Remona Aly
Sunday 16 December 2012 The Guardian

Why I’m dreaming of a halal Christmas

We’ve just ordered our halal turkey again. I always look forward to this time of year – when my extended family get together to watch The Goonies for the 56th time, OD on mince pies and listen to the Queen’s speech while sipping a glass of rosé Shloer.

Growing up with Christmas has been a natural thing for me, but it hasn’t always inspired the spirit of goodwill in others. One cold December day, at the mosque after Qur’an class, the resident mosque “uncle” decided to test us: “But are Christmas trees haram, children?” I failed his test, epically. The other kids replied that they were forbidden. I piped up, excitedly: “No, I have a lovely Christmas tree at home!” The air turned chillier than the water in the ablution pipes. I might as well have said that Santa Claus was a prophet. It’s a good thing I didn’t mention my brother in his school nativity play, who, being the only pupil two shades darker than white, was inevitably cast as the black king.

Back then that three-and-a-half foot plastic tree denoted sheer joy and shiny presents for me, and Christmas, along with Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, still makes me feel fuzzy inside. Is it so wrong to enjoy other cultural and religious festivals? I’m not saying that getting a tree or a turkey makes you less of a Muslim, or more of a Christian, but maybe, just maybe, sharing some experiences from outside our own bubble makes us just a little more human. Bring on the turkey.

This article originally appeared in The Guardian on 16 December 2012. To view it click here.