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My Non-Muslim Parents & Xmas

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Dec 24, 2018

Question

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum. I would like to ask a question in relation to my non-Muslim parents. My parents have brought a Christmas toy for my unborn son who I am to give birth to any day now, in sha’ Allah. While I appreciate this very much, I am not sure whether I am allowed Islamically to accept this gift. They know he is a Muslim, but they have still gone ahead and bought him a toy reindeer. I think they will be hurt if I told them that I cannot give this to my son. While I don't celebrate Christmas myself, is it okay for my son to open presents and share Christmas with dinner with his non-Muslim grandparents on the understanding that I will teach him from the start that he is a Muslim and that he is only doing this to please his grandparents? I just feel it is rather unfair to tell my parents "I am a Muslim, so I am not going to share Christmas with you and neither is your grandson". What is the Islamic viewpoint on this subject?

Counselor

Answer


Xmas

In this counseling answer:

•Make sure that you emphasize that this hasn’t changed you in any radical way, and that you strongly desire to keep your relationship with them intact. Make sure that they have access to their grandchildren, but at the same time, make it clear to them that you will not tolerate any attempts to teach them anything other than Islam or allow them to eat haram foods or participate in haram activities.

• Don’t begrudge them for their hurt feelings, and if necessary, allow them time to work through any issues that they may have: it may go deeper than your choice to become a Muslim.

• Do not allow yourself to get dragged into ”Christianity vs. Islam,” or any sort of interfaith debate with your parents or other family members.

 


As-Salamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatulallahi wa Barakatuh,

It is good to start thinking about these awkward situations before your child is born. In this way, you can help to avoid making the situation more difficult than it needs to be.

First of all, what your parents are doing is quite natural for them. This is a part of their tradition which they want to share with their loved ones. At the same time, they more than likely have no concept of Islam other than what they are exposed to through the media and through you, as they essentially live in a locality that has no or very few Muslims. This is not helped by a media that reports ‘banning Christmas” because of the idea that is better not to wish the public “A Happy Xmas”, but to wish “A Happy Season”, in order not to offend.

For those whose tradition is to celebrate Christmas, it makes them want to hold onto it more despite the general knowledge amongst Christian scholars that Xmas (i.e. 25th December) has nothing to do with the birth of Prophet Issa (Jesus). In fact, he was not born at that time of the year at all!


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Your child is to be born within a few days, and what is sure for at least the first year of his life is that he will be totally unaware of the significance of a reindeer. It will just be a toy from his grandparents that he may or may not play with. Thank them for their considerate gift as this costs you nothing. We are advised that we should never ridicule the religious beliefs of others, no matter how much we disagree with them:

(“And insult not those whom they worship besides God, lest they insult God wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fair-seeming to each people its own doings; then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do” ) (An-Anam 6: 108)

(” And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet with a better (greeting) than it or return it; surely Allah takes account of all things”) (An-Nisa 4: 86).

Let them know in a casual way the importance of Prophet Issa in Islam:

(“... We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear arguments and strengthened him with the holy spirit… “) (Al-Baqarah 2: 87)
(“And We sent after them in their footsteps Issa, son of Mariam, verifying what was before him of the Tawrat and We gave him the Injeel [The Gospels],in which was guidance and light…”(Al Maidah 5: 46)

As your son grows older, of course, the situation will become more awkward, but as a Muslim, you should know that what Islam says about not offending your parents regardless of whether they are Muslims or not, still applies. Of course, this is a true test of our faith, i.e. learning how to maintain family relations and your deen, at the same time. The only exception is when what ones parents want would require us from separating from our religion.

American convert, Saraji Umm Za`id, gave the following advice which applies to relations with non-Muslim family members not just for festive seasons. It will definitely help you when awkward moments are upon you:

• Allow them time to be pleased with these positive changes, so that they may see that Islam is for the better, not just for you, but for all people. If they see that Islam is “good for you,” they may react more positively when you talk with them about it.

• Make sure that you emphasize that this hasn’t changed you in any radical way, and that you strongly desire to keep your relationship with them intact. Make sure that they have access to their grandchildren, but at the same time, make it clear to them that you will not tolerate any attempts to teach them anything other than Islam or allow them to eat haram foods or participate in haram activities.

• Don’t begrudge them for their hurt feelings, and if necessary, allow them time to work through any issues that they may have: it may go deeper than your choice to become a Muslim.

• Do not allow yourself to get dragged into ”Christianity vs. Islam,” or any sort of interfaith debate with your parents or other family members.

• If a family member hurls a “judgment” at you (e.g., “You’re a Satan worshipper who’s going to hell!”), do NOT respond in kind! If your relationship outside of this religious difference is salvageable, then avoid any religious discussions until everyone is willing to discuss it in a more open minded and civilized manner.

• Finally, do not allow yourself to be baited or upset by any “anti-Islamic” things your parents and family might say.

I pray that you find the above useful, and I wish you a sound and healthy delivery and congratulations in advance.

***

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About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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