In this counseling answer:
• You need not to object to the family gathering. However, you must politely tell them that you do not believe in the religious background of Christmas.
• Another point to note is that if you are spending time with your parents at Christmas and it is having a negative impact on your religion, then it must be avoided. This is because, clearly, your religion takes precedence over anything else. However, this does not mean you break ties.
• Perhaps you can enjoy time with your family after their Christmas party when things have settled down.
Assalamu Alaikum Dear Sister,
Rest assured that you are not probably the only one missing the feeling of happiness from your past years celebrating Christmas. Many new converts and even some Muslims wonder why as Western Muslims we do not have an event as festive, grand, and generous as that of Christmas. I personally believe that Christmas is a great festival of Western culture and brings warmth and feelings of happiness to everyone, not just Christians.
Christmas coincides with the New Year. Although as Muslims we are not supposed to celebrate Christmas and New Year explicitly, we can celebrate the holidays in general. As long as you are not partaking in the spiritual aspects of Christmas, and activities which involve consumption of alcohol, attending the family Christmas party and spending time with your parents, siblings and relatives are not altogether forbidden. But I am not an Islamic scholar, so please write to Ask the Scholar on our page as well.
Islam, my dear sister, is a combination of worshiping the Creator and respecting and being kind to His creation. More specifically, Allah SWT has ordered us to be kind and respectful to our parents. Although converting to Islam is something that not all parents of other religious backgrounds are readily accepting of, we need to make sure that we try and explain as much as we can to them in the most polite, respectful and easy way.
Allah SWT says in the Quran,
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (17:23)
Therefore, attending the family Christmas, helping prepare food and enjoying time is not going against Islam. However, as you mentioned yourself, you need to refrain from activities which have been deemed forbidden. For example, you need to refrain from being around wine, intermingling too much with the opposite gender, going to the church, or other spiritual and religious activities which are performed on Christmas.
You need not object to the family gathering. However, you must politely tell them that you do not believe in the religious background of Christmas.
Check out this counseling video:
In order to prevent the feelings of unhappiness and guilt on missing the fun activities which you used to do at Christmas, you need to remind yourself that your decision to change your faith came from Allah from within yourself and it is for your own benefit.
You were able to convert to Islam because the power and the ability and the direction came from Allah SWT himself. Therefore, pray to Allah, and seek his guidance. The great thing about Allah SWT is that He knows us, our problems, and our situations, yet He wants us to talk to Him, to ask Him, and He is always ready to answer.
Therefore, the longing for wine and holiday songs will disappear once you try and concentrate on your religion. If you do not want your mind to steer and drive you, you need to give it direction.
Therefore, when such thoughts occupy your mind, divert your mind by remembering Allah, and read books which give reasons to why Islam prohibits some things, and why you have chosen this religion for yourself.
As a Muslim, new or old, we always need to perfect our daily five prayers. It is a special connection that we have with Allah SWT. It is a blessing that we have been bestowed with. And the stronger the connection we have, the less we feel pressured by the temptations, desires and the trials of this world.
Another point to note is that if you are spending time with your parents at Christmas and it is having a negative impact on your religion, then it must be avoided. This is because, clearly, your religion takes precedence over anything else. However, this does not mean you break ties.
Perhaps you can enjoy time with your family after their Christmas party when things have settled down. And the spiritual aspect of Christmas is over and they can spend some quality time with you, without you feeling overwhelmed with the Christmas which once filled your heart.
Therefore, sister, do not think that by spending some quality time with your family, while ensuring that you are limiting yourself to what is allowed in Islam, you are transgressing Allah.
Here is a great article that addresses these feelings of yours. Please, read it!
May Allah bless you,
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.