Halloween, its roots
The concept of Halloween is a difficult topic for many to handle in Islam and also for those orthodox practicing Abrahamic faith traditions. In the west and emerging globally, celebrations and festivities have garnered great acceptance over the past century as humans seek to be scared and thrilled by the dark and macabre. Many say, ‘What’s wrong with dressing up and asking others in your neighborhood to give you candy or risk an egging! What’s wrong with carving Pumpkins and letting the kids of all ages have fun?’
Beyond Badr creator, Kelvin Ali was asked about his thoughts on the matter,
“Man, you guys always ask me about controversial topics, so I’ll be straight from my own perspective. When I was a kid growing up on the outskirts of Toronto, Halloween like Christmas were just seasonal and cultural events. We would be told to dress up and come to school for Halloween and my mom would go out and buy us whatever costumes we could afford. The cheap plastic masks wouldn’t feel so great on our faces in the ’70s and the perspiration would steam up our little faces as we all tried to have ‘fun’. Halloween was not something that was celebrated during my parents’ generation in their home country of Trinidad and Tobago, but they were accustomed to intricate and immaculate costumes of traditional island Carnival events during February, so I suspect for my mother it was interesting to have us exposed to this as, like Christmas cartoons which were pretty limited at the time, Halloween cartoons certainly helped us to become desensitized to what was happening in our community.
What kid wouldn’t want free candy?
It was fun in our day participating in this annual rush to every house with a light on until we started hearing stories about contaminated goods being distributed so we only went to people’s homes in areas we knew.
Was it fun? Of course. Was it right? With no knowledge of Islam, sure in my opinion.
As I became older and began to interact with later immigrants to Canada, I asked them what they did as kids and people of other cultures have told me that the concept of going house to house constitutes begging and begging is Haram in Islam, so that was a candy buzz kill for someone with a sweet tooth.
As I reflect now, I think the experience of seeing the assortment and the sorting of ‘good vs not so good treats’ was the fun part of the grand haul for us as children. I never liked some of the candies I would get. There were these crappy witch toffees and no kid would ever want an apple in their bag.
As you get older, Halloween also became part of every other aspect of life, during university and so on, I was exposed to most of what was happening and I don’t personally miss any of the events having the knowledge I do now. When I was in my youth and before I was Muslim, I had a blast during Halloween weekends, but I know a little more about the history of the world and how this event came to be and it’s not something I would encourage anyone to practice of faith. That’s hard because the day is ingrained into Western culture and education so I know the conflict this can cause. The reason I suggest avoiding these behaviors is that there are several elements of paganism associations that I don’t want to dwell on right now.
What I will share is that this was certainly not something that early Muslims knew or would practice so I use that as a starting point to guide you. The doors of deeper and darker things that require knowledge of the unseen can be opened and you certainly don’t want to dwell in dark arts as this can lead to the inviting of Jinn into your home. That is also something I say is best to stay away from as only when it is too late, that psychologists, religious, and very brave faith leaders are called upon to help remove unwanted and unseen to human presences, a very real concept in Islam.
In educational curriculums in the west, people are not told of these things, so there is a total lack of awareness, and Hollywood and several industries certainly profit very well at this time of our annual western marketing calendar. Halloween is part of the seasonal themes taught to children in the public system, which most people are a part so we become desensitized to it, and it’s another day to spend on things in the name of ‘fun’.
My advice is if it’s mandated in your schools and based on what is normal for your culture to do and if you live in an area where Halloween is being celebrated and want to participate or dress up for fun, do what makes you happy. It’s your personal choice like all matters. For me, because of growing up as the what are now ‘classics’ were released real-time and also during a time when Michael Jackson ruled the charts with his ‘Thriller’ Album. Horror and Halloween were big deals for our generation. I do like watching a horror movie or two during this or at any time of year, but I suggest you don’t take any of the seasonal activities too seriously. I recall being in India on a business trip during Halloween a couple of years ago and it was amusing to see Indian adults doing their thing in a foreign land to me. So, I believe that Halloween will only continue to become more popular as a globally accepted tradition and it’s all about marketing in my humble opinion. But, do not call me if your lights are turning off and on by themselves in days to come and Insha’Allah, may you all be protected from any harm whatever your choices are in life.”
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