As new Muslims, it is natural to feel hesitant about participating in holiday gatherings that do not align with our religious beliefs. It is important to remember that we have the right to practice our faith and make decisions that are in line with our values. At the same time, it is important to be considerate of the feelings and beliefs of others.
One way to politely decline participation in holiday gatherings is to simply explain our reasons for not participating. For example, we could say something like “I appreciate the invitation, but as a Muslim, I am not able to participate in celebrations that are not in line with my religious beliefs. I hope you understand.” This approach is straightforward and respectful, and it allows us to explain our position without being confrontational.
Another option is to suggest alternative activities that can be done together. For example, you could suggest spending time together – having a meal or some other non-celebratory activity, rather than participating in a holiday celebration. This can help to strengthen our relationships with others, family or friends, even if we are not participating in the same celebration.
It is also important to remember that it is okay to say no to invitations, even if they come from close friends or family members. It is our right to make decisions that are in line with our values and beliefs, and it is important to respect and honor our own boundaries.
Some of us wonder about congratulating those who observe holidays associated with other beliefs and customs not approved in Islam. This is a concern based on the sensitivities and conditioning that we have absorbed from the values of liberalism. We should ask – is this concern something that originates from Islam, or from some other world view?
As Muslims, we should look into the life of the Messenger Muhammad and the early Muslim community (converts to Islam), who, too, lived around and with pagans, people of the scripture, and others, yet they never congratulated them on things that have to do with their false beliefs because it would be consenting, validating, and approving of falsehood, which is something we are commanded not to do. The kindness and tolerance of the early Muslims was not absolute. It was guided and bound by the commandments of God and what is approved in Islam. They were great to their neighbors, in line with the teachings of God, not in spite of them.
We are taught that we can congratulate non-Muslims on blessings in their lives, like being blessed with a child, getting a new house or job, getting well after a health crisis. We can wish them well and pray for them – say something nice without using questionable expressions that validate falsehood. As far as accepting others for who they are and where they are at, which some people are concerned about, it is worth questioning the root and origin of this concept. We want what is good for others and do not wish them harm. We want their salvation and success. This makes us not accept the falsehood they are involved in, and at the same time, consider their current situation and be wise in how we deal with them, without compromising our values.
Another issue is, it may be confusing to us and our non-Muslim family members to see other Muslims participating in these holidays. Why, you might ask, does this happen? Unfortunately some Muslims do not have a solid understanding of their faith and due to this fall into many vices. Others just want to be accepted and liked by others so they go along with it all. There is also a category of Muslims who justify and rationalize their wrong behavior, using twisted reasoning and misappropriating Islamic concepts.
In all circumstances, we should look to the source of Islam – not the actions of Muslims – and follow what God has commanded and stay away from what He has prohibited, regardless of what we may see others doing or what our own feelings and sensitivities dictate to us.
Overall, the key is to be considerate of others while also being true to proper and accurate Islamic beliefs. By communicating clearly and openly, we can navigate these situations with consideration and kindness. Remember that our ultimate loyalty is to God and His commandments, not to people and traditions.