CAIRO - Decorating her family's Christmas tree in Fairfax County, Virginia, Nadiya El-Khatib is busy adding symbols of the three Abrahamic faiths, including olive woods, balls of glass, snowflakes and Hanukkah ornaments.
I present Christmas not so much as a religious celebration, El-Khatib, 33, told The Washington Post on Tuesday, December 25.
Her family's Christmas tree usually takes place in her aunt's house, where their multi-faith family of Christians, Muslims and Jews celebrate holiday festivities every year.
El-Khatib's mother, a former Irish-Catholic woman named Mary Catherine, converted to Islam when El-Khatib was 5 years old.
Raised as a Muslim, El-Khatib has always celebrated Christmas with her maternal family and continues to do so with her children.
In Islam, we are taught to maintain strong ties with your family, and this includes coming together on Christmas, she said.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
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.
Like El-Khatib, Nadeem Ahmed, a Richmond psychologist, also celebrates Christmas, though he never did when he was young.
You get enveloped in the culture of Christmastime. Some Muslim families would put up the tree, exchange gifts, Ahmed, 36, said.
We never did all that.
Growing up, he began singing carols in school, went to Christmas parties and took in the spirit of togetherness.
Getting married to a woman who was raised Presbyterian, the Muslim psychologist now celebrates Christmas with his in-laws.
He even attends the church mass on Christmas Eve.
From my perspective, how I was raised as a Muslim, this very welcoming church shares some universal value, he said of the church they attend in Richmond.
I can feel very spiritual there, look at my own moral character, said Ahmed, who is a devout, practicing Muslim.
The rituals aren't as important as what they're trying to symbolize and being able to explore those things at a church, or at a mosque.
It's all about trying to be a better person.Though there are no official figures, America is believed to be home to nearly eight million Muslims.