My name is Samantha Dixon. I am a Muslim convert and I’m a YouTuber. Today I want to talk about something that is pretty heavily discussed this time of year in the convert community of Muslim: Christmas.
A lot of us came from either Christian or American households, and a lot of people celebrate Christmas; even if it’s not for religious purposes, it’s a tradition in American culture to spend time with your family, get gifts, eat a lot of food… So it can be hard this time of year, especially when you’re a new Muslim and you convert on your own; so you don’t necessarily have a family to deal with this change.
For me personally, it wasn’t hard because I got married in my first year after becoming Muslim. So I immediately had a life partner and a network of in-laws that were Muslims to help me navigate through this time of year. And my family that does celebrate Christmas, they’re also very supportive of my religion and my choices. So it was relatively easy for me.
But for some people that’s not always the case. When you’re a new Muslim and your family has a different religion, you want them to respect your choices, but at the same time you don’t want to hurt their feelings. It can be hard.
It’s All about Intentions
When you have family members that want to give you or your kids Christmas presents, accept them. I personally would accept them, but I will say that there is an understanding that this is not a Christmas present. I don’t personally receive gifts, but my mother will buy gifts for my kids because she buys presents for all the grandkids. She would tell my kids, “I love you and I don’t want you left out, so these are for you.”
So she and my kids are in the understanding that these are not Christmas presents, these are “I love you” presents.
It’s important to know that, in Islam, intentions are everything. So you do your best and it’s acknowledged.
So as a new Muslim, you try to do what you can. You try to not completely disassociate yourself from your family and friends, but you’re also trying to be the best Muslim that you can be.
So, do I decorate my house for Christmas? No.
Do I buy Christmas gifts for my kids? No.
Do I even say “merry Christmas?” No.
Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas
If they tell me “merry Christmas”, I will respond with, “happy holidays” because it is a vague response; it doesn’t directly say I’m celebrating Christmas, but it’s showing that I respect your choice too.
The Muslim holidays go on the lunar calendar, so it will rotate around the year and eventually will be around this time anyways. So if I say “happy holiday”, I could be talking about mine!
But the important thing is to know that when people say “happy holidays” instead of “merry Christmas”, it’s not out of disrespect; it’s directly for the purpose of trying to be respectful. Because I could say I don’t celebrate Christmas but you have a good day! Instead I say “happy holidays”. And I would appreciate if everybody would just accept that for what it is and keep it moving.
A lot of new Muslims aren’t as confident in their deen; they try to please people and make everybody happy; they don’t want to rock the boat with family and friends; or they don’t want to feel attacked from the Muslim community for trying to appease family. So it’s a really hard balance to keep, because you feel like you’re in the middle.
I think that as long as you know what your intentions are and you’re doing your best, then it’s ok.
For example, I was wearing this red scarf earlier and I put this green shirt on because they had long sleeves.
At first it wasn’t intentional, but at some point, before I started this video, I had realized that these colors are technically like signature Christmas colors. But I don’t celebrate Christmas!
If I’m walking down the street and I’m wearing these two items, the assumption should not be that I’m a Muslim and celebrating Christmas. Even if you make an assumption about me, I don’t personally care.
So, do we celebrate Christmas? No.
Do we respect the fact that other people do? Yes.
And that’s good enough.
We respect your Christmas so we want you to respect our Eid.
If you want to discuss this a little bit further, hit me up!