Most Christians are unaware of the importance of Mary and Jesus in Islam: Christmas Mubarak!
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Faculty in Humanities, Austin College
Dec 17, 2018
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Religion News Service reported this December 5, that a United Methodist Church in Illinois premiered a new approach to the traditional Nativity scenes we see every December. The play with real, talking, moving actors, underlines the importance of Jesus and Mary in Islam. The actors belong to “Silk Road Rising,” which features Asian and Middle Eastern peoples and themes.

The Qur’an devotes a whole chapter to Mary ( Maryam, Surah 19); and Jesus is Isa ibn Maryam—a virgin. He is mentioned in the Qur’an directly and indirectly 187 times with many miracles attributed to him. Jesus/Isa is named more than any other one person in the Qur’an. Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in Islam’s Holy Book— more often than her name appears in the Christian New Testament.

During special feasts (Eid) in Islam, Ramadan for one example, the traditional greeting is “Ramadan Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Ramadan.” Sometimes one Muslim says to another, “Eid Mubarak.” The inter-faith expression “Christmas Mubarak” ----the title for this Nativity Play, comes at a time when the USA is once again refueling the so-called “War on Christmas.” This “war” is more about the separation of church and state in the USA and the idea of saying “holiday” in order to be more inclusive (read “politically correct”). In Tarrant County, Texas, we are facing accusations by some Christians that a “stealth jihad” is taking place, recently targeting one Republican who was born in the USA with a Muslim-sounding name. (Many Arab Christians here and around the world, have such names).

To be “theologically correct,” we should note that Jesus in Judaism is recognized as a prominent rabbi who was a contemporary of the famous Rabbi Hillel; but Jesus was not the Messiah (from the Hebrew for “the anointed one.”). In Islam, Jesus is not  Christos (Greek for “the anointed one”). Thus the better title for this play would be “Nativity of Jesus: Mubarak.” Nevertheless, I salute this ground-breaking Nativity play as our country painfully struggles to make sense in every area of our lives.