Assalaam Alakium sisters!
I knew waking up this morning I would have to give my aunt a call and wish her a happy birthday. None of my family members are Muslim and birthdays are a HUGE deal for them. Both my mother and my aunt share the month of February as their "birth month" yes, the entire month is theirs.
Come every February, they talk up their birthdays and remind us all how many days remain until the actual "day". It would be pretty hard to miss one of their birthdays by how they await this month. They usually do the same things each year and try to make something really special just for the two of them.
Being a Muslim, it's hard for me not to think they are going way overboard with the whole thing. I try not to express this to them because I know it'll hurt their feelings so I say my simple "Happy Birthday" and send a card with a gift and leave it at that. Now, before you start saying what I'm doing is participating in the whole "birthday" thing, I want to lend some advice.
If you are a convert and your family members are not, you still need to respect them and strengthen the family tie. In Islam, family, especially the mother, is an extremely important relationship. If you find yourself not wanting to participate in things like birthdays and such, then don't, just be as respectful to those family members who do. A birthday is a good chance for you to show your non-Muslim family member that you still care about them and wish them well. Imposing your beliefs on them, especially during a special day of theirs, is not going to come off very well. You have to remember that you are now the face of Islam to them.
I have come across a difference in opinion on "celebrating" birthdays in Islam. Some scholars say yay and some say nay. I encourage you all to do your own research and come to an intelligent conclusion. I must add though that whatever celebrating you do make it halal. I don't see the big deal if you go and have dinner with some friends on your birthday as long as what you are doing is halal.
Side note: I know a lot of Muslims are misguided when it comes to the whole "halal" word and I intend on doing an entire post on what the word "halal" actually means. So take tuned for that. =)
So go have a piece of cake, just make it halal marshmallows in the fondant!
Have a wonderful rest of your day. I'm off to work then the KnewU class tonight. InshAllah a recap of the class will be up tomorrow.
A few links to check out on the whole birthday thang: