In the Spirit of…

Some bloggers here have expressed their anger and disgust after finding Christmas decorations stuff in some supermarkets in Riyadh. Their reasoning: “we are not responsible for bringing joy to Christians who live among us because Christians in other countries are killing our Muslim brothers.” I have to say that I was totally disturbed by this senseless statement.

This way of thinking seems very similar to some reactions in the U.S. after 9/11: “hey, let’s kick Muslims out of this country altogether.” This is no good, and this is what gives extremists on both sides the chance to shamelessly voice their narrow-minded opinions. This is what makes people like Debbie Schlussel objects to Barack Obama’s nomination for presidency because his father was a Muslim “when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam” she says in a recent, as well as senseless, post. I think people everywhere should realize that we, the whole world, are fighting a war against extremism of every kind, and not this faith or the other.

I can understand how some people feel threatened and want to protect their faith and beliefs, but I think it can be way too extreme sometimes. It is not as if these guys were putting a big Christmas tree in the middle of King Abdullah Rd., or as if they were forcing everyone to join the party. These Christmas decorations were even purposely distributed in the supermarket in such a way that it doesn’t feel they were there to celebrate the season.

Just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t give you the right to deny others from believing in it, especially when it has nothing to do with you whatsoever. We need to learn how to be more tolerant and accept differences, and that “different” does not necessarily and always equals “bad”.

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17 thoughts on “In the Spirit of…

  1. I dont see anything wrong with it. If they want to do it, that is fine.

    As a former Christian I long ago realised the pagan roots of the holidays of Christmas, Easter and many others. But it is my choice not to celebrate it.

    If Christians want to celebrate it, let them. Here in the USA it really isnt even a religious holiday anymore. It is an excuse to spend lots of money and put yourself into debt.

    Where I live some churches are even shutting down on Christmas Day, no longer having services, because not enough people would come. They are too busy at home eating and opening presents.

    That is the real lesson here, one against globalisation of religious holidays.

    Can you imagine Eid where no one shows up for the Eid prayers, the mosques shut down, so people can eat at home and open presents?

  2. I stand by U Ahmed.. it is people’s right to express their happiness on festivals. People out here shoud understand & respect each others customs.
    if U.S. doe’nt allow muslims to held religious congressions then what will be our view.be ?? we blame or critisize or even think of Jihad. So it should be people’s decision to rejoice their happiness over festivals though it be Chirstmas or EID. No one has right to intervien unless the celebrations would harm to people sentiments.
    it is disgusting to critisise other religions .. what we want to prove..?? may be its only acceptable in Saudi.. but think of other muslim countires also being tolarant to these activities still practicing ISLAM in Modest way.

    Allah Hafiz..

    Reader in UAE.

  3. I spent a year in Riyadh (13 years ago). There was no sign whatsoever of any Christmas stuff. Now I live in Dubai, and I’m having the most ‘Christmassy’ Christmas I’ve ever had.

    I’ve never understood the Saudi attitude to other religions though: I’m pretty sure that the Quran advocates tolerance towards other religions (especially ‘People of the Book’), so surely it’s unIslamic for the authorities to ban churches etc? Tongue-in-cheek, a lot of what the Saudi government does in the name of Islam is unIslamic.

  4. Well said, Ahmed. It upsets me when some of my fellow white Britons get upset about people of other religions celebrating their festivals here, especially when they probably never step into a church themselves. I’m not religious, so I celebrate purely on a ‘family get together’ level, and I would certainly never dream of condemning anyone else’s festivals.

  5. When I was in Jeddah in school, we would have so much christmas stuff going on, with plays, santa visiting us, watching christmasy movies and kids sending and receiving christmas cards. I remember all cards would say Seasons Greetings, as opposed to Happy Christmas. I too think that the society should be more tolerant towards other non-muslims beliefs, because after all Christians are People of the Book!

    Mansur

  6. هممممممم
    جميل جداً
    لنتكلم عن مجتمع سعودي مسلم لا وجود لمسيحيين فيه
    لماذا نقوم بجلب العديد من أغراضهم لننشر فيهم السعادة بعيدهم
    حقاً ما الهدف ؟؟؟؟
    ان كان هناك سعوديون مسيحيين فلا مانع من هذا لكن لا يوجد
    هناك فرق بين مسيحيي الشرق أصحاب الأرض وبين قادمين من بلدان أخرى
    انعدام احساس .. لا مبالاة.. أفكار تكفيرية رجعية قل ما شئت
    لكن حقاً لسنا مسؤولين عن اسعادهم واخواننا يقتلون بكل مكان
    هذا أقل دعم نفسي لشخص في مكان ما حول العالم يفترض أنه مسلم ويفترض أن ادافع عنه
    مجرد نقد ظاهرة لا تمت لمجتمعنا بصلة لا تصبح دعوة للقتال أو تطرف
    نحن كمسلمين لنا تاريخنا بالتسامح الديني مع أهل الأرض من مسيحيين بدون أن نتعرض لهم ونمنعهم ونراها بأغلب الدول العربية خارج الخليج
    لنا معاهدات ضاربة بالتاريخ حول هذا الموضوع أبرزها العهدة العمرية للفاروق رضي الله عنه
    مرة أخرى اعلنها أنني اعتقد اننا لسنا مسؤولين عن اسعاد مسيحيين ليسوا من اهل الأرض وليس لنا معهم أي تاريخ مشترك بالتعايش السلمي كي نقوم لهم بهذه الخدمة بينما يضيق على المسلمين حول العالم بتهم الارهاب وقمع الحريات
    ليعطونا الحرية ببلدانهم وبلداننا قبل أن نتكلم عن حرياتهم وندافع عنها
    دمتم بخير
    في امان الله

