In the United States, Muslims are coverts to Islam, and it is common for many Muslim converts that they have close relatives who are not Muslim. Oftentimes new Muslims are the only Muslims in their family. In the United States, it is a tradition of many families, to gather on holidays like Thanksgiving, Labor day, July 4th, and Memorial day, to visit, eat, catch up, and strengthen family ties. Families don’t stop these traditional gatherings simply because you convert to Islam. Maintaining family ties in an important matter not only in Islam, but in other religions, and cultures around the world. Families continue to gather during certain times of the year to celebrate holidays, birthdays, baby showers, and other commemorative occasions.
Food and sharing food is a bonding element in American culture and in virtually every other culture on the planet.
Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim to eat with their non-Muslim family during their holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter?
Answer: Is is not the Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ to boycott eating with you your family on any occasion, as long as the food you eating is permissible (halal) for you. You can eat with your non-Muslim family even if they just got home from worshipping Jesus (AS) on Easter Sunday and were wearing rabbit foots and had big gold crosses around their necks . It would still be permissible. You can’t haram (make prohibited) eating with your non-Muslim family, during this season, or any other season. That is insane. Sometimes it’s your family that’s feeding you in the first place. If you think that eating your grandma’s mac and cheese on Thanksgiving makes you or someone else a kaafir (unbeliever), then you are mistake⁶n.
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain the bonds of kinship.” [Muslim]. Additionally, it is not prohibited in Islam to visit the homes of your relatives, and eat there; “It is no fault in the blind nor in one born lame, nor in one afflicted with illness, nor in yourselves, that ye should eat in your own houses, or those of your fathers, or your mothers, or your brothers, or your sisters, or your father’s brothers or your father’s sisters, or your mother’s brothers, or your mother’s sisters, or in houses of which the keys are in your possession, or in the house of a sincere friend of yours: there is no blame on you, whether ye eat in company or separately. But if ye enter houses, salute each other – a greeting of blessing and purity as from Allah. Thus does Allah make clear the signs to you: that ye may understand”. [34:61]
It is permissible in Islam to invite guests to your home on any day or any of the year except where forbidden by sharia law, to eat your food. It is permissible to cook turkey, chicken, duck, lamb, beef, or any other meat that is allowable according to the Book and the Sunna. It is also permissible to go vegetarian if one likes. Allah has made no restrictions on which days people can feast and which days they cannot except in the case of Ramadan. This is regardless of what other people (non-Muslims) are doing on that day.
If the Prophet ﷺ wanted to make it prohibited for a Muslim to visit his or her family during certain days of the year, then he would have done so, especially since the overwhelming majority of the companions of Rasoolillaah ﷺhad relatives who continued to engage in pagan worship. Even if they converted to Islam, their family members continued to observe pagan rites, rituals and functions. It is confirmed in authentic hadith that the Prophet ﷺ himself, as well as numerous companions were present at the Ka’ba while people were engaged in idol worship. However, they themselves, did not participate in anything of idol worship, nor did they engage in prohibited activity. Personally, I would not visit my non-Muslim relatives on their religious holidays because religious holidays are personal to people of that religion. It is a matter of preference, not a matter of law. There is a difference. And Allah Knows best.
Abu Laith Luqman Ibn Abdulkarim Muhammad Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is an Imam and Resident Scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He can be reachd at email@example.com