As-salaamu alaikum and a very Merry Christmas!
American Christians often send each other Christmas letters. Oddly, these letters rarely reference Jesus – or any of the other messengers of God, peace and blessings on all of them.
Christmas letters usually just provide a superficial summary of what the letter-writer and family have been doing during the previous year. Most of them are devoid of spirituality.
You’d think a Christmas letter would invoke angels, blessings, self-sacrifice, holiness, purity, miracles, redemptive love, dreams and visions, divine healing, hopes of paradise and aversions to hellfire, and so on. You’d expect a Christmas letter to be written in the spirit of Jesus, that most radical of spiritual healers and miracle-workers, who taught a vastly expanded form of consciousness based on universal love – a form of consciousness capable of turning ordinary life into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Though you don’t see much of this in Christmas letters, a trace of it survives in small acts of kindness performed at this time of year. Another trace can be seen in the glorious play of colored Christmas lights glinting on the snowy black-and-white winter landscape. Aldous Huxley explained in The Doors of Perception that the luminous colors of gemstones and stained glass are capable of transporting us into the world as it actually is, before our minds’ “reducing valves” impoverish it – an expanded state of consciousness not unlike the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus revealed:
“Thanks to glass, a whole building – the Sainte Chapelle, for example, the cathedrals of Chartres and Sens – could be turned into something magical and transporting. Thanks to glass, Paolo Uccello could design a circular jewel thirteen feet in diameter – his great window of the Resurrection, perhaps the most extraordinary single work of vision-inducing art ever produced.”
Huxley suggests that the stained glass of cathedrals was so extraordinary in its multi-hued luminosity, compared to what medieval people experienced everywhere else, that it catapulted them into an altered state of consciousness in which they were capable of grasping Christianity’s “deep message.” It was the contrast between the dull browns and greens of peasant life, and the resplendent rays shooting from colored glass, that did the trick.
Today, when the starkly black-and-white winter world is shattered by the dazzling colors of Christmas lights, you can get a taste of that kind of contrast.
Here in the snowy Wisconsin woods, a guy down the road has turned his yard into an amazing display of Christmas lights, complete with luminous Santas, shimmering reindeer, glowing Christmas trees, gleaming elves, and an elaborate and beautiful nativity scene. I wonder if he knows his Muslim neighbors appreciate his artistry…and love Jesus at least as much as most nominal Christians do.
If he watches Fox News, he probably thinks Muslims hate Jesus.
Even non-fans of Fox don’t seem to know, or care, that Muslims love Jesus and the story of his miraculous conception and birth. My wife tells me her liberal and progressive friends don’t seem to want to hear about Surat Maryam – regarded by Muslims and non-Muslims alike as one of the Qur’an’s most beautiful passages. Nobody celebrating the birth of Jesus could possibly find a more succinct and moving description of the Christmas story.
That’s right: The best short summary of the Christmas story is in the Qur’an. Christians might consider playing Surat Miryam – the most beautiful Christmas music imaginable – alongside “Silent Night” and the other classics.
But be careful: The truth about Muslims’ love of Jesus is dangerous. Congressman Mark Siljander, a saintly soul, was railroaded into federal prison for the crime of bringing Muslims and Christians together based on their shared love of Jesus (and the many other commonalities of the two faiths). Powerful forces don’t want Christians and Muslims to get along. The same powerful forces spread anti-Jesus sentiment through the media, and are bent on turning Christmas into a secular, materialist, consumerist hellhole of a holiday.
Jonas Alexis quotes Philip Roth on the Jewish subversion of Christmas:
“The radio was playing ‘Easter Parade’ and I thought, But this is Jewish genius on a par with the Ten Commandments. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and then He gave to Irving Berlin ‘Easter Parade’ and ‘White Christmas.’
“The two holidays that celebrate the divinity of Christ – the divinity that’s the very heart of the Jewish rejection of Christianity – and what does Irving Berlin brilliantly do? He de-Christs them both! Easter he turns into a fashion show and Christmas into a holiday about snow.
“Gone is the gore and the murder of Christ – down with the crucifix and up with the bonnet! He turns their religion into schlock. But nicely! Nicely! So nicely the goyim don’t even know what hit ‘em. They love it. Everybody loves it. The Jews especially. Jews loathe Jesus.
“If supplanting Jesus Christ with snow can enable my people to cozy up to Christmas, then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”
The simple truth is that Muslims love Jesus; while Jews (traditionally at least) hate him. Simply stating that universally-acknowledged truth can get you labeled an “anti-Semite.” That doesn’t make it any less true.
But hey, it’s Christmas, so let’s not talk about anything serious. We don’t want any family fights, do we? Especially not in the Family of Abraham.
So I will end by invoking the blessings of a certain secularist-materialist fat-guy who seems to have elbowed Jesus out from under the Christmas tree:
May Shaykh Santa, that jolly old Sufi, bring you the blessings of wisdom instead of all that plastic garbage from Wal-Mart you usually get.
As-salaamu alaikum and a very Merry Christmas!