Being Muslim during the Christmas season


by Farrah Yusuf • How do you and your family celebrate Christmas? Do you and your family have the traditional family supper on Christmas Eve? Do you go to the Midnight Mass or do you and your family spend Christmas Eve visiting in the living room and go to church on Christmas Day? Do your children wake up in the morning and reach underneath the glossy, gleaming and glistening Christmas tree and start unwrapping gifts?

This blog features new Minnesotans. Many of them participate as part of an English Language Learning class. Farrah Yusuf is a high school student from the Twin Cities.

But what do you do when you are a typical Muslim Somali family in Minnesota? How do you ignore the shining, radiant, luminous Christmas lights? How do you keep your kids away from Saint Nick? Every year during the Christmas season, lights glitter everywhere, offspring plead for new gifts and most of all: to sit on Santa’s lap and ask for a new truck or doll. Lights beam everywhere and on winter break, every show on television is affiliated with the Christmas season. But what’s it like being Muslim during the Christmas season?

What does the Christmas season mean to many Muslims? Muna Hussein, a senior at Ubah Medical Academy, says she doesn’t celebrate Christmas and that she’s “through it all and used to it.”

“It used to be hard but now I’m over it.” said Hussein. “I wake up on Christmas day and nothing out of the ordinary happens.”

Amal Ahmed, a sophomore at Edina high school, also says that the Christmas season is not “a big deal.” She, like Hussein, has been here for a while and has gotten used to it. Her sisters are another story.

“It’s challenging when my sisters ask me why we don’t celebrate Christmas, and my response is like every year: Christmas is a holiday for the Christians and we are Muslims,” said Ahmed.

“I have three little sisters and they are a handful. They want new toys so they can show their friends what they also got for Christmas.” said Ahmed. “My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas but my sisters find Christmas decoration irresistible, so my dad promised my sisters that, if they stop whining, he will put up Christmas decorations up during Eid.”

Ikram Mohamed, a senior at Arlington high school, and her family are modern Muslims. They attend the lectures at the local mosque and celebrate both Eid and Christmas. When she was younger she used to wonder why the other Muslim children didn’t celebrate it.

“So I would be like, so like what did you get for Christmas and they would like at you with a blank expression,” Mohamed says.

“People used to ask me why I would celebrate Christmas, because to them Christmas is a pagan’s holiday. I just say to them that Jesus was a prophet of god and Muslims believe in him and his miracles too. Christmas is celebrated because Jesus was born and there is nothing wrong with celebrating the birthday of a prophet.” said Mohamed.