Ancient Celtic Pagans
For many centuries before Christianity, the pagan Celts in ancient Britain and Ireland celebrated the eve and day of their New Year, called the Samhain, on October 31st. In the Celtic language, Samhain (or Samain) meant “End of Summer”.
During Samhain Eve, it was believed that the world of the gods became visible to mankind, and that they played many tricks on their mortal worshipers; it was a time loaded with danger, fear, and supernatural episodes. The Celts made sacrifices and offerings to ward off the perils of the season and the anger of the deities.
Samhain was also the Day of the Dead. During it, it was believed that the souls of those who had died during the year were allowed access into the “land of the dead”.
Furthermore, the ancient Celts believed that on that evening the Lord of the Dead called forth hosts of evil spirits, and the souls of the dead were believed to revisit their homes. Thus, Samhain acquired sinister significance, with spirits, ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, and demons said to be roaming about. Huge bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits.
In addition, being the last evening of the year, Samhain Eve was regarded as a most favorable time for examining the portents of the future. Divinations were performed concerning marriage, luck, health and death; and the devil’s help was invoked for such purposes.
Romans and Early Christians
After the Romans conquered Britain, they added to Samhain features of the Roman harvest festival, held on November 1st in honor of Pomona, goddess of tree fruits.
The pagan practices influenced the Christian festival of Halloween (Hallow-Eve), celebrated on the same date (October 31st), and elements of the Samhain festival were incorporated into it. Hallow-Eve (or All Hallows’ Eve) is the Christian festival of the night preceding All Saints’ (Hallows’) Day, celebrated on November 1st in the Western churches.
In some parts of Europe, the people continued to believe that on this night the dead walked among them, and that witches and warlocks flew in their midst. Thus, bonfires were lit to ward off those malevolent spirits.
Therefore, most historians consider Samhain the predecessor of Halloween, which has preserved many of the practices and beliefs of its precursor: Samhain.
Contemporary Europe and America
By the 19th century, witches’ pranks were replaced by children’s tricks. Immigrants to the U.S., particularly the Irish, introduced Halloween customs that became popular in the late 19th century. Boys and young men performed mischievous acts on this occasion, often causing severe damage to properties.
Halloween thus gradually became a secular observance, and additional customs and practices developed, many of which turning to games played by children and young adults. In recent years, the occasion has come to be observed mainly by small children; they go from house to house, often in costume, demanding “trick-or-treat”. The treat, often candy, is generally given, and the trick is rarely played.
Many traditional beliefs and customs associated with Samhain, however, continue to be practiced on the 31st of October. Most notably, the practice of leaving offerings of food and drink (now candy) to masked and costumed revelers, and the lighting of bonfires. A common symbol of Halloween is the jack-o-lantern, which is a hollowed-out pumpkin carved in the appearance of a demonic face and with a lighted candle fixed inside.
Since Halloween was largely based on rituals involving dead spirits and devil worship, it now represents, among other things, a most sacred day for the devil worshipers.
Because of this sinister nature, many devout Christians condemn the Halloween festival. They realize that the spiritual forces that some people experience during this festival are indeed real, but are manifestations of Satan. Thus, they reject the customs associated with Halloween, including all symbols of the dead (ghosts, vampires, and human skeletons), the devil, and other malevolent and evil creatures.
THE ISLAMIC STANDPOINT
Islam Is the Perfect Din
By Allah’s blessing and grace, Islam contains the complete and perfect guidance for humanity:
"This day I have perfected your religion for you, have completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." - [Al-Ma'idah 5:3]
Islam does not neglect any information that the people need to achieve happiness and avoid harm, in all aspects of their lives. It directs them to all that would save them from the Fire and admit them into the gardens of Paradise.
This was the mission of all of the prophets, including the Final Messenger(sallallahu alayhi wassalam) who said:
"There is nothing that would bring you closer to Jannah and farther from the Fire but it has been clarified [by me] to you." - Ahmad and 0thers; verified to be authentic by al-Albani and others.
Because of this, it is a major atrocity to seek guidance (whether partially or totally) in any religion other than Islam. Allah says (what means):
"He who seeks a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted from him; and he is among the losers in the Hereafter." [Al-'Imran 3:85]
The Islamic Concept of Festivities
Part of the perfection of Islam is the Islamic festivals. The two Eids: al-Fitr and al-Adha are both Allah’s choice for this Ummah. Anas(R.A) reported that once the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said:
"When I came to al-Madinah, its people had two days that they celebrated from the times of Jahiliyyah; indeed, Allah has substituted them for you with two better days: the day of Sacrifice and the day of Fitr." Ahmad, Abu Dawud, and others (Sahih ul-Jami 4381).
This indicates that festivals are religious occasions that Allah granted for the Muslims. Furthermore, Allah alone has the right to prescribe festivals and set their dates and the manner of celebrating them. Thus, festivals and their celebration in Islam carry a special meaning and spirit. They are totally different from the celebrations of other nations and cultures.
Differing from the Non-Muslims
A true Muslim associates with the believers and adheres to their ways. He strives to be distinctive and different from the non-believers. The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said:
"Differ from the Jews and the Christians." - (Bukhari & Muslim)
"Differ from the disbelievers." - (Bukhari & Muslim)
"Whoever imitates a people is one of them." - Ahmad and Abû Dâwûd from Ibn `Umar (Sahîh ul-Jâmi` 6149).
The Muslims are blessed with the best guidance. The disbelievers are misguided, and their ways are based on wrong views. Their actions frequently reflect their deviant views. Why, then, would one wish to imitate them? Yet, sadly, some Muslims imitate them, even in meaningless acts!
The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) said:
"You will follow the ways of the nations who preceded you so closely that even if they entered a lizard’s hole you would enter it." -(Bukhari & Muslim)
Indeed, outwardly resemblance leads to harmony of the hearts. Resembling the disbelievers is Satan’s first step in leading the Muslims to behave and believe like them. The worst form of imitation of the non-Muslims is in practices that involve shirk or are based on their deviant religious beliefs.
Differing from the Non-Muslims in Celebrations
A true Muslim holds a correct Islamic understanding regarding celebrations. He only celebrates the festivals that have been legislated by Allah. Festivals are religious occasions characteristic of every nation’s religion or beliefs. Thus, it is compulsory on the Muslims to avoid imitating the disbelievers in their festivals or join in any of the practices that are associated with them. This includes answering their invitations, congratulating them, giving them presents, displaying their symbols, or doing any other act, regardless of how small it might appear, that indicates approval of their festivals. Allah says (what means):
"And those (the servants of Allah) who do not witness falsehood, and when they pass by vain practices, they pass with dignity." - [Al-Furqan 25:72]
Many of the companions and scholars of the salaf explain that “falsehood” in the above âyah refers to the holidays of the disbelievers. A Muslim should never join the non-Muslims in their celebrations, particularly those that involve clear shirk and kufr. Knowingly doing this subjects one to Allah’s anger and punishment. `Abdullah Bin `Umar (radhiallahu anhu) said:
“One who settles in the lands of the non-Muslims, celebrates their festivals, and behaves like them until he dies, will be raised among them on the Day of Resurrection.”
Since Halloween carries a strong pagan symbolism, observing it is an endorsement of its historical diabolical origin. Furthermore, the Halloween’s seemingly innocent practices still carry a good deal of its pagan roots.
If the children are taught to be proud of their Islamic heritage, they themselves will abstain from Halloween and other non-Muslim celebrations, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc. Islam is a pure religion with no need for accommodating any custom, practice or celebration that is not a part of it. The question arises as to what to do on Halloween night. The Muslim parents must not send their kids “trick-or-treating”. Our children must be told why we do not celebrate Halloween. Simplifying the above material may be very suitable for this purpose. Most children are very receptive when taught with sincerity.
May Allah guide us, help us to stay on the right path, and save us from all deviations and innovations that would lead us into the fires of Hell.
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