Sacramento Christians and Muslims Celebrate Christmas Eve
By Zaki Syed


Dr. 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 Presbyterian Church.
“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.


Dr. Thompson (left) lights a candle as Muslims and Christians pray together

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.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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