Every year I hear the same questions: How politically correct is it to celebrate Christmas or have Christmas tree in public? Is it OK to send a Christmas greetings to your coworkers and colleagues?
As an American Muslim, I’ve always made it clear to everyone: Go ahead, celebrate Christmas, decorate the place as you like, and please, send Christmas cards. Give this season a Christmas flavor. Not only does it not offend me, it brings joy to me too. Many send me “Happy Holidays” cards, others send me Christmas cards. All bring joy to me. I also appreciate those who send me Eid cards or greetings for Muslims’ occasions.
When I came to this country, more than a quarter of a century ago, I realized and accepted the fact that this is a country with a Christian majority. I also embraced the fact that it has freedom of religion and speech, and that is the greatest asset we enjoy here. I raised my five kids to be respectful and accommodating to all. I taught them that diversity is a beautiful thing and that you can always learn from others.
Many don’t realize that Muslims believe in Jesus Christ as the word, spirit, and prophet of God (although not as the son of God). Muslims also believe in the virgin birth and in Jesus’ coming back to earth.
As these words are written, millions of Muslims are performing their pilgrimage to Mecca; visiting landmarks that go back in history to Prophet Abraham, the father of Arabs and Jews including Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
As I sat and discussed these three divine religions with my Christian and Jewish friends, we realize we share a lot. So to all of you, have a merry Christmas. To my fellow Muslims: Happy Eid. To my Jewish friends: Happy Hanukkah. And to all: Happy holidays.
Saleh A. Mubarak, an American Muslim of Syrian descent, lives in the Tampa area.