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Call a Family Meeting about Christmas

By Sound Vision Staff Writer

With the ubiquitous decorations, Santa Claus beckoning, and classmates anxiously awaiting their presents, your kids are probably wondering once again: what's the big deal about Christmas?

Some of them may have just accustomed themselves to the yearly celebration. Younger kids may be feeling curious, jealous even, of all of the excitement surrounding the event.

This is why it's critical to share the Islamic perspective on Christmas with your kids. Even if they know what it's about, they may feel left out, pressured, or even confused about it and where they stand as Muslims. Here are some ways to bring it up with them.

1.              Call a family meeting

While you can talk about the issue individually, the benefit of getting everyone together is that they can find out how different age groups are handling it. Dealing with Christmas in the office is different from facing it in high school or elementary school.

2.              Start with the recitation of the Quran

Begin with a recitation of Surah Al Fatiha, the first chapter of the Quran. Follow it up with a recitation of Surah al-Ikhlas, the 112th chapter of the Quran. Make sure the translations of both are read out loud. You can have each recitation done by a different family member.

3.              Get to know the territory

Have everyone share what kids at school, coworkers at the office, or the neighbors have been saying about Christmas. Whether it's plans to go to church for Mass, visiting relatives, or getting lots of gifts under the Christmas tree, get as much information as possible so that each point can be addressed.

4.              Discuss Muslim and Christian beliefs about Jesus, peace be upon him.

Knowing these similarities and differences will teach them to respect beliefs different from their own. Ignorance only fuels misunderstanding. It will be good for parents to read our article about similarities and differences in the Christian and Islamic belief in Jesus, peace be upon him.

5.              Explain the need for multicultural understanding

The USA is a rich mosaic of colors, cultures and backgrounds. There are more than 80 million people of color in America.  There are followers of Native American faiths, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs who live in the US and practice their faith, while the majority of people here are born into the Christian faith. Each religious group has its celebrations and festivals. Just as Christians have their Christmas, for instance, Muslims have their Eids. It's important for Muslims to know about Christmas, just as we expect people of other faiths to know about Eid.

6.              Stress the importance of respect for other faiths in Islam

Share how Islam has taught us to respect others' beliefs and faith traditions, emphasizing that disagreement must never amount to disrespect. Use examples from the life of Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him, to show how he gave the utmost respect to other religious groups by allowing them to pray in his own mosque and by instituting the freedom of religion and self-governence in the constitution of Madinah.

7.              Emphasize the respect for Jesus and all Prophets in Islam

Explain how every Prophet in Islam is treated with dignity and respect. One example is how we say 'peace be upon him' after each of their names. Another is how they are highly praised by God in the Quran. Jesus, peace be upon him, is important because belief in him can serve as a bridge between Muslims and Christians.

8.           Talk about gifts and decorations

You can't talk about Christmas without discussing these two elements of the celebration. Don't be surprised if your kids share feelings of longing for presents and pretty decorations.  Ask them what would make Eid, their holiday, special for them. Gifts? A trip? This should lead to a lively discussion and great ideas that you can implement next Eid Insha Allah (God willing).

9.              Respecting others does not mean compromising your faith

Islam is a unique faith which asks Muslims to believe in all the Prophets, recognize all the Scriptures given to them, respect all other faiths, and not force our faith on anyone else. But at the same time the Prophet Muhammed himself, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, asked us to be firm about our faith and its practices. Respect for other beliefs never means compromising our faith. God given freedom to practice our religion is also embodied in the constitution of the United States which allows freedom of religion to all citizens. It is in recognition of this freedom and the celebration of diversity in the US that the post office issued the Eid Mubarak stamp as it did for other celebrations.

10.           Make the meeting interactive

Family meetings should not be just lectures by an adult. Although the topics for this meeting are all serious, you can turn them into interactive sessions based on the age of the children attending. You may decide to do two meetings instead of one.