  7. You are RIGHT when you say, “I think people everywhere should realize that we, the whole world, are fighting a war against extremism of every kind, and not this faith or the other.”

    Whatever your beliefs, you should be able to celebrate your faith openly and without fear – Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu or otherwise. Every religion preaches tolerance of others – this is a wonderful place to start. We need to work together to survive rather than be fighting with one another.

    Christmas, as we practice it in North America is intended to be a celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. As other writers have said, it has become over-commercialized, but the fact is that it is still, at its modern roots, a religious feast day. There should be no fear or embarrassment in celebrating it and no one should be ashamed of his/her faith.

    Thank you for your common-sense approach to what is obviously a difficult question for some people in your country.

  8. What you’ve said is completely right, you know Ahmad I bought a gift for my home maid and I gave it to her and I greeted her, you can’t imagine how happy she was, wallahii I felt sad and I imagined myself instead of her. I also sent sms to my Lebanese friend she’s Christian, she liked it and I felt the joy from her words.

    When someone knows about it by coincidence, they showed their rejection and they disliked what I’ve done.

    Our Islam urges us to be kind, and we should treat others, in the same way we like others to treat us

  9. to those peopol who said”we are not responsible for bringing joy to Christians who live among us because Christians in other countries are killing our Muslim brothers.”
    WHO SAID THAT THEY ARE RESPONSABLE ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPEING TO OUR BROTHERS
    whta if your brother did somthing wrong, do u believe that i have the right to punishYOU on your brother offense,,!!!
    they are a human,, just like us
    who gave U the right to take there rights from them??

  10. I would complain about the bigotry of Muslims so well illustrated in this Saudi Christmas story if such intolerance of other beliefs did not do so much harm to the Saudis and Muslims themselves. It is exactly such petty intolerance that holds Muslims back, which keeps them from contact with ideas from the outside world, which keeps them ignorant. One day, when the Saudis run out of oil, they will have no intellectual capital to fall back on.

    The foreign workers will leave. The freeways will fall into disrepair, trod by camel caravans, which will bring Saudis from the desert to the ruins of skyscrapers overtaken by sand dunes. The Saudis will stare in wonder at the remains and wonder what they were.

    What was begun in ignorance, intolerance, and bigotry will end in the same.

  11. Just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t give you the right to deny others from believing in it, especially when it has nothing to do with you whatsoever. We need to learn how to be more tolerant and accept differences, and that “different” does not necessarily and always equals “bad”.

    I so totally agree! What matters is how people treat each other. We are ALL members of the “human race”, like it or not sometimes!

    Peace to you, fellow human!

  12. Saudis can build churches to worship their masters, as their neighbors in dubai are doing, their masters the Americans/Europeans/Christians, as long as all Islamic religion sites, such as Mecca, are internationalized and become non-saudi. Once this happens, the newly liberated BEDOUINS OF SAUDI ARABIA can pursue their liberation from bedouinism as their fellow bedouins are doing in the UAE in full force. How long with Mecca be run by hypocrites? FREE MECCA, FREE ISLAM FROM SWINE!

  13. I totally agree with you Ahmed. Every person have their own religion, their ways of celebration, for which they should not be discriminated if they are not disturbing or creating any violating act in the country.

    Similarly Shia’s in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to open up and do whatever they want especially in the holy month of Muharram. Instead they are cursed, kept low and looked by a negitive eye. In some countries it is said that Shittes are not even Muslim, and are called as (Kuffar). Why cannot the Muslim world Unite?

  14. Makes you wonder why the US is the strongest supporter of the Saudi tribe leader doesn’t it?
    Why do some people have such a hard time in comprehending that religion is a personal matter and should not be imposed as a method for determining how people live?
    For those who are in doubt, I suggest that you read the teachings of Ataturk.
    I respect all religions but at the same time I could never live under a religious set of rules, this is my right which I will defend with my life if the need arises.

  15. I’ll never understand why people can’t just get along with each other and enjoy each others company. Not all Muslims and Middle Eastern people are terrorists and not all Amercians hate Middle Eastern people and not all of us American Women are sluts and porn stars LOL. The labels people have for others. It used to make me mad but now all I can do is laugh at this. I also think that Mosques are beautiful I love the architecture, but I also love my Christmas tree. You know my neighbor is Muslim and her 8 year old daughter wanted a Christmas tree so her mom and dad got her one. I thought this was really neat. Why does everything have to be so complicated, why do people feel the need to make it complicated?

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