No Need to feel Alienated. What The Muslim Community Can Do Collectively and Individually at Christmastime

No Need to feel Alienated. What The Muslim Community Can Do Collectively and Individually at Christmastime

Many Muslims have mixed feelings about People Of The Book – mainly Christians. The Quran gives a balanced perspective that we are to reflect upon.

In the fourth chapter of the Quran, the believer reads:

"Oh People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion, nor say of God anything but the truth. Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was (no more than) a messenger of God, and His Word which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in God and His messengers. Say not, 'Trinity.' Desist! It will be better for you, for God is One God, Glory be to Him! (Far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is God as a Disposer of affairs" (4:171). 

Whereas, in the fifth chapter of the Quran, Suratul-Maidah, Allah, The Most High instructs the believer:

". . . and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, 'We are Christians,' because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant" (5:82). 


From these two verses from the book, with no uncertainty that is a Guide to all of humankind, we learn that some People of the Book have strayed away from the correct practice of religion, and yet some are so sincere they are viewed as being close to those who struggle to submit.

So when major Christian holidays arrive, Muslims can be torn between complete rejection and tolerance. Islam is a religion of the middle way and is a balanced practice and way of life. Respecting our neighbors means we recognize their right to believe in their own way, but it does not mean acquiescence that their beliefs are the preferred way. However, many Muslims whether indigenous, immigrant, or reverts to Islam experience a certain angst during Christmastime because it is hard to remain detached from something that the whole nation is celebrating with glee.

But there is no need to feel alienated. Islam promotes community life. It is through this community existence that we enjoy each other, learn from each other, reinforce each other and stand as a nation of people who believe in Allah.

Our mosques and Islamic centers are wonderful resources during times when Muslims in America feel most outnumbered or our concerns and sensibilities are suppressed.  Christmastime is a big deal in America and America’s religious and cultural minorities all experience the heaviness and the hype. But there is a lot we can do:

Mosque/Islamic Center Imams and Administrators 

  • Teach about Prophet Isa, peace be upon him: Many Muslims do not fully understand or know his special place in Islam. 
  • Hold Halaqas (Islamic Study Circles): On Christmas Day or during Christmas week, schedule a learning session and discussion for the community after Salatul-Asr. This serves a double purpose – it allows for growth in community knowledge and it diverts attention from Christmas dinner gatherings.
  • Sponsor a “Winter Vacation Quran Camp”:  Since youth are out of school, a week of Quran study, recitation practice, or Tafseer (explanation of the Quran) geared toward children’s understanding and sensibilities brings the youth together so they can interact and be in each other’s company.
  • Winter cleaning and beautification: Many people have reduced hours and days off of work during this time. This is a perfect opportunity to build community responsibility for property owned/used and connectedness with a project shared.   After working together, let the believers share a meal.
  • Act as a servant leader to the community: Note whether the youth, immigrants or new Muslims are uncomfortable or unsure. Islamic Centers should promote a climate of brotherhood and sisterhood, or offer counseling in response to community needs. 

Individual Muslims 

  • Be a friend to youth, new immigrants, or those who have newly embraced Islam. The Muslims in these three groups may struggle during Christmastime with feelings of being overwhelmed or isolated. The child may feel his/her non-Muslim friends are enjoying something that they can’t.  The Muslim new to Islam may not understand how they should interact with their family. The new immigrant may be overwhelmed by the extravagance of Christmas in America.   In Surah Tawbah (Quran, chapter 9), Allah instructs us that Muslims are protecting friends to each other – let us look after each other.
  • Teach your family and children about Prophet Isa (peace be upon him) in Islam.
  • Cut down on Christmas proliferation within your home. Instead of bombarding yourself and family with Christmas television shows or repeated Christmas commercial jingles that get stuck in the memory, play a dvd or Islamic cable shows or movies that don’t have commercials.
  • Leave the negativity.  Allah instructs us in the sixth chapter of the Quran, Surah Al-Anam (The Cattle) that we are not to insult those who do not believe as we do.  Plus, it is a human failing that things that are presented negatively seem to raise curiosity. Stay away from harsh criticisms of Christmas that make those around you focus on it even more than they would naturally.
  • Increase Ibadah (worship). This is a perfect time to make the daily Salah in the Masjid, even with social distancing and a mask to protect against Covid-19.  Fasting places the focus on religious obedience and reduces the hyper-consumptive properties of the season. Perform Tahajjud. Make Dua that Allah makes it easy upon us all.

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