Birthdays and that yada yada

>> Saturday, December 17, 2011

Assalam-o-alaykum Little Aunties =D                                                                                             Even though I was born into a Muslim family, living in an Islamic country, I grew up celebrating birthdays like most of my friends. But now that I am all grown up and more mature and-Alhamdulillah-getting closer to the Deen, I've been trying to give up all the extra practices we have picked up from the Western culture, birthday celebrations being one of them. The problem is people just DO NOT get WHY I have an issue with birthdays. According to them, its 'just a bit of harmless fun' and 'its not like there are any religious connotations' and 'its okay as long as you're just having lunch with friends or family and not throwing extravagant bashes' I have already exhausted the following lines of argument:                              a) The only days of celebration in Islam are the Eids, who are we to take up extra practices b) By following a people you are putting yourself at risk of being raised up with them on the Day of Judgement
 c) It has NO intellectual basis, like what exactly are you celebrating?? =s
(It was one of my friend's birthday today and I told her to give me one good reason to celebrate them and she said there wasn't one but 'it doesn't hurt to have harmless fun' and well I sent her a long text about mindless following of consumerist societies and how being people of reason we should look for reasons for every action of ours etc etc. Needless to say, I didn't receive a reply :D )
 Anyway so I was wondering if you could just give me other reasons I can give people and how I can stop people from wishing me and not wish people without offending them (ESPECIALLY aunties in the family who are already wary of my growing 'extremist' practices -_-) JazakAllah Khayr in advance! And *hugs* for the awesome job you guys do!
 Tired of Mindless Celebrations 

wa'alykum as salam wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo, Tired of Mindless Celebrations, 
You know, sis, that's a tough question.
 I have the same problem, to be honest. 
You already wrote all the possible 'excuses' to give.... 

 But, sometimes, 'reasons' just don't make sense to others. Sometimes, it's easier to just tell them the simple truth, like "I follow the Islamic perspective/view that birthdays should not be celebrated. That doesn't mean that I don't care about you, but that I just can't celebrate with you. Instead, I'd love to celebrate with you any other thing like "memorizing Quran, doing well on a test, getting your driver's license, any thing like that. And besides, we can always have get together without even having a reason- my house is your house!"

 Once you do that, you need to make sure that you are consistent with all of your friends. You can't go to 'one girl's party' and then not go to another's, right. Keep it as a simple 'rule' and make sure they understand that it's definitely not something personal.

And you gotta go the extra mile :P Bring them surprise gifts, make them goodies, shower them with your 'love' :) That's what I did. If I noticed a friend looking at a pretty purse, I would buy it for her as a surprise....(if I had the cash, LOL). Soon my friends understood that I don't have a problem having fun and that I do care about them....but that I couldn't be a part of something that to me was crossing an Islamic boundary. 

 As for your aunties, it sure can be tough to face them...but just tell them that you love them so much and that you really appreciate their trying to make you happy, but what would make you happier is if they celebrate with you things like what's written above: memorizing the Quran, getting that "A" in that hard subject, winning a poetry contest, etc. Tell them that SEEING them and having the family over is cause enough to celebrate and that you don't need to wait all the way for someone's birthday to be the reason."Seriously, make that extra effort to be super nice to them and to offer them help in whatever they need- be it to tutor some cousins or run an errand for them.

 It might also be easier if you tell your mom first so that she can break the news with your family. Tell her to tell them that when your birthday comes, you'd really appreciate it if they didn't mention it...You can let them know that 'warm wishes' are very nice, but you're more in need of their sincere duas :) 

 I'm not going to lie to you, though. Some people will think of it as "oh, so extremist".... but with time, when they see you smiling all the time and trying your best to help them with whatever they need, they will come to accept that this is just your attempt to follow Islam. You can also 'tackle' their fear and say that "You're not trying to be extremist. You're not against having fun but you're just trying to follow the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam. He didn't celebrate birthdays- does that make him an extremist?" 

 Also, I personally put up a note on facebook to tell people that I appreciate those who want to wish me well but that I just don't celebrate birthdays. Alhamdillah, most people understand and remember that.

  I'm sorry for such a short reply, but that's all that I could think of. InshaAlalh the other sisters can offer their advice =)

 With love,

9 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Anonymous,  December 17, 2011 at 11:54 AM  

I know you guys are doing what you feel is right, but on this reasoning we shouldn't celebrate anything but Eid- getting an A on a not Islamic subject isn't exactly part of our culture, getting a drivers license is completely a western practice that we have adopted, wearing certain types of clothes that may be super loose & perfect for hijab would be wrong because it's "Western". Actually, that all is more not from our Islamic culture than birthdays- We are all personally born a day & there's some who say that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) fasted on his birthday, which means the day was given some importance. Do we wanna start debating whether or not it's okay for anyone to drive since cars were invented in the western world? Why don't we just walk everywhere since it's better for our health? Cars weren't around in the 600CEs, they're an unnecessary invention we've adopted from the west- people survived for centuries without them. That's the reasoning we're basing this on-- why don't we make a bigger deal out if stuff that is straightforward wrong in Islam that use series of random connections to proclaim one thing wrong?

Anonymous,  December 17, 2011 at 1:24 PM  

Interesting points raised. I stopped celebrating birthdays when I found that it actually has strong pagan origins. Alhamdulillah my life hasn't suffered and there are many things I celebrate. I think the original post was asking for pointers on how to deal with comments from family. It's nice that the reply she got avoided turning it into a long overblow fatwa issue. Hurray.

Little Auntie December 17, 2011 at 6:41 PM  

Dearest Anon,
Thank you for your comment.I like how you understand that we're trying to do what we believe is right- I just want to double check that you do not think that we're forcing anyone else to follow it.I am not trying to give a fatwa here...but only advice to someone who follows the same view as mine :)

As for the point that some say the prophet sallah Allahoo alyhee wa salam celebrated his birthday, but did you ever hear that he celebrated Abu Bakr's? or his wives? Or that Omar bin al Khattab celebrated Bilal's?

And how did the prophet choose to "acknowledge his birthday"? Through 'music/ cake/ etc.' or through an act of worship to Allah (fasting)?

The reason why we are wary of these kinds of celebrations is because the prophet sallah allahoo alyhee wa salam singled them out:

The Prophet came to Medina with two days they played in.

The Prophet said, ‘What are these two days?’ They said, ‘These are two days we used to play in, in our Jahiliyah.’ The Prophet said, ‘Allah has replaced them with two better days: Eid Al Adhaa and Eid Al-Fitr’.

He could have said 'well, those are 2 just harmless days...but he didn't. He explained that they had been replaced.

On the other hand, the things that I mentioned: driving, winning a contest, etc. are achievements. We're not singling out specific days to 'celebrate' each year but just congratulating each other and sharing in each other's happiness.
About dressing in 'western clothes'- I'll leave that to the scholars, teehee, :)

Little Auntie December 17, 2011 at 6:52 PM  


Thanks Anonymous, 2 :)

Tired of Mindless Celebrations,  December 18, 2011 at 3:25 AM  

@ Anon 1- JAK for your views-which I respect-but umm just want to say that cars more or less fall under the category of Technology rather than Culture and getting a driver's license would fall under Legal Issues and not Culture. Similarly, getting an A is an Educational achievement and since Islam encourages education, there wouldn't be anything wrong in celebrating success in it :)

@Anon 2-Even I stopped recently-Hi5! =D

@Little Auntie-Once again, JAK =)

ProudBritishHijabi,  December 18, 2011 at 11:23 AM  

Asalamu alaikum sisters,

The following two links talk about the origins of celebrations. The first one talks about not only birthdays, but things like valentine's too. The second is only on birthdays.

Hope this helps.

: D


Anonymous,  February 9, 2012 at 4:20 AM  

Little auntie,
if I struggle to offer my salah on time..and i have days when I miss my fajr salah..and I regret all this and trying to change but in the midst of all this if I decide to stop celebrating my birthday..and put an effort by the help of Allah in doing so.. does that make me a fanatic/extremist?!

Little Auntie February 9, 2012 at 8:41 AM  

Why would that make you an extremist?
It means that you are still trying to better yourself, inshaallah...
Keep working on your salah and on other things you can do to get closer to Allah =) Don't let your 'shortcomings' keep you from reaching for higher places :D

Anonymous,  August 12, 2014 at 8:45 PM  

My husbands family is quite religious and my family is moderate they practice and follow but does not go extreme about anything. Me and my husband doesn't celebrate our birthdays but for our daughter we cut cake.. No music ofcourse
My only point is we put our kids in co education buys them expensive phs (israaf) wear designer clothes spends extravagantly but make issues over things that shouldn't really matter. I think first we need to get other things straight .
Secondly life is too short and full of depressing events and struggles if one cake can put a smile on everyone's face I think there should be no harm.

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
P.S. I reserve the right to remove any disrespectful comment ;)

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