Cutting Kinship Ties in the Name of Islam
I received a letter from a young Muslim woman who, first of all, I would like to thank deeply for her keenness to know the opinion of religion on the matter of spending time with her mother during Christmas. I equally admire her kindness in keeping ties with her mother and her eagerness to demonstrate an excellent example of what Islam is like. I am nonetheless appalled by the unauthentic opinions of some self-claimed scholars who equate spending time with one's non-Muslim family during Christmas and the like with shirk or polytheism! This opinion is rather a mere aberration of the true authentic teachings of Islam, both in letter and spirit.
Islam is a religion of mercy, and it is an all-encompassing value that includes all humans, regardless of their religious affiliations, cultural differences, and ethnic backgrounds. It encompasses plants and animals, along with inanimate objects as well. In other words, the concept of mercy in Islam is so great that it covers the whole universe. Wouldn't it apply to one's own mother too? As a matter of fact, God in the Quran did not only allow us to keep ties with our non-Muslim families, but he raised the level of recommendation and made it an obligatory act which Muslims should abide by. This is obvious in the Quran when God said, "But if they (your parents) endeavor to make you associate with me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to me [in repentance]." (Quran, 31:15)
In this noble verse, God commanded us to keep strong ties with our families even when they exert their utmost efforts and place pressure on us to leave our religion. So, what about those who show respect to our religious choices and do not insult our beliefs in any way or form? Should we not even be more eager to show extreme kindness and envelop them with mercy in our sayings and deeds to be a real embodiment of what Islam is all about? Islam placed unprecedented value on the concept of high morals and established a unique link between high ethical standards, faith, and creed. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "The nearest of you to me on the Day of Judgment are the ones who have the highest morals." Therefore, we are commanded to show kindness to people irrespectively, to treat them with mercy and love, and to refrain from discriminating against them based on their religious choices, cultural backgrounds, etc.
"I am more entitled to Jesus, the son of Mary, more than anyone in this life and in the hereafter; no prophet has been sent between us" said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon him, is one of the Prophets who exemplifies determination, resolution, and patience. Every Muslim believes that Jesus (PBUH) is a prophet who performed great miracles, such as reviving the dead and curing the sick by the will of God the Almighty. There is no legal impediment to participating in celebrating the birth of Jesus (PBUH). Islam is an open system and its followers believe in, respect, and honor all the prophets and messengers. Muslims are to treat followers of other religions with kindness in accordance with the words of God the Almighty: "And do not argue with the people of the book except in the best way possible."[Al-'Ankabut, 46]
Therefore, participate in your friends' and family's celebrations, eat with them, and refrain from eating pork or drinking alcohol with tact and civility. Do not pay any attention to anyone who wants to ruin the relationship between you and your family and others in the name of Islam, because Islam is free from all of this.