CAIRO - Forced to flee her home country Uganda four decades ago, Naznin Lakha still remembers the welcome she received with her Muslim family during their first Christmas in Canada.
Having truly left (Uganda) with the clothes on our back, it was truly touching, Lakha, 56, told Toronto Star.In 1972, Lakha's family was forced to flee persecution under the repressive regime of Idi Amin.
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Arriving in Canada, the ethnic Indian Muslim family did not expect much in the Western country.
Yet, those thoughts shattered after a local family arranged a festive dinner through a church program.
The meaning of Christmas stuck with me, Lakha said.
The tradition of giving stuck with me from that dinner.
Lakha's family moved later to Belleville, Ont., and then settled in Toronto till today.
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.
A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar.
Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
Popular Christmas themes include the promotion of goodwill, giving, compassion, and quality family time.
Giving back to her society, Lakha and her two adult sons have volunteered over the past three years in Toronto Star Santa Claus Fund.
I will go wherever I'm needed, said Lakha, who will deliver gift boxes to several of the 45,000 needy kids across Toronto, hoping for presents this year if the fund raises $1.6 million.
I am a real marshmallow when it comes to kids, she added.
Though some Muslims oppose celebrating Christmas, Lakha has a different opinion.
It does not matter, she said.
In fact, it's all the more reason I should be thinking of those that celebrate (Christmas) and make it a good experience for them.
Lakha is among many Canadian Muslims who volunteer every year to spread the Christmas spirits among the needy.
For years, different Muslim organizations have volunteered to prepare and serve Christmas dinner for the needy.
Some Muslims celebrate Christmas as the birth of Prophet Jesus Christ same as they celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur'an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
As for his crucifixion, Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified but was lifted up to heaven.
Muslims believe that Jesus will come back to earth before the end of time to restore peace and order, fight the Anti-Christ (Al-Masih Al-Dajjal) and bring victory for truth and righteousness.The true followers of Jesus will prevail over those who deny him, misrepresent him and reject him.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net