Christmas, marking the birth of Jesus, is the greatest religious festival of the Christian Community. Like elsewhere around the world, the Christian community of Bangladesh is celebrating the event in a befitting manner today. Christianity is one of the religions that have followers all over the globe. And like other world religions, it has a great social significance and world humanitarian appeal. The themes of the day include, among others, promotion of goodwill and peace among world’s people irrespective of religious faith. Jesus Christ was born in a dark age when the human society was dominated by ignorance, superstition, greed, hatred and hypocrisy. It was a time when purity was forgotten and morality was neglected. Jesus worked out a transformation and a new turn in the lives of the people. This is how Christ brought about a dawn of a new era in human society. This great occasion calls upon the world community to get rid of all social evils. Herein lies the universal implication of the observance of the day.
The very life of Jesus Christ is itself a great source of lessons for mankind. He was neither born of a wealthy family nor in a grand palace. But birth does not determine every thing. Jesus Christ was the embodiment of simplicity, holiness and renunciation of all desires for worldly wealth and pride. With His great human and divine qualities and knowledge and wisdom he worked as a beacon to those who had lost their ways and were groping in the labyrinth of ignorance and superstitions. He salvaged them and showed them the ways to the world of enlightenment. He taught man to cultivate divine qualities in one one’s own heart. This moral and spiritual awakening of man is the real Christmas.
In a new gesture to promote inter-faith dialogue, 138 Muslim scholars have signed a Christmas message to the Christian clergy worldwide, including Pope Benedict XVI. “This is the first time a large group of Muslim scholars from across the schools greet their Christian neighbours,” said Prof. Aref Ali Nayed, one of the signatories to the New Year message. In their message, the Muslim scholars wished fellow Christians a merry Christmas and thanked Christian leaders for responding positively to an earlier open letter signed by them to bridge the Muslim-Christian gap. Nayed said Muslims had always greeted Christians at Christmas throughout history. He said that media have been giving too much focus to extremist voices while disregarding the tolerant and peaceful nature of the faith. “This has resulted in a very skewed and distorted picture of Islam,” he was quoted to have said. The Muslim Christmas message won plaudits from Christian leaders and theologians. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the pope’s council for inter-religious dialogue, told journalists that progress was being made on dialogue between the two faiths. Let the great lessons left behind by Jesus Christ light up man’s ways ahead.