The Christmas season brings many great opportunities to love your Muslim neighbor– Christmas parties, caroling, cooking food together, and gift-giving. Whether it is through a “secret Santa” arrangement at your job or a personal gift you want to give them, giving your Muslim friend a gift is something we encourage Christians to do!
Believe it or not, your Muslim friends probably celebrate Christmas. Not with nativities and candlelight services, but with the more commercial version of Christmas. Many Muslims will put a Christmas tree in their living room and decorate with lights outside. Muslims do believe that Jesus was a real person, and they even believe that He was the last prophet of Allah before Muhammad came. But they do not celebrate His coming to Earth as we do, because they don’t believe He is the Messiah and the Son of God.
If you want to learn more about what Islam teaches about Jesus, read our blog post, Introducing your Muslim friend to the true Jesus, and to learn about the Christmas story in Islam, read Common ground for evangelism: The Christmas Story.
Gifts that you should not give
In general, there are certain things that are going to be too personal or too religious to get your Muslim friend without making them uncomfortable or without you compromising your own values.
First, do not get them something connected to Islam as an attempt to support them in their beliefs. Examples of things not to get are a prayer rug, a hijab, or a decorated Quran. This will send the message that you are supportive of their religion, and put you in an awkward spot if you ever try to share the Gospel with them!
Second, do not shower your Muslim friend with Christian gifts. A cross decoration for their home or a framed Bible verse is going to make them shy away, especially if you do not know each other well. However, if you and your Muslim friend have cultivated a friendship and had multiple conversations about the Bible, it is appropriate to give them a Bible so that they can read the Word of God for themselves.
Remember to pray over your gifts before giving them to your Muslim friends. Pray that every time they will use the gift or see it they will be reminded of Jesus.
Gift giving vs. financial help
Islam teaches that it is “halal” or allowed for Muslims to take any wealth from non-Muslims especially Jews and Christians. In Islamic countries Muslims who steal from Christians often do not consider it stealing or inappropriate because they took from a non-Muslim. Unfortunately we have seen kind people in the West get taken advantage of by Muslim families who use them for their resources and generosity and then end the relationship.
There is a lot of wisdom that must go into your relationship. If your Muslim friend needs groceries, do not hand them cash to buy groceries, rather go with them and buy what they need or give them a gift card to a local grocery store. If you want to help them get clothes for their kids, go shopping with them instead of giving them funds to do with as they please. This will ensure that your kind-hearted giving is used as intended and protect you from being taken advantage of.
Practical gift-giving ideas
Here is a list of what we recommend you give your Muslim friend and their family for Christmas:
- Flowers or a houseplant- A beautiful decoration for their home that will make them think of you whenever they see it.
- Christmas cookies- As long as you don’t put lard in the cookies, these are a great option, especially if you have been invited over for a meal.
- A book about the Christmas story- Because your Muslim friend has their own beliefs about Jesus and their own version of the Christmas story, sharing the Biblical version is actually a great place to use the common ground of Christmas to share Jesus’ true character! The appropriateness of this gift will depend on the relationship you have with them.
- A festive candle- This is a nice, generic gift that you can’t go wrong with, especially if you don’t know your Muslim friend very well.
- Gift cards- If you know their favorite restaurant or mall, grab a gift card for them to be able to do some personal shopping, not just buying gifts for others. Some people find gift cards a little cold, so maybe put it in a card with a nice message!
Don’t forget there are acts of service that you can do for your Muslim friend throughout this month if you do not think a gift is appropriate, like shoveling their driveway, scraping the snow off their car, or grabbing their favorite festive drink to bring into work. The little things are also ways to share Christ’s love.
Why should I give my Muslim friend a gift?
We could talk about how Christmas is the season of giving and how you can help spread joy because of Jesus’ coming to earth. But instead, let’s look to the Bible and what it says about giving to others:
“Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great…” Luke 6:35
So, not only is it fitting in the Christmas season to give gifts, but the Bible tells us to give without holding back. It is a wonderful way to mimic Christ and His unconditional love for us. Our prayer for you is that you might get the chance to share the Gospel with your Muslim friend this season!
Dear Lord, thank you for the opportunity to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and thank you for the fact that He came to Earth so that we could be in relationship with You! Please give me plenty of opportunities to love my Muslim friend this season. I want the wisdom to know what gifts to give them and how to talk to them about the truth of who Jesus is! In your Son’s name, Amen.