On Christmas Eve six years ago, I boarded a plane to Saudi Arabia and haven’t been back during the holidays since. When I put my name in the pool for Christmas vacation this year, I raised some eyebrows. As a Muslim, I’m expected to leave Christmas vacation to other expatriates. This year, I decided I was going home for Christmas — whatever the cost.
As a revert, I’m often caught up in the debate about Muslims celebrating Christmas. There are many different opinions floating around about it, religious or otherwise, and I tend to ignore the majority. Every sack of hot air who preaches doom for ‘celebrating the festivals of the kaafir (non-believer) hasn’t got a freaking clue what it is like to be a revert with a non-Muslim family and Christmas memories in tow. There is a fine line that must be walked and the pressure of the tightrope is exhausting. Our obligations to God, our parents, our families, communities, our present selves, and our past selves are all carefully balanced on an undulating wave of compromise. Throw in a non-Western spouse for good measure and you’ve got yourself a party — of behavioral expectations and parameters set by yet another extrinsic force. It is enough to drive a woman (or man) mad!
So what’s a revert to do?
Well, I do admit my choices are not always conventional. I do my best to balance my spiritual obligations with the ones of this world. But I’m also rebellious as hell. And I will never let someone strip me of my identity. Yes, I am Muslim now, and I have been for nine years. All praises and thanks be to God. But, for the first twenty-one years of my life on earth, I wasn’t Muslim.
My parents showered me with infinite mercy when I was small — they raised me, supported me, and shaped me into the person that I am today. I am a Muslim because of them, not in spite of them. I honor my non-Muslim family and their traditions, because they honor me and mine.
Do I celebrate Christmas in the same way as I did before? Of course not. I don’t participate in any aspect of Christian worship — no church, nativity, or son of God.
But… you can bet your ass I’m sitting here in snowflake pajamas drinking a peppermint mocha. I bought it with a Starbucks gift card Santa left in my stocking.
I don’t do Christmas at all except for giving one or two neighbours a gift. I can only imagine how hard it must be for reverts.
It is actually the gift giving that means the most to my family, especially my mother. If I refused her gifts, it would crush her! I think giving gifts is a great way to show appreciation, love, or gratitude.
I imagine how difficult it is for you to manage. May Allah bless you 🙂
I love the festive feeling of Christmas. There is no gift giving, no tree or decorations in my house bi8t we definitely watch back to back Harry Potter and sit around a table together and eat some good food together. As a Muslim of course I don’t celebrate Christmas but as a human we use anything as an excuse to feel closer to our families and that is truly what thew holidays are about!
You sit in your snow flakes PJs and drink your Starbucks girl!
Great food and company is what it’s all about 😉
I am also a revert of 13 years. It has been rough at the start but all my family know now and are fine. I just made a Dua to Allah to make it easy and it happened! I told my oldest son we have to respect other people’s beliefs and he isn’t allowed to tell any other children Santa isn’t real or Christmas is wrong, but he came home confused and said his Muslim freind from school said Santa is real and they have a tree. Getting the balance right is difficult. But we are getting there.
You are right the balance is difficult. I don’t think I would tell my children about Santa Claus or anything like that, but discussing these Christmas ‘Christian’ traditions has actually been a great opening for us to discuss Islam. Just the other day my husband explained to my mother the origins of a lot of ‘Christian’ traditions in America (Christmas trees, Easter eggs, etc.) are Pagan or Pharaonic in origin. At least my family is at the point where we can have a rational conversation about why we can participate in some parts of the holiday, but not others.
I can imagine as a revert how the holidays would be a challenging time for families. Lot’s of understanding and respecting each other’s beliefs seems like a good solution.
In the beginning it was more difficult. Now my family is quite helpful and understanding.
I hear you sister. Non-revert muslims struggle with similar issues when it comes to ethnic/cultural celebration that don’t align with Islamic tenet. It’s a snarly conundrum to be in, making peace with your past selves while making a smooth transition to your present. Hang in there KT, you won’t miss what you leave for Allah)swt). He will fill your heart with ease and peace insha Allah.
You are absolutely right, culture is a snarly beast. I am a firm believer in flexibility. I don’t think we should compromise, but I think that there are many ways to make things easier for ourselves without alienating others. For example, I always prepare food and buy groceries to make sure there is halal food in the house. AND SHARE IT! My parent’s have even switched to turkey sausage because it tastes so similar to pork, but it is much healthier.
I always knew it must be really difficult being a revert but never really thought about this aspect of it. Thank you for sharing your story. May Allah SWT reward you abundantly for all your efforts and struggles in this life and the hereafter, Ameen ^_^
Ameen ya Rub!
Islam teaches us to respect every religion and followers. And when they are parents….we just love them.
Love and respect <3 They did raise me to be a Muslim after all...they just didn't know it 🙂
I have a friend of mine who is revert MashaAllah….the life is really not so easy as a revert for my friend….May Allah bless you sister & show you the right path …Aameen.
Interesting post! Question, though; why do you call yourself a “revert” instead of “convert”?
Hey Jessie! Revert/convert are basically the same, however revert indicates a return to a prior or original state. There is actually quite a hot debate about the difference, but for most purposes they are the same 🙂
Yes! Finally something about konsultan pajak jakarta selatan.