Halloween Celebration and Islam
Halloween is widely celebrated in the west it is based on European and Celtic pagan doctrines which are celebrated on the evening of October 31st every year. Halloween is a festival based on Celtic and Catholic doctrines. Halloween is the sign that symbolizes the start of ancient Druid’s New Year which is derived from the ritual of worshiping dead spirits and devil. And holding a festival when the “dead” visit their home at that time. This festival of Halloween is a celebration of the worshiping the devil as well as the new year when the dead’s spirit visit their home.
Now a days Halloween is defined by children going house to house, dressed up in a variety of costumes collecting treats. Although, Halloween may seem like a time for children to have fun carving pumpkins and collecting candy, not many know the origins of this ‘festival’ and its traditions that date back centuries.
Why this event is “Prohibited” according to Islam?
Since praise someone else than Allah comes under the circle of Shirk then it is a grave sin to celebrate for Muslims as this festival is being all about praising the devil and praising those who worship the devil. We encounter visuals of Jack-O-Lanterns, candies and ghostly costumes around us which inevitably attract Muslims, especially the young ones. Alien to its origin, Muslims have also fallen into the trap of events such as Halloween. Have you been too? Well, to start off let’s introduce from where this festive really got its roots.
Halloween festival originated as the Eve of Samhain, a celebration marking the beginning of winter and the first day of the New Year among ancient pagans of the British Isles. On this occasion, it was believed that supernatural forces gathered together, that the barriers between the supernatural and human worlds were broken. They believed that spirits from other worlds (such as the souls of the dead) were able to visit earth during this time and roam about. At Samhain, Celts celebrated a joint festival for the sun god and the lord of the dead. The sun was thanked for the harvest and moral support requested for the upcoming “battle” with winter. In ancient times, the pagans made sacrifices of animals and crops in order to please the gods.
They also believed that on October 31st, the lord of the dead gathered all the souls of the people who had died that year. The souls upon death would dwell in the body of an animal, then on this day, the lord would announce what form they were to take for the next year.
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. These traditions were brought to the United States by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland.
The word Halloween does not appear in the bible at all. Jeremiah 10:02 clearly warns;
“Do not follow the ways of other heathens (pagans)”.
Customs and Traditions
- “Trick or Treating”: It is widely believed that during the Feast of All Saints, peasants went from house to house asking for money to buy food for the upcoming feast. Additionally, people dressed in costumes would often play tricks on their neighbors. Blame for the resulting chaos was placed on the “spirits and goblins.”
- Images of bats, black cats, etc.: These animals were believed to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Black cats especially were believed to house the souls of witches.
- Games such as bobbing for apples: The ancient pagans used divination techniques to foresee the future. There were various methods of doing this, and many have continued through traditional games, often played at children’s parties.
- Jack-O’-Lantern: The Irish brought the Jack-O’-Lantern to America. The tradition is based on a legend about a stingy, drunken man named Jack. Jack played a trick on the devil, then made the devil promise not to take his soul. The devil, upset, promised to leave Jack alone. When Jack died, he was turned away from Heaven because he was a stingy, mean drunk. Desperate for a resting place, he went to the devil but the devil also turned him away. Stuck on earth on a dark night, Jack was lost. The devil tossed him a lighted coal from the fire of Hell, which Jack placed inside a turnip as a lamp to light his way. Since that day, he has traveled the world over with his Jack-O’-Lantern in search of a resting place. Irish children carved out turnips and potatoes to light the night on Halloween. When the Irish came to America in great numbers in the 1840s, they found that a pumpkin made an even better lantern, and that is how this “American tradition” came to be.
Virtually all Halloween traditions are based either in ancient pagan culture or in Christianity. 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. How can we worship only Allah, the Creator, if we participate in activities that are based in pagan rituals, divination, and the spirit world? Many people participate in these celebrations without even understanding the history and the pagan connections, just because their friends are doing it, their parents did it (“it’s a tradition!”), and because “it’s fun!”
How to Teach about?
So what can we do, When our children see others dressed up, eating candy, and going to parties? While it may be tempting to join in, we must be careful to preserve our own traditions and not allow our children to be corrupted by this seemingly “innocent” fun. When tempted, remember the pagan origins of these traditions, and ask Allah to give you strength. Save the celebration, the fun and the games, for our ‘Eid festivals. Children can still have their fun, and most importantly, should learn that we only acknowledge holidays that have a religious significance to us as Muslims. Holidays are not just excuses to binge and be reckless. In Islam, our holidays retain their religious importance, while allowing proper time for rejoicing, fun, and games.
Why & How Muslims Celebrate This
Although many Muslims celebrate this event just as a festival and for entertainment, which is why they are alien to origins and history of the festival. With the passage of time, it has become more commercialized yet still is associated with symbols of witch craft, deadly spirits and so on. Muslims are not meant to follow a tradition just because it is widely celebrated rather they should question their doings. It is important to know that Muslims have only two major celebrations each year, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.
We make dua that may Allah (SWT) help all the Muslims follow the right path according the teachings of Quran and Hadith. We are supposed to consider and think about everything that we do, and not follow something blindly without pondering about it. You see, as Muslims we are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. So, be that light and allow others to spread it by sharing this information about which many Muslims are unaware even today.
“We have sent them the truth, but they indeed practice falsehood” (Quran 23:90)
“In the Quran Allah says of magic that it only harms and brings no benefit (Surah Al-Baqarah, V.102)
Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said:.
You must keep to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs; cling to it firmly. Beware of newly invented matters, for every new matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misleading.” (Bukhari).
“The final hour will not come until my followers copy the deeds of the previous nations and follow them very closely, span by span, and cubit by cubit” (Bukhari).
“Whoever imitates a nation is one of them” (Abu Dawud).
Islam is a complete way of life. Its wisdom is profound. What Islam prescribes and what it prohibits is always of tremendous benefit for humanity as a whole.