Hijab, Santa and the Christmas spirit
Being asked to photograph Christmas as part of an interfaith assignment was a fantastic experience for me!
Earlier this month my class mates and I were given an assignment on interfaith awareness between Muslims and Christians. Over the past decade the two communities have not had very warm relations especially since after 9/11.
My friends and I felt nervous about this task as we had never interacted with a member of the Christian faith before. We were oblivious to what their traditions were and how they would react to us. I was particularly panicky because I wear a veil and hijaab. Will they even talk to me, I wondered. Our project required that we take photographs of a church, prayer ceremony and have a dialogue with a religious leader.
My friends and I went to Saint Anthony's Church in the Clifton area of Karachi. After we gave the head of the church, Joaquim, a letter from our university explaining the project he arranged a meeting with Father Roby for us.
The father was very pleased to hear about our project. He spoke to us respectfully and answered all of our questions. He invited us to come to church and meet him any time. He assured us that he will help us in every possible way regarding our project.
On Christmas we had to go to church again to take pictures that showed how Christians celebrated the holiday. We entered the church, without prior notice but everyone was happy to see us. Joaquim let us stay for Christmas service and invited us to attend a party for the children on December 26. We were amazed at how warm and welcoming everyone was at the party. We were permitted to take pictures of everyone - including Santa Claus!
This experience was a great experience for me and my friends. I am really happy that I met such nice people. I wish all the Muslims and Christians could have such interactions, so misunderstandings could be greatly reduced.