christmas in jordan

  1. 2,785 Posts.
    Part XVII - A Christmas Story
    for my friends in Canada and around the world
    - something uplifting for a change -

    See also: Comments from Readers

    A special dedication to my good Canadian friends Nancy and Robert Assaly:
    Christmas just isn’t the same without you guys. Come to think of it, neither was Eid.

    December 15, 2004

    Amman, Jordan

    With Ramadan and Eid behind us, the malls in Amman have taken down their flashing stars, crescent moons and Ramadan lanterns and have replaced them with green and red ribbons, tiny Rudolphs, fat Santas and glittering Christmas trees.

    I guess I’m not lucky enough to escape the Christmas jingles after all. The spirit of Christmas has invaded Amman’s cafes, shops, and even offices and schools.

    I was invited to one of the many Christmas concerts that are happening around town, and saw Muslim Arab children taking part in singing Christmas carols and being applauded by their hijab wearing mothers.

    This wonderful transition from Muslim to Christian holidays says a lot about this city and Arab culture.

    Since I’ve arrived here, I’ve seen some of the most wonderful examples of tolerance and co-existence between Muslim and Christian Arabs. Of course I've seen examples of intolerance, but because such examples are way over rated and terribly over exposed in our Western media, I’ve decided not to include them.

    The norm here, the overall feeling, is that of familial love between the two communities. One story I’d like to share with you concerns my daughter’s friend Noor.

    Noor is a lovely 13 year old who didn’t miss a day of fasting this Ramadan. Her mom made sure every morning to wake her up at 3.30 a.m. before the dawn prayer to eat her Suhoor, and to have a nice meal ready each evening for her daughter to break her fast.

    What is a little unusual is that Noor has been raised in a Christian home to a Christian family. Although Noor never knew her Muslim father, her mom goes to great lengths to ensure that she keeps her Islamic faith. The two religions co-exist in Noor’s house in a way that can bring tears to your eyes. It is a home that is full of love, respect and tolerance.

    Noor’s Christian family sits around the table in Ramadan to share Iftar with her. Her Muslim friends shop with her for Christmas gifts for her family. Her neighborhood of Muslims and Christians are as intertwined as the blood in Noor’s veins.

    I’ve lived away from here for so long that I returned with the notion that tolerance exists only in the West. I was wrong. Tolerance can be found right here in the heart of the Arab world, and especially in Palestinian culture where no lines between Christians and Muslims have ever been drawn. Both communities still live in peaceful harmony joined by their shared culture, language and heritage.

    So today, I will bask in the peaceful glory of Arab nationalism. I will take pride in my faith, Islam, and in my homeland, Palestine - a homeland for all religions, not for one above others.

    And from here, to all my friends in Canada and around the world, I send my best wishes and my prayers for peace.

    Merry Christmas to you all.

    Samah Sabawi

    Mecca Mall - Amman, Jordan

    Samah Sabawi, originally from Gaza and whose permanent residence is now Ottawa, is a writer and activist with Canadian Friends of Sabeel. Her work also appears in several other media, including a play, "Cries from the Land" co-authored with her father, Abdel-Karim Sabawi, and sponsored by Friends of Sabeel and

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