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HALLOWEEN HARMLESS OR HARAM: AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE Every year, on the evening of October 31st, millions of children across North

America paint their faces, dress up in costumes, and go door to door collecting treats. The adults often decorate their houses with ghostly figures, carve scary faces on pumpkins, and put candles in them to create Jack-OLanterns. Unfortunately, among the millions of North Americans indulging in this custom, many are also Muslims. This article will shed some light on the significance and origins of Halloween, and why Muslims should not participate in it. Origins of the Halloween Festival The ancient Celtic (Irish/Scottish/Welsh) festival called Samhain is considered by most historians and scholars to be the predecessor of what is now Halloween.1 Samhain was the New Year's Day of the pagan Celts. It was also the Day of the Dead, a time when it was believed that the souls of those who had died during the year were allowed access into the land of the dead.2 Many traditional beliefs and customs associated with Samhain continue to be practiced today on the 31st of October. The most common modern-day Halloween customs are related directly to the Celtic Mushrik celebration. For example: practice of leaving offerings of food and drink (now candy) for masked and costumed celebrators (now trick-or-treaters) and the lighting of bonfires (now jack-o-lanterns).3 Elements of this festival were incorporated into the Christian festival of All Hallows Eve, or Hallow-Even, the night preceding All Saints (Hallows) Day. It is the glossing of the name Hallow- Even that has given us the name of Halloween.4 Until recent times in some parts of Europe, it was believed that on this night the dead walked amongst them, and that witches and warlocks flew in their midst. In preparation for this, bonfires were built to ward off these malevolent spirits.5 By the 19th century, witches pranks were replaced by childrens tricks. The spirits of Samhain, once believed to be wild and powerful, were now recognized as being evil. Devout Christians began rejecting this festival. They
Rogers, Nicholas (2002). "Samhain and the Celtic Origin of Halloween". Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, pp. 1121. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-516896-8.
2 1

"Halloween". Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009. Credo Reference. Web. 21 September 2012.

The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford University Press, 1996. pp. 379-383

Rogers, Nicholas (2002). Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, pp. 22, 27. New York: Oxford Univ. Press. ISBN 0-19-516896-8. Medieval Celebrations (Daniel Diehl, Mark Donnelly), Stackpole Books, page 17

had discovered that the so-called gods, goddesses, and other spiritual beings of the pagan religions, were diabolical deceptions. The spiritual forces that people experienced during this festival were indeed real, but they were manifestations of the devil who misled people toward the worship of false idols. Thus, they rejected the customs associated with Halloween, including all representations of ghosts, vampires, and human skeletons symbols of the dead and of the devil and other malevolent and evil creatures.6 It must also be noted that, to this day, many Satan-worshippers consider the evening of October 31st to be their most sacred.7 And many devout Christians today continue to distance themselves from this pagan festival.8 In addition, according to Alfred J. Kolatch in the Second Jewish Book of Why, in Judaism, Halloween is not permitted by the Jewish Halakha as well because it violates Leviticus 18:3 which forbids Jews from partaking in gentile customs.9 The Islamic Perspective Iman (faith) is the foundation of Islamic society, and tauheed (the belief in the existence and Oneness of Allah) is the essence of this faith and the very core of Islam. The safeguarding of this iman, and of this pure tauheed, is the primary objective of all Islamic teachings and legislation. In order to keep the Muslim society purified of all traces of shirk (associating partners with Allah) and remnants of error, a continuous struggle must continue against all customs and practices which originate from societies ignorance of divine guidance, and in the errors of idol worship. Also the complete teachings of Islam are to safeguard our tawheed and to protect us from adopting practices that are not approved by Allah or to develop any resemblance shirk. Allah (swt) warned us against Shirk (idol-worship, paganism) and explained the severity of this sin when He said: "Surely, Allah does not forgive that a partner is ascribed to Him (Shirk), and He forgives anything short of that for whomsoever He wills. Whoever ascribes a partner to Allah commits a terrible sin"10. The great Prophet of Allah, Jesus (peace be upon him) further

Santino, Jack. The Hallowed Eve: Dimensions of Culture in a Calendar Festival of Northern Ireland. University Press of Kentucky, p. 95
7 (1969). "Religious Holidays". The Satanic Bible. New York: Avon LaVey, Anton Szandor Books. ISBN 978-0-380-01539-9 8

Halloween: What's a Christian to Do? (1998) by Steve Russo.

The Jewish Life Cycle: rites of passage from biblical to modern times (Ivan G. Marcus), University of Washington Press, page 232

