Assalamualaikum kids! Today we will hear from a Turkish international exchange student in Munich, Germany. Read on to find out what she discovered about the way people around her celebrate various holidays.
Muslims' Image Vs. Apple's Image in Christmas
By Ayse Seyyide Kaptaner
Christmas has just passed a month ago. As an exchange student for one year in Munich, I saw for the first time what is going on in Europe around Christmas time. Because I have visited some other cities in Germany and Austria, I had the opportunity to make some comparisons between these cities in terms of their communities and architecture. Since it was Christmas season, the biggest squares of all these cities were set up as markets full of food stands, Christmas souvenir shops and decorations, including a huge, shiny Christmas tree in the middle.
The city that I observed most was Munich, of course. Munich is famous for its glorious celebrations and conserved Bavarian traditions. Among all the lights, gifts, music, foods, drinks and joy, there was something which stood out. It was a place that is overcrowded all the time throughout the year. It was drawing my attention with its plainness and smartness. I waited for a long time just to see if it will also turn into a place like the others. Every time I expected to see the same decorations as in other stores, it remained in front of me with all of its simplicity. This place was an Apple store, the store that taught me a lesson through its image.
Apple always has a plain look in its stores as well as in its products. In Christmas season, as well as in any other season, nothing changes about the store's decorations. The company is not using either its community's religious or traditional values as a marketing strategy through decorations. Nevertheless, people still love the brand and its unique image. They are big fans of its products even when they are devout Christians. Nobody condemns Apple in account of being different. Everybody accepts it as a high-quality company. At least, that is how I see it in Munich.
In contrast, let me tell you how my Muslim home country, Turkey, celebrates Christmas. Oops! Sorry. “It is New Year's!” That is what many Turks say when anyone mentions that it is like a Christian way of celebrating. That is what they say when they wear Santa costumes, place a Christmas tree in their houses' best corners, put some socks beneath the fireplace and hang wreaths on the doors. “You know, we are celebrating New Year's with our best wishes. Du‘ā’-e-Khair!”
Some of the Muslims celebrate the conquest of Mecca on the 1st of January, as an alternative to New Year's. That also does not make any sense since the conquest of Mecca is on the 20th of Ramadan. They assert that kids are more interested in New Year celebrations. But we don't have to find any alternatives; we have our own Eids and Hijri New Year. Through organizing celebrations, adults should encourage kids to enjoy these days with decorations, gifts and du'as. As Hadhrat Abdullāh b. Hisham narrates, “When the Sahabah enter a new year or month they say: 'O Allāh! Bring us this new year/month in safety with Imān, Islam, Salama, ridha of Rahman and in protection of Shaytaan.'” Tabrani, Haythami – 10/139 (The Lives of the Sahabah)
So, shouldn't we have our own Muslim way of decorating, wearing, eating, and celebrating? People will respect us for our proper image. Because we are going to reflect our deen and character instead of imitating others, others will understand that we are “high-quality” inside. They can trust us and love us even if we have a quite plain, modest image compared to theirs. That is the point of being Muslim, isn't it? Not being afraid to stand alone, not being uncertain. Having the pure Muslim image no matter which time, place or mood we are in. We should be honest and sincere in all of our attitudes through a Muslim lifestyle. That will be the way to earn people's respect and Allāh's love.
Read the Turkish version of this article here: http://fikrimvzikrim.blogspot.com/2013/01/muslumann-durusu-vs-applen-durusu.html
About the Author:
Ayse Seyyide Kaptaner was born and raised in Istanbul. She is studying Industrial Engineering at Istanbul Technical University. She is also a volunteer in several Muslim student organizations. She loves photography and painting and is interested in languages. She blogs at http://fikrimvzikrim.blogspot.
(Attention, Writers! Muslim Kids Matter is a regular feature at Muslim Matters. New articles for kids are posted every other Sunday. You're welcome to send in your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.)