This article is dedicated to all our Christian friends celebrating Christmas – Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with love and peace! This happy occasion is not confined to Christians only – many Muslims share with their Christian friends the joy of this occasion because they remember that these Christians exchange greetings and congratulations with them on Islamic occasions. Joy is a universal sentiment and there’s no embarrassment or shame in it.
After Christmas celebrations, we are approaching a new year. This occasion also makes us remember what we lack to complete our happiness, whether money, children, success or marriage. It is wishful thinking, but happy occasions are very few in the turbulent, volatile and worrisome world of today.
I believe social media has become a partner on these occasions and not only a transmitter. These days, social media is a yard through which any individual can express their opinion and present congratulations and wishes for various holidays and events, and this is clear on Twitter. For example, Egyptian newspaper Al-Dustour posted Christmas and New Year wishes with a hashtag on Twitter from various people. The diversity of wishes by Twitter users were funny, reflecting simple human wishes. The most prominent was ‘Love, iPhone X and Al-Aqsa Mosque’, while another person made a wish to fall in love and work outside Egypt.
I met some friends recently and we were talking about Christmas and the New Year. We all agreed that praying and hoping for peace is the goal of all people regardless of religion and origins. Security and peace are no longer easy to have. It is good to see that many Muslims love to share this occasion with their friends by buying simple gifts and decorating their homes with Christmas trees, because it reflects the joy of an approaching new year. A friend said she is always keen to buy decorations and a Christmas tree to cheer up the house during the end of the year, because it gives her hope to achieve her wishes. New Year celebrations are not only fun for Christians!
Gift markets around the world witness large crowds during Christmastime, New Year and seasons of love, because young people, children and girls like to buy gifts to celebrate the year and the occasion. I was recently at a market, and realized it is rare that there’s no objection from conservatives to displaying Christmas gifts. Is there a change in society? I find it positive. Last year, there was a video of an extremist man who rejected the presence of a Christmas tree in one of the markets and the minister of social affairs removed it. This led to a debate between supporters and opponents.
This year, everything is going quietly and smoothly, but I would like to say that Christians in Kuwait, both citizens and expatriates, have the right to celebrate and that the Kuwaiti constitution guarantees freedom of belief. The state protects the practice of worship, which has been actively taking place for over half a century. I think that as we defend our beliefs, it is the right of non-Muslims to defend themselves and their religion. But they do not have a strong voice, so we have to stand with them. The Christmas period shows our strong cohesion and acceptance of the other in one nation.
It is a joyful time. Happy holidays!
By Muna Al-Fuzai