One of the sufi wisdom newsletter I subscribe to gives a good insight into the special days of Islam and puts them into contexts of the different prophets which have equal signifance in Christianity and Judaism. The story of Virgin Mary and Jesus is a very beautiful story indeed. It is about strength of faith, of character and devotion to the Almighty.
Virgin Mary was both the wife and mother of prophets. Prophet Zachariah, her husband, and Prophet Jesus her son. She was a woman of great piety, strength and purity. No man touched her, she lived in seclusion from the world even when married. According to the story in Islam, she used to live in a dome and Prophet Zachariah was the only man she saw. Whenever he would enter her dome there was always food and fruit. She was provided by the Almighty. And to illustrate his miraculous powers she gave birth to a Prophet who spoke in defense of his mother when she faced the community’s wrath after his birth.
In the newsletter it also says that right after having given birth to a child she was ordered by the Almighty to pull the palm leaf towards her for the dates to fall into her lap. It is emphasized that anyone who has gone through childbirth is unable to lift themselves up immediately afterwards. Only a woman of such purity could have such miraculous strength to get up on her own two feet by pulling herself up with a palm leaf. The story of Virgin Mary and Jesus is also about how to live with self respect in the face of adversity. It is about love, forgiveness and goodwill. A common message in the 3 monotheistic faiths. A message all the Prophets brought with them. The differences are in the interpretations.
I don’t believe in the Holy Trinity, or that Jesus was the son of God. The Almighty, He is not begotten nor does he beget. I believe all were messengers of God to spread his religion. Islam is the most recent of the 3, it is thus the newest. It progressed from Judaism and Christianity, a fact which I think is often overlooked. We are all people of the Book of God. Going back to the story of Virgin Mary and Jesus, it also deals with looking out for yourself, because God looks out for those who protect themselves, following what he commands to be right.
If you isolate yourself from people and society you will face ostracism especially if you do not conform to the majority’s school of thought. Virgin Mary was innocent because she was untouched by society and its pressures to conform. When she did face society it was as a pregnant woman and people wanted to prove her wrong. She had the strength of conviction and the blessings of the Almighty to carry her through the worst. As Muslims, we also celebrate the strength of Virgin Mary; her strength of character, of faith and the strength to face the unknown because all she did was follow what was right. So Christmas to be me is also a way of commemorating the strength of women, mothers and wives alongside the birth of a messenger of the Almighty.
Finally, the season of Christmas itself, is a jolly season. Everywhere is beautifully decorated. Goodies specific to this seasonal celebration are treats for the tastebuds. True, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. I don’t celebrate this holiday, but I do honor the message of the story of Virgin Mary and Jesus, which carries another beautiful message of submission to the will of the Almighty.