Most Christians are surprised to hear that many of their Muslim friends and neighbors are excited for the holiday season! In fact, if a Muslim has lived in the United States for a while or they grew up here, they will most likely be hosting their own Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations this year.
If your Muslim friend is a new immigrant or an international student, they may not be as excited simply because they don’t know a lot about it. As they see the joy and excitement that surrounds the holidays in America, they will be eager to learn more, so do not hesitate to invite them into your festivities!
Do Muslims celebrate Thanksgiving?
When it comes to Thanksgiving, most Muslims do not know the history of the holiday, but they do love the sentiment of coming together with loved ones and expressing gratitude. They appreciate the religious freedom that living in the United States grants them, and they use this holiday to express gratitude to Allah for allowing them to live here. If they have children, their kids will bring home more knowledge about the Thanksgiving holiday and traditions from school and pass it on to their parents.
One thing to keep in mind during the holiday season is your Muslim friend’s religious dietary restrictions, called “halal”. Halal simply means “permitted by Allah,” and there are also “haram” foods, which means “forbidden.” These include alcohol, shellfish, and any pork products– don’t forget this also includes lard and gelatin! So if you invite your Muslim friend over for a party, make sure you have halal foods for them. Some Muslims are more strict than others, so get to know your Muslim friend and act accordingly.
Your Muslim friend will love trying your holiday dishes and experiencing new foods once they know they are safe for them to eat. Oftentimes, they probably would have cooked it differently for themselves, but they usually find it fun to try new culinary styles. We have seen pumpkin pie and sweet potato dishes usually become a new favorite for a Muslim family.
" Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14
How to invite your Muslim friend to Thanksgiving
Inviting your Muslim friend to enjoy this holiday with you doesn’t have to be a big deal unless you want it to be! Your invitation could be a simple text message or a nice card telling them you’d love to have them over for dessert or for a Thanksgiving meal. You could also call them so they hear your sincerity and be encouraged to join.
How to act when your Muslim friend is at Thanksgiving
There are certain things you should know and do while your Muslim friend shares this holiday with you! Here are the most important things for you to remember:
- Pray in front of them– Don’t be afraid to pray before the meal. Let them see the personal way we can speak to our heavenly Father. As you pray, specifically thank God for them!
- Share the Gospel– When going around the table saying what you’re thankful for, take the opportunity to share the Gospel. How can you do this naturally? Well, as Christians, the biggest thing we are thankful for is eternal life through Jesus, so make sure you express gratitude for His unconditional love and grace and the ability to be in relationship with Him! (Romans 6:23)
- Prepare your kids– It is always good to have your children be aware of the different beliefs of your holiday guests! They may be curious about why the women are wearing hijabs or why their friends aren’t eating the same things as them. Prepare them ahead of time on how to ask respectful questions and explain what your friends believe and how that is different from your family’s beliefs.
- Be authentic– Don’t hit them over the head with the Bible. Be real and share your true relationship with God, but also, have fun with them! Play games and enjoy watching the Thanksgiving Day parades together. You could even invite them to decorate your Christmas tree with you if this is a Thanksgiving tradition of yours!
- Make sure they are included– Invite your Muslim friend to bring a dish with them and tell them how excited you and your family are to try a new dish! This will make them feel more included if they can add to the experience and put them at ease while being in a new environment!
This year, pray and surrender your Thanksgiving to God. Ask the Lord to use this holiday to reveal the truth about Jesus to your Muslim friend. We are praying for you and your family this holiday season, and as always, please email us at [email protected] for any questions or support!