Christmas is celebrated as the day marking the birth of the Prophet ʿIsa, Jesus Christ and is commemorated on the 25th of December. According to the Fatimi calendar, the birth of Prophet ʿIsa falls on ʿAshura, the 10th of Muharram.
The birth of the Prophet ʿIsa is a blessing from Allah. According to the Holy Quran, when the Prophet ʿIsa was born he uttered these profound words:-
قَالَ إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا * وَجَعَلَنِي مُبَارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصَانِي بِالصَّلَاةِ وَالزَّكَاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا * وَبَرًّا بِوَالِدَتِي وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْنِي جَبَّارًا شَقِيًّا * وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
‘I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me the revelation (al-kitab) and made me a prophet; And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and zakat as long as I live; (He) hath made me kind and dutiful to my mother, and not arrogant or miserable; So salaam (peace) is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be resurrected.’ (30:32)
There are 25 verses in the Holy Quran that refer to the Prophet ʿIsa. Allah sent blessings and benedictions and salaam towards humanity by sending his rūh (spirit), as a prophet, intercessor, a witness (shahid) unto Allah, and one who spent his life in servitude and preaching the Message of Allah to all mankind.
The inner peace of Jesus Christ is evident in the accounts of his life. He lived in the glory and benediction of Allah and the true belief of salvation. He called each and every Christian towards this inner peace that he portrayed as peace and goodwill towards all living beings. Fatimi texts provide an account whereby the Prophet ʿIsa once met the Prophet Yayha (John the Baptist). ʿIsa was beaming with happiness, so Yahya asked him, ‘how is it that you smile so? Do you not fear the wrath of Allah?’ ʿIsa replied, ‘why do you frown so? Are you not hopeful of Allah’s mercy?’ Allah sent his archangel Jibraeel with the following judgement between the two prophets, ‘the one who smiles more is dearer to me.’
During ʿAshara Mubaraka, the sermon on the 5th of Muharram, is dedicated to the legacy of Prophet Musa and Prophet ʿIsa and narrates the events leading up to his eventual crucifixion. Each year, hundreds of Bohras travel on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pay respects at the tomb of Prophet ʿIsa.
ʿIsa is the spirit of Allah (rūh Allah) and performed many miracles during his lifetime. The story of Jesus and the third loaf of bread is regularly narrated to remind believers of his miracles and is a constant reminder to abstain from greed. Some sayings of Prophet ʿIsa form the foundation of Fatimi beliefs. For example, the saying, ‘He who is not born twice cannot attain the kingdom of the heaven’ expounds on the importance of the everlasting soul over the perishing body.
His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin remembered the sacrifice of the Prophet ʿIsa in one of his speeches in Nairobi. He said:
‘His (ʿIsa’s) sacrifice for the sake of humankind was of great consequence. Similarly, the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Imam Husain AS made many sacrifices for the sake of humanity. These sacrifices are a constant source of guidance that remind us that no sacrifice is too great for the causes of haq: what is true and right.
Imam Ali bin Abi Talib AS has provided us with an unmatched lesson which aids us in our acts of sacrifice. He has told us: ‘show kindness to those who have done you ill.’
The Prophet ʿIsa spent his entire life spreading the message of salaam (peace). As we rejoice in his memory, we pray that peace prevails across the globe.