Humans are prone to glorify and even deify their favourite personalities on one consideration or the other. Events associated with birth, death and life-time achievements of those personalities are generally celebrated on a popular scale and often with great fanfare. The pre-Islamic history of mankind, especially concerning its spiritual life, is marked more by myths and legendsthan authentic factsand truthfully recorded accounts. The world is soon going to celebrate The Feast of the Nativityof Christ, popularly known as Christmas. 25 December stands out as the most cherished date observedglobally in the name of Prophet Jesus’s birth.Doubts have been raised, however, regarding the authenticity of this particular date. According to the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, (vol.3, pp.601-602 and vol. 7 pp 612-617),November 18, December 25, January 6 and April 19-20 have been variously mentioned as the probable dates of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Under the heading “1. The Institution of The Feast of The Nativity”, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethicsnoted: “According to Usener’s view, the celebration of the Nativity was originally held everywhere on Jan. 6, and this was displaced in Rome in 353-4 by Pope Liberius in favour of December 25, Jan. 6 being kept only for the Epiphany or Feast of the Baptism.”According to Encyclopedia Britannica(Micropaedia), the first Christian Emperor of Rome Constantine optedin 336 AD, to celebrate Christmas on December 25 and the datewas officially confirmed by Pope Julius few years later. The reason for this choice was the Roman Church’s desire to Christianize the pagan Rome’s festival of bear-baiting,merry-making, and similar other frivolities andit considered the event an opportune moment to promote Christianity by naming the native pagan festival as Christmas. With this background in view, it is easier to understand why so much fanfare is associated even today with the event. The Qura’nic version regarding the birth of Christ appears, however, more natural when the All-Merciful and All-Knowing Lord declared in Sūrah Maryam how birth-pangs led Marry to retreat to a distant palm- tree where the Angel consoled her and said: “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.” (19:24-25). The ripening season of the dates are between the spring months of March and April and hence the Basilidiansof Alexandria(2nd century CE) were apparently correct to observe the Feast of the Nativityon April 19-20.

It is, however, immaterial to look out for a correct date for a hallowed event like the birth of Jesus Christ. Much more important is to see how far religiously the Christian West could guard the glorious teachings of the Messiah! Were they ever able to preserve and infuse within the Christendom the spirit of peace, tolerance and magnanimity for the Children of God? The tragic record of World Wars I and IIand the wars against the poor nations of West and East Asia, like Vietnam, Kampuchea, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, and an ignominious event like installation of the world’s only illegitimate state Israel, and then the ongoing War on Terror are the best examples of how the teachings of Christ have been thrown to the winds by his avowed followers.

25 December has a special significance for Pakistan as well. Being the birthday of the Founding Father (25 December 1876), no citizen of the Islamic Republic can afford to under- estimate its importance not only for us but for the world at large. The Islamic state he founded on the grand pattern of the human history’s first Islamic State of Madinah is rightly expected to bring about a far-reaching change, both nationally as well as globally, on political, socio-economic and civilizational fronts. It ought to have been a state where every citizen’s basic rights are guaranteed; where there are no class barriers; no feudal lords and their Kammi Kamins; where the rulers and the ruled enjoy the same status; where peace prevails; and justice is available free to the high and the low. But as in case of the Christians, we the Pakistanis too have relegated to the backburner the teachings of our well-beloved Founding Father. We cannot afford to be misled by empty slogans of those wielding power in the land and must try seriously and sincerely to keep inview the history of the Pakistan Movement, give impetus to the cause for which we were gifted by the All-Merciful Lord this Land of the Pure and make it the embodiment of the ideals for which millions sacrified their precious lives, honour, hearths and homes. Let us pledge to the Quaid on his 139th birth anniversary that as a nation we would try to the best of our potentials, individually and collectively, to translate into reality his sacred mission for an Islamic Pakistan.