Christmas time is fast approaching us and for many new Muslims this is a very difficult time. We are faced with dilemmas: should we go and sit with our families? Should we not?
What many born Muslims don’t understand is that this time is full of traditions and fun memories and happiness, and it’s difficult for new Muslims because we don’t know if we should abandon that or not.
I remember looking back at my family time at Christmas and it’s always been full of fun. It’s just about family, we are not a religious family.
The 25th and 26th. of December in the UK are public holidays. So, this is when the whole of families can sit together, because everybody seems to be off on the same time.
I’m from a coal mining background, so you know my dad used to have two weeks off for Christmas and his brothers and all of my relatives actually. So it was just a time that we all used to congregate together and just enjoy the season; it was never religious.
We weren’t a religious family, we didn’t go to church to celebrate, there was no actual religious celebration in it whatsoever, unless you count the hymns and the nativity play done at every school, which still goes on till now in the UK.
With my family, we used to go to my grandmother’s house from my mother’s side on Christmas Day. We used to sit all together, me, my two sisters, my parents, my grandmother, two of my aunties, and my cousin and have a nice dinner.
Then after this, we would reenact school plays we used to do, for example Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty… And we would also play with some toys that we had, or we would watch the films on TV…
Then, the big family gets together at night and the kids would play games… it wouldd be full of sandwiches, and these lovely cakes and things that kids love. And then on boxing day we would do the exact same again with my dad’s family.
So, it was just purely family time for us.
As New Muslim
When I became Muslim, I didn’t stop it because it was the only time that we can sit together. And because we had no religious element in it whatsoever, there was nothing wrong with it.
In Islam, we are supposed to keep our family ties. When I first got married, my husband had his first time with us, and it carried on up until my daughter was born.
I have missed just three Christmases with my family. The first one was actually the first year I became a Muslim, but it was through work, I had to work.
I think that was the first time I probably felt how any new Muslim feels when they are isolated or maybe pushed out by their families, because I was completely alone and it was so horrible for me. I just remember just being so sad…
So, my suggestion here would be at least surround yourself with people who are also not celebrating it, so you’re not feeling alone and you’re not feeling sad. Or maybe you can treat yourself for a few days away just to forget that, and just try and have a little bit of fun instead.
The other two times were my daughter’s birth because she was born Christmas Eve which is the 24th of December, and we were in hospital. But that was a joyous occasion in itself.
The third time was I was ill and been diagnosed with cancer five months beforehand. So, I was in Egypt for Christmas and Muslims in Egypt don’t celebrate Christmas. Christians celebrate it on the 7th of January.
So, it was just a very normal time for me.
This year will be our first year in Canada… We will just have a quiet time just the three of us having some dinner, and I will do a live video chat with my family so that I can still be a part of it in some way…
Islam teaches us never cut the ties of family, so this is how I’m going to create strong bonds with them.
For those of you who are wondering what to do, if you are still close with your family I suggest you should go and visit them at least even if you are not comfortable with the whole Merry Christmas or giving gifts.,,
It’s very important to keep those family ties. You don’t have to participate and you shouldn’t participate in any of the religious meaning, but at least family gets together, this is okay…
(From Discovering Islam archive)