Do Muslims Celebrate Halloween?

The short answer is no.

There are some who are Muslim and do celebrate Halloween. But Halloween is not an Islamic holiday. Some people believe that this holiday started as a Celtic pagan practice to ward off evil spirits at the start of the new year. Others trace its’ roots back to the Christian “All Saint’s Day”, for others it was a way to remember the deceased. As the holiday spread, cultural practices influenced how it was celebrated in each country.

Anas Ibn Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him said: “The Messenger of Allah s.a.w.s. came (to Madinah) and they (inhabitants of Madinah) had two days in which they used to (relax and) play. He s.a.w.s. asked: “What are these two days?” They said, “We used to play (on these two days) during the Jaahiliyah (pre-Islamic period). “The Messenger of Allah s.a.w.s. said: “Allah has given you something better instead of them: Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha.” [Abu Dawood]
Some Muslims will read this hadith and see it as a call to restrict our children from doing something enjoyable. But I read the hadith and say, how can we give them something better than this holiday? I believe that when you take something away from kids, you should try to replace it with something else. If it is possible, and sometimes it is.

Replacements for Halloween:
Some Muslims try to replace days like Halloween with Eid. They make Eid a day to give children candy and sweet treats. We often leave Eid celebrations with enough candy to last a year. (Especially since I put a lot of it up and only allot a small portion per day.) Many Christian churches have Hallelujah Night celebrations on Halloween. They try to offer something fun for their children to do that combines fellowship with treats and worship. A masjid that we attend has provided something similar for the children on this night. Their reasoning is: We want to give our children a reason to love the masjid. We want them to love coming here and being a part of this community. And it works. My kids love going there for the candy and playing games with their friends.

But what about the costumes?
I remember desperately wanting to dress up for Halloween. I never had that experience as a child, and I missed it. But why can’t our children dress up at other times of the year. Some people have suggested having them dress up as figures from Islamic history or modern-day role models. But most children are not excited to dress up as say, a famous civil rights leader. No matter how brilliant his accomplishments. The joy of childhood is found in their imaginations. Halloween gives them creative license to bring their imaginings to life. I recommend having a dress up party at any other time of the year. Encourage family and friends to come together. This relationship building is part of our deen. Allow them to share gifts, food and of course snacks. Share with those outside of your circle, by inviting indigent or refugee Muslim children. This sadaqa will teach them the importance of giving and sharing. You can also invite non-Muslim relatives and friends to your dress-up party. Bridge building is a large part of dawah. It helps others to understand that we love and enjoy the same kinds of things that they do.

But what if I just want to celebrate Halloween?
I am not a scholar nor an imam. I can’t give rulings on what is halal or haram. And the internet should not be the first resource for finding Islamic guidance. But I am a mother, and someone who was raised as a Muslim in a non-Muslim country. So I know the pressure you are under. Decorations go up and on sale sixty days before Halloween. I know how fun and exciting it looks and how hard it is to tell your children, no. This holiday was not practiced in Arabia during the time of the Prophet s.a.w.s. So any rulings that we have now are based off of the Prophet’s s.a.w.s. advice on similar subjects. The ulema study and review his sunnah and draw conclusions. (The overwhelming majority of the ulema state that it is forbidden because of: it has pagan roots, ties to Christian saints, and glorification of demons, and black magic.) For many this review and conclusion is enough. For others it is not. Ultimately, what you do or not do, is going to be your choice. I support you in your decision-making process. I make dua that Allah guides us all to those actions that are pleasing to Him, and turn us and our children away from anything that is displeasing to Him. Ameen


A Muslim Reflects on September 11th

A Muslim Reflects on 9/11.

Like many Americans, I watched transfixed as the Twin Towers fell down on September 11, 2001. My coworkers and I hunched around a 6 inch, grainy, black and white, contraband television set on our assistant’s desk. Most of us missed when the first tower fell. But her sharp cry of alarm brought us all running. We arrived in time to watch live as the second tower fell, to our shocked amazement. We did not immediately attribute the act to terrorism. It was not our automatic response as it would be today. The shock was too new. It was unimaginable at first, that this had happened on purpose. We thought the first tower was a terrible accident. Then as the second tower fell, a horrific coincidence. That naivete did not last long. Within the hour it was clear that America was under attack. As planes fell in Pennsylvania and the pentagon, fear replaced shock. We searched to name this unnamed enemy to all Americans. It didn’t take long to name the enemy and the lives of all us to change forever.

As the only Muslim in my office, I was protected from the (sometimes brutal) Islamophobic attacks that others endured that day. Spared because of the unique relationship I’d built with my coworkers over the years. Although not a hijabi, I had worked to teach my colleagues the beauty of Islam BEFORE the attacks. Often explaining the meaning and importance of Ramadan and our two holidays. Sharing with coworkers, things like Eid gifts. I also participated in customs that were important to them, such as weddings and funerals. Somethings I could not Islamically take part in, such as Easter. But I made sure to explain the reason why and to still wish them peace and joy on their holiday. Many of them returned the same wishes for mine. Enthusiastically they wished me an Eid Mubarak (or blessed holiday), and tried to ease my fasting by not bringing food around or inviting me to lunch during Ramadan. Because I had built this relationship of faith and trust before September 11th, I had their full support on September 11th. Others were not so lucky. I received a worried call from my friend in New York City. Her colleague had returned to their job in tears after leaving the building wearing her hijab. She’d been shouted and spit at and nearly choked as someone tried to rip the hijab from her head. Her only option was to run back to the safety of her job. Once there, she removed her hijab out of fear for her life before exiting again.

It was a scary time. Now sixteen years later I wonder have we come much further? The answer is yes and no. It is a roller coaster ride of contradictions, highs and lows. The highs include; increased interfaith collaborations and interactions, increased understanding of Islam by non-Muslims, inclusion of Muslim history and culture in schools and public institutions, more toleration and legal protections for Islamic dress, and the rise in the number of Muslims in politics both state and federal. All of the positive progressions have been met with Al hamdulillah!!! Praise be to God, for bringing us all together during difficult times, and for helping us to include Muslims in the American melting pot.

But we can’t rest on our progress or highs without examining our lows. The invasion of foreign Muslim countries who, we learned in retrospect, had absolutely nothing to do with the bombings on September 11th. The destabilization of many other countries leading to war and loss of life that continues sixteen years later. Watching dominoes fall in painful slow motion for sixteen years as whole countries changed forever. We watched impotently as our country used inhumane interrogation and torture techniques. To get information that we later learned was useless. Denial of basic human rights and due process to detainees at Guantanomo Bay and other “black sites”. The rise in anti-Muslim, propaganda, sentiment and terrorism. Masajid burned and vandalized. Muslim women and children harassed and attacked are all part of the lows. Culminating in the election of the most Anti-Muslim, Anti-immigrant president we have ever had.