I’ve complained before about the whole split identity crisis I deal with, but one of the perks of being a third-culture kid is seeing the way the two cultures intersect and overlap.
For example, I know a lot of duel-citizen Muslims will type a Facebook post or tweet out messages like, “Happy Halloween!” or “Merry Christmas” or the corresponding greeting to whatever holiday is coming around. They will then be subjected to a long-winded tirade by their single culture counterparts on how it’s ‘haraam’ and ‘Muslims don’t celebrate these holidays’. Fatwas are pulled out, the Quran is thoroughly searched (unfortunately, usually the only time it’s read carefully). “We should not,” they declare, “celebrate holidays of the kuffar!”.
Now, before you get your beard in a knot, let’s define what a kuffar is. The Quran is pretty clear that a ‘kafir’, infidel, is one who does not believe in God. Holidays like Christmas or Easter are Christian-based, so technically they’re not ‘kafir holidays’. Well, what about Halloween, or New Years’? Those are culturally based, and are practiced by people of all faiths.
Now, another point is, are you celebrating the holiday just by wishing well to someone who does practice it? Let’s reverse the roles here, and see what some non-Muslims tweeted to Muslims on Eid-ulAdha –
Wishing a happy &peacwfull Eid to all Muslims and praying for peace for all.Especially Syria.—
Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) October 26, 2012
Im not muslims, but happy Eid Mubarak to all Muslims 🙂—
LOVATIC (@DemiMicrophone) October 26, 2012
How come no one’s yelling at them for wishing us non-believers a happy holiday when they clearly don’t believe what we do? Could it have something to do with, hmm, I don’t know, being open-minded and friendly?
But on a more serious note, I know a lot of Muslim with Christian and/or Western parents, and for them, Christmas or Thanksgiving is part of their family tradition. So you can imagine the hurt they must feel when their sincere greeting is met with hostility and anger.
And it’s not just the attitude, but the hypocrisy that really gets on my nerve. There are people who won’t point out something that’s actually haraam, mostly out of a fear of confrontation. But see a person post a New Years’ status? Off with their head!
I remember one Christmas in Canada, some nutcase went around telling Muslims that to “wish someone a Merry Christmas is akin to drinking alcohol”. You live in a Christian-majority country where almost everyone celebrates it, is that akin to swimming in alcohol? I still have no idea under what authority this man was acting.
Let’s be completely balanced though. There are certain Muslims, in the pursuit of trying to give off a Western image, who will wholeheartedly celebrate Western holidays, and refuse to acknowledge Muslim/Arab/wherever-they-came-from celebrations. There are some pretty strong hadiths that say we shouldn’t try to mimic non-Muslims. I also recall a conversation with my friend Tahar where he made a good point that, “There are people who blow all their money for a Valentines gift, but they neglect to give zakat (charity) for the poor, people who give their mom a present on Mother’s Day and ignore her the rest of the year.” I think his main point was that these holidays are misused and detrimental.
Of course, that would also be jumping into the issue of the commercialization and commercial exploitation, which I’m not going to get into because it’s not my point.
I don’t believe there is any harm in engaging in a little cross-cultural kindness. I also don’t think getting all hot and bothered over a Halloween Facebook post is necessary or productive. I think Muslims should stop working themselves up over trivial issues, aim that outrage towards the bigger issues, and go eat some candy.