The movement of the Muslim lunar calendar placed the festival of Eid al Adha (عيد الأضحى) in the week before Christmas this year. In the multi-ethnic land of the United Arab Emirates (e.g., Dubai and Abu Dhabi) this meant a prominent coincidence of these celebrations. Although the country is more than 90 percent Muslim, malls and hotel lobbies are trimmed for Christmas.
Clerics speak out, and are on the same page regardless of faith:
Dr Mohammad Mattar Al Ka’abi, Director-General of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Auqaf (GAIAA), has called upon people, with no bias towards any nationality or religion, to realise the actual meaning and real goals of the holy celebrations.
He pointed out that nowadays most people simply ignore the noble aims of the festivals.
“Extravagance and over-spending on some aspects of these celebrations, like eating, drinking, and clothing, in order to express pleasure is something unacceptable by God Almighty. Dedicating some of this money to charitable activities is much better than spending on useless ways,” said Dr Al Kaabi.
He also pointed out that this type of materialism might cause a community gap. “The revealed religions, whether Islam or Christianity, are aimed at remembering Allah (God) and spreading love, peace, happiness, and kindness among all people, not only the rich, but also the poor, the needy and the ill,” stressed Dr Al Kaabi.
As for the Eid itself, it is an opportunity for litigants to bury their hatchet, to forget and forgive.
Muslims should become more cooperative, tolerant, charitable and forgiving in such happy occasions, he stated.
Monsignor Paul Hinder, Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia, based in Abu Dhabi, explained that religious holidays are celebrated by two types of people: the pious ones, who are still deeply marked by their faith; and the people who practise little, if at all, their religion.
Update: I will be ending my six year stay in the United Arab Emirates in a few days, and joining the rest of the Cafe newsteam in working from a US time zone. Here's some of the things I'll miss.
- A roundup of
Christmas photos taken by Gulf News photographers.
- The 40 year tradition of Christmas in UAE. (Actually Christianity predates Islam here.)