Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why Muslims Are Afraid to Celebrate The Birthday of Their Saviour?

Every year around the Christmas time in Indonesia, an annual "Don't wish the Christians a Merry Christmas!" propaganda is launched by unsympathetic radical Muslims and commoners with narrow minds and lazy fingers to find out the reason behind that statement. In a country which has the biggest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia is naturally quite tolerant. It is not until these recent years when strong fanaticism that lead to bigotry found their voices loud enough on the legislations, streets and social media. As a respond to this poor accusation of Christianization and the loss of rationality among the Muslims-themselves, I dare myself to write this piece.

Growing up as a Muslim in Indonesia, Jesus the Messiah, or some prefer to call him in his Arabized name "Isa Almasih", is no stranger. We learned at school during weekly class of 'Pendidikan Agama Islam' or Islamic Education that he is one of the 25 prophets sent by Allah (Arabic name for God) to humankind. Jesus is called Ruh Allah or the Spirit of Allah, a title that is later claimed by Khomeini in the 21st century. He is very honored in Islamic tradition, just like many other Jewish prophets that are mentioned in Holy Quran. Yes, don't be shocked, Jewish prophets from the Old Testament such as Yunus (Jonah) and Yahya (John) have prominent place in Islam.

Basilika Oudenbosch, Noord Brabant. Tiruan Vatikan di Belanda.
Jesus was specifically assigned as the 24th one (right before Mohammed the last prophet), sent to the children of Israel to lead them back to the law of Moses. He is commemorated inside the Holy Quran in many occasions, especially in the events related to his miraculous birth (immaculate conception of Virgin Mary whose name is actually honored as the title of one of the chapters in the Book) and many miracles that he manifested. In many hadith and pseudo-hadith (Islamic legend and myth, israilliyat) he is depicted as an awesome middle-aged man who can bring life to clay-bird, heal sicklings and possessed people, has a see-through vision and provided food for uncountable numbers of people. 
Mary said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a son when no man has touched me.’  He said, ‘So (it will be,) for God creates what He wants.  When He decides something, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.  And He will teach him the Book and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel.  And (will make him) a messenger to the Children of Israel (saying), ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord.  I make for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, then breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by the permission of God.  And I heal the blind and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by the permission of God.  And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses.  Surely, there is a sign for you in that, if you are believers.  And (I have come) confirming the Torah that was (revealed) before me, and to allow you some of what was forbidden to you.  And I have come to you with a proof from your Lord, so fear God and obey me.  Indeed, God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him.  This is the straight path.” (Quran 3:45-51)
Jesus was sent as God's emissary during the chaotic period. The rabbis were very corrupt, the Israelis were Romanized by the invading Romans; people started to leave their ancestral traditions, the coming of foreign nations from the different part of the empire brought paganism threatening the monotheistic nature of the holy land. He experienced a hard time to reform the old mindset of these so-called Torah guardians and repeatedly asked people of Israel to perform good deeds. After a series of terrible events that happened to him and his followers, he could finally escaped maltreatments by the Romans. According to Quran, he was not crucified. He was saved and being elevated to heaven and stay there for an unknown period of time to come back to earth. In many End of Time themed hadiths, he is believed by Muslims to be escorted by two angels on the top of a white minaret at Damascus with one main mission: slaying the one-eyed evil self-claimed messiah named Dajjal.

Many radical Muslim sites will mention him as the leader of Islamic hordes during the time of Armageddon. He is quoted repeatedly inside Friday sermon when the talk about the Judgement Day is chosen by fiery preachers to stimulate the spirit of jihad. This is true, every Muslims know by heart that Jesus will return to earth as their Messiah. Together with Imam Mahdi they will establish a world peace.
In the meantime, while the Dajjal will be busy doing this and this, Allah will send down the Messiah son of Mary (Jesus عليه السلام). He (Jesus عليه السلام ) will descend in the eastern part of Damascus, near the white minaret (tower), dressed in the two yellowish garments, with his hands resting on the arms of two angels. When he will bend down his head, water drops will appear trickling down, and when he will raise it, it will appear as though pearl--like drops are rolling down. Any disbeliever whom the air of his breath reaches, and it will reach up to the last limit of his sight, will fall dead. Then, the son of Mary will go in pursuit of the Dajjal, and will overtake him at the gate of Lud , and will kill him." (Sahih Muslim, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah).
Jesus in Islamic version of Judgement Day
Jesus that is worshiped in Christianity is the source of hopes for Muslims at the end of the day. I do not find any irony in this, what I really see is actually a diplomatic potential between the two religions. Unfortunately, the 'claimation' of Jesus as savior in both religion only lead to the creation of wider gap. His birthday was deemed to be the day of the Sun-god in Romanic tradition; wishing Christians a happy Jesus-born day will offend the true Islamic spirit of monotheism, and so on, and so on. When faith is so fragile, these reasons are being reproduced again and again. There is no obvious fatwa forbidding to wish Christians a very merry Christmas, but one thing that is sure, wishing it to your Christian neighbor would not magically change your belief to the unnegotiable oneness of Allah unless you are secretly really that insecure with your own belief.

The real irony here is that these radical Muslims are very afraid to celebrate the (traditional) birthday of someone that they consider as Saviour, while in many occasions they mention his name and believe wholeheartedly that Jesus will come back for them. For these people, I wish you a Happy Christmas. May peace be with all of us in Jesus' birthday today, as he once requested it to the Lord of Heaven and Earth. In my wildest dream, I imagine that one day when Jesus return to earth, he reject those people by saying: "Not invited to my birthday party." How sad.
Jesus said, ‘Indeed, I am a slave of God.  He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I remain alive.  And (has made) me kind to my mother, and did not make me arrogant or miserable. And peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I will die, and the day I will be raised alive.’” (Quran 19:22-33)

Delft,
24 December 2016
12:38