Social Relations Between Muslims and Non-Muslims
First of all, it should be stated that Islam does not aim at severing the ties of kinship between its adherents and their non-Muslim relatives. Islam considers these kinds of relationships to be very important, particularly between parents and children. Therefore, it should be clear that Muslims are ordered by Allah to establish good relations with their family, neighbors, and fellow humans, regardless of whether the latter are Muslims or not. So you should never neglect your ties with your parents and relatives.
Muslims are not only encouraged but rather ordered by Allah to establish good relations with their family, neighbors, and fellow humans, regardless of whether the latter are Muslims or not. As a matter of fact, the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions are replete with orders for Muslims to foster ties of kinship regardless of differences in religion.
Allah says: And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor.” (Al-Israa’ 17:23-24)
The Qur’an further teaches us that honoring one’s parents has been an integral part of divine messages to all of God’s prophets and messengers from Adam to Muhammad (peace be upon them) so much so that is the foremost one, second only to worship of the One and only God.
The traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) further reinforce the above commandment. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Those who sever ties of kinship cannot hope to enter paradise.” Once a person asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to guide him to the best of morals, he replied, “Join ties with those who sever ties with you; give to those who deny you, and forgive those who harm you.”
So you should never neglect your ties with your parents and relatives; the fact that you are a Muslim should also enhance rather than diminish your good relations with them. Paying them regular visits and joining them in their family meals are definitely important ways to strengthen your family bond.
Having said this, however, I must also point out that the above must never lead you to compromise your commitment to the dictates of your own faith. You may do well to let them know that you would be honored to join the family at the dinner table, but that you are not allowed to consume alcohol, pork, or their by-products. This will give you an opportunity to educate them on the Islamic dietary laws and their rationale.
Finally, as you have rightly said, your visits to your family can be an excellent opportunity to expose them to the gentle and positive aspects of Islam. It would help you to know that the vast majority of people embraced Islam, coming as they were from extremely diverse religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, through their exposure to the beauty of Islam in practical ways. Let us remember the enduring words of the Prophet (peace be upon him), “I have been sent to perfect the highest morals”; and, “I am a gift of mercy (unto the worlds) from Allah.”