Originally published in the Sun Opinion
Can Muslims celebrate Thanksgiving? Of course they can! Muslims should celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s all about being thankful to God and that is what Islam is all about. As Muslims, we are taught that God blesses us all the time — indeed, every breath we take is a gift from God — and so we should be grateful to God all the time. To this end, Islam teaches prayers of thanks to God for every circumstance and activity — from going to sleep and waking up, to starting and finishing a meal, to entering and leaving a mosque. In short, being thankful to God is part of a Muslim’s daily life and prayers.
Hand-in-hand with this fact is Islam’s requirement to deliver God’s blessings to others in the form of good works, charity or even just a kind word to a stranger so they, too, can feel the warmth of human kindness and perhaps show their thankfulness to God by “paying it forward,” however and whenever they can. This is why serving humanity and doing good deeds for God’s sake alone is a requirement of the faith. Saying you care about others means nothing if you don’t prove it with your acts of loving kindness to God’s creatures and your fellow human beings
This Thanksgiving Day (and every day before and after it), I am grateful to be free to be thankful to God in the manner I so choose. Freedom of religion is perhaps the greatest liberty we are blessed with in this country. It can be argued that all other freedoms arise from this one essential freedom. In many other nations — especially in so-called Muslim nations — the freedom to practice your religion is either non-existent, outlawed or severely restricted.
To outlaw or limit a person’s God-given right to believe and practice their religion as they choose is the worst form of oppression because it targets not just the body or the mind, but the very soul. To deny anyone’s freedom of faith is to deny their soul’s right to communion with God. And so, in gratitude to America and its Constitution which provides for complete freedom of religious expression, I humbly and gratefully say, “Thank you.”
Thanksgiving also provides Muslims with the opportunity to remember our loved ones who have passed on, and to thank our service men and women for all they do and have sacrificed so we can be free.
On this Thanksgiving, we will spend time with our families in personal thankfulness to God, but we will also show our thankfulness by doing our five daily prayers, by striving to be the best Muslims we can, and by bettering ourselves and our communities and the world in which we live. May God bless us and may we all be ever thankful to Him for all of our continued blessings. Amen.