In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Where does Halloween come from? Every year, on the evening of October 31st, millions of children across the world 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-O-Lanterns." 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 and even others 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 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". 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 practice of leaving offerings of food and drink (now candy) to masked and costumed revelers, 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 Europe, it was believed that on this night the dead walked amongst the living, and that witches and warlocks flew in their midst. In preparation for this, bonfires were built to ward off these malevolent spirits.
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 recognized 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 diabolical deceptions. The spiritual forces that people experienced during this festival were indeed real, but they were manifestations of the devil that 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, the devil and other malevolent 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 festival. And many devout Christians today continue to distance themselves from this pagan festival. Islam strongly forbids Muslims to follow the idol-worshippers or those who worship the devil. The Holy Last Messenger (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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 du'a (supplications) will not be accepted." (Tirmithi).
From the Islamic standpoint, Halloween is one of the worst celebrations because of its origins and history. It is haraam (forbidden), even if there may be some seemingly good or harmless elements in those practices. As evidenced by a statement from the Holy Last Messenger (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) "Every innovation (in our religion) is misguidance, even if the people regard it as something good" (ad-Daarimee.). Although it may be argued that the celebration of Halloween today has nothing to do with devil-worship, it is still forbidden for Muslims to participate in it because it may lead to worshiping idols and devil-worship. Islam seeks to cleanse the Muslim of all immoral conducts and habits, and thus paving the way for the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah or the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) to be the correct and pure source for original Islamic thought and behavior. A Muslim should be a model for others in faith and practice, behavior and moral character.
Some reasons behind certain Halloween traditions.
Most of the Halloween activities participated in today can be traced back to occult symbolism. For example: 1. Dressing up in costumes: This was done so that the spirits of the dead would not recognize people. The Druids would actually sacrifice animals and sometimes humans and dress in these animal skins. Wearing these clothes, they would engage in fortune-telling. Another explanation is that today, children who dress up represent these spirits. 2. Trick-or-treating: The Druids would go from house to house on October 31 and demand specific types of food. If their demands were not met, it was believed the people and their homes would be cursed with trouble, sickness and death. Prosperity was promised to those who generously donated. Today, when kids are offered treats by neighbors, this goes back to the time people would offer food to appease the spirits. 3. Jack-o'-lantern: This started off as a legend associated with a man of Irish origin named Jack who supposedly enjoyed playing pranks on the Devil. After his death, Jack did not go to Heaven or Hell and therefore, had to wander the earth carrying a lantern which gave him some light to see where he was going. Pumpkins that were hollowed out and had candles lighted inside did the job and they were also supposed to scare evil spirits away.
What to do on Halloween.
We have established, beyond 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, teach them about the two Islamic festivals of Eid, preferably, before these holidays is the perfect time to start preparing them for it. 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 neighbors about our Islamic teachings. I was pleased to learn from Christian neighbors that they also are against the Celebration of Halloween for the above mentioned reasons. 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." (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 as He, Himself warned us in the HolyQur'an: "Then let them beware who refuses the Messenger's order lest some trial befall them, or a grievous punishment be inflicted upon them!" (Holy Qur’an, 24:63). This is a serious matter and not to be taken lightly. And Allah knows best. May Allah guide us, help us stay on the right path, and save us from all deviations and innovations that will lead us into the fires of Hell. "Remind! May reminding benefit the believers".