“I remember the first Christmas after my conversion. I was adamant I was not celebrating Christmas. I decided I should not go to visit my family on Christmas day and luckily I had the perfect reason to excuse myself from the celebrations; a Kurdish concert had been organised on the same day. So off we went to London, my husband and I. I was pleased I had something to do that day to take my thoughts away from what I had known as my favourite day of the year.
That was the one and only time I withdrew completely from the celebrations. You see, as a Muslim convert, it is not so easy. We often feel pulled between two realities; our past and our present. It is hard to ignore the traditions we were brought up with. It is also hard to ignore family ties – and we shouldn’t anyway. Family is very important in Islam and keeping good relationships with our family is essential. Therefore, when we convert, it is important not to turn our backs and shut our family out.
I feel that some people who were born Muslims forget that. I have been told by some, not to go to my parents’ house on Christmas day, not to participate in Christmas dinner and gift giving. But in reality, what is wrong with sharing a meal with your family? What is wrong with giving your loved ones gifts? It is the intention that is important. Going to eat dinner with my family on Christmas day does not mean I am celebrating Christmas because that is not my intention. My intention is simply to go and share a meal with my family.
The older I get, the more I realise how important family is. Maintaining a good relationship with your family is crucial. We have a responsibility to Allah, but we also have a responsibility to our families. It is important not to forget that.
We cannot ignore the past and the way we were brought up but we also cannot celebrate full-blown something that goes against the core of what we believe in. We need to find some kind of balance. Have you found it yet?”
- Weronika of South West of England (slightly edited)