Originally published in November 2010
Can I celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents? I converted a few years back and it is very important to them. Things haven’t been great since my reversion. What are your thoughts?
There is a legitimate scholarly difference surrounding this issue. Those who hold such celebrations as forbidden do so contending that such celebrations are “religious in nature” and amount to imitating the religious rites of others. One of my teachers, Shaykh `Abdul Jalil al-Mezgouria told me, “There is nothing religious about this celebration.” In fact, I remember him giving a khutbah about it a number of years back.
Those who contented that such celebrations are permissible, do so contending the opposite: such celebrations are not religious in nature and that the origin of things is permissible unless explicitly forbidden. Sheikh al-Qaradawi stated, concerning Mother’s Day, there is no way he considered it forbidden. He based his contention on the legal axiom: “Nothing is made forbidden except with a clear text.”
It is well known that al-Rajabiyah was a holiday observed by the Arabs before for the time of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) up until the third century A.H. and the jurist differed on its ruling. The Hanabalis considered it permissible, while the Malikis held it to be disliked.
Those who hold it permissible also note that the statement of the Prophet ﷺ, “Our holidays are two” is not a prohibition to celebrate other holidays outside of the religious sphere.
The Indigenous Imperative
As a convert to Islam and based on my humble legal training, I agree with the second opinion. Many of us, those of us who have converted to Islam, can use these moments to share the beauty of our faith with our families and loved ones in an non-hostile environment. Perhaps, by giving gifts to our parents we can heal wounds, build relationships, and move forward. At the same time, such celebrations are based on the foundations of our faith: honoring one’s parents. Therefore, we should engage such holidays with the intention of fostering noble relations and spreading the beauty of our faith with others.
Allah knows best.