It’s just a day. Even if you stretch the Christmas period to a week, or two- it’s still a short amount of time. Honestly, it wont last long. And in my experience, it’ll get easier year after year.
This year is the second Christmas since my mum passed away in 2017. My family wasn’t Christian, which in part made my conversion easier, for me and for them, Alhamdulillah. My family is small, too, so I didn’t have the burden of days an days worth of visits and gift exchanges. In that sense, it might be easy for me to say, that Christmas is only a short period and it wont last long. It’s technically still true.
Christmas reminds me to be grateful. This time of year reminds me to be grateful to Allah for having guided me, for protecting me from disbelief and saving me from other ills that Christmas brings for many- consumerism, the alcohol and other destructive ways this culture celebrates, gluttony, greed… Christmas from a Christian perspective is supposed to be about gratitude, giving, and about Jesus and what he taught, I think- but the reality of how culture skewed its meaning is evident in the behaviour at Christmas time today.
Did He not find you lost and guide you? – Qur’an, 93:7
Closeness to family is a year-round importance. It should remind us of the importance of family and kinship year-round. This responsibility is always on us, not just during religious or cultural celebrations. Whether you’re spending time with (Muslim or non-Muslim) family or not, renew your intentions to make the effort regularly throughout the year too, where possible.
People, be mindful of your Lord, who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them spread countless men and women far and wide; be mindful of God, in whose name you make requests of one another. Beware of severing the ties of kinship: God is always watching over you. – Qur’an, 4:1
Giving gifts is sunnah. I have no intention to give fatawa about the permissibility of involving ourselves in Christmas celebrations at any extent, but giving and receiving gifts is something our Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam did.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to accept gifts and used to give something in return. – Sahih Bukhari (Narrated by Aisha, radiyallahu anha)
Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Give gifts and you will love one another.” – Hasan, Al-Albani
Be honest. Getting involved in any worship related activities is pretty clear- don’t, and our family and friends should be expected to comprehend and respect that. But the reality is a lot of Christmas celebrations, at least where I’m from, have very little to do with what’s being celebrated and more to do with how it’s being celebrated, ie. alcohol and other associated behaviour.
If you don’t want to attend a get together because you know there will be lots of alcohol consumption, then think about how you can say this in a way that will be received best. We don’t want to offend people, and you should hope that they also care about not offending you too. Be straight about why you wont attend but do it positively. “I’m really sorry I can’t come to that, as much as I’d like to see everyone I’m not comfortable being around all the alcohol.” A response like this will avoid future invites, rather than just not “feeling well” on the day or simply saying “I can’t come, sorry.”
We should worry about ourselves and not about what other Muslims are doing at Christmas. Over the past few days I’ve seen some horrible post on social media- some even going as far to question other peoples’ belief if they acknowledge or get involved in Christmas celebrations at all. Although it can be pretty clear cut for some people, for others there are nuanced circumstances surrounding Christmas. For this reason, it would probably be good not to judge and manage your own circumstances based on what other Muslims are doing or saying at this time. Talk to local scholar, someone who is trusted and balanced in their views, if you have questions about what to do.
The believers are brothers, so make peace between your two brothers and be mindful of God, so that you may be given mercy. – Qur’an, 49:10
For those of you who are like me and are spending the day by yourself- a day that would traditionally have you surrounded by loved ones- it’s OK to feel a little sad about it. Your feelings are valid and your experience isn’t unrecognised. If you’re feeling a bit lost, talk to your Lord and focus on worship today, because there is rarely a time when this wont create a sense of purpose and make you feel better.
I created jinn and mankind only to worship Me – Qur’an 51:56