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.
True, there is no harm in having little children dress up in costumes and get candy from their neighbors. Still, because of its pagan origin, my family and I will not participate in Halloween festivities. Thank God, my daughter goes to an Islamic school--so there will be no Halloween activities there. I very much like the idea of schools, churches, mosques, and synagogues holding events on Halloween as an alternative for the children, especially those in public schools, so they do not feel left out.
Lord, forgive me, but I make this stance on Halloween with a hint of sadness. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood have been the numerous Halloweens I have lived through. I have dressed up as Darth Vader, an Arab, and a soccer player, among many other creatures. All I really wanted was the candy--the bags and bags of candy.
Yes, I concede that I am no worse off for having participated in Halloween as a child. Still, abstaining from Halloween festivities is the essence of the submission Islam calls for. The Lord God has blessed me with so much. The least I can do is not commemorate a holiday that honors other gods.
Besides, if I want to give my daughter candy, I'll just wait for All Saints' Day. All the Halloween candy goes on sale then.