Every year, on the evening of October 31st, millions of children across North America paint their faces, dress up in costumes, and go from door to door in order to collect treats. The adults often decorate their houses with ghostly figures, carve scary faces on pumpkins, and put candles in them to create 'Jack-O-Lanterns.' Unfortunately, among the millions of North Americans partaking in this custom, many are 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. Samhain was the New Year's Day of the pagan Celts. It was also their 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.' Many traditional beliefs and customs associated with Samhain continue to be practiced today on the 31st of October. Most notable of these customs are the practices of leaving offerings of food and drink (now candy) to masked and costumed revellers, and the lighting of bonfires. Elements of this festival were incorporated into the Christian festival of All Hallow's Eve, or Hallow-Even, the night preceding All Saint's (Hallows') Day. It is the glossing of the name Hallow-Even that has given us the name of Halloween. Until recent times in some parts of
By the 19th century, witches' pranks were replaced by children's tricks. The spirits of Samhain, once believed to be wild and powerful, were now recognised as being evil. Devout Christians began rejecting this festival. They had discovered that the so-called gods, goddesses, and other spiritual beings of the pagan religions, were in fact 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 wicked and evil creatures. It must also be noted that, to this day, many Satan-worshippers consider the evening of October 31st to be their most sacred. And many devout Christians today continue to distance themselves from this pagan festival.
The Islamic Perspective
Eemaan (faith) is the foundation of the Islamic society, and Tawheed (monotheism) is the essence of this faith and the very core of Islam. The safeguarding of this Eemaan, and of this pure Tawheed, is the primary objective of all Islamic teachings and legislations.
In order to keep the Muslim society purified of all traces of Shirk (polytheism) and remnants of error, a continuous war must be waged against all customs and practices which originate from societies' ignorance of Divine guidance.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad issued a stern warning in this regard by stating: "Whoever imitates a people is one of them." [Abu Daawood]
Muslims should heed this warning and refrain from copying or imitating the Kuffaar (disbelievers) in their celebrations. Islam has strongly forbidden Muslims from following the religious or social customs of the non-Muslims, especially those of the idol-worshippers or those who worship the devil. The Prophet said: "I swear 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 Du'aa' (supplications) will not be accepted." [At-Tirmithi]
From an Islamic standpoint, Halloween is one of the worst celebrations due to its origins and history. It is Haraam (forbidden) to partake in such a practice, even if there may be some seemingly good or harmless elements in it, as evidenced by a statement from the Prophet : "Every innovation (in our religion) is misguidance, even if the people regard it as something good." [Ad-Daarimi]
Muslims are enjoined to neither imitate the behaviour and customs of the non-Muslims, nor to commit their indecencies. Behaviour-imitation will affect the attitude of a Muslim and may create a feeling of sympathy towards the indecent modes of life. Islam seeks to cleanse the Muslim of all immoral conducts and habits, and thus pave the way for the Quran and prophetic Sunnah to be the correct and pure source for original Islamic thought and behaviour. A Muslim should be a model for others in faith and practice, behaviour and moral character, and not a blind imitator dependant on other nations and 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 is still guilty of indulging in this pagan festival. Undoubtedly, even after hearing the truth, some Muslims will still participate in Halloween and send their kids 'trick-or-treating'; they will 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 question or to mould them within the correct Islamic framework 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 in Islam, parents allow and encourage their children to be taught the way of the unbelievers? Allah exposes these types of people in the Quran; He Says (what means): "We have sent them the Truth, but they indeed practice falsehood." [Quran: 23:90]
Muslim parents must teach their children to refrain from practicing falsehood and to not imitate the non-Muslims in their customs and festivals. If the children are taught to be proud of their Islamic heritage, they themselves will, if Allah wills, abstain from Halloween and other non-Muslim celebrations, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc.
Prophet Muhammad said: "The Final Hour will not come until my followers imitate the deeds of the previous nations and follow them very closely, span by span, and cubit by cubit (inch by inch)." [Al-Bukhari]
Islam is a pure religion and has 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 Sharee'ah (Islamic Law) must rule every aspect of our lives.
What to Do on Halloween
We have established, beyond a doubt, that the celebration of Halloween is absolutely forbidden in Islam - it is Haraam. The question arises as to what to do on this night. Muslim parents must not send their kids out 'trick-or-treating' 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, we must teach them about the two Islamic festivals of 'Eed' ('Eed Al-Fitr and 'Eed-Al-Adh-haa – the fast-breaking festival at the end of Ramadan and the Sacrifice festival).
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. Educate your neighbours about our Islamic teachings. Inform them in advance that Muslims do not participate in Halloween, and explain the reasons why. (Give them a copy of this article if needed.) They will respect your wishes, and you will gain respect in the process. The Prophet said: "A person who calls another to guidance will be rewarded, as will the one who accepts the message." [At-Tirmithi]
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 un-Islamic practices, we risk the Wrath of Allah Who warns us in the Quran with the verse (which means): "…So let those beware who dissent from his [i.e., the Prophet's] order, lest a grievous trial strike them or a painful punishment." [Quran: 24:63]
This is a serious matter and one not to be taken lightly. 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 Hellfire.