
their followers are sitting with each other in peace to celebrate
this event,” said Thompson. Many others echoed Thompson’s
sentiments: “We are all brothers and sisters,”
said James Caico, member of the choir.
Caico rightly said that we are all brothers and sisters, and
we need to work together to get along. There is a saying in
politics: “You scratch my back, and I will scratch yours”.
In the same vein when Muslims open their doors for other faiths,
other faiths will open up their doors for them in return.
Amer said that since Muslims are a minority they have to make
their presence felt in every community they live in. So the
next time the holiday season comes around make an effort to
make your presence felt, give your neighbors a Christmas gift,
or invite them to your Masjid for Eid; because understanding
and accepting other religions and faiths represents the American
spirit, and it also represents the Islamic spirit.