On the occasion of Christmas, and in light of fatwas being circulated across the Muslim world that ban Muslims from greeting Christmas on their religious holidays, Jordanian journalist and educator Zuleikha Abu Risha harshly condemned Muslim clerics that preach hatred of the other. In an article titled "Let's Celebrate Together" in the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, she wrote that what these clerics preach stands in complete contradiction to the directives of the Koran and to the history of Muslim-Christian relations.
The following are excerpts from her article.
Zuleikha Abu Risha (Image: Ain.jo)
"Tomorrow [December 23, 2015] is the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, and two days later is the birthday of Jesus, that is, close enough together that we can think about celebrating both events together. This thought arises not only due to the coincidence [of the events occurring close together], but also due to deep human and historical bonds [between Muslims and Christians] and a common affinity for one homeland and one humanity. When Islam entered the Levant, all its residents were Christians. Therefore, they are the original residents of the land and the founders of the culture of this place, which has become, after lengthy labor pains, a homeland for all...
"At least three quarters of the Jordanians, [both] east and west of the River [Jordan], were Christians, and it is no wonder that good relations were formed between those who adhered to their religion [i.e. Christianity] and those who chose the new religion [Islam] - relations of mutual compassion, harmony, and good neighborliness.
"The history of the region includes stories of this mutual compassion [between Muslims and Christians], and they remained an expression of the meaning of the love on which Christianity is based and of the meaning of the Koranic verse [5:82]: 'You will find that the worst enemies of the believers are the Jews and the idol worshipers. And you will find that the closest people in friendship to the believers are those who say, "We are Christian." This is because they have priests and monks among them, and they are not arrogant.'
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"[This situation prevailed] until - like a plague from the depths of ignorance, backwardness, and the 'Islam' created in the factories of hatred and ugliness - there arrived those who accuse [other Muslims] of apostasy because they greet a Christian on his holiday, those who preach discrimination and racism, and who direct religious sentiments towards resentment and rejection of the other, eradication of his existence, and removal of his human rights.
"There have appeared preachers who deviate [from the right path] and who guide towards ideas that did not arise [even] in the mind of the devil himself - until extremism, deviation, and radicalism turn into terrorism. And behold, [this terrorism] is sowing ruin and destruction in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya, in the name of Islam and under the banner of jihad.
"Dear readers, the hatred of Christians and [displays of] loathing towards them in one homeland is the first step towards the terrorism that most of us claim to oppose. Let us celebrate with our brothers in the homeland, and with [all] humanity, our shared holiday - the holiday of love and peace - [if only there would be] peace and love for us all. It is for this that we hope."
 For example, see a recent tweet by the Saudi religious scholar Dr. Muhammad Al-'Arifi, in which he forbade Muslims in non-Muslim countries to extend holiday greetings to Christians or take part in their celebrations (Twitter.com/MohamadAlarefe, December 20, 2015).
 Al-Ghad (Jordan), December 22, 2015.
 The region including modern day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, and the Palestinian territories.