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Advise for the holiday struggles

06/08/2011

In the past I have written about how my family enjoys the holiday celebrations that are typically American.  I have been blessed with a husband and extended family that are willing to go that extra mile for each other, and who are willing to compromise and accept the differences that enhance the flavor of our lives.

Over the weekend, a new commenter here posted a request for help.  Janelle writes:

“I have been blessed with a beautiful daughter and a wonderful, loving husband. After I gave birth to her I really wanted to change my life so she could live better than I did. My husband has grown up in a muslim family. And always celebrated christmas with my family for the past 5 years. I celebrated Christmas as a child with my family and we never did it for religious reasons. We did it to have a day where all of our family would come together, exchange gifts, and eat a lot of food. LoL. But since I converted and my husband has found himself again, mashallah. He has been really forceful on expressing himself that we will not celebrate anything but eid. That really hurts me. I keep thinking about the times that bring My side of the family together. I don’t know what to do! it would really hurt my mother, her being a first time grandmother. I will miss it to”

 

When I wrote Janelle explaining that I would post to all of you, asking for help and advise because it seems that what I would suggest may fall on deaf ears, she explained in more detail her struggle:

“I know that it is so far away but I still really enjoyed that time of year. And he had made it clear that we will not be participation at all. I don’t know…..i feel like I have so much up already. I don’t even see or talk to my family as much, he pulls this guilt trip on me all the time. My some of well most of my family members are not the cleanest people in their hearts, and he’s says that he is only trying to protect me. I see his way now that I am muslim but I can’t change who my family are, they will always be my family no matter what and I love them dearly. Example; when my mom comes to visit he leaves all night. and I can never have them together with me, he like makes me choose…..”

 

There needs to be some sort of compromise here.  He cannot expect her to abandon the life she had so suddenly, but it sounds as though she is being pushed to erase her whole life, prior to when her husband decided to be religious.   What do you think?

 

 

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachael Salahat permalink
    06/08/2011 8:39 AM

    I first have a couple questions. Before you converted, was he accepting of your family? Did he pressure you into converting or was it your own decision? I’m not understanding really why being around your family has anything to do with your religion. I’m not really sure if giving up your family is worth all of this pain its causing. But it does say in the Quran (and now that you are Muslim) that your first priority is your husband. You please him before anyone. So that’s where it gets tuff. I’m not Muslim but my husband is and I could NOT imagine having to choose between the two.

  2. 06/08/2011 9:47 AM

    I think since it is important to you to be with your family maybe for now you can just be with them without your husband. What I find slightly disconcerting is that you don’t see them too much and now when you’re talking about seeing them, he is giving you a guilt trip. It’s not right for him to isolate you from them and that can be a sign of something bigger. (I am not saying that it is, I am just saying that it’s worrisome from an outsiders perspective just reading these two paragraphs).
    Is your family close by? Maybe you can just go for Christmas day and see them for the day and not have to stay overnight. Or can you stay at a hotel when you go so that you can see them but you have a place to escape when you do go. It’s a tough situation to be in and I understand your husband’s desire to limit your exposure to them since they don’t set a great example but i don’t think he should prevent you from seeing them or spending time with them. You may have to do it by yourself but at least you will get to see them.

  3. 06/08/2011 10:07 AM

    God willing he will find a more moderate, balanced view of Islam (and by moderate I’m not talking about secular I’m talking about a more traditionalist-based view that is more balanced, not the neo-traditionalist view that is more strict.)

    Personally, even though DH & I don’t do Christmas (I’m a convert as well), when it comes to parents we do get together sometime after Christmas for the annual “christmas eat-out.” DH is not comfortable with the idea but realizes that maintaining ties to the family, even non-Muslims, is more important. And with my parents, it’s all secular anyways; it has always been that way since I was a wee-one. But for the get-together, I try to always plan it sometime after Christmas, around New Years or after, depending on the weather (It is the Midwest after all). It is my way of trying to not ascribe Christmas to it and have it a general holiday season get-together. And my family isn’t the most morally perfect either – I do hail from a family of rednecks after all – but that doesn’t mean we have to totally cut ties from them. Maybe it helps that DH also works with some rednecks so he understands it all – that they’re not evil to the core – , and he gets along with them (probably he gets along with them better than he gets along with the other Muslims in town; sad, isn’t it?)

