It’s beginning to look a lot like a Muslim Christmas, everywhere you go. That’s right, we are seeing an increasing number of Muslim Americans celebrating Christmas. In fact, when I posed a question on Facebook asking whether any of my Muslim friends celebrate Christmas, I was blown away by the response. I was instantly inundated with literally hundreds of posts by American Muslims—and even some in Muslim countries—detailing how they celebrate this holiday.
Many mentioned having Christmas dinner at the house of Christian friends. Even more spoke of putting up a Christmas tree each year (and sent me photos of their tree.) Many told me they exchanged Christmas gifts, while others shared that they put up Christmas lights on the outside of their house. A few even noted that they attend Christmas mass with Christian friends.
Are we just being nice? Trying to fit in more in America? Or is this a part of our dastardly plot to destroy Christianity and impose sharia law in America?
In reality, from a theological point of view, Jesus is extremely important to Muslims. The Koran states: ‘The angels said, ‘O Mary, indeed God gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, who will be a man of honor in this life and the life to come, and who will be one of the ones nearest to God.”
As New York City based Imam Shamsi Ali explained by way of email, “To Muslims, Jesus is considered one of ‘mighty’ prophets along with Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Mohammed.” Ali added, “Remembering Jesus’ birth and the teachings of Jesus is an important part of our Muslim faith.”
Linda Sarsour, one of the leaders of New York City’s Muslim community, echoed the Imam’s sentiment, saying, “Jesus is very central to Islam and is someone I take great inspiration from.” The popular Muslim American rapper, Mo Sabri, even released a song “I believe in Jesus” that speaks of the connection between Muslims and Jesus, which boasts more than one million views on YouTube.
Of course, to the Muslim haters and others on the far right, Muslims celebrating Christmas freaks them out. Apparently they think they own Christmas as well as Jesus.
Just look at the backlash Wal-Mart endured this year for selling a Muslim themed star for Christmas trees, which features a crescent moon and star. If you Google “Muslim Christmas tree star” you will see a list of right-wing websites wetting their pants over this. To be honest though, I can’t even put into words the joy I feel when these bigots get angry over this type of stuff. It’s like Christmas for me any day they get pissed.
Now to be clear, there are theological differences between the way Muslims and Chirstians view Jesus. Christians view Jesus as the Son of God. While Muslims do believe in the Virgin birth of Jesus, they view Jesus as a messenger of God. Another difference is that Muslims don’t pray to Jesus. Nor do we even pray to Mohammed as some mistakenly think. We just pray to God.
But when you objectively review the theological connections between Islam and Christianity—as well as between Islam and Judaism—you can understand why it makes me laugh when some on the right say that Muslims have their own separate God called “Allah.” I mean, it’s such an idiotic statement.
And I don’t just do a facepalm when this idiocy is said by Muslim haters. I had the same reaction when I read about a recent law in Malaysia that banned Christians from using the word “Allah” when speaking of God because to the conservative Muslim Malaysian leaders, “Allah” is exclusively the Muslim God.
That’s absolutely idiotic. Islam is an Abrahamic faith that’s intertwined with Judaism and Christianity. In fact, one the most sacred holiday for Muslims is the sacrifice of Abraham, known as Eid al-Adha. Yes, that’s the same Abraham and the same sacrifice that Jews and Christians recognize, whereby God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his only son. (For those unaware of the story—spoiler alert—God doesn’t actually make Abraham sacrifice his son.)
In my case, I’ve long been aware of the common themes in Christianity and Islam. My mother is Catholic and my father is Muslim so we grew up learning about both faiths and celebrating both Muslim and Christian holidays. (And to the right wing “Christians” who say Catholics aren’t real Christians, I say in all sincerity that the Catholics I know are far more Christlike than you will ever be.)
So as Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus this week, many Muslims will be doing the very same thing to varying degrees. And while the eggnog served by the Muslims celebrating Christmas might not be spiked with brandy, the most important spirit will still be there.
