On December 6, Slate Magazine published an essay by Aisha Harris entitled, "Santa Claus Should Not be A White Man Anymore." Harris questioned why the fictitious character of Santa was primarily portrayed as white, suggesting it clashed with the reality of children in a racially diverse America. Harris suggested, light heartedly, that perhaps to be more inclusive Santa should be reborn as a more neutral figure -- like a penguin.
In a response that went viral, Megyn Kelly of Fox News said:
"For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white, but this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa....Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change, you know?... I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that's a verifiable fact, as is Santa -- I just want the kids watching to know that."
To which comedian, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show replied:
"Who are you actually talking to? Children who are sophisticated enough to be watching a news channel at 10 o'clock at night, yet, innocent enough to believe that Santa Claus is real, yet, racist enough to be freaked out if he isn't white. Why? That's such a narrow... yes West Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."
Ironically, Kelly's intolerance, expressed during a season that ought to be filled with giving, love and acceptance, is nothing new. She is not the first to use her platform to try and combat the efforts of others, to make the season more inclusive. And probably won't smile, like some of us did, seeing this:
As a Muslim, it reminds me of those conservative Muslim leaders, on the same cold end of the Scrooge barometer as Kelly, who advise us Muslims that we better not wish anyone a Merry Christmas.
"What people don't realize is that when you are wishing Merry Christmas you are agreeing that Jesus Christ was born on the 25th of December and you are agreeing that he is the begotten son of God... which is shirk."
(Shirk refers to worshipping someone or something else besides God, which some regard as the greatest sin in Islam.)
Really? Merry Christmas means all that? And is a heinous sin?
No. Merry Christmas is simply telling someone that you hope they have a great holiday.
Or as stated by the young, dynamic, Ottawa Imam, Mohamad Jebara:
"Many books and scholarly writings in the Islamic tradition narrate to us the way Muslims, Christians and Jews, in the Middle East respected each other's religious celebrations and even were there for their fellows, who were not of this religious background, during the celebration, pertaining to celebrating the birth of the blessed Messiah, the Christ, Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon them both).
The Islamic scripture details the event of Christ's nativity in several chapters including chapter 19, named in honor of the Blessed Virgin Saint Mary (peace be upon her).
There is absolutely no room for a closed mind, bigotry, harsh unrelenting animosity and intolerance, in the Traditional interpretation of the Islamic faith.
The Qur'an clearly informs Muslims how to behave and states: 'If you are greeted respond with a better greeting or at the very least respond with an equal greeting.'"
Yes, as Muslims, we must greet our neighbours graciously during their holiest time of year. Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings are acceptable ways to do so.
And it's no sin to say Merry Christmas.
After all, our Christian friends are mentioned here, in the Holy Quran, (in the absence of the word "shirk"):
"2:62 Verily, those who have attained faith as well as those who follow the Jewish faith and the Christians and the Sabians and all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds, shall have their reward with their Sustainer and no fear need they have and neither shall they grieve."
Shouldn't we Muslims be less worried about the supposed "shirk" of wishing our neighbours a Merry Christmas and more concerned about the shirk of those who destroy humanity through the worship and glorification of war, sectarianism, power, money and as Islamic scholar, Shabbir Ahmed, provides in his translation of the Holy Quran, the shirk of relying upon, not reason and compassion, but so-called "saints and/or religious men"?
As Muslims, who do we follow? Dr. Zakir Naik? Or Jesus, who also happens to be one of our Holy Prophets too.
As our fellow Muslim, Mike Ghouse, put it:
"Following Jesus is a tough calling.
It means we have to be prejudice free; free from ill-will and malice, must be willing to forgive and embrace those whom we don't like. Indeed, Jesus taught us to create the kingdom of heaven on earth, where no human has to be apprehensive of the other. It was the same calling by Moses, Krishna, Muhammad, Buddha, Mahavira, Nanak, Confucius, Bahaullah, Zarathustra and all the spiritual masters from different traditions, their mission was to bring an order in a disorderly world, restore trust in each other with kindness care and dignity to everyone in the society....
As a Muslim I will be celebrating Christmas, recommitting myself to listen to Jesus and follow his path. And in my Islamic tradition, I will reflect on chapter 19 of Quran, dedicated to Maryam, Mother Mary, and pray on his birthday. I will pray that we all honor his message of creating peace and building cohesive societies where no one has to be apprehensive of the other. Amen!"
And let's not forget these words :
"I come to you with revelation from your Lord. If you follow me, I will raise you from dust to the heights of glory by the command of God. The blind (of reason) among you will begin to see the truth. Those of you who are spotted with sin, I will heal them, and I shall grant real life to those who are just dragging on without purpose; all by God's leave, according to God' laws. I am here to establish justice and equity. I shall see to it how much you hoard in your houses and how much you spend on the community. My teachings are sufficient signs for you to believe." - Jesus, The Holy Quran, 3:49.
Merry Christmas Canada -- may the holiday season be filled with peace, love and joy.
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