Main Article Content

Katherine Bullock



This issue was put together as we moved into a new year (according to the
Gregorian calendar, that is). This year, the New Year holiday coincided with
the hajj and Eid al-Adha (Day of Sacrifice) celebrations. That such important
Muslim celebrations closely followed Hannukah and Christmas was a
wonderful reminder of the benefits and importance of interfaith harmony
and mutual understanding. Though each holy day has a slightly different
focus – Hannukah commemorates the Temple’s rededication and the miracle
of the burning oil, Christmas celebrates Jesus’ (pbuh) birth, and Eid al-
Adha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (pbuh) obedience to God (swt) by
showing his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (pbuh) – each event consists
of a joyous string of rituals that bring families and congregations
together. To borrow a metaphor from mathematics, inside each concentric
circle (the faith) there was peace, joy, and family happiness. And since
these circles overlapped in time, it was a wonderful chance to share what
was going on in one circle with those in the other circles – overlapping concentric
In many places, interfaith groups took advantage of this overlap. But as
most people are not involved in interfaith groups, the positive potential of
good interfaith relations was cancelled by dissension over seemingly trivial
matters: whether to wish people “Merry Christmas,” to call the school
vacation the “Christmas” or the “winter” holidays, and to call the pine trees
erected in public squares “Christmas trees.”
A wide-ranging and very public debate over whether a store employee
should say “Merry Christmas” to a customer becomes a flashpoint of tension,
because a society lives out its traditions in these customary greetings,
practices, and terminologies. In addition, the traditions it chooses to honor
connect adults to their childhood and their ancestors. These small traditions
embody (or at least are thought to embody) an essential identity, values that
a society holds dear. So even though for many people Christmas has lost its
religious significance, its celebratory aspect remains salient. Although many
observant Christians feel offended by this holiday’s growing materialism,
nevertheless at this time of year, both religious and non-religious people
come together and experience a sense of unity and togetherness ...

Abstract 51 | PDF Downloads 52

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 > >>