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Cultural Ignorance in My Family: How to Follow Sunnah?

30 July, 2022
Q At my mother's house on Eid some people come to visit especially to greet my elderly grandmother. I live in the US but there is a community of Muslims and people from my homeland (I'm first gen) in the area where we live. I am used to people coming to our home on Eids from when I was younger.

Now that I am matured instead of just following culture I seek to follow the Quran and Sunnah. This Eid a family friend of my parents (male) came to greet me at my mom's house with his sons, and because of the male presence I stayed in my grandma's room, but the children kept opening the door. The man who I speak of then came to greet me and I was uncomfortable because he put his arm around my shoulders and patted my back as a way of greeting me. Mind you I am not a child so I did not feel comfortable with this; also because I know the two genders should not shake hands.

Should I feel guilty for this; do I need to ask for repentance? This is not something I wanted to happen to me and spoil my Eid. I don't think the people in my culture understand the importance of the two genders not free mixing. How can I uphold my modesty despite people around me not caring?

I also felt frustrated about Eid because no one in my family seems to care about making Eid joyous and actually celebrating; taking pictures and sitting in a living room don't seem like celebrating to me. I just feel alone in trying to stay on the straight path.

Answer

If you would like to be treated according to the Quran and the Sunnah, speak with your family and tell them how you feel about certain family and cultural traditions. Support your stance with the teachings of Islam.

You can still uphold the Sunnah at your home, practice modesty by wearing hijab, and kindly refuse to interact in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Should you feel guilty in a situation like this? Check out Sr. Aisha’s answer here.

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.