Christmas is a time for family. It always has been and it always will be. I am not from a religious family, we never went to church, unless it was for a wedding or a funeral, and we never celebrated Christmas in a religious way.
When I was younger it was all about seeing aunties, uncles and cousins, who you just don’t get to see for the vast majority of the year. I always looked forward to the whole family just sitting together, eating dinner and having fun.
When we were little, we would be so excited that we couldn’t sleep because we would get presents and we would give presents. Then after all of the present opening, breakfast, my mom baking some jam tarts and mince pies, we would get dressed in our nice clothes and go to my grandma’s house for Christmas dinner.
We would eat as a big family, laugh about silly things, watch Christmas movies on the TV. Then at night time, one of my aunties would have a big buffet for all of the family and we would be together once again having fun.
Boxing day, would be the exact same but with my dad’s side of the family.
To me that is Christmas.
When I became a Muslim, it never entered my head that I wouldn’t be there because it was family time. We all looked forward to it. We were all older, most of us had flown the nest and moved to different places around the UK, me to Egypt. So it was an even more important time to meet up and just let those fun times roll.
It was never an issue for my husband, in fact they were so excited that he would get to see their “Eid” and join in with all of us because they adore him so much. The emphasis was on family and we are a very close family.
In Islam we are told not to sever ties with our family. If we do it is a sin. If I am not committing any shirk or any sin, then I am doing what is right.
And those who break the Covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e., they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e., they will be far away from Allah’s Mercy); And for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e., Hell). (Quran 13:25)
It is all well and good for someone, who is not in our shoes, to tell us do not participate in Christmas. The issue is, many “born” Muslims do not understand that for the vast majority of converts, Christmas is just not a religious festival. It used to be. It isn’t so much now, especially in the UK, where religion is on the decline. Christmas really is about family get together, presents and bad TV!
It infuriates me when people try and dictate that we shouldn’t be with our families at this time. I can understand the advice if our families insisted we go to church and sing the hymns and stand in prayer at midnight mass, but that simply doesn’t happen.
It is a time that we spend altogether as a family and it is the only time we can do this as one big, extended family. Because most of us are all off at the same time due to public holidays in the West.
I have only ever missed Christmas three times and this year will be the start of a new era as I am too far from my family to attend the festivities. This makes me sad because I won’t see my aunties and uncles and cousins and I don’t know when we will do that again.
So this year and for the foreseeable future, I won’t be eating dinner with them and having fun with them and I won’t be with them and it breaks my heart, because to me, Christmas is all about being with my beautiful family.