A Muslim at Halloween

I'm no fanatic, but Islam is strictly monotheistic--and, for me, any holiday having to do with worshipping other gods is wrong.

BY: Hesham A. Hassaballa

 

Halloween is upon us, and scores of children dressed up as everything imaginable will soon hit the streets, going door-to-door for candy. This year my five-year-old daughter is old enough to go. Alas, I will not let her. This is not because I am afraid for her safety, or I do not want her to eat her body weight in candy (though these are legitimate concerns). My decision is based on Islamic principles.

Islam accepts the cultural traditions of a people as long as those traditions agree with Islamic values. Thus, blue jeans, baseball caps, hot dogs, and other quintessential American items are wholeheartedly accepted by Islam. I am perplexed when some American Muslims wear Arab dress and pass this off as "Islamic" attire. Nonsense. A pair of jeans and a T-shirt is as Islamic as it gets. A similar argument can be made about such holidays as Mother's or Father's Day. Honoring our parents is so strongly stressed in Islam; Muslims should have no problem commemorating such holidays.

And this is why I will not send my daughter trick or treating this year or any other year. Halloween honors Celtic and Roman gods. Islam is strictly monotheistic, and anything having to do with the worship of any other god besides the Most Holy One is out of the question.

Many will see this stance as "fanatic," but I take exception to that accusation. I will not parade the streets trying to prevent trick-or-treaters, Muslim or otherwise, from getting their candy. I will not put a sign on my door saying, "No candy here--Halloween is a pagan holiday and you will all burn in hell." My family and I simply will not participate in Halloween festivities.

While it's true that Halloween is not, as I once thought, based on devil worship, it nevertheless mixes Celtic, Roman, and Catholic influences. The Celts, inhabitants of Great Britain and Northern France, celebrated their New Year on Nov. 1, which marked the end of the "season of the sun" and the beginning of the "season of darkness and cold." On Oct. 31, the cooking fires would be extinguished after all the crops were harvested and stored. The Celtic priests would light new fires and offer sacrifices to the gods.

The next morning, they gave an ember from their fires to each family to take home and start new cooking fires. These fires, it was believed, would keep their homes warm and free from evil spirits. This festival was called Samhain ("sow-en"). Many people would parade in costumes made of animal heads and skins. The Roman festival Pomona Day, named for their goddess of fruits and gardens, was also around Nov. 1 and was brought to Britain after the Roman conquest. Pomona Day and Samhain were eventually melded into one fall holiday.

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