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Certain issues spark controversy, and humans love controversy. Debatable topics, such as moon sightings or proper fiqh interpretations, always rise to the forefront of any conversation. Unfortunately, “American” holidays are considered among these frequently debated issues.
Should American Muslims celebrate US holidays, such as Thanksgiving? A common argument among those who answer no is that these holidays challenge certain fundamental principles of the Islamic creed. After all, Muslims should always remain thankful. Distinguishing particular days within the year to express our thanks is not only unnecessary, it implies that we do not need to be thankful during the other 364 days of the year. Muslims should instead rise above the objectives of Thanksgiving in order to exemplify the intention of this holiday year round.
However, I must respectfully disagree with the opinion that American holidays, especially Thanksgiving, should not be celebrated. Taking the time to demonstrate extra thanks during this one day does not necessarily preclude us from being thankful during the rest of the year. Moreover, a person can never express enough thanks. No matter how appreciative we claim to be, we could never communicate proper gratitude for the infinite blessings in our lives. As the famous hadith states, all of one’s good worldly deeds would amount to nothing when weighed against the simple, single blessing of sight. Therefore, a day of extra gratitude can only benefit us.
Furthermore, beyond the importance of gratitude, Thanksgiving is the ideal time for families to reunite. Parents and children can enjoy time off from work and school. Relatives, who otherwise live across the US, take this time of year to meet and interact. Delicious food and annual Turkey Day football games serve as magnets to draw family members closer together. We can capitalize on this time of year to enact the important sunnah of reconnecting with family.
Thus, it is my belief that Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, which American Muslims can only benefit from. Even though the origin of this holiday is questionable, there is no doubt that the modern Thanksgiving involves numerous praiseworthy traditions, such as gratitude and family. So rather than debating over the potential illegality of Thanksgiving, take this time to cook turkey, enjoy time with family, and be thankful for the countless blessings in your life!
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