BLOG: What do Muslims believe about Christmas?

By Susan*, mission worker

Christmas is a time to rejoice in the incarnation, the first coming of Jesus Christ. Christians love to sing about the miraculous birth – Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Christmas celebrations

During this festive season, the world is awash in a sea of green and red tinsel. Some parts of the Arab world are not exempt as shopkeepers and mall owners produce plastic pine trees, smiling Santas, and plump snowmen. Some Muslims put up a Christmas tree, exchange gifts, and visit Santa in the mall.

In some corners of the Arab world at Christmas, Muslims visit their Christian friends and neighbours to wish them a happy Eid al-Milad, which means Feast of the Birth. They are warmly received and are offered coffee and a sweet.

But are Muslims commemorating the birth of Jesus as the one who will be ‘great and will be called the Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1:32, NIV)? No.

Where do we differ?

There are some similarities between what Muslims and Christians believe about Jesus’ birth. Muslims read in the Qur’an of the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary to tell her she had been chosen to give birth to Jesus. She was surprised and asked how it could be, as she was a virgin.

However, according to the Qur’an, Gabriel then blew into Mary’s garment, and she conceived. Mary is later confronted by Joseph for being pregnant and a virgin. So, Mary flees to Jerusalem and later Bethlehem, where she gives birth to Jesus alone under a date palm tree as she hears a voice of comfort, purportedly from Jesus, and dates begin to fall.

Pray for Muslims this Christmas

While some Muslims embrace the commercial trimmings of Christmas, the reason for the season is treated as heresy. They maintain that God did not become flesh and dwell among us (John 1:14).

Let us pray with Abraham, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live under your blessing!’ (Genesis 17:18, NIV).

*Name changed to protect identities.

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