There is no difference between Christmas and Eid

Published: December 25, 2014
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An image of Santa Claus is displayed on the glass door of a gift shop to attract customers ahead of Christmas in Peshawar. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tis’ the season to be jolly!

December always comes with great tidings; winter chills, hot chocolate, numerous holidays and an opportunity to make new resolutions. And along all this, it also brings the joyful day of Christmas.

This day is an embodiment of religious beliefs, which celebrates a miraculous event and a time of togetherness. Two billion Christians all over the world celebrate this day with great spirit and felicity.

As a child, the idea of Christmas for me was all about decorating Christmas trees, receiving presents and Santa stuffing himself down a chimney. I used to be most excited about meeting Santa and receiving a present from him. However, as I grew up, I realised that it goes way beyond that. Christmas is to Christians what Eid is to Muslims. Just as Eidul Fitr is a lot more than just giving and receiving money, Christmas is much more than just presents under a Christmas tree.

Just as Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha teach us about the importance of patience and sacrifice, Christmas teaches us about sharing and giving. These are not codified religious morals, they are universal morals; therefore, we should seek to learn from others – not only as individuals, but also as a community.

I remember once how our domestic help came to our house with a Christmas cake as a present, to celebrate it with us even though he was on leave. I found that extremely touching, considering he could have utilised that money elsewhere for his celebration. Yet, he chose to celebrate it with us. This gesture made me realise how very similar Christmas is to Eid, or any other religious festival.

Pakistan is home to three million Christians, making them the second largest minority group in the country, after Hindus. But they aren’t the only ones who celebrate Christmas. Every year, in this Muslim-majority nation, we witness Christmas being popularly celebrated amongst non-Christian households as well. Private dinners and lunches as well as carnivals are hosted to celebrate Christmas on the 25th every year.

Organisations such as the British Women’s Association (BWA), which is a group of women working towards philanthropic causes, have successfully been hosting a Christmas bazaar in Karachi for over 15 years now. The Christmas bazaar has a variety of stalls for books, clothes, fun activities for children, food and much more. The proceeds of the Christmas bazaar go on to charity. The charm about these Christmas bazaars is that people of different faiths and strata attend it. Along with the spirit of Christmas, an essence of equality and solidarity is also noticeable at the bazaar.

BWA stalls at the Beach Luxury Hotel. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

These celebrations also go beyond social events. Restaurants introduce special Christmas menus, bakeries have specialised baked items, Christmas sales are organised at malls and most television channels air Christmas specials.

These happenings may come as a surprise to most, given the increase in cases pertaining to blasphemy laws, fatwas and extremist ideologies. Many Pakistani Muslims believe that wishing “Merry Christmas” to fellow Christians or being part of their celebrations would mean going against Islamic principles. This is not true. Partaking in another religions festival does not make one an unbeliever, neither does one automatically convert by enjoying a different religions event.

At the BWA Christmas Bazaar 2014, Beach Luxury Hotel, Karachi. Photo: Mushal Zaman

It goes beyond these misconceptions. By recognising various religious festivities, we grant our minorities their constitutional rights. Instead of making Christmas all about one religion, we should focus on it more like a societal event, leading to awareness about other religions and an increased sense of tolerance.

My brothers and I used to happily help out at various stalls in different carnivals, and sell tickets and raffles every year. However, as time progressed and we became busy with other commitments, we weren’t able to continue our little ritual consistently. But this year, when we volunteered to help again, and it was then, again, that I had the realisation of how wonderful it feels to participate like this. It gave me a renewed sense of community, selflessness and responsibility. It made me feel like an active member of my society.

At the BWA Christmas Bazaar 2014, Beach Luxury Hotel, Karachi. Photo: Mushal Zaman

I would suggest all who read this blog to take part in such activities – it’ll only help you grow stronger as an individual and as a member of society.

Mushal Zaman

Mushal Zaman

The author is a sub-editor at Tribune. She tweets as @MushalZ90 (twitter.com/MushalZ90)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Tbh we should not wait for them to hold the festivities. I would like to recommend that we talk sweets, lunch, dinner etc to them. Instead of waiting for an invite. I have found that this is waaaaaay better than sitting at house waiting for an invite.Recommend

  • canadianpapi

    How much you teach them..they wont understand..Its a 70 years of stain…wont go in 7 minutes of readi ng this articleRecommend

  • Working Woman

    Thats nonsenseRecommend

  • Working Woman

    Wow… we have progressed as a nation…

    Christians seem to have forgot the essence of Christmas (or it still have something to do with Jesus birth – associating him incorrectly to ALLAH as son ?)

    And no wonder why Muslims don’t know their festivals and the origins.Recommend

  • Haider Khan

    A blog worth reading. Keep writing such blogs to enlighten our ultraconservative Pakistani society. GOOD JOB.Recommend

  • Parvez

    That made a lot of sense and was a inspiring read.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @author- blasphemy !!!!! How dare you compare these two holidays

    Eid – celebrated by pious Muslim that includes who consider Christianity as a work of devil.
    and beloved Taliban who celebrate eid by blowing innocent people like fire cracker.

    Christmas- founded by decadent western society to malign pious/extremist Muslim who are known to be less charitable when it comes to tolerance.

    Please be safe. Yours truly Colbert report.Recommend

  • marik

    Have you even read the Bible? The New Testament? Christ being The Son of The Father is fundamental Christian belief mentioned in the Bible quite clearly. As a fun exercise, try comparing events mentioned both in the bible and Quran and see how they differ. As for the Muslim assertion that the bible has been modified from it’s original form, look up the Dead Sea Scrolls. The question which would then come to mind would be why it is that the Quran deviates from the Bible and the Christians and Christ.Recommend