Far too many times, enjoying Christmas as a Muslim is looked down upon. “But we don’t celebrate Christmas. It’s haram”, I often get told when I say to those around me that I absolutely love Christmas time.
Yes, Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas but what is wrong with enjoying it and taking part in all the fun surrounding it? In Islam, Jesus is also one of our prophets. We’ve become a society where it’s so offensive to take part in other cultures, religions and their traditions, that we aren’t even allowed to talk about it.
Muslims often get told to integrate into British society but when they try to integrate, they get slated for disrespecting their own religion. Christmas is a Christian holiday but nowadays it is a universal holiday that is celebrated by anyone and everyone - even those who are not even religious. This can be offensive to some but it’s just the way it is now. It may have lost its purpose but the main thing about Christmas, I believe, is a time for everyone to come together, reflect and celebrate diversity.
As a Muslim myself, brought up in a Muslim household, we still get together as a family on Christmas Day and have a big Christmas lunch, with all the traditional trimmings. I’m British, all my family are British and we live in a mainly Christian country - we are integrating to that culture. What is so bad about celebrating Christmas the traditional way, but as a Muslim? We don’t exchange gifts or have a tree but we do what Christmas is meant to be about - which is being with family and friends and helping the needy. We often see a huge amount of effort by non-Muslims during the month of Ramadan, feeding the poor and even taking part in fasting themselves and as a Muslim myself, I am so grateful for those who do that. It makes me feel warm and thankful. It’s only right that we give something back. When it comes to charity and empathy, religion should not get in the way because at the end of the day, we are all human.
Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain has recently released a book about her favourite Christmas recipes, and many went onto criticise her because apparently, as a Muslim she has no right to cook festive foods. Many fellow Muslims are even questioning as to why she would write a book about Christmas. Well, why not?
Boxer Amir Khan has put up a Christmas tree in his house, with the help of his young daughter. What I like about that is that he isn’t, like many Muslim parents, telling his child that it is “haram” (forbidden) to celebrate Christmas. Far too often, parents are telling their children this, and it just leaves a very bitter image about Christmas whilst their growing up. This is a very dangerous thing to do. Personally, I fear it can lead that child to an extreme path. Living in a western society, we must teach kids to be open about and respect other religions and cultures. Radicalisation can happen in any form and telling children that other religions and cultures, other than Islam, is “wrong” can lead to a very dangerous path.
Christmas is my favourite time of year. I like to decorate my room all Christmassy and watch Christmas movies and just generally feel festive. I would like a tree but for my family that is too much. When I have my own house and family I will certainly take part in Christmas in a more traditional way and I will never tell my children that Christmas is forbidden.