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How Do I Navigate the Holiday Season?

How Do I Navigate the Holiday Season?

If you live in the United States, you are no stranger to the holiday spirit. When late November/early December rolls around, the city I live in is lit up with Christmas decor. There are even streets that compete to see who has the best Christmas decorations!

I must admit, I love seeing the bright lights everywhere. But, I also admit that navigating this season as a Muslim can be hard.

Trust me, I understand

The holidays are increasingly commercialized. It almost feels like Christmas is becoming seen less of a “Christian” holiday and more of an “American” holiday.

I get it. We already try so hard to assert that we belong in America. So, it can feel isolating being one of the only students in your class not talking about their anticipated Christmas gifts. And it can feel odd explaining to others why you don’t celebrate.

Don’t Get It Twisted

In this age of interfaith awareness, it’s easy to fall into a trap of compromising one’s beliefs for the sake of “unity.”

Let’s be clear. No Muslim should be celebrating Christmas. The justification I use is simple. Christmas is claimed to be a Christian holiday and Muslims are not Christian.

“But Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus. Jesus is still a prophet in Islam!”

Absolutely. He is, may peace be upon him. But Christmas is not a celebration of Jesus, the prophet. It is a celebration of Jesus, the son of God. To understand, let us go back to a prime distinction between Christianity and Islam.

{And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.” You have done an atrocious thing. The heavens almost rupture therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation that they attribute to the Most Merciful a son.} (Maryam 19:88-91)

I believe those verses are proof enough that we should be very mindful of how we interact with Christian traditions. This can be a touchy subject so please take more specific questions (such as celebrating with non-Muslim family members) to a religious scholar.

OK… So What Do I Do During the Christmas Break?

If you’re in school, you’re probably on winter break and maybe needing some ideas on what to do. Well here are a few!

Umrah Trip

Holy Mosque in Makkah

Let’s start off with the grandest of winter break ideas! Several Islamic travel agencies and organizations plan group trips for the end of December.

This alleviates the issue of needing a mahram for women. Remember that in order to make it to umrah, one must be invited by Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala). So start making duaa for that invitation!

Umrah requires several months of planning but maybe you can anticipate it for your next winter break. And may Allah give you the opportunity, the financial ability and the health to make this amazing pilgrimage for his sake.


Read Also: How to Perform Umrah


 

MAS-ICNA Convention

MAS-ICNA Convention

If you’re looking to travel but not internationally, consider one of the largest gatherings of Muslims in the United States. The MAS-ICNA convention offers a wide range of Islamic speakers and interesting topics.

There is programming for almost everyone from children to young professionals. They even have financial aid options available. I have been to the convention a few times and loved it! Plus, there is an amazing bazaar where you can meet and support Muslim business owners.

 

New Year’s Eve

New Year 2019

There’s something a local masjid youth group has done for a few years that I love and want to share with you! This youth group plans a winter ball for young ladies in the community to provide an alternative to New Year’s Eve parties. There’s great food, dessert, and people. It’s a really fun time.

The theme focuses on new beginnings and encourages guests to think about how to revive their relationship with Allah.

If you’re part of a youth group, consider putting on a similar event to provide young Muslims with a halal option for December 31st. Or even do it at home!

 

Volunteer

Team of volunteers stacking hands

One beautiful thing about this season is many people are thinking about how they can give back to those in need. So let’s join in that legacy. Soup kitchens, food banks and Meals on Wheels especially need volunteers due to the higher food demand during the holidays.

Check in with your local community organizations and ask what opportunities are available during the holiday season. Then gather friends, family or your youth group and go!

 

Enjoy the Winter

Little Girl with Ice Skates

Once Christmas and New Year’s pass, it will still be winter! If you live in northern or midwestern states, enjoy the snow (or not… global warming?). Go sledding or skiing.

And if you are living in a warmer area but still want that winter experience, go ice skating!

 

Adab, adab, adab!

Not celebrating Christmas does not negate the commands to be a good neighbor. So be respectful to your Christian neighbors who are celebrating.

I’m reminded of the instance of when a Christian delegation from the city of Najran met the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). When it came time for the delegation to perform their evening prayers, the Prophet willfully and respectfully allowed them the time to do so. Let us continue in this adab of our beloved Prophet.


About Hana Alasry

Hana Alasry is a Yemeni American Muslim community organizer and activist working most heavily with MAS Youth. Her work focuses heavily on Muslim youth development, Islamic tarbiya and the Yemen crisis. She is currently in PA school studying medicine at the University of Detroit Mercy.

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