(This article was originally published in The Daily Beast)
Dean Obeidallah is the editor of The Dean's Report. He is also is a former lawyer, turned political comedian/writer and a columnist for The Daily Beast. He co-directed the recently released comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" You can follow Dean on Twitter
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I really feel sorry for the journalists working in Canadian media who are reporting on Wednesday’s tragic shooting death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo. You see, they are apparently required to do actual journalism to determine why the gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed the soldier.
They were obligated to interview family and friends documenting Bibeau’s mental problems. They had to research his extensive criminal past and his struggles with drugs. They even were required to visit the homeless shelter Bibeau had been staying in before the shooting and interview people there who know him.
And, of course, they also mentioned that he was Muslim and the possibility of radicalization. But the Canadian media discussed his religion in the context of offering the public a full portrait of Bibeau and trying to understand his motivation.
In the United States, however, once the media finds out that a person involved in a horrible crime is Muslim, that's the end of the investigation. We don’t hear about mental issues, drug use, family problems, etc. To most in our media, if you are Muslim, then ergo, therefore, consequently, anything you do must, without a doubt, be because you are a Muslim.
For example, NBC news featured an article titled, “Who Is the Canadian Parliament Shooter?” The very first sentence of that article read: “The man who gunned down a Canadian soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday was a convert to Islam who had already been designated "high-risk" by authorities.” (emphasis added.)
There you go: he was a “convert to Islam.” Who needs anything more? And if you read the entire NBC article, there isn’t even a mention of the religion Bibeau converted from to Islam. But I understand why-no one wants to sully the name of any other faith.
And CNN went as far as to tell us about a new phenomena I never heard of before to explain the possible reason for the shooting called: “Sudden Jihad Syndrome.” Apparently any law abiding normal Muslim could suddenly and without warning become a jihadi! I really hope pharmaceutical companies come out with a medicine to protect me from that condition before I contract it. Maybe they can call it, “Jihad begone” or “Jihad away.”
But as The Daily Banter’s Tommy Christopher pointed out, this term was not created by health care professionals. Rather, it was coined by the worst anti-Muslim bigots as a way to scare people into thinking that any Muslim could suddenly start waging a holy war.
In contrast, Canada’s National Post ran a headline describing Bibeau as "a man troubled by drugs and crime.” The Post gave readers a sense that Bibeau was less of a calculated jihadi and more of a person plagued with a history of mental issues.
Canada’s CBC also offered the public a nuanced view of Bibeau apart from simply being a possible Islamic terrorist so that all possible causes could be considered.
Canadian reporters, as shocking as this may be to American media outlets, even left the crime scene and travelled to a homeless shelter that Bibeau had been living in for a few days before the attack. There the reporters spoke to people who described the gunman as being “very bizarre.” They also noted that the only reference Bibeau made to Islam was that everyone should pray five times a day “because the end of the world is coming.”
And when Islam was discussed by the Canadian media, they noted that Bibeau had been thrown out of a mosque for "erratic behavior." They even included interviews with various Canadian Muslims denouncing Bibeau which, incredibly, media outlets like the CBC posted on the home page of its website.
Don’t get me wrong, the Canadian media did discuss the fact that Bibeau was Muslim and acknowledged the possibility he had been radicalized. But that was not the prime focus of the news reports. Rather, they painted a full picture of Bibeau as a homeless man with a criminal record, a history of drug problems, a person estranged from his family for years and noted the distinct possibility that he was mentally ill.
Of course, apparently to the US media, Muslims can never be insane. I guess we, Muslims, are immune to mental disorders. Thus, everything a Muslim does is part of a calculated jihadi plot, not the work of a madman.
But when a non-Muslim in the United States commits a horrific shooting, such as at the Sandy Hook elementary school, the first thing our media typically does is provide us with a detailed mental analysis of the suspect. Why isn’t that also the case when the suspect is Muslim?
I’m not saying that Bibeau will not ultimately be determined to be a radicalized Muslim. But the Canadian media makes it clear that it will take an actual investigation to determine why this attack occurred besides just focusing on his religion and calling it a day.
