Dear Ali: As you know, Christmas is coming up soon and I would like to invite a few of my Muslim friends to see how we celebrate it. They have been kind enough to invite me to their Ramadan iftars at their home and I would like to return the favour by inviting them to my house. Do you think they would be offended if I asked them? GD, Abu Dhabi
Dear GD: I wouldn't be offended if you were to ask me. After all, there will be food. You raise a good question, actually.
Let me first explain one thing. Followers of religion are always told not to celebrate other religious celebrations. For example, a priest doesn't celebrate Eid. I guess it is taboo because it looks as if you're not content with your religion. If you've ever been told that Muslims don't celebrate other religious celebrations, then please be aware that this is not the case. True, we don't celebrate occasions like Christmas but it doesn't mean that we don't believe in Jesus (peace be upon him). We accept all of God's religions.
I would say it all depends on how close you are to your friends. I don't suppose inviting them over for Christmas dinner would be offensive, and there is no harm in asking them. However, I'd like to advise you that there may be a few things that you'd have to alter on that day if your friends do accept your kind invitation. Find out if they are OK with being around alcohol, because many people don't like that.
I understand that no Christmas celebration is complete without eggnog and a few other drinks. So please ensure you refrain from serving it to them. If this were any other dinner invitation, I would ask you to completely avoid serving alcohol, but since it will be Christmas, I don't want to suggest that you refrain from serving it.
Therefore, you need to make a decision on whether you wish to invite Muslim friends who may not be OK with it. Also, I don't have to mention that all pork-related meals should be off the menu. I wish you happy holidays.
Dear Ali: Recently, the TV channel MBC Max aired a film with overly inappropriate scenes. It is not like them to do so, and many people got so upset that they took to Twitter to express their disgust in an attempt to shut down the network, using the hashtag #stop2mbc. What are your thoughts on this? ZR, Dubai
Dear ZR: I am surprised at this incident, since we rarely have to worry about inappropriate scenes being aired on channels such as MBC.
MBC acknowledged that it was a mistake and they apologised. However, it is natural for families to go into such a rage because they were not expecting to see such scenes. One thing you have to remember is that we love spending quality time with our families, and watching TV enables us to gather in one place and enjoy this activity as a family.
I'm sure you are aware that we are conservative in our ways, so for such scenes to unexpectedly pop up causes a lot of embarrassment.
Due to the channel being available to the wider public for free, it is safe to expect films that are family friendly. True, you can always flip the channel if you don't like what you see, but then why air something disturbing if your customers are not paying for it?
If you feel you may have unintentionally embarrassed someone, you would say "Elsmooha lo ahrajtak", which means, "Sorry if I embarrassed you".