As the Christian world embarks on the celebration of Christmas, I as a Muslim wish them the happiest of holidays and above all peace.

Though the tenets of Christmas has transformed over the years into what is largely a commercial venture, I do believe in all honesty that the main message of peace towards each other must reign supreme. 

Therefore, all of us, being all from the family of mankind should herald and establish in our hearts and by our actions the goal of peace and tolerance towards one another. 

“Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men” was the message that I received in a Christmas card from my friend and sister Sarah T. (though she is of non-African descent — she is my sister!) 

What a wonderful and very profound message, one we should all strive to make happen, to make a reality — “Peace on Earth and goodwill towards Men” — all mankind, no matter what race or creed we originate from — the power lies within us — like Gandhi said: “We must be the change we wish to see”.

I strongly believe in the saying, “If it is to be — it’s up to me”. Every change begins with you.

Though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I and many of my Muslim brothers and sisters, celebrate the message of Christmas. 

I truly believe that the spirit of Christmas should be to become more Christ-like, not just for the season, but also for the entire year. 

To be more Christ-like would bring about the return of good deeds, love and peace between mankind in Bermuda and indeed the world. Was not Christ sent to save the whole of mankind?

Muslims believe in the story of the birth of Christ, which is related in the Holy Qur'an in Sura 19:16-35.

Some of the facts are the same, but the context differs significantly.

We believe that the virgin Mary is told by an angel that she will give birth to a ‘pure’ son, “as a sign unto men and a mercy”.

Mary withdraws to a desert place to give birth, alone, under a palm-tree, then returns with the infant to her people.

When the people reprimand her, supposing she has been unchaste, Jesus speaks up from the cradle in her defence, announcing himself to be a prophet.

The ayat ends by denouncing the Christian doctrine of the incarnation. Muslims feel it is an unforgivable lie against God to say that He fathered a son: “Such is Jesus, son of Mary, the statement of truth about which they dispute. It is not befitting for God to father a Son, Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it ‘Be’ and it is.” 

God is too vast, too mighty, and too omnipotent!

Muslims acknowledge Christ's miraculous birth of a virgin; however, we do not celebrate Christmas because the Qur’an does not support the Bible’s interpretation of Christ’s birth. 

We absolutely do not consider Christ the ‘son’ of God.

Perhaps the message of salvation would be clearer if the more superficial trappings of Christmas, innocent though they may seem, to make Christmas more an occasion to worship and praise God for sending Jesus the Prophet as a hope and mercy to mankind. Indeed this is the most significant and precious ‘gift’.

God expects us to stay away from mocking the religious beliefs of others, no matter how much we disagree with them.

He says in the Qur’an: “And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides God, lest they insult God wrongfully without knowledge. Thus we have made fair-seeming to each people its own doings; then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do” (Qur’an, 6:108).

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was so accommodating of Christians that according to the two earliest Islamic historians, Ibn e Saad and Ibn Hisham, the Prophet even allowed a delegation of 60 Byzantine Christians from Najran in Yemen to worship in his own mosque in Madinah.

Led by their Bishop (Usquf), they had come to discuss a number of issues with him.

When time of their prayer came, they asked the Prophet's permission to perform this in the mosque.

He answered, “Conduct your service here in the mosque. It is a place consecrated to God.”

We too must be tolerant of each other.

Bermuda let us celebrate the season by worshipping God and obeying His command of “peace and goodwill on Earth” and by following the example of the dear Prophet Isa (Jesus), this season and for all time.

I bid you as all the holy prophets did, in peace — as salaamu alaykum.