I thought this common question deserved some reflection on today, which is Christmas to the many Christians around the world. I had to chuckle when my uncle texted me, "Do you guys 'do' Christmas?"
I said, "No :)"
He said, "Oh so more like Hanukkah?"
I said, "No. We don't have a holiday right now"
Thus, the short answer is, no, we do not celebrate (or 'do') Christmas.
We don't celebrate Hanukkah. Nor Kwanza.
We don't put up trees, SPOILER ALERT: we don't believe in Santa, and no gifts today.
We DO, however, believe in Jesus and respect Jesus very much. Surely, he was among the best of us.
I thought this Ayah (verse) from Quran would be appropriate to share today:
"إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِنْهُ اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ"
Behold! the angels said: "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah"
What Muslims believe is that Jesus was a WONDERFUL and highly beloved prophet with a message that was pure and this message was to worship God.
I think we are on the same page here with Christians and Muslims.
Where we differ is that we believe Jesus is not the SAME as God. And, because we believe he was a person, not God, we do not think it is right to celebrate his birthday. We do not celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad (saws) either. We actually don't have much craziness for our own birthdays as well. Just that we should be thankful to God for granting us another year on earth.
So, I am sorry, but I must decline your gifts. I don't feel right in wishing you a Merry Christmas. I can't share the "spirit of the season" with you. But, I do respect you, your religion, and your holiday. I understand why nothing in Los Angeles is open today. I have love for you because we are all brothers under the same God.
My family thankfully was never over the top about Christmas. My mother would get me a gift. That I would hate. We would fight. And then we all ate mashed potatoes. Such is life.
The Quran says that Jesus (peace be upon him) said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!" [Quran 19:30-33]
May Allah (swt) guide us all towards His ultimate Truth. May He help us to respect each other. May He allow all of us to meet Him someday and surround us in His Mercy.