I have been blessed in that my family, practicing Christians, has been very accepting of my reversion to Islam. There are no horror stories of being rejected or disinherited, I have not had to deal with any prejudicial comments about Islam or Arabs and my parents and siblings, the most supportive of my family by far, have not only accepted the fact that I have become a Muslim but have been eager to learn more about what it means to me. My brother, who has also reverted to Islam, has been an irreplaceable treasure in my life over the years and my mother reads every article that I write about Islam. I am extremely grateful for their love and acceptance. It causes me to reflect upon society at large and I realize how much daily life and attitudes would be improved if Christians and Muslims could co-exist as harmoniously as we do in my family.
The journey to where we are now has not been completely smooth and there have been some bumps along the road. During the first few years of my reversion to Islam Christmas holidays and birthdays were tense. My son was the first grand-child on my side of the family and it was difficult to restrain my parents from “spreading the Christmas spirit.” It was just as difficult, however, for me to accept not being able to participate in decorating and cooking for Christmas Day or giving gifts for birthdays. The saving grace and common ground that we have been able to build upon is the reality that despite the change in our traditions, we are family, we love each other and that will never change.
Similarly, Christians and Muslims both believe in the One True God and accept the same prophets as messengers of the One True God, one difference being that Christians call God, God the Father and Muslims call God, Allah. There are other differences in philosophies and traditions, but the certainty that both Christians and Muslims worship the same God should be a source of love that provides us with a common ground to build upon.
In our family, we have learned to respect each other on a deeper level than we did before and have come to understand that although we do not celebrate with each other the way that we used to, we can still gather and enjoy one another’s company outside of our respective religions. We have reached a point in recent years where we do not feel threatened by our religions and our family is stronger for it. Instead of giving gifts for Christmas, we exchange gifts during Eid Al Fitr after the month of fasting for Ramadan. When we gather for family dinners and my husband and my son and I have to stop for prayer, the little children often want to make wudu and prayer with us. And hearing my nephews greet me with the Islamic greeting of As Salaamu Alaikum is one of the sweetest things that I have ever heard.
The most beautiful family experience for me thus far since reverting to Islam was when my parents, my sister and my nephews made salaat, the obligatory Islamic prayers, with our family. My mother stood on the right side of me and my sister stood at my left as we lined up for prayer behind my husband, my brother, my father and my nephews. The joy that I felt was palpable as we stood toe to toe and shoulder to shoulder. That for me was co-existence at its best, hands down.