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Relax, enjoy the holiday

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! As holiday shoppers scramble to buy last-minute gifts today, Cal Poly Pomona senior Amir Mertaban is spending the day at Magic Mountain. It’s almost a tradition, Mertaban said, around the end of December for he and his Muslim friends to take advantage of the admission discounts and small crowds at the amusement park. Because Muslims do not celebrate Christmas, many of them use the holiday to read the Quran, hang out and recharge for the next year, said Mertaban, an international business and marketing major. It’s no coincidence, then, that two major Muslim conferences are taking place this weekend – one at the Fairplex in Pomona and another at the Westin Hotel in Long Beach. They’re addressing family, faith and becoming better citizens of their communities. “People will take advantage of holiday to reacquaint themselves with their own faith and deepen their spirituality,” said Edina Lekovic, communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Mertaban said he’ll be attending Tarbiyah camp in Santa Barbara from Sunday through Saturday to learn more about Islamic manners, education, brotherhood and sisterhood. “We just take this time for personal development because we don’t have anything to do. It’s a lot of contemplation and reflection throughout the whole year and how we can be a better person,” he said. However, Christmas is not ignored by the Muslim community. Nisar Hai, the imam at Masjid Gibrael in San Gabriel, said he wishes the joys of Christmas to all his Christian friends. “We wish every Christian Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” Hai said. “We really do mean it because this is an important occasion for them.” In fact, Hai said he may devote an entire sermon to Jesus, whom Muslims respect as a prophet, and his spiritual messages of peace, understanding and compassion. Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, said he’ll be attending a Christmas Eve service at All Saints Church in Pasadena as a respectful observant. There’s nothing wrong with wishing people a Merry Christmas, he said. “There is no theological exclusion to not wish others. What is not expected from Muslims is to observe the religious rites and rituals that take place,” Syed said. “The values of Jesus of love and compassion are embedded principals within the Islamic value system. That is a very profound common denominator between Islam and Christianity. “Instead of clash of civilizations, we call it convergence of civilization,” Syed said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2513last_img read more