Every year at this time I am struggling to explain to her that as Muslims we don't celebrate Christmas without conveying the impression that those who do are bad or wrong. All my side of my family does celebrate and sometimes send presents for her, though we don't tell her the presents are for Christmas. And of course, all the shops around us feed the atmosphere of celebration. On the other hand, I don't want her to feel like she's getting a raw deal and that being a Muslim is second best. Can you help me how to deal with that?
In this counseling answer:
•Sit with her and talk to her about the origins of Christmas, why it is celebrated and ask her if she agrees with the reason it is celebrated.
•Discuss with her the similarities of both Islam and Christianity in regards to Isa (PBUH) as well as the differences. If she views Christmas as just a festive time with no spiritual connection (as she is only 10) you may want to explain that Christmas does have a deep spiritual connection and meaning for Christians, just as Eid has for Muslims.
•Ask anyone who has a very curious young child. Instead, find ways to help your children decide for themselves that Christmas is not their holiday, and provide an alternative path to participate.
As salamu alaykum,
Thank you for writing to us. It is that time of year again when the excitement of a holiday captures the attention of most children. This is also a time of difficulty for some Muslim parents as children often seek to become a part of the festive atmosphere.
Your daughter is probably feeling festive and catching these feelings from the fun times at school wherein tree decorating, sweets, gift giving and other traditions surrounding Christmas is in full swing. It is natural for her to want to participate, evening knowing that it is not an Islamic holiday, the joy of other children can be infectious!
There are many ways in which Muslim parents handle the holiday times, whether it is Christmas or some other holiday that is happening. Some Muslim parents strictly forbid their children from participating in any way, shape or form. Other Muslim parents allow their child to experience others’ holidays and joys outside of the home by letting their children participate in holiday parties, gift giving and other related activities but do not have trees, gifts etc in their home.
Some Muslim parents will decorate their homes and have tree’s and gifts, feeling there is no harm as they are not celebrating in the Christian way, but are letting their children experience a holiday joy. I am not a scholar so I cannot speak on what should be done or how. I do know that as Muslims we are not to compromise our faith.
I would kindly suggest that insha’Allah, you sit with her and talk to her about the origins of Christmas, why it is celebrated and ask her if she agrees with the reason it is celebrated. Discuss with her the similarities of both Islam and Christianity in regards to Isa (PBUH) as well as the differences. If she views Christmas as just a festive time with no spiritual connection (as she is only 10) you may want to explain that Christmas does have a deep spiritual connection and meaning for Christians, just as Eid has for Muslims.
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However, Christmas time has become very commercialized and sadly (for Christians) has lost a lot of the meaning it was supposed to have for Christians. Thus, it’s appeal to some non-Muslim children. There are a few ways to deal with respecting others traditions/holidays, staying in alignment with Islamic beliefs while building bridges. NoorKids got creative addressing this issue with children stating “Most often, forbidding something outright makes it more enticing.
Ask anyone who has a very curious young child. Instead, find ways to help your children decide for themselves that Christmas is not their holiday, and provide an alternative path to participate. One activity that we’ve developed to achieve these goals is to bake cookies for Christian neighbors and friends, along with a card that shares our love for Prophet ‘Isa (AS) too. Through this, we can build bridges and educate others about what Muslims believe about this important figure”.
With that said, during Christmas, you may (or may not) feel comfortable with the above approach which would insha’Allah teach your daughter respect for others, while honoring our own holidays and beliefs. You may wish to discuss with your daughter the fact that as Muslim’s we have our holidays as well that are joyful and festive. Just because our holidays and celebrations do not fall on December 25th does not mean we are “second best.” It just means we have different days and ways of celebrating.
You may wish to start pre-planning for Eid around this time by getting her idea’s and suggestions for Eid parties and celebrations. In this way, you are taking the focus of any loss of fun she may be feeling and placing it on our anticipated beloved Eid holiday. There are many ways to help children get through the Christmas season without feeling conflicted. Promoting joy and pride in our holidays, as well as being happy for those celebrating their holidays-is one. We wish you the best!
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.