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In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate

A Christmas Message


By Sheikh ‘Umar Ghneim, of the Islamic Religious Education at the Ministry of Education Directorate – Bethlehem. Umar Ghneim is a trainer and member  of the Coordination Committee in AEI ‘s project ‘Citizenship and Diversity: Christian-Muslim Living Together’.

We meet as Muslims and Christians this season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ (Peace Upon Him). God said in the Holy Quran about Christ: “Issa Ibn Mariam” (Jesus, the son of Miriam), Peace Be Upon Him.

We face difficult circumstances during this sad and painful stage the Palestinian people is witnessing. Consider the injustices, persecution, and also the attacks on the holy sites, the religious symbols of the Palestinian people, by the Israeli occupation. In spite of all human rights violations, we find in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His life, biography and mission, such noble human values as love, peace, justice, equality, truth, freedom and cooperation. We have to follow these principles in our lives and in dealing with one another.

The project ‘Citizenship and Diversity: Muslim-Christian Living Together’ has had much impact upon deepening the above-mentioned concepts in the relations between Muslims and Christians in this country. Before joining the project, I thought it was a big mistake to talk about or discuss the religion of the others. I felt that this could stir up or cause conflict between the adherents of Islam and Christianity. It was thought that this talk would be a reason to stir up a conflict between religions.

However, nowadays such talks and discussions have become more accepted. This change has partly happened because of the project activities such as the joint lessons at schools implemented by Christian and Muslim religious education teachers. During these class periods interreligious topics about Islam and Christianity are presented in a peaceful atmosphere of dialogue and discussion.

Three years I helped to implement co-curricular activities including joint  lessons, visits to holy places, story writing, contests and student/teacher training sessions. Teachers, students, parents, officials and religious figures have accepted without reservations to attend the joint feasts (Christmas, Easter, Ramadan, and Al Adha). As a result Christian-Muslim living together has become a truth, a reality and a practice and not a theoretical or propagandistic matter.

On this occasion I beg the Almighty God to bestow on us and on all the world: love, peace, freedom, justice and equality. We pray for God to protect our people, our holy sites. May the Lord have mercy on all those who died during the conflict and we also pray for the recovery of the wounded and sick people. Let us also pray for the release of our brave prisoners so as to see the light of freedom and to live a happy life with their parents and people.

May the Almighty God end up the woes and evils of wars, tyranny, injustices, destruction and bloodshed in the region .

Lord, hear our prayers and wishes. Amen

       

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