As merry and jolly Christmas is for those who celebrate, as challenging it can be for those who do not. There are many Muslims, who as children, wish that they could have a Christmas tree with a ton of gifts brought to them by Santa Clause, and who even as adults, find it hard not to engage in all of the celebratory activities throughout the holiday with their friends and coworkers.
While there are some Muslims who choose to celebrate Christmas, the majority do not as it is generally understood to be haram. Some Muslims go as far as saying that it is shirk since the religious beliefs tied to the holiday contradict with our core Islamic beliefs. And that’s a risk not many Muslims are willing to take.
So for all the Muslims out there who may be struggling to navigate Christmas yourself or with your children, we’re sharing five pieces of advice to help you get through the holiday a little easier.
1. Know You Are Not Alone
While it may feel like you are the only one that can’t partake in all of the holiday activities, in reality you are not. There are many other people from various religious groups that also do not celebrate Christmas, such as Jews, Hindus, Quakers, Jehovah Witnesses, among others. So while we may feel isolated as Muslims, and like it’s just another thing among the list of things we can’t do, our experience is shared among many others as well.
We just have to recognize that, although Christmas is the most popularized holiday in the U.S. with all of the colorful lights and decorations filling the streets, and the Christmas songs that can be heard at almost every public place, each religion has it’s own special holidays and traditions that are celebrated in their own unique ways. Rather than feel bad about not being able to celebrate Christmas, you can find ways to make Eid special and something you and your family are looking forward to. Plan new traditions, deck your home out in beautiful Eid decorations, and celebrate with family and friends in a memorable and meaningful way.
2. Don’t Be a Grinch
Although we don’t celebrate Christmas or share the beliefs that the holiday is associated with, we still need to be respectful and tolerant of those who do celebrate. So while we can certainly be honest as to why we don’t celebrate, we shouldn’t make others feel like there is something wrong with their beliefs and traditions. This includes making sure our children understand and show the same respect, and don’t spoil the holiday for other children by telling them Santa Clause isn’t real, for example. That just isn’t cool!
3. Make Your Own Traditions
Everything is closed on Christmas Day, and almost everyone has the day off, so why not use it as an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends? Have a game and/or movie night, order takeout, bake yummy treats, and just have a good time! It’s also a chance to just unwind from the busyness of life and indulge in some self-care, like finally read that book you’ve been meaning to start, take on a small home project, or just relax guilt-free in bed all day. Make the most of this day off as best you can.
4. Use it as a Learning Opportunity
As Muslims, we believe in Jesus (PBUH) as one of the beloved messengers of Allah. Therefore, we can also use this time to learn more about him and his significance as depicted in Islam. We can read the Quran to learn more about his life and teachings, as well as other reliable resources and texts that are written about him from the Islamic perspective. It would also be valuable to teach your children about Jesus (PBUH) as our Prophet so that they develop an Islamic understanding and appreciation of him early on. This would also help them understand why we don’t celebrate Christmas as Muslims rather than simply saying “because it’s haram.”
Here are a few Islamic books written about Jesus:
5. Stay True to Yourself
Don’t feel like you need to compromise your beliefs in order to fit in or please others. I know in certain circumstances and situations that may be easier said than done, so do the best you can, and remember that it’s okay to say no to that Christmas party you were invited to or to partake in the Secret Santa Gift Swap at work if you don’t want to. It’s more important to stay true to yourself, to respect your faith, and do what pleases Allah first and foremost. Plus, most people will be understanding and respectful of your decision as long as you are respectful of them as well.
If you are feeling conflicted, frustrated, or stressed during this time of year, it would be helpful to talk to a friend who may understand and to also surround yourself with family and friends. Also, in times like this, it’s important to make the extra effort to get closer to Allah to strengthen your bond and conviction. Reading Quran, making dua, praying consistently, and learning more about Islam are a few ways to grow your love for, confidence in, and pride of Islam.
For Muslim converts who are also finding this time of year very difficult, check out this insightful and helpful blog post by Hanna, another Muslim convert, who shares her tips, experience, and what did and did not work for her in .
How do you navigate Christmas as a Muslim? Share your experience & advice with us in the comments below!