“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” [Timothy 5:8]
“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” [Acts 10:2]
Two prominent Christian values reveal themselves around Christmas time; family, and care for the needy. Each Christmas the news is abound with stories of feeding the poverty-stricken and reminding us all to devote time solely to our families; values that seem to bury themselves throughout much of the year. When, come winter of each year, the dancing lights and over-familiar tunes of Christmas echo off every shopping aisle plastered with red and green, it is very easy to fall into a trance of the Christmas of today rather than the Christmas of the past.
For myself as a child growing up in England, there was certainly something festive, something communal in the air every December (or November if I felt inclined towards advertisement). But it was always an artificial festivity. Nothing more than the fog of economic gain from Christmas sales and a selfish desire as a young boy to get gifts.
Each year though, beyond the glitz and glamour of the neon lights and reindeers, there was a subtle whisper in the air as well. Through the old wooden door of the Church, a warm glow of candles and the tranquil harmony of a choir softened the harsh winds outside. A tune to remind one of the origin of this festiveness, of Christmas. A time of year to be reminded of the stories of a man sent by God. A period to remember something more than money and work.
However, there is also fear that people have begun to forget the true cultural heritage of this time of year; that Christian values are being replaced by the artificial nature of today’s celebrations and an absence of guilt to sustain one’s generosity throughout the rest of the year. My father once read, on a cold Christmas day, a passage of the Bible to us on a snow-capped hill; it is one of my fondest memories sitting, shivering in the cold. No toys or money- just myself, my family and a few words reminding me of the greater meaning of life and our God.
It is not difficult to be a Muslim convert at Christmas. Quite the opposite. It is a time of year when my homeland is given the chance to reflect upon God, what makes us human and the values we hold dear when we strip away the hustle and bustle of day to day life. As a Muslim, these values inform my practice throughout the year. I pray that a day may come soon when those choirs will sing the praises of the One God; that they will harmonize the people of Britain with the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat, and embrace the true meaning of the second coming of Christ. Ameen.