I read the article "Curriculum for new Muslims" by Shaikh Abdus Sattar, as posted by jannah, and felt it was directed at me. It has some very sound advice for us all, and I must thank jannah for posting this, which has led to my reading some other important articles.
I post a reply to the last post here by Blessedgrandma, in the light of that article, and some more that I have read.
First of all, I should have made a disclaimer that I am not a Mufti, and not even a Talibe ilm
I was only trying to inform of what I do know.
Looking back at this thread, I can see that there are occasions when this issue can be neglected, even perhaps in the present context, because the Ummah faces far greater problems.
I do note that the trend in the West has been secularization and acceptance of diversity, which is an improvement on hostility based on ignorance.
The origins of the celebrations under discussion were pagan, worldwide. For a long time since the US was, and perhaps still is Christian, this holiday could be identified as a Christian holiday - Mass and service and saying Grace and all. But immigrants from other backgrounds have embraced this holiday as a day to meet and treat family, it has become secular in essence.
Some questions arise:
Q: Will it always stay secular and tolerant?
A: The answer is no, if the past is any guide.
Q: Will Christian or pagan practice come back in this festival.
A: Again, if the past is any guide, this is indeed likely to happen.
Q: Can this Thanksgiving holiday be Islamized?
A: I am afraid no. There are only two annual Eids for us. It can, at best, remain a secular holiday.
Now for Qs that Blessedgrandma has asked:
Q: will we be judged on our hearts as individuals? Or will we be judged on doing something that was someone else's wrong intent?
A: We will be judged on two things: our own intention, not someone else's, and what we do.
Q: Why not thank Allah for the spring time when we can plant and see the baby creatures he created?
Why not celebrate the harvest time giving thanks.
Why not the winter time as a beautiful time to relax after the planting and harvesting seasons?
A: As I have said, and you have too earlier, we do not need special occasions to give thanks. Our Salah five times a day is a submission to, a talk with, and a giving of thanks to Allah (swt). In addition we are to do dhikr at all times, verbally as well as remembering Him in our actions.
Celebrations are a different matter. We were told by the Prophet (saw) that we have two annual Eids, no more. We have a weekly Eid, the Friday. How beautiful these Eids were, I don't think anyone would know now. Ever since the westernization of our societies, we have lost a great deal.
Not once, but twice a year, on Eids, my siblings and their families join my mother in celebrations. On Eidul Fitr, and the second day of Eid-ul-Adha. Unfortunately, my own family has not been together with her for many, many years, maybe decades.
Friday is no longer a holiday. In my childhood, we had the day off. A bath on that day was compulsory. We put on atr (perfume), even kohl. The dress was neat, a white kurta-pajama, freshly washed and ironed. Reading the Quran on that day was compulsory without being told so. We did it because our hearts so desired, with translation and tafseer. Then Surah Kahf (for it is recommended Sunnah on Friday, to ward off the dajjal). Then we set off for the Masjid. It smelt nice all over. There was a section for women, with a separate entrance. We said tahayyatul masjid (two rakaas), and sat down silently, saying istaghfaar , durood, and other dhikr. What the women did, I do not know. I do not recall going in their enclosure even when I was a kid.
The khutba was fantastic. Arabic, and Urdu, which we could understand. We would come back, and sit for lunch, all of us together.
Later, when my father wasn't there anymore, and we were adolescents, this Friday prayer was still that I looked forward to. I felt so peaceful, I sometimes fell asleep after praying the sunnah.
There are three masajid I remember particularly:
a. Masjid Mian Sahib in Delhi, just round the corner from my grandfather's house. (the masjid was probably linked to Mian Nazeer Hussain, the sheikh to whom all Hadith sheikhs in the Indo Pak now trace their own sheikhs to.
b. Aek minara (one minar) masjid in Housing Society, Karachi. We still live close, and when I go to Karachi, we offer Jumma there.
c. Jamae Masjid built by Aurangzeb Alamgir in Chittagong.
It is not the same now. Friday is not a holiday. Everyone is at work or school. People do come for prayers, but sometimes they smell of perspiration, as they have been working. There are a few souls, mostly old men, who put on atr, and some young ones who have turned to the Sunnah.
As for the annual Eids, same method for getting ready, only earlier, and when we could afford it, new clothes and shoes. And after wearing anything new, offering two rakaas of thanks.
What is it I want? I want the barakah of the Sunnah of Fridays and Eids to be brought back to us - all Muslims. It would be nice if Fridays and Eids were the prescribed holidays everywhere; if Eidul Fitr were combined with Aetekaaf days to give us an extended holiday from the last third of Ramadan to the end of Eid. If instead of us relying on secular and non-Islamic holidays to meet our families, we could do so on our own religious special days.