Although I am Muslim, I have a deep affection and respect for Christmas. Affection because I was raised Catholic and the holiday season is a nostalgic hug as comforting as a warm crackling fire and hot apple cider. Respect because praising the significance of the birth of Jesus is an important part of the Muslim faith. The Quran, Islam’s holy book, reveres Jesus as a great messenger of God, describes his virgin birth, and acknowledges the miracles he performed: “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I make for you the shape of a bird out of clay, I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s permission. I heal the blind from birth and the leper. And I bring the dead to life by God’s permission. And I tell you what you eat and what you store in your houses.” (Quran, 3:49).
Christmas time is a wave of good cheer that washes over most people, regardless of their religious affiliations or lack of one. It’s the time when we imagine the best person we could be—and then try to be that person. We hold more doors open for others, let people pull in front of us in traffic, pick up the lunch tab for co-workers. We feel good knowing that such a kind and gentle person lurks within us. And each year we try to coax that lovely person to stay a little longer past the season. Because without that person, baby, it’s cold outside.