Perhaps one-day members of our media will show the same level of responsibility and thoroughness as its Canadian counterparts. But until then, expect to see more investigations by our media end as soon it’s discovered that the suspect is a Muslim.
Dean Obeidallah is the editor of The Dean's Report. He is also is a former lawyer, turned political comedian/writer and a columnist for The Daily Beast. He co-directed the recently released comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" You can follow Dean on Twitter.
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Typically, there isn’t a large police presence at a land-use hearing. But Wednesday night’s hearing was different. There was a palpable sense of concern by law enforcement. Why? Because Wednesday night, the board was deciding whether to approve the application of Muslims to convert an old church into a mosque.
The little town of Midland Park is a middle-class suburb of New York City, just north of my hometown of Paramus. It’s home to about 7,000 residents. And now this quiet township had also become the home of an ugly mosque controversy. Unlike the Ground Zero mosque protest of 2010, this fight didn’t make national headlines or become the lead story on the nightly news. Yet to the local residents and the Muslim-Americans who desperately wanted a place of worship, it was just as important, and emotions were just as high.
The small hearing room that accommodated 60 was packed with the faces of brown and white people, while others filled the hallways and adjacent conference rooms. For the next three hours, this hearing would be the big show in this small town. And it didn’t disappoint.
At the outset of the hearing, the attorney for the mosque, sensing that the room was filled with opponents, made a simple plea to the municipal board members: “This is not a public referendum, it’s a question of law.”
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October 14, 2013
(The Daily Beast) Was Rand Paul’s most recent, big set-piece speech about A. The government shutdown; B. The debt limit; or C. The dreaded Obamacare? Nope, it was none of them. Instead, Paul spent his 19-minute speech at the Value Voters summit on Friday talking about Muslims.
(CNN) -- I'm an American-Muslim and I despise Islamic terrorists. In fact, despise is not even a strong enough word to convey my true feelings about those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam. I hate them with every fiber of my being.
I'm not going to tell you, "Islam is a religion of peace." Nor will I tell you that Islam is a religion of violence. What I will say is that Islam is a religion that, like Christianity and Judaism, is intended to bring you closer to God. And sadly we have seen people use the name of each of these Abrahamic faiths to wage and justify violence.
The unique problem for Muslims is that our faith is being increasingly defined by the actions of a tiny group of morally bankrupt terrorists. Just to be clear: The people who commit violence in the name of Islam are not Muslims, they are murderers. Their true religion is hatred and inhumanity.
The only people terrorists speak for are themselves and the others involved in their despicable plot. They do not represent me, my family or any other Muslim I know. And believe me, I know a lot of Muslims.
We hate these terrorists more than non-Muslims do. How can I say that? Because they harm innocent people in the name of our religion and consequently we suffer a backlash because of their acts. It can be anything from a spike in hate crimes to people viewing Muslims as less than fully American because of our faith. We are the ones called to answer for the sins of people we detest.
(CNN) -- A Catholic priest, a rabbi, an evangelical minister, a Sikh, a Greek Orthodox archbishop and two Mormon leaders walk into the Republican National Convention.
It sounds like the beginning of a joke. But the Republican Party's decision to invite representatives from all of these faiths to speak at this week's convention, but to exclude a Muslim-American imam, is anything but funny.
The Republican Party has a problem with Muslims. Of course, American Muslims can take some solace in the fact that we are not the only minority group that the Republican Party hardly welcomes.
Let's be honest, if you don't like Muslims, blacks, gays, immigrants or other minorities, which political party would make you feel most comfortable? Sure, some Republican officials are minorities, but a recent Galllup survey found that 89% of the Republican Party is white.
To be clear, I don't believe that most rank-and-file members of the Republican Party hate Muslims. The problem is that certain Republican leaders have stoked the flames of hate toward American Muslims, and other minorities, as a political tool to motivate people to support their cause.
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