Christmas for reverts to Islam can be awkward if you’re the only Muslim person in your immediate family.
Last year, I gave birth to my child a week before Christmas and was staying at my parents’ home. During that time I had no desire to talk to anyone since I was so focused on my son. In fact, I stayed in my bedroom most of the time, appearing very anti-social.
Now that a year has passed, I realize I did the wrong thing by being reclusive. As I remember, I thought, “I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore, so it should be alright for me to stay away from the holiday festivities of my family…”
Although I’m not completely sure what the proper protocol is for spending Christmas with Christian parents, I’ll assume it probably depends on each individual family.
Last week while attending Friday khutbah (sermon), the lecture focused on Muslims mingling with Christians. Since the holiday is quickly approaching, the information I received was right on time for me. The one thing that stood out most clear was probably the most important lessons of all to a new parent like myself: Respect your parents, no matter what faith they practice.
Having said that, here are four ways you can spend time with your family celebrating Christmas as a Muslim revert:
1. If they offer you a gift, take it — don’t shun your parents’ thoughtfulness.
2. It’s okay (in fact, encouraged) to remove yourself from parties with alcohol. Don’t feel bad about it — there are other ways you can spend time with your family during the holidays.
3. If there is a particular family tradition for the Christmas holiday that bothers you, try talking about it beforehand in order to avoid misunderstanding and unnecessary drama. For example, let your family know ahead of time that you don’t eat pork products or drink alcohol so there can be substitutions provided.
4. Be helpful while your family gathers. Help with the cooking, cleaning, or babysitting. Remember to stay upbeat. Any time with family is a beautiful time for making memories.
At then end of day, your parents are your parents, regardless of the faiths practiced. Remember to remain polite and respectful — and make some great memories.