Muslim Converts and the Xmas Blues – A Counselor’s Tips

It is that time of year again wherein approximately 160 countries celebrate Christmas.

Usual festivities include decorating homes and tree’s with colored lights, cooking, shoppers buying gifts, santas on corners and in stores giving a cheery “ho ho ho”. Children eagerly make out wish lists and family and friends plan festive get togethers.  At work and schools, there are usually parties and gift giving.

The accumulation of all these events occurs on December 25th, the day which some believe is Jesus (PBUH) birthday. Others know this is not Jesus birthday but celebrate it as a remembrance as well as a time to reconnect on deeper level with family and friends.  Thus the Christmas spirit signifies one of giving, kindness and peace and love-attributes which the prophet Isa (PUH) exemplified and taught.

Often times Muslims may feel indecisive about whether or not to participate and to what extent, especially if there are office parties or they have children in schools. 

Christmas is not an Islamic holiday and as such a lot of Muslims do not partake in the festivities as they feel it is a detriment to their spirituality and Islam.  Some Muslims chose to join in but may limit to what extent. This is an issue that is debated among our ummah and scholars. Thus participation is up to each individual’s comfort level.

Holiday Blues

As a revert to Islam, you may have memories of celebrating Christmas with your family. It could be that you still have a lot of family members and friends who celebrate Christmas. You may even miss the holiday cheer, the decorating, shopping for gifts and spending holiday time with family for meals, gift giving and celebration.

Even if you are not nostalgic, there may still be moments when you are feeling lonely, left out or “down”.  Understanding what it is that you are feeling and why, is an important tool for getting through the holidays if you are feeling down.

Access your feelings

Write down what emotion you are experiencing; Sad, left out, lonely, longing for closeness to family, missing a parent of loved one who is deceased, etc. Next, write down what triggered the emotion.

Was it the joyful singing of children caroling?  Was it the smell of Christmas cookies baking? The closeness of a family you saw as they prepared for Christmas day? The remembrance of fun holiday and family times?  Whatever it was that triggered you, ask yourself why, and write a small paragraph detailing the reason.

Look at your list of emotions, triggers and reasons and think of ways to recreate a situation or activity that may help dissipate this feeling of being down or feeling a bit depressed.

Depending on the trigger and reason, you may want to engage in some positive and uplifting activities.

Uplifting Activities

Insha’Allah, invite some Muslim friends or family over for a potluck dinner.  To retain family tradition and feelings of belonging, you may join celebrations and dinner as a family time, without the traditional religious connotation. This is an individual choice.

• Decorate your home as you do for Eid.

• Contemplate on past Ramadans and Eids wherein you had joyful times and spiritual rejuvenation.

• Read Qur’an and make more dua’.

• Go to your Masjid for prayer and engage in Islamic activities.

• Fast for a few days.

All these acts of worship and getting back in touch with the joy you feel during our Muslim holidays will insha’Allah help you get through the holiday blues.

You may wish to do some volunteer work or engage in more charity at this time.

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There are many refugees and others who are in dire need of help, and getting involved in charity work will not only benefit others, but will make you happy as well insha’Allah.

Connect with other Muslims doing charity and you may make new wonderful friends.  You may even find that people who increase charity works during the Christmas season are not only seeking to help others, but they too often find relief and blessings in charity.

Take an Islamic class at the Masjid or Islamic Center.

Keeping your mind busy with learning new Islamic knowledge is invigorating and rewarding. You may soon find that you are so intrigued by the new things you are learning, that you forget all about your “holiday blues”.

Talk to others about the way you feel.

You may be surprised to learn there are other Muslims who are feeling down as well.  This is a great opportunity to connect with other Muslims, share your thoughts and feelings as well as act as a support to one another. Look for a new revert group to join.

Take a walk!

Just the act of walking and appreciating the beautiful nature around us is healing.  Enjoying nature refreshes your spirit and mood.  Walking is also exercise which helps build our bodies as well as assists with eliminating feelings of being down.  You may be surprised at how much better you feel after a brisk or leisurely walk through a lovely area.  Allah is most merciful.

Our Blessed Holiday Celebrations

Another way to help overcome feeling down or “blue” during the holiday season is to realize that all religions have their special holidays and we have ours!  By understanding that we have our own beautiful times of year wherein we have festivities and celebratory times, may help put things in perspective.

We should look forward to our holidays as well.  Start to make plans early, for Ramadan and Eid. This will bring joy insha’Allah.

Rely on Allah

Know that this holiday will pass, and most likely so will your feelings of being down.  It is usually a transient feeling related to either familial memories or feelings of being left out or lonely as most around you celebrate.

Know that Allah is most merciful.  Seek relief from Him and make dua’ that Allah relieve you from your feelings of sadness.  Allah’s comfort for a sad heart is a blessing indeed.

By gaining coping techniques, you will insha’Allah be more prepared emotionally for the holiday.

First published: December 2018

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.