SHAFAQNA- Every year on October 31st many people in America and other parts of the world celebrate Halloween. Is Halloween compatible with Islamic values? Or Do Muslims celebrate Halloween? To make an informed decision, we need to understand the history and traditions of this festival.
Halloween originated with ancient Celtic festival. People believed that on the night of October 31st the ghosts of the dead would return to Earth so they would light bonfires and wear costumes to avoid evil spirits. Times have changed and so have the ways to celebrate. Like many other festivals, Halloween has also evolved over time. Every year in America people spend billions of dollars on candies, costumes, and decorations. They believe that by wearing masks and ghoulish disguise they would ward off evil ghosts.
When Christianity came to the British Isles, the church tried to take attention away from these pagan rituals by placing a Christian holiday on the same day. The Christian festival, the Feast of All Saints, acknowledges the saints of the Christian faith in much the same way that Samhain had paid tribute to the pagan gods. The customs of Samhain survived anyway, and eventually became intertwined with the Christian holiday.
Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) way of reacting to traditional celebrations
As Muslims, if we want to find out about Islam’s attitude toward Halloween, we should look at Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) way of reacting to such traditional celebrations. At the time of the emergence of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) respected most of the traditions and all monotheistic religions that existed at that time. However, he tried to reject the superstitions that had no rationale behind them and were based on false beliefs. So, he decided to wipe away the superstitious traditions that were practiced by pre-Islamic Arabs through informing them of their falsehood.
Virtually all Halloween traditions are based in ancient pagan culture. From an Islamic point of view, they all are forms of idolatry (shirk). As Muslims, our celebrations should be ones that honor and uphold our faith and beliefs. In the light of this reason, one may ask ‘Is Islam against having fun?’ Of course not. Muslims have two celebrations each year, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. The celebrations are based on the Islamic faith and religious way of life.
Points that Muslims should observe when having fun
It should be borne in mind that there are four points that Muslims should observe when we are having fun:
First, from Islamic perspective, it does not harm one’s self and others, physically or mentally. Unlike this, many reports reveal the dangers that threaten people, especially children, on the Halloween’s eve; these include car accidents which have a high rate on this night. Also, according to the tradition of this day, people would wear scary costumes to send the ghosts coming from the other world away. But, Muslims know that such a belief is entirely superstitious and irrational. So, what is the use of scaring other people and our children with a weird and sometimes disgusting look?
Second, as Muslims, we should always be observant of our actions, even if we are having fun. It is essential to keep in mind that our activities, whatever they are, do not prevent us from what Allah (SWT) has commanded. Nor do they invite us toward committing what He has forbidden (drinking alcohol, dancing, participating in inappropriate parties, observing modesty, etc.)
Third, even when Muslims are having fun, there should be something behind it that makes it worthwhile. Many may argue that this is a non-harming, non-threatening, very fun and simple tradition. On the face value, it may appear that children are just having fun, dressing up and collecting some candies. However, Muslims are supposed to ponder and think about every single thing that they do. There is no blind following in Islam. We are not supposed to follow something blindly without thinking or pondering about it.
Forth, Halloween roots back to Celtic pagan’s worship of their idols and many gods. The rituals are still the same and still represent the Celtic culture and tradition. Christians had a very limited influence upon Halloween and the way it is celebrated. A Muslim’s life should mirror his beliefs in every aspect. So, if an action even in appearance, represents what is against Islam or far from its teachings, then it should be avoided by Muslims.
Sources: Salam Islam, With a Spin, Learn Religions, Patch