Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?

Everyone Thinks Muslims Shouldn’t Celebrate Christmas

I’m doing it anyway.

This video is part of “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?,” a series featuring Slate’s Aymann Ismail confronting fears about Muslims. Follow along on Facebook.

This year, a Christmas commercial from a British retailer led to threats of a boycott on right-wing Twitter because it briefly included a Muslim family. The uproar seemed ridiculous—but the truth is, the ad might have provoked the same reaction in my parents’ conservative Muslim-American household. In my immigrant family, any celebration of Christmas was considered an affront. It was something observant Muslims simply didn’t do.

So as I stood on a Christmas tree lot in New Jersey earlier this month, choosing my first-ever tree with my wife, I wondered what I was doing there. Then I bought the tree. When I brought it home, I started to realize why I wanted one in the first place. In this episode, I consider the dissonance between calls for Muslims to assimilate and the anger when they celebrate America’s most popular holiday, and my own conflict with what it means to accept a Christmas tradition as my own.

Aymann Ismail

This series is written and produced by Aymann Ismail and Jeffrey Bloomer, and edited by Aymann Ismail.

You can also watch episodes on ex-Muslims, Sharia law in America, why some young Muslims radicalize, profane Muslim comedians, the hijab conflict, and homophobia in Islam.