Every year, on the evening of October 31st, many children 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. Unfortunately, among the millions of kuffar indulging in this custom, many are also Muslims. This note will shed some light on the significance and origins of Hallow’een, and why Muslims should not participate in it.
Origins of the Hallow’een 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 Hallow’een. 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 sweets) 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. Until recent times in some parts of Europe, it was believed that on this night the dead walked amongst them, 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. It must also be noted that, to this day, many Shaytaan-worshippers consider the evening of October 31st to be their most sacred.
The Islamic Perspective
Emaan (faith) is the foundation of Islamic society, and Tawheed is the essence of this Deen and the very core of Islam. The safeguarding of this emaan, and of this pure Tawheed, is the primary objective of all Islamic teachings and legislation. In order to keep the Muslim society purified of all traces of shirk (associating partners with Allah) and remnants of error, a continuous war must be waged against all customs and practices which originate from societies’ ignorance of divine guidance, and in the errors of idol worship.Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) issued a stern warning: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them!” (Abu Dawood). Any Muslim, who thereby, participates with the kuffar in their celebrations, particularly those which involve the clear unforgivable sin of shirk and kufr— is asking for the wrath of Allah and misguidance to descend upon him like it has descended upon them (the kuffar).
Muslims should heed this warning and refrain from copying or imitating the kuffar in their celebrations. Islam has strongly forbidden Muslims to follow the religious or social customs of the kuffar and especially of the idol-worshippers or those who worship the devil. The Prophet (saw) 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.”(Tirmidhi). From an Islamic standpoint, Hallow’een is one of the worst celebrations because of its origins history and the kufr/shirk it involves. Shirk is the worst crime in the sight of Allah and an unforgivable sin as Allah says in surah an-Nisa verse 116 ”Verily! Allâh forgives not (the sin of shirk) setting up partners (in worship) with Him, but He forgives whom He wills sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allâh, has indeed strayed far away.”
It is absolutely HARAM (forbidden), even if there may be some seemingly good or harmless elements in those practices, as evidenced by a statement from the Prophet (saw) “Every innovation (in our religion) is mis-guidance, even if the people regard it as something good” (ad-Daarimee.).
Although it may be argued that the celebration of Hallow’een today has nothing to do with devil-worship, the fact is it still originates from devil worship therefore it is forbidden for Muslims to participate in it. If Muslims begin to take part in such customs, it is a sure sign of weak iman and that we have either forgotten, or outrightly rejected the mission of our Prophet (saw) who came to cleanse us from jahiliyyah customs, superstitions, shirk and false, evil practices.
Muslims are enjoined to neither imitate the behaviour and customs of the kuffar, 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 paving the way for the Qur’an and 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. So when you see other Muslims indulging in this pagan practice, enjoyin the good upon them and inform them of the shirk and evil of this festival as the Prophet (saw) said: “When the people see a person committing a wrong, but do not seize his hand to restrain him or her from the deed, it is likely that Allah will punish them both.” (Abu Dawood, Nasa’i, Tirmidhi).
Even if one decides to go along with the outward practices of Hallow’een without acknowledging the deeper significance or the shirk orientated 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 Hallow’een, send their kids “trick-or-treating,” and 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 Qur’an 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 kuffar?
Muslim parents must fear Allah and teach their children to refrain from practicing falsehood, and not to imitate the kuffar in their customs and festivals. If the children are taught to be proud of their Islamic heritage, they themselves will, Insha’Allah, abstain from Hallow’een and other kuffar celebrations, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: ”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 (inch by inch)” (saheeh al-Bukhari).
Islam is a pure, complete Deen with no need to accommodate any custom, practise or celebration that is not a part of it. As Anas ibn Malik narrated that when the Prophet (saw) came to Medinah, there used to be two festivals in which the people engaged in playing sports. So the Prophet asked, “What are these two days?,” they replied, “We used to play sports during these in the jahiliyah (time period before Islam).” The Prophet (saw) then said, “Verily Allah has given you two better days, the Day of Eid ul-Adha and the Day of Eid ul-Fitr.” (Sunnan Abu Dawood)
Islam does not distinguish between “secular and sacred;” the Shari’ah must rule every aspect of our lives. The Prophet (saw) 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 and every misleading is in the hellfire” (Bukhari).
And Allah knows best.