Christmas celebrations: Muslims partaking

Q100 :Some years ago I married an English girl who decided later to convert to Islam, without any pressure from me. We had then to move to Denmark where we have been living for the last few years. Needless to say, that has restricted our visiting my parents-in-law. It so happens that my wife and children visit her parents for two weeks at Christmas time. The parents accept the fact that their daughter has become a Muslim and respect Islamic teachings with regard to food and drink when she is with them, to the extent that we do not see pork or an alcoholic drink in their home during our visits. My wife gives them gifts at Christmas and they in return give her and my children presents at Christmas. I am thinking of telling my wife not to visit them next Christmas. Please advise.

A100 : A woman companion of the Prophet once told him that her mother had come to visit her, and that the mother was a non-believer who shared the pagan beliefs of the Arabs. She asked the Prophet whether it was appropriate for her to be kind and dutiful to her mother. The Prophet ordered her to be so. You have been following the proper practice which Islam urges by maintaining good relations with your wife's parents. From what you have said about their behavior, they seem to be broad-minded people who will not cause you, your wife or children any harm. You may maintain warm relations with them. Nor is there any harm in giving them gifts on Christmas, because the Prophet did not instruct Muslims not to do so. On the contrary, giving non-believers presents on their festive occasions is encouraged as long as they behave in a proper manner toward Muslims and Islam. Your parents-in-law seem to fall in this category of people. If you feel uneasy about your children developing the habit of associating Christmas with festivity and good presents from their grandparents, then perhaps you could suggest to your parents-in-law, in a gentle way that does not offend them, that you would prefer that they delay the gifts to your children until the new year, or some other occasion, such as Eid. You should try to make sure first that they will receive your suggestion without taking offense, and that they will be accommodating. If you determine that they may be offended at your suggestion, then it may be more advisable not to broach the subject at all. Instead, you can explain to your children that the gifts they receive at Christmas have no religious value. From what you tell me about your children and the way they cope with interfaith relationship, I feel that they will easily understand.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )