Non-Muslim Holiday Etiquette

I believe the proper etiquette ought to go something like this, as God relates in the Qur’an:

‏ واهجرهم هجرا جميلا

“…and cut yourself off from them – but courteously.” Qur’an, 73:10.

not “blank you and your pagan holiday”.

I find the negative banter regarding non-Muslim holidays in general, and Christmas in particular, not only fatiguing but downright reprehensible. Perhaps, like that first community of Muslims, I too have non-Muslims I care deeply about, indeed even love. What is even more ludicrous is many of these decriers do not even have non-Muslim families and thus are not truly put out by this whole “holiday fiasco”. And of course beyond that lies the unfortunate collective of self-loathing converts who feel that in order to adequately profess adherence to Islam, they must harangue non-Muslims (even their own families) over this celebration.

Let me be clear, I am not advocating some lax or liberal position on Christmas; the secular and the religious one. I do not celebrate Christmas and my loving, non-Muslim parents know and understand why. And that understanding includes that I am not rejecting them and their “dirty, kafir, pagan holiday.”

But more importantly, to return to the verse above, God Almighty has given us a way, a dialectic and a means of how to distinguish and even divorce ourselves from those actions that we deem would have consequences for us in the sight of God and in the Here-After. This separating can be down with eloquence, etiquette and esteem, not belligerence, hostility and rancor. For clearly the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم summed up his mission for us in a beautiful soliloquy (collected in Imam Malik’s al-Muwatta’):

‏بُعِثْتُ لأُتَمِّمَ حُسْنَ الأَخْلاَقِ

I was sent to perfect good character.

Real Talk with Jerry Hionis and Marc Manley – Merry Christmas?

The second in, God willing, a series of podcasts, dealing with issues and challenges facing the American Muslim community. In this episode, we discuss the significance, or lack there of, of Christmas, non-Muslim holidays and the boundaries of Muslim/non-Muslim interaction.

Extra Reading

Listen to the khutbah here