On Christmas, Eid, and Tolerant Muslim Children
Pre-Islam, Christmas was always my favorite time of the year, interesting since my family and I were among the few Christians who didn't celebrate the holiday. I won't get into detail about the why...different post for a different time. In any case, the movies, music, and wrapped gifts were something that I loved as a child.
I remembered longing to be a part of that tradition. I wanted a Christmas tree soooooooo bad. Most importantly, I wanted my favorite gifts delivered by Santa, placed perfectly beneath the tree.
Yet, my parents never gave in to the pressure that we felt as children to participate. Our faith, in their opinion, dictated that Christmas was not to be celebrated, and we would follow these rules too.
Now, I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't feel angry or that I wasn't jealous of my classmates who did celebrate but I got over it. When Matt and I had children, we decided that we had to make our Eids popping!
|Eid Gifts At Their Jeddah's House|
Our kids shouldn't have to long for Christmas because as I explained it to them, you get two with Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. As they get older, they understand/appreciate this more and more and they haven't asked about celebrating Christmas in years.
Not only do I take time to explain to them the differences in religions, I also remind them of the similarity in the Abrahamic religions too. I also explain to them how important it is to not ruin the traditions and celebrations of others. No, it's not okay to tell your friends that Santa doesn't exist and that Christmas isn't real.
Instead, take this time to explain our holidays! Talk about the gifts you receive during your two holidays and what you're celebrating. You don't have to rain on someone's parade in order to make yourself feel better.
As muslim parents we do have to develop boundaries around practices and holidays that we don't celebrate but we don't have to be rude, ignorant, or extra about it.
For example, my child goes to a private school that is non-denominational. A few weeks ago, he came home with an assignment that would have him recite a Christian prayer for an assembly. I explained to him that he'd have to sit that particular assignment out because it was a performance and not for learning purposes within the classroom. If he had to read a passage from the bible as part of a World History course, I'd in turn have no issues with that.
However, did I also allow him to participate in his school's celebration of light ceremony. Yes! Their ceremony celebrates holiday traditions in the Jewish and Christian religions, and Kwanzaa which is an African American holiday that is culturally based. He just skipped singing the parts in a song that might be considered shirk (or the putting of partners with God as Muslims believe Jesus a most beloved and important prophet only). Our goal is to always try to find a happy compromise, use it as a teachable moment, and develop multicultural tendencies in our children so they don't grow up intolerant and rude.
To that extent, as an adult, I will wish someone a Happy Holiday's or a Merry Christmas just as I appreciate when Christians wish me a Happy Eid. If friends and family buy us gifts we don't refuse them just like I would hope they wouldn't refuse a gift we give around Eid time. It's all about reciprocity in our book.
Boundaries are important, raising self assured children who are tolerant and culturally responsible is also important as well. To that end, you won't see us bashing anyone be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or non-religious about how they choose to celebrate their holiday or the holidays of others.
In our home, the goal is to set the standard for our children and in some cases, share them with our family and friends.
Actions speak better than words and actions unlike words leave no room to determine whether there was some ill intent. May we all understand that our differences are what makes us unique and beautiful and may we celebrate them just as much as we should celebrate our commonalities.
How Abrahamic Religions Are Related