Short Answer: Yes, as long as you avoid the overtly religious aspects of Christmas, and other haram aspects, including alcohol consumption. It’s extremely important not to isolate yourself from your family, and a Muslim respects their parents and keeps strong family ties, even and especially if their family isn’t Muslim. The key to these sorts of family holidays is to remain part of the family celebration without participating in any haram aspects, making it clear that you’re in their presence because of your love for them, but will not be participating in any religious aspects of the day. In time, they will respect your views, inshallah, while still welcoming you.
Wa Alaykum Assalam dear Sister,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
No Social Isolation
First of all, I need to welcome you to the fold of Islam.
May Allah the Almighty help you get accustomed to this new life and abide by the rules of this religion, revealed to guide mankind.
Islam, dear Sister, does not demand that Muslims live in social isolation; rather it urges us to be interactive and proactive.
Islam requires of every Muslim to be a good example and a means for Islam’s light to reach others.
That is why we see that as it stretches its arm to embrace every newcomer, welcoming him/her to its fold, Islam covers that person with its radiating light.
But it does not cut off his/her relations with others.
The Importance Of Maintaining Healthy Family Ties
A key part of spreading the beauty of Islam is the Muslim’s relation with his non-Muslim family, relatives, friends, neighbors etc.
He should deal with them on the basis of justice and righteousness.
Your conversion to Islam does not cut your family bonds, especially to your parents. You must still care for them and pray for their guidance.
You never know, perhaps Allah will make you the cause of their embracing Islam.
We need to strengthen our relations with all people for through this we will be able to reach out to them, conveying Allah’s message and trying to make them understand Islam.
To Celebrate Or Not to Celebrate?
So this means that Muslims are allowed to share with non-Muslims in their joyous occasions, wishing them happy holidays.
You may even send greeting cards to your Christian friends, relatives or neighbors.
If they give you gifts, you should thank them and accept them with good cheer and should also remember them at the times of Islamic holidays.
Therefore, there is nothing in Islam that prevents you from being with your family during Christmas, at least to show them that you are part and parcel of them even after your conversion to Islam.
You said that your family is partially religious, in the sense that they strongly believe in God.
This means that they are likely to get attracted towards Islam.
But maybe the only person that can do so is you, through the wise and calm methods you adopt in presenting your ideas.
Striking a Balance
However, I need to make it clear to you that you are not allowed to go beyond sharing your family’s joyous mood of the feast, for you are not allowed to celebrate Christmas with them.
You have to make them understand that your presence with them means a lot to you, yet you cannot return to old habits, like drinking and dancing.
They should know you expect them to respect that.
Try to draw them to awareness that since you have chosen Islam as a way of life you must not do anything that contradicts the principles of your religion.
You should be clear with your family that your attendance is in order to be with the family, that your belief in Jesus is firmly according to Islamic teachings and that, were it not for being with the family, you would not be doing anything special to mark Christmas day.
Your presence with them will also be valued in addition to sending them greeting cards and exchanging gifts with them.
But you must make sure that the gifts you send do not amount to something forbidden in your religion, like wine, etc.
Showing compliments and felicitation here, must not collide with the principles of your religion.
The “Don’t Imitate Non-Muslims” Point
So, from this, scholars have deduced a juristic ruling that Muslims must not celebrate festivals or holidays that are for non-Muslims.
They emphasize that Islam suffices Muslims. This is based on the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in which he says:
“He who imitates others is reckoned as one of them.” (Abu Dawud)
To be clear: it’s not ok for Muslims to participate in any of the religious aspects of Christmas.
Your family may find this odd in the beginning, especially as it will be the first Christmas they will celebrate without you actively participating.
But as time goes on, I am sure they will understand.
I hope this clarifies matters, sister.
Wishing you all the best, thanks and please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)