Al-Quran, Surah an-Nisaa, Verse 48

explained: "In fact, whoever ascribes any partner to Allah, Allah has prohibited for him the Jannah (the Paradise), and his shelter is the Fire, and there will be no supporters for the unjust.11" Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) issued a stern warning: Whoever imitates a nation is one of them!12. Muslims should take this warning and stay away from copying or imitating the non-Muslims in their celebrations. Islam has strongly forbidden Muslims from following the religious or social customs of the non-Muslims, especially of the idol-worshippers or those who worship the devil. From an Islamic standpoint, Halloween is one of the worst celebrations because of its origins and history. It is not allowed, even if there may be some seemingly good or harmless elements in those practices, as evidenced by a statement from the Prophet (saw) Every innovation (in our religion) is misguidance, even if the people regard it as something good13. Although it may be argued that the celebration of Halloween today has nothing to do with devil-worship or any religion, it is still not appropriate for Muslims at all, to participate in it. If Muslims begin to take part in such customs, it is a sure sign of weak iman and that we have either forgotten or openly rejected the mission of our beloved Prophet (saw) who came to cleanse us from ignorant customs, superstitions and false practices. Muslims are prohibited from imitating the behavior and customs of the nonMuslims, and ordered to stay away from their indecencies. Imitating their behavior will affect the attitude of a Muslim and may create a feeling of sympathy towards their indecent modes of life. Islam seeks to cleanse the Muslim of all immoral conducts and habits, and thus paves the way for the Quran and Sunnah to become the only source for guidance in a Muslim's life. A Muslim should be a model for others in faith and practice, behavior and moral character, and not a blind imitator depending on other nations or cultures. Even if one decides to go along with the outward practices of Halloween without acknowledging the deeper significance or historical background of this custom, he or she will still be participating in this pagan (Mushrik) festival. Unfortunately, even after hearing the Truth, some Muslims still participate in Halloween, send their kids trick-or-treating, and try to justify it by saying they are doing it merely to make their children happy. But what is the duty of Muslim parents? Is it to follow the wishes of their children without questioning, or to mould them within the correct Islamic framework

al-Quran, Surah al-Maaidah, Verse 72 Hadith, Sunan Abu Dawood Hadith, Sunan ad-Daarimee



as outlined in the Quran and Sunnah? Is it not the responsibility of Muslim parents to impart correct Islamic training and instruction to their children? How can this duty be performed if, instead of instructing the children with Islam, parents allow and encourage their children to be taught the way of the unbelievers? Allah (swt) revealed what these children will say in the Afterlife: Our Lord, we obeyed our chiefs and our elders, and they made us to go astray from the path. Our Lord, give them twice the punishment, and send a curse on them, an enormous curse"14. We must rather teach them to celebrate the festivals ordered by Allah (swt) and make the two Eids memorable for them. A perfect example of this is when the Prophet (saw) first arrived at Madinah and witnessed the locals holding a day of celebration. Upon being informed of its origin he dissuaded them from continuing this practice by introducing them to an Islamically acceptable one. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported, Allahs Messenger (saw) came to Madinah while the (locals) had two (fixed) days in which they would have fun. He inquired, What are these two days (about)? The locals replied, We used to have fun on these days in the pre-islamic era. Allahs Messenger (saw) explained, Allah has substituted those two days for you with something better; the day of Adha and the day of Fitr.15. These two days were Nowruz (the Persian New Year which is held annually on the vernal equinox, as the beginning of spring) and Mehregn (an Iranian festival celebrated in honor of Mithra, a mythical deity, which is held on the autumnal equinox every year). The Prophet (saw) also said: By Him in Whose hands is my life, you are ordered to enjoin good and forbid evil, or else Allah will certainly afflict you with torments. Thereafter, even your dua (supplications) will not be accepted16. Muslim parents must teach their children to refrain from practicing falsehood, and not to imitate the non-Muslims in their customs and festivals. If the children are taught to be proud of their Islamic heritage, they themselves will, inshaa-Allah, abstain from Halloween and other haram celebrations, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc. The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said: "The Final Hour will not come until my followers copy the deeds of the previous nations and follow them very closely, span by


Al-Quran, al-Ahzaab, Verse 67-8 Hadith, Sunan Abu Dawood Hadith, Sunan at-Tirmizhi



span, and cubit by cubit (inch by inch)"17. Islam is a pure and perfect religion with no need to accommodate any custom, practice or celebration that is not a part of it. Islam does not distinguish between secular and sacred; the shariah must rule every aspect of our lives. You must keep to my Sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly-guided Khulafaa (successors); cling to it firmly. Beware of newly invented matters, for every new matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misleading.18 Whoever imitates a nation is one of them.19 What to do on Halloween. Thus it is established that the celebration of Halloween is not allowed in Islam. The Muslims should have no part in it. The question arises, as to what to do on this night. Muslim parents must not send their kids out trick-ortreating on Halloween night. Our children must be told why we do not celebrate Halloween. Most children are very receptive when taught with sincerity, and especially when shown in practice the joy of their own Islamic celebrations and traditions. In this regard, teach them about the two Islamic festivals of Eid. Teach them not to take part in Halloween parties or dressing up in costumes. Explain the issue to them and reward them for obedience. It must also be mentioned that, even Muslims who stay home and give out treats to those who come to their door are still participating in this festival. In order to avoid this, leave the front lights off and do not open the door. If someone gives candy, pumpkin pie or anything else related to Halloween, do not accepted it. Politely explain the reason you cannot take it. Teach your children to do the same. Educate your neighbors about our Islamic teachings. Inform them in advance that Muslims do not participate in Halloween, and explain the reasons why. They will respect your wishes, and you will gain respect in the process. A person who calls another to guidance will be rewarded, as will the one who accepts the message.20 Finally, we must remember that we are fully accountable to Allah for all of our actions and deeds. If, after knowing the Truth, we do not cease our unIslamic practices, we risk the wrath of Allah as He warned us in the Quran:


Hadith, Saheeh al-Bukhari Hadith, Saheeh al-Bukhari



Hadith, Sunan Tirmizhi

Then let them beware who refuse the Messengers order lest some trial befall them, or a grevious punishment be afflicted upon them!21. This is a very serious matter, not to be taken lightly. And Allah knows best. May Allah guide us, help us to stay on the right path, and save us from all deviations and innovations that will lead us into the fires of Hell. O Allah! Show us the Truth as true and allow us to follow it. And show us falsehood as false and allow us to abstain from it!

Presented under supervision of Mufti Ruhul Amin, Darul Quran was Sunnah, NY

20 Al-Quran,

an-Noor, Verse 63