Like many American homes, there wasn't much Christ in my family's Christmas. There would always be some discussion surrounding the reason for our celebration, but we didn't attend church services or talk too much about what my parents believed. The beautiful nativity on the mantle, hand-painted by my grandmother, was flanked by tasteful, secular decorations. This led to a kind of vague confusion between the miraculous birth of Jesus, and the magical feat of Santa Claus zipping around the world in one night.
Nostalgia not withstanding, thinking about Christmas is now far more meaningful to me on a spiritual level than it was when I was young. The fact that Muslims accept and believe in the virgin birth of Jesus has been a golden thread that links my childhood Christmas memories to my very fulfilling adult life as a Muslim.
The world's more than 1.5 billion Muslims would like their Christian neighbors to know that we believe in the Annunciation; in the Quran we read that God sent the angels to Mary:
"When the angels said: O Mary, surely God gives you good news with a Word from Him of one whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near to God. And he shall speak to the people when in the cradle and when of old age, and he shall be one of the good ones." Quran 3:45-46
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