Why can't Muslims celebrate Christmas?
"I don't have to become a Christian to celebrate Christmas"
Regardless of religion, there is something good to be gained from holidays even in times of need to do without
Let's be honest. The Christmas season is never really relaxing, it is too much stress for that: choose gifts, don't forget to call grandma, send greeting cards ... Because of contemplation. Muslims are better off there, they can't have Christmas, but still have time off. And the poor Christians? Have to drink again in the mood for the holidays. This time in lockdown in their own booth.
But Christmas is by no means irrelevant to all Muslims. "For me as a Muslim, too, Christmas is a contemplative time," says Mouhanad Khorchide to the "nd". He is Professor of Islamic Religious Education at the University of Münster, where he heads the Center for Islamic Theology. He also set up a Christmas tree in his apartment. Christmas is a "spiritual time", one can go into oneself. "Why shouldn't Muslims celebrate Christmas", he asks, "not as a religious celebration, but as a cultural tradition." Jesus is mentioned several times in the Koran and is considered a prophet by Muslims. So he sees no obstacles: "I don't have to become a Christian to celebrate Christmas."
This is what Mohamad Daya thinks too. The 58-year-old Lebanese has lived in Berlin since July, having studied in Leipzig in 1986. He used to coach the Lebanese national wrestling team. In Lebanon he went to a restaurant with friends for Christmas, he tells the "nd". He had a Christian girlfriend. "I also gave Christmas presents to my Christian friends," he recalls. Confessional differences played no role for him. “Whether Sunni, Shiite, Druze or Christian, it doesn't matter. I am a normal, a free person, «he says. But here in Berlin he is quite lonely because of the lockdown.
And how do Christians feel about Islamic holidays? For example, Mohamad Daya receives calls from his Christian friends with congratulations on the Eid Al-Fitr (sugar festival) or Eid Al-Adha (sacrifice festival). "It would be spiritually and religiously enriching if we celebrate our religious festivals, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, together," says Ahmad Milad Karimi, Professor of Islamic Philosophy at the University of Münster, to the "nd".
In Corona times, Muslims have one thing ahead of Christians: They already have experience with Ramadan and the Festival of Sacrifice under contact restrictions. What does this mean for the individual? Mouhanad Khorchide knows of young Muslims who would have celebrated the Sugar Festival without Corona precautions and who regretted it today because of infections and even deaths.
“We are encouraged to do without. In Ramadan, which is also a festival of community and community, we Muslims had to remember what the real meaning of the month of fasting is, ”says Professor Karimi. At Christmas people should therefore also ask themselves what exactly is being celebrated. In any case, it is not, as usual, a festival of "consumption" and "waste". This year Christmas means recognizing “that we may not be able to touch one another, but that we can certainly be touched by what our hearts are otherwise closed for. This turns Christmas into an interreligious festival, ”concludes Ahmad Milad Karimi.
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