Jul 9, 2011

Take Advantage Of Every Opportunity

By Ni'mah Ali

Everyone was all smiles; they all sang along and clapped their hands. The big auditorium was filled from front to back—families sat close together in loving ways. Babies bounced around and giggled in their mothers’ laps. Everyone cheered after every song ended. The 5th and 6th grade students sang Christmas songs while the rest of the students and staff members enjoyed the performances. It was the last day of school before winter break and the auditorium of Riverside Elementary school was definitely filled with delighted faces; then there was me, seated in the very back row of the room somewhat distressed and nervous. I was covered from head to toe, except for my face and hands. I sat uncomfortably, clenching and unclenching my hands as I looked around the room. I felt so out of place being there, and amazed at how happy everyone around me seemed to be. I was also worried because I didn’t know if I was sinning by taking part in the festivities of the non-Muslims. There was one question lurking in my head: Why did I even come here?! The only excuse I had was because I worked in the school, the entire school was watching the performances and I just didn’t want to be rude since I was expected to be there. I thought I would just show my face for a few minutes then leave and sure enough that was what I did. After a few minutes, I quickly left to pray Asr in my office while the music and singing was still ringing in the background. I shut the door and tried to concentrate. After I finished praying, I sat in my office alone and listened to Quran. After a while the bell rang, and out came the “early” Christmas gifts from my co-workers and students. One of the teachers I worked with gave me a stocking filled with gifts with such excitement and enthusiasm that I just took it even though I didn’t feel right taking the gift. Then another person handed me a card, then another handed me another gift and another until I was loaded with gifts and cards. I said thanks feeling so much guilt and left for home. I felt guilty because number one, I knew that as a Muslim, we are not supposed to accept gifts during the holidays of the Non-Muslims, any other time it is fine—I learned just days before about this and I still couldn’t find the courage to refuse the gifts because I was afraid I would be rude.

So I went home feeling kind of down and a little worried. I didn’t know what to do with all the gifts, some were really nice and I just wanted to keep it. But without a second glance, I dumped every one of the cards and gifts in the trash. Then I felt even more horrible. I thought about the money that I just wasted. I thought about how if I was in a Muslim country I wouldn’t have to deal with any of this, and with frustration I sat and thought. I had to be honest with myself; I lived in the U.S.A for over 14 years, it’s where I grew up, and it’s my home for now at least. There was no way I could get away from Non-Muslim holidays and the things that come with it especially working in a public school where I’m the only Muslim. I was always explaining to the students who were too young to understand what religion was along with some adults why I didn’t celebrate their holiday. Sometimes I was a little frustrated and confused as to why they didn’t understand why I didn’t celebrate their holidays. Do they really expect everyone who lives here to adopt every American or Christian holiday?!

Amidst my deep thinking, I realized that I just missed out on a great way to make da’wah by refusing those gifts. I really didn’t need to worry so much about being rude—not comprising my religious beliefs is not being rude. What I lacked was the skills and knowledge to use every opportunity I had to make da’wah. How would I have done that, easy! First I would explain to every one of my co-workers that I am Muslim, and that means that I do not celebrate at all any of their holidays and that I won’t need any gifts from them. And if any gifts were offered, I would’ve kindly refused. This would’ve given them a chance to ask questions about why I refused free gifts, great ones at that! This would then lead to more people researching about Islam, and mashaAllah I would get so much reward for it, but unfortunately shaytan won over me that time by making me too afraid of saying thanks, but no thanks. This is what we Muslims sometimes don’t think about; every opportunity we get we should think of ways to make da’wah. We should use the opportunities we get when asked questions by curious Non-Muslims why we won’t or we cannot accept his/her gift. These times are the best of times to explain our religion. This would show people that we are indeed confident about our religious beliefs and not ashamed.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)


MashaAllah very well written!

Masha'Allaah ! Tabarak'Allaah ! JazakAllahu Khayr sister....living in a western country we face this things.You give us a gr8 solution giving Dawah of Islam in Holidays.Proud of you sister. 

Alhumdulilah!!! I just learned about Da'wah. Being a convert, this is the perfect place to learn about our deen and our Faith. I couldn't say enough
to praise this great site.
                                     Walaikum salam wr wb

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