by Imam Zaid Shakir
One of the tragedies of our times is found in the easy willingness with which some Muslims accept practices, rituals or cultural symbols that have their roots in demonic or occult practices. Halloween is a perfect example. Most scholars trace the origins of Halloween to the then pagan Celtic people who believed that on a certain night, the dead would come alive and could walk among the living. On this night some of these people would dress up in ghoulish costumes believing that the spirits of the dead would mistake them for one of their own and not harass them. Others would offer these “spirits” sweets in order to earn their good favor. This is the origin of the Halloween costumes and the gifts of candy.
As for the hollowed-out pumpkin with the candle inside -the Jack-O-Lantern- the candle symbolizes a soul trapped in Purgatory, a state between Heaven and Hell. Some say the lantern is to ward off evil spirits. The darkness surrounding these practices is compounded by the representations and symbols rooted in the world of the occult and demons, such as witches, werewolves, vampires, etc.
Like many aspects of demonology and the occult, Halloween has been sanitized and made to appear as something “cute.” Along these lines, some Muslims actually have “Halaloween” parties. It’s just “fun.” This is one of the ways children in our society— increasingly Muslim children are no exception— are introduced to occult and demonic symbols and rituals. Make it appear cute and fun and no one will notice the dark underside. Consider the Smurfs, little sorcerers performing actual witchcraft rituals during the cartoon show, or Micky Mouse, the sorcerer’s apprentice, and the countless other “cute” and “fun” aspects of our popular culture.
As Muslims, we have been enjoined to protect ourselves and our family members from the torment of Hell. Keeping ourselves far removed from such practices, practices that not only have no basis in the teachings of our religion, but are in fact antithetical to those teachings, is a great way to start. May Allah bless us to see the truth as truth and to follow it, and to see falsehood as falsehood and to avoid it.
Halloween as well as Halaloween are Haram!
– Imam Zaid Shakir is co-founder, chairman of the board, and senior faculty member of Zaytuna College located in Berkeley.