Celebrate Muslims

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Status: December 20, 2018 2:18 pm | archive

Soon it will be Christmas - the feast of the birth of Jesus Christ. The holidays are among the most important of the year for Christians. With church service, Christmas tree, festive dinner and gifts. But what is the significance of the Christian family festival for Muslims in Germany? Christmas is also a special time for many Muslims and non-Christians, says our guest author, the journalist Lamya Kaddor.

A comment by Lamya Kaddor

Before Christmas, I can hardly believe it, most of the customers would come in the course of the year, says Dominik. Dominik is my catholic hairdresser who wants to convert to Buddhism. He can hardly accept additional appointments in December, he groans, everyone wants to look perfect before the big party. That surprises me, I would have thought rather that in spring, the time of new beginnings and renewal, most of the people went to the hairdresser. But apparently the importance of Christmas cannot be overestimated.

about the author

Lamya Kaddor is an Islamic scholar, Islamic religious educator and author of numerous books. The German with Syrian roots is one of the most important Muslim voices in our country. Kaddor describes herself as a "constitutional patriot" and is the founding chairwoman of the Liberal-Islamic League. Since December 2015 she has been leading the project "extremely out - empowerment instead of anti-Semitism", funded by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Current book on the topic: "The ultimate test. How fear of the foreign threatens our democracy" (Rowohlt Berlin, 2016).

At the beginning of December, says Dominik, he set up and decorated his Christmas tree. He pulls out his cell phone as a receipt. Its tree reaches from the floor to the ceiling. A huge specimen. When I asked him how he got there as a budding Buddhist, he counters: "As a good Muslim, don't you have anyone in the house?" Many of his Turkish-born customers would have one. Because of the children.

Why not celebrate Christmas as a Muslim?

His words take me back to the past. I have to think of my birthplace Ahlen in Westphalia. With us and with my Muslim friends there were never any Christmas trees at home or other references to the birth of Jesus. But something seems to have changed over the years. Cultural scientists and ethnologists have been reporting on it for a long time.

Non-Christians make a pilgrimage to Christmas markets, put up boots for St. Nicholas, lights shine in their windows, a "Star over Bethlehem" shows visitors the way to the front door. Even my childhood friend Mürvet, who is completely unsuspected of celebrating Christmas, is decorating her living room with stars and an Advent wreath today - to match the colors of her living room, of course. Yes, and I too celebrate Christmas with the Christian part of my now multi-religious and multi-cultural family. Why not?

Christmas - for many, not just a religious festival

Of course, Christmas is of religious origin and every devout Christian should try to see the festival as a religious festival. Every year surveys show that many do not know what Jesus has to do with this festival. Even the churches are emptier on Christmas Eve than they were 20 years ago.

AUDIO: Muslims and Christmas (5 min)

Instead, people of different faiths and atheists let the Christ Child bring the gifts for their children. Not only in this country. Whether in Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Dubai or other non-Christian countries - there are decorated fir trees everywhere and Christmas carols echo through shopping malls. Apparently many people now perceive Christmas across religions and cultures. This makes it different from other major religious festivals.

The family festival promotes social cohesion

It certainly has to do with commercialization, but not only. Christmas in Germany is a time when we are slowed down every three days: shops closed, public entertainment reduced, friends busy. Many Muslims have made a virtue of necessity. They too now meet with their families, prepare a lot of good food and give each other presents.

Some Christians and Muslims may go to the ceiling at this idea, rant about egalitarianism, even heresy. But three Christmas holidays cannot harm anyone who is firmly established in their religion or in their rejection of religion. So why not get involved pragmatically?

Christmas today is much more than a Christian festival. It has become something that connects. It promotes social cohesion. So let's keep and celebrate Christmas together. Merry Christmas everyone.

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NDR culture | Friday Forum | 12/21/2018 | 3:20 pm