11.           Putting this all into practice

When we tested this meeting concept and format in our editor's home, it went very well. The youngest participant was eight years old, was the most active and knew most of the stuff, thanks to the other meetings and the Islamic schools he attends. However, the meeting reinforced the messages which we wanted to come across and the evening ended with a storytelling session with all the lights off. It was fun!


Your Comments

Ali, Japan - wrote on 12/29/2004 3:02:37 AM
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Comment: Salam Alikum, Great Article! Unfortunately...it is very difficult to convince our kids about whats going on in the world, especially in their schooling! I teach my kids to respect other religions...I teach them about the star of David, the Cross and the cresent (Halal).....I believe they understand the difference and even discuss it openly with their friends.....I believe the most important aspect of teaching young children about life and religion is find a common denominator.....what do we have in common 1st. You would be amazed......Keep an open mind policy with your kids and yourself. Communication is the key to our success in living a peaceful. This is wonderful world if we only believe it is! Ali


maryam , uk - wrote on 12/25/2004 7:05:46 AM
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Comment: Asalamualaikom wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu. BarakAllahufeek for this lovely article. It made me cry! It is so hard living in a kaffar country without all this hype! This is the first year i have really noticed christmas as i had to take my son out of school 3 weeks early because there was just too much going on and he was coming home and talking about it, his teachers were good and tried to keep him as separate as possible but this was strange for him! I explained to him what it was all about and mashaAllah he was fine about not going to school. But also we have easter coming up soon! So we will have to explain that also! May it help make us all stronger in our faith in Allah, and Islam as the true religion,ameen. Alhamdulilah we are muslims! ALLAHUAKBAR.


Sikandar Ali, Stockholm - wrote on 12/22/2004 8:31:37 AM
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Comment: Mashallah! I think this article provide a practicle guidline to handle the period of Christmas sensibly and adopt a process of counciling with their children


Amina, New Orleans, Louisiana US - wrote on 12/18/2004 5:25:19 PM
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Comment: Alhamdullilah! Jazak Allah Khair for always making the effort to recognize the challenges of raising a Muslim family in America. As a mother of one child, a three year old, this holiday has brought a great deal of stress and confusion for me. My child comes home from school all excited about all the symbols of Christmas and Hannukah and I do not really know what to do. I cannot deny it. Christmas is exciting and the concept of Santa Claus is over the top. I have to admit, that is a pretty good story. A man flying through the sky bringing toys to good girls and boys. She does not understand why she has been good and Santa is not bringing her toys. I tried to explain that Santa is just pretend. She argued that he is. I tried to remind her of all of her presents during Eid. She wants to know why Santa does not like Muslims. I cannot deny that Christmas is fun and exciting. The music and lights and gifts! Still, to have my 3 year old feeling so left out is painful for her and for me. I do wish I could identify and move to a place where her exposure to Muslims would be far greater than her exposure here in the city where we live. Thanks for listening.


Aisha, California - wrote on 12/14/2004 3:59:46 PM
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Comment: I think this was a good article. As a mom of three, I homeschool my children and have considered public school but decided not to sue to the holiday confussion issue. But everywhere we go christmas is there. In the stores, in the library, food places etc. My kids love the lights, and wonder what is wrong with christmas if we love Jesus also. Why do we not celebrate his birthday. Ive thought about it, even taking the kids to see the beautiful lights, but I myself am confused, and do not wish to confuse them either. So I just say, we are Muslim, and that is not our holiday. But I wonder if that is enough. Aisha


Ghada, CA - wrote on 12/12/2004 7:08:40 PM
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Comment: jazakum Allah kair for this informative article, it is very helpful to gather different ideas about how to deal with the up-coming holidays. May Allah help us all to rais a proud, strong generation of American Muslims.


abdussalam, india(Mumbai) - wrote on 12/11/2004 12:01:04 AM
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Comment: jazak allah it nice to read the guide line i will try it and farword this message to all my couleages


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