I think Thanksgiving in America is a beautiful holiday. Thanksgiving meal is about sharing a bountiful feast with the people you love. The holiday contains good spirit and noble message. It is a secular holiday but has deeply religious and spiritual meanings.
After I wrote about Halloween, I received a few requests to write about Thanksgiving so sharing my views once again.
I am not an Islamic scholar so the perspectives expressed are my personal opinion about the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ve found the scholars divided in two thoughts about Thanksgiving. One group sees no issues celebrating the holiday and the second group marks it as haram(not permissible).
After carefully studying the split opinions for a few years, I tend to lean towards the opinion of the first group. As a Muslim, I don’t find any problem living in America like an American, behaving like an American or engaging in American culture as long as the lifestyle or behavior does not contradict with my religious boundaries.
Thanksgiving is a holiday when the family comes together. Thanksgiving Day centers around principles such as being thankful, thanking God(Allah swt), keeping family ties and feeding others. None of these values contradict the teachings of Islam. Islam not only teaches us to thank God, but we are also told to thank our parents, our spouses, our friends, neighbors and all those who surround us.
Maintaining family relationships is prescribed in the Quran, and it is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet. We try to take advantage of the days off from work and school and make it a priority to be with family or friends during Thanksgiving. We don’t necessarily make it a tradition to cook a Thanksgiving meal every year, but we do occasionally make halal roasted turkey and share with friends if we are not able to travel to meet family. Other years, it’s just a potluck; nothing set in stone.
Like I mentioned before, I see no problem following or engaging in American culture as long as it is not contradicting my religious boundaries. We say bismillah and thank Allah before and after each meal, everyday. Therefore, I don’t see any issues hosting a halal Thanksgiving meal sometimes. However, we do refrain from using any alcohol. Like always, we don’t splurge too much and try not to overeat and waste food.
If you are a Muslim living in the USA, I would love to know your opinion about Thanksgiving and how you celebrate. If you are outside of the US, do you have a similar celebration?