    Your ties to your family, especially your parents, are extremely important, and something that he shouldn’t try to pry away from you no matter how perfect or imperfect they are. After all, the saying is that “Heaven lies beneath the feet of your mother” not “Heaven lies beneath the feet of your husband.” (see advice #2 here about respecting parents – http://www.suhaibwebb.com/society/dawah/12-tips-for-the-convert-muslim/). And there is that hadith relayed by Abu Hurayra, I think, that says “A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim).” It’s sad that others would want to think that this only applies to Muslim parents. The obeying the husband thing only works when he doesn’t command you to do something against the religion – breaking family ties can be considered against Islamic morality.

    http://seekersguidance.org/ans-blog/2009/12/26/attending-christmas-festivities-of-ones-non-muslim-family/
    – This is based on Hanafi fiqh and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. For me, as a convert, even though I’m more liberal than most, I deeply respect and try to follow traditionalist views of Islam that tends to be more balanced and based on over a thousand years of scholarly debate; not this “neo-traditionalist” that is born out of modernity & breaks ties from past scholarship, much more strict and, in my opinion, actually based on modernist ideas of God and religion. But I digress…sorry.

    http://www.suhaibwebb.com/islam-studies/can-i-give-thanks-and-throw-down-on-some-turkey-this-week/

    http://www.suhaibwebb.com/ummah/converts/secular-holidays-and-the-example-of-al-ateerah-al-rajabiyyah/

    These last two sights come from Suhaib Webb, another scholar I respect who is also a convert. He argues that there is a difference of opinion on “eids are the only thing we celebrate” and that when it comes to secular holidays, he believes, based on traditionalist scholarship, that it’s ok to celebrate.

  4. 06/08/2011 10:12 AM

    “These last two *sites…” pardon the typo.

  5. edchristenson permalink
    06/08/2011 2:31 PM

    That time of year has had a great significance for many people througout history. It is the new year and the time of re birth.
    the dying sun – the shortest day of the year occurs around dec. 25. every culture that supports science
    knows this. It does not have to be christmas – with overt symbols of ancient pagan multi god relgiion-

    re name it – winter family get together time- designed to appreciate your family , and to have your children connect to and bond with your parents.

    It is not about god, islam , presents or any other thing. it is about family ties. He belief that he can separate

    your children from the river of love that thier grandparents represent is just totally wrong.

    This dooes not mean that you have to buy and eat christmas hams from the koser end of the pig- but with very little effort you can fordge a unique to your family celibration. Every body can give a little.

    Guilt is not a love gererating emotion , it is more of a controll and power issue. IIt is not very worthwhile.

    why he woould try to do this is odd. Husbands and wives are equally bound to each other, and equally required to love each other.

  6. Laurel permalink
    06/09/2011 4:05 PM

    I have no connection to Islam–I like to read this blog because it introduces me to a new experience and perspective–but I hasten to add that I think very positively of Islam and Muslims. However, to me this situation sounds like it has very little to do with religion and everything to do with the husband controlling, and as another poster said, isolating the questioner. I too would be concerned because these are classic corollaries of abuse. When a person is isolated from his or her support structure they have nowhere to go if problems arise. And I agree that a religious person of any kind should be facilitating love and family bonds, not standing in their way. Even if the questioner’s family is, as she says, not always the purest of heart, there is still value in their being.

    On a simpler level, it is extremely rude and unusual for a man to leave the house all night when his wife’s relatives visit!

    I would think that a true believer would find his faith strong enough to withstand the presence of others who didn’t follow the same ways; in fact he should let his belief and behavior be a light to others (and trust you to do the same).

    Best wishes to you.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    06/28/2011 5:18 PM

    I finally had a chance to read all of your comments. And it hurts to hear the truth sometimes. I know what he is doing is wrong, trying to keep them away from not me really but mostly my daughter. I will try my best to explain,

    Before I converted I was born and grew up in a very loving Ojibwe home. I was always happy with them, we had our problems but it was never super extreme. My mother is awesome!!! I love her so much and we were really close. I have 1 brother who is a medicine man and gay and 1 sister, both are older. My mother gambles, rarely drinks, my brother does drugs and drinks and my sister drinks.

    Just from there you can see that my family aint the best for MY OWN family in a muslims eyes. We are suppost to stay away from hadam things right? I too, know about giving compassion to your mother next from god. and placing allah over our own family, husband, child or mother. I dont know much about the quran, I am still learning. But I really feel like where he is coming from is right but not reasonable. Because he has never even met a aboriginal person before me he has no idea what their beliefs are, and doesnt want to understand. He thinks shatan has something to do with what they do, but I am aware of what they do and it is not even close to what he thinks.

    He just really hates my mom for alot of minor things, and my mom doesnt like him for big things ex. he used to drink alot where he would leave all night long and my mother wouldnt let him in the house if he was drunk around the baby. My mom forgives him, but he makes it clear the he doent like her when she comes around, he acts mad doestnt say hi. I just fustrates me because my mom told me she has given up. He’s so negitive when shes around/ But when hes with me he is COMPLETLY OPPOSITE. I love the real him when were alone at home, we laugh, show our affection, do family things etc. My family dont see this side of him. And he doent See where my mom is coming from, my own mom wouldnt want me home if i used to come home drunk, so he took that to the heart, he also tells me that my family doesnt want us together, someone will break us up (family), he thinks they judge him becuse he is african who cant read, write and doesnt work. Which I know is not true. Shes a welfare admin so she understands how hard it is out there. It like there is a border that has just been getting bigger and bigger as the years go by and I know the longer is grows the harder is it to break it. It feels like there is nothing that is going to help us.

    I feel like i am pleasing everone else but ME!!!!! Im tired of making excused for eachof them, yesterday my mother and brother came in to the city for a visit, days before i made plans for all of us including my husband to go to the zoo. They came, and when i told him to get ready and told him who and where we were going we got into an argument that he and baby wasnt going. He always does that. and we argued i told him how i feel and he started getting upset and just left without saying anything. We stopped before my family came and when they did come he didnt say one word to them, just left, didnt even say anything to me! They asked me where he was going and i had to lie so that they didnt feel like it was becuse of them being here. He throws aways their gift to baby if it a lttle bit tradtional ex. baby wrapped in blanket, baby rattles, things with ojibwe designs even a freakn butter fly chim or whatever it is called. want even close to ojiwe things.

    I dont see the reason why he is acting this way, just religous purposes, but he knew who i was when we wanted to have a family….I just wish he would of told me it was going to be like this, It’s not fair. it like hes trying to change EVEYTHING about who I was.
    sometimes i do want to just leave for what he’s putting me threw, it way to much. I cant change what has happen in the past. but work on being better for my daughter. And I know why they dont come around is because of how he acts. I have never been so lost, confused, torn and sad in my life, it like the answer or in order to be happy is to give one for the other but I know inside my heart is that I can never bee happy without both of them…..and i get so scared because what about my daughter? is she going to feel the same way as i am when she gets older? Someting has to change! I cant have her feel the way i am feeling righht now, it is way to hard.

    I really love the winter holidays since i was a kid up until now, and i always dreampt about sharing it with my child, and now that I have my child I cant…because of what is he says and what is said in the quran. Maybe i am just over reacting and maybe it wornt hurt as much when the day finally does come.

  8. Janelle permalink
    06/28/2011 5:21 PM

    sorry didnt mean to post that yet, thank you all for taking the time to reply and for trying to help me.

    asalam alakum every

    with all that is happening I am still happy with what I have…AHUMDILLah

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