An Islamic Thanksgiving

by Jo Ellen

The Muslim News, January 2014 Issue (p. 2)

One question I’m often asked, as a Muslim, is whether I celebrate Thanksgiving.

Others wonder this because they know I do not celebrate holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Halloween, or All Saint’s Day. Unlike those holidays, however, Thanksgiving is a non-religious, cultural holiday, with ideals that are fully in tune with the Islamic ethos — and it happens to be one of my favorites.

Almost all Muslims I know celebrate Thanksgiving. Those who don’t are often either fairly recent immigrants who have not yet established that tradition, or those who follow the Prophet Muhammad’s saying that the two Eids (holy festivals) of Islam have replaced the festivals of the early pagans; they stick to this saying so far that they hold no other cultural celebrations, including birthdays. This interpretation, however, is that of the minority.

A few other Muslims are keenly aware, and critical, of America’s treatment of Native Americans. Muslims usually strive to teach these less savory stories to our children and students, but very few opt out of Thanksgiving because of them. Most see the potential of Thanksgiving, and view it with modern interpretations.

As for my family, we eat a turkey, preferably one raised and harvested according to Muslim dietary guidelines. Instead of ham, we may also do a leg of lamb.

More importantly, we look forward to gathering with extended family — cousins, aunts and uncles we sometimes only see on this day. We love how, not only is the gathering in line with our injunctions to maintain family ties, but how we can fulfill other injunctions, such as giving thanks.

When we gather and each person vocally shares what he/she is thankful for, I think of the verse,

“Worship God, and be of those who give thanks” (Quran 39:66)

and the hadith,

“He who does not thank people, does not thank God.”

I am happy to have this yearly opportunity to be with family and openly give thanks and appreciation for our blessings, whether we live in adversity or prosperity. I am thankful just to have that op‍portunity.

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

(Jo Ellen Thomas is a Muslim homemaker and home-school parent who lives in Indianapo‍lis.)

Source: (23 November 2013)