The Christmas adverts are trending, the holiday retail sales are in full swing, and corporate 'secret santa' emails are sitting at the top of our inboxes.
Yep – the widely-celebrated festive period is around the corner and, it can be a difficult time to navigate as a Muslim.
Each year, we have the conversation with our manager explaining why we won't be taking part in the annual Christmas dinners or the festive-jumper day but – regardless of how many times this dialogue happens, it can still be an awkward moment to relive.
So, as someone who feels a little anxious this time of year, let's talk about how you can gracefully bow out of the festive period while still keeping it respectful! ✨
Don't Avoid the Conversation – Communication is Key!
Far too many times, I've avoided the conversation for so long to the point that co-workers would ask me each day if I'll be joining them for work festivities. My awkward self would rummage through a bunch of excuses before just saying:
"Hey, I don't feel comfortable participating due to my religious beliefs!".
That's literally it.
But the sooner you communicate this, the more comfortable you'll feel as the time approaches because everyone will already know the deal! 🤝
It's Okay to Say No 😊
Whether it's receiving a gift, being offered a mince pie, or just being asked to attend a festive work do – it's okay to say no and not feel bad about it.
We have this idea that it makes us a bad employee if we say no to "work things" or that it will give people a weird perception of us.
But the truth is, any decent workplace is based on transparency, cohesion, and understanding – so it's important they're both aware and respectful of your boundaries at this time of year.
Many social work-dos are alcohol-fuelled and can become uncomfortable for any Muslim. As a working adult, it's okay to turn down anything that compromises your morals/ faith.
💬 Keep Kind, Polite, and Respectful
When it comes to the act of gracefully bowing out of such events, there's never a need to be mean.
Abu Shurayh reported: He said, “O Messenger of Allah, tell me something that will guarantee Paradise for me.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Speak kind words, offer peace, and feed the hungry.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 509
Everything can always be said in a way that doesn't inflict offence, hurt or injustice onto someone else.
The more respectful and transparent you keep the conversation, the more you're helping to perceive a beautiful image of Muslims and Islam to those around you.
🔎 Stay True to Yourself
One of my favourite quotes on tolerance is;
"The one who stands for nothing falls for anything"
There's so much beauty in a person who is consistent with their good morals and level of tolerance when it comes to the deen.
Not only does it exemplify your own self-worth, it also signifies the strength of emaan one has. If festive activities make you feel as if you're compromising your beliefs or being in environments that won't produce any good – stay true to these feelings and politely decline the invite.
Pleasing Allah is what we do first and foremost, and we know that whatever we leave for the sake of Allah, Allah will give us better:
Abu Qatadah reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah Almighty but that Allah will replace it with something better.”
Source: Musnad Aḥmad 22565
🎉Make a Big Deal of Eid Instead
Eid is our day of celebration, so use this as the opportunity to give gifts, bake some delicious cakes, and create a joyous atmosphere instead!
By being vocal about the celebration of Eid, it allows those in your workplace to know that there is actually a time for celebration for Muslims (twice a year in fact!). 😅
For employers – making Eid a big deal in the workplace will encourage other Muslim employees to feel confident in their celebrations, both with their family & in the workplace.
I'd love to hear your suggestions on how you navigate the holiday season someone who doesn't celebrate! Leave a comment below to let us know 👇