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Christmas Trees and Fake Nasihah

This is part of my installment of old posts from 2008 and early 2009 which I have chosen to republish. Some links may be dead and I will try to fix them as I go.

I usually don’t go out on the “Command the Good and Forbid the Evil” tip because too often it turns into pseudo-dogmatic judgemental drivel whose only result is driving people away from Islam. When in doubt, unless someone is telling me straight-up kufr, I shut my mouth. A lot of times, I find that people who want to give so-called nasihah are doing it for themselves and not for me. Once this person who shall remain nameless, gave my husband a lecture about how I needed to pray more. This person had seen me pray every prayer I was supposed to pray on time in this person’s presence, and yet still felt the need to give me fake nasihah on how I needed to pray. Now was that for me or for this person? This person wasn’t even talking about sunnah prayers, this person was talking about fard. If this person had said sunnah I would have been like ok whatevers and considered it nasihah. Misguided nasihah but still. One of the rules of nasihah is to be reasonably sure of what you are going to talk about. So if this person had SEEN me pray all fard, why was this person all up in my grill about fard? I think it was more for this person’s need to feel spiritually and morally superior, because why do you tell someone that if you were in a position to see them pray every day yet still felt the need to give that little precision? I call bullshit. The end result was that it pissed me off. It didn’t make me question my deen and try to be a better Muslim, it made me angry against these so called pious people who do nothing but judge other Muslims about how Muslim they should be. So when you talk about deen with people, filter it. I am not saying kiss up and bow down to the kuffar, but when in doubt, shut it, or do like NH does- say it once, nicely, and then drop it because you have done the minimum of commanding the good. That is how I roll. And if a Kabyle has enough self-restraint to drop a subject because he knows it will make people mad, that should tell you something about nasihah, because Kabyles NEVER LET ANYTHING GO. You will never find another culture more hardheaded. Talking deen with some people only raises your blood pressure. And your response can sometimes drive someone away from Islam insted of towards Islam. There is nothing I hate more in Muslims than fake nasihah. I hate it. People forget that we are accountable to God, not the Joneses. And at the end of the day, who cares, you or God, if I didn’t pray 43 times that day or do 200 subhas? It is real easy to judge someone and far harder to walk the walk. Anyways.

So my point is that I am going to have a little rant about Christmas trees and I apologize in advance if I offend any mixed families here but I just want to rant about how I roll, as I generally avoid sensitive subjects here. I ain’t judging, and I don’t consider myself holy pious enough to give advice, but this is how I do. So not advice, just complaining. If you don’t like it, carry on.

For those of you who read French, I read this article in the Bondy Blog about whether or not Muslims should be celebrating Christmas in France. It had my blood boiling, and I don’t get mad easily.

There is this family where the wife wants a Christmas tree, and the husband, in good holy pious patriarch fasion, says no. Typical sterotypical set up. The wife says (they ALWAYS DO) “Oh I’m a practicing Muslim, I pray but I want my kids to be integrated in [French] society so let’s put a Christmas tree at home.” She goes on to say, “oh but it is not religious for me, I just like the idea of family and presents.”

Then they set up the dude in the article to be this Fred Flinstone fist banging dude who says no, and the wife goes on gushing about how it is the social part of Christmas she wants her kids to be a part of. Oh come on. The best part was when the husband said, “In Islam,”I am the God of my household so what I say goes until the kids leave the house.” Audhu billah.

As a general rule, the Bondy Blog isn’t so much interesting for its articles, but for the little comment wars that go on, and the comments are hilarious knee-slappers for this article.

So here’s my rant. Aside from the fact that the article was written to set up the husband as a dumbass, when, except for the God of the House comment, he had a defendable point of view. The wife, on the other hand, was set up to be this integrative, introspective, wanting the best for her kids chick. Let’s get to my opinions regarding Christmas trees.

The short version is no, no way, no how, I will not have a Christmas tree in my house if I have kids. Yeah, I think the lights are pretty, yeah I remember having the nice pine smell in the living room growing up, but I don’t think having a Christian symbol in the privacy of my own home is a symbol of our multiculturalism. If a Muslim cannot be 100% Muslim in his own home, where can we live our Islam? So I don’t get the wife’s premise- how is a Christmas tree at home going to help my kids function in society?

I am not even going to get into the discussion about other Muslim holidays because it has already been said before- there are so many other opportunites to give gifts and connect as a family on Muslim holidays. That is a given.

BUt as far as the social aspect of Christmas is concerned, I agree that when you live in a non-Muslim society, you need to be aware of what is going on around you even if you don’t participate. NH and I have both been down the road where we had to go to office Christmas parties because they were part of working hours, or because it was understood that if you didn’t go it looked really bad. And Big Beard Police better not come up in here and say that “you just think it looks bad”- no, I can tell you stories about it getting noted down on performance reviews. That’s how the Swiss roll, they like their office Christmas parties. I know sometimes kids are forced to draw stuff at school or make pictures of Santa Claus or whatever. You can fight some of it but you can’t win every battle on the outside. There is a difference between “being aware of Christian holidays” and inviting the Christian holidays into your house. That is where I draw the line. I want my house to be a Christmas free zone because I have already spent all my Christmas capital dealing with coworkers, busy stores, stuff being closed etc etc.

I don’t have kids yet, maybe it is different or something, but I am just having trouble of following the logic that Christmas trees make children better citizens. I just get so tired of having Christmas shoved down my throat that i don’t understand when people pick Christmas to be “multicultural.” Also I am pissed off about it. My former job forced me to take a week off at Christmas because the office closes, but because of that, I had to work on Eid. I usually have to work on Eid. Both Eids. The most I ever got off of work was a half day once, except for one year when it fell in the magic Christmas-New Years window. I am not going to celebrate Christmas when I can’t even make it to the mosque for “my” holidays. Of which there are tons.

So I ain’t gonna hate for your Christmas trees if I don’t know your deal, no fake nasihah here so don’t get me wrong. I just don’t find this particular woman’s point of view particularly defendable and it made me mad.