Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas: Once a Year Too Often?

Hani Nakshabandi
Liberal Saudi Author and Journalist

Like every holiday, I suppose, Christmas comes but once a year, but that's once too many times for some, apparently, though not for the 'liberal' Saudi Mr. Nakshabandi, whose more positive opinion is implied in his words on Christians and (I guess) on some Islamists:
I listened to the Christmas sermon in a few churches, and they called for love and forgiveness. I also listened to a few Friday sermons [in the mosques] and most dealt with the ban on celebrating Christmas and threatened [anyone doing so] with hell. One side calls for love and the other side threatens damnation! ("Saudi Author: Nothing Wrong With Muslims Joining Christmas Celebrations," Memri, Special Dispatch No. 5577, December 26, 2013)
Well, there's got to be at least a balance between hatred and love! But maybe even that balance is insufficient for some haters who want the utter destruction of love, as Mr. Nakshabandi goes on to point out:
Tune the radio to any news channel. Most of the news items concern a killing here and a bombing there . . . and the vast majority, most unfortunately, are connected to Muslims. To [dissociate] ourselves [from these acts], we term [those perpetrating these actions] extremist terrorists. However an extremist is also someone who rules that celebrating the holidays [of non-Muslims] is forbidden because he objects to a world engulfed in love and prefers hating and ostracizing the other and even hopes that the other will die, if possible.
Mr. Nakshabandi hopes for peace on earth, "that love should prevail throughout the world." He believes that we would be happier if we all tried harder for that . . . but we find ourselves as fathers, mothers, siblings confronted by those who haven't left hatred behind. Mr. Nakshabandi nevertheless has hope:
Do we need love or killing? I hope the day will come when Muslim religious scholars have the courage to admit that participating in the celebrations and festivities of another -- any other -- is a good deed that is not motivated by love for this religion or other but by the desire that love should prevail throughout the world.
If only the Islamists agreed . . .

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At 3:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One side or the other? Neither religion speaks with a unified voice or follows unified practices. The Saudi writer did not name which country he spent the holidays in, but apparently it wasn't his native country if he was able to listen to Christian sermons, Christmas is both a secular and a religious holiday, so I understand why some non-Christians choose not to celebrate it and why some non-Christian religious leaders discourage their followers from celebrating the holiday. As for threats of damnation, pffft, Islam doesn't exactly have a monopoly on using carrots and sticks to keep followers in line though it does seem to rely more heavily on them than other religions, The Boston Globe recently ran a long story profiling the lives of the Boston Bombers. The older brother was asked to leave a mosque after loudly berating the imam for telling worshippers that celebrating secular American holidays like Independence Day and Thanksgiving were permissible. I would not generalize this example nor would I take the Saudi writer's apparent generalizations at face value.

Season's greetings, Jeffery.


At 4:27 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sonagi, the man need not have physically visited any church at Christmas -- plenty of television stations carry church services, also viewable on the Internet. The same goes for mosques and their services, which he could also have easily watched. The Saudi government cannot control everything. I assume that his references to an intolerant Islam are based on what he has seen of Islamist Islam, of which Wahabism -- the official Islam of Saudi Arabia -- is one example. His remarks are consistent with the reports I've read over the years.

Season's greetings to you, too, Sonagi, both the pagan solstice and the new year!

Jeffery Hodges

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