Thanksgiving in our home

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 in Featured Article | 0 comments

By Dr. Tasneema Ghazi Turkey Dinner Table

“Mommy, I think we have been living in America long enough to celebrate Thanksgiving!”

My seven years old thinker-daughter said this to me in 1973. We had just moved from Harvard to San Diego where my husband got a teaching job at the university.

We bought our first house in the United States and decided to settle in this lovely land instead of returning to India. America was home now; and it has been ever since.

We all sat down and talked about the history and the significance of this special national holiday for all Americans, both recent immigrants and longstanding natives. We reckoned that Thanksgiving is not holiday centered on religious beliefs, like Christmas or Easter, but it is a national holiday where the citizens of this great nation together offer thanks to their Creator for giving them this land of bounty and keeping it thriving and prosperous.

If anything we can even find in the origins of Thanksgiving the very Islamic principles of migration for the sake of faith, as well as helping those in need. This Pilgrims fled their native England rather than compromise their beliefs. They struggled for existence in the first years of their life in the Plymouth Colony, and if it weren’t for the assistance of the indigenous Wampanoag people the Old World immigrants would not have survived. Does such a story ring a bell with Muslims?

Thanksgiving is about offering thanks to Allah (SWT) for bestowing His grace and blessings upon all of us living in this country. For our first Thanksgiving we invited our dear friend Qiaser Jahan, a graduate student from Pakistan, and Mr. Bari whose grandfather had migrated to California from Punjab in the early 1900. Dr. and Mrs. Dill, both professors at the university also joined us in the celebrations.

We decided that our first Thanksgiving would be in typical American-style, complete with turkey, corn, green beans, pumpkin pie and of course gravy. In the center of the table was a tray with the sign “Prophet Muhammad’s favorite Foods.” This tray contained olives, bread, finely sliced meat, watermelon etc. Dr. Dill offered the du’a before the meal and everyone enjoyed the delicious food.

Since then we have celebrated this most American holiday every year. Sometimes we cooked the turkey on Thanksgiving Day, while at other times it was on a Friday or Saturday, depending on the schedules of family members and guests over the long weekend. In Chicago we once invited a number of visiting poets from India and Pakistan who were in town for a poetry symposium and they asked for a turkey dinner. I prepared the dinner along with a roasted leg of lamb – Indian style. My daughter invited a dozen of her friends from University of Chicago International House. The guest poets sat on the dining table and spread the traditional dastarkhwan/sofrah on our living room floor for the rest of us. The joy of meeting with family and friends and having warm get together was so very important, and it continues to be so.

Thanksgiving is all about praising Allah (SWT) as a country for all of the things He has blessed us with. It is about coming together with family and friends and sharing moments of joy and happiness. And as I.M.A.N.’s Turkey Drive tells us, it should also be about sharing with those less fortunate. It is all about brotherhood, sisterhood, love and peace. This is the spirit of Thanksgiving, and it is the spirit of Islam.

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