The holiday season can be very hard for Muslim converts — not just Muslim holidays, but the ones they used to (or still) celebrate with their family. Personally, seeing Christmas decorations everywhere and hearing Christmas music makes me sad. This is because I still have not gotten that same exciting feeling I used to get on Christmas morning, running down the stairs and seeing all the presents under the tree. So, imagine seeing all of this nostalgia and not being able to participate in something you used to love so much, and maybe still do.
Converts/reverts can feel isolated from both their family and the Muslim community during this time of the year, because each side lacks understanding of how converts feel. So, I am going to share with you four ways on how you can be an ally and supportive friend to converts this holiday season.
I am not speaking on behalf of all converts; I am simply speaking on behalf of myself and what other converts have told me.
1. Reach out to Converts
Sometimes just sending them a text can make all the difference. You have no idea how nice it is, as a convert, when someone sends you a message at a time when you’re feeling alone.
2. Take Them out for Dinner or a Coffee/Tea
Sit down and get to know a convert, and listen to how they feel. Sometimes just listening to a convert can make them feel so much better and can also help you to get to know converts on a more personal level. It’s a win-win situation.
3. Invite Them Over to Your Home
This will convey to them that they aren’t alone, and distract them from constantly thinking about how they are not with their family on Christmas or Thanksgiving. Some converts choose not to celebrate the holidays with their family. So, try to invite them over on Christmas or Thanksgiving Day. In these times, especially, families of converts may not understand why their family member who reverted might not attend their holiday parties or gatherings. Their family members may also give them a hard time because of this, so your support and company can make a big difference.
4. Don’t Be the Haram Police
Converts may sometimes feel stuck between a rock and a hard place on whether they should celebrate their old holidays with their family members who are of a different faith. If a convert wants to spend the holidays with their family, let them. Some born Muslims can be quite unsympathetic by telling converts not to go to their families’ holiday parties and not offering them a solution or inviting them to hang out. It’s very easy to tell someone what to do when you are not in their shoes. Born Muslims, converts do not have to believe in the meaning of holidays to celebrate them with their family. They still love their family, and they know their family would love for them to spend the holidays with them. Sometimes reverts have to overlook their Islamic values just to reduce hostility with their family.
I am sad during this time of year because I’m not spending those happy moments with my family. Often at this time of year I feel so alone, and no one understands my situation. Overall, for converts, anytime there is a holiday it is a tough time for them (whether the holiday is Islamic or one they previously celebrated). On Eid, for example, many converts are alone. We need to invite our convert brothers and sisters to celebrate with us, so they will not feel left out and lonely. We cannot forget about this marginalized group within our community. Thanksgiving and Christmas are opportunities for us, as a community, to show our heartfelt support to the converts among us.
Anyone who has questions about Islam or conversion, please message me on my Facebook page and watch my YouTube channel.
Kaya is a blogger, activist, and freelance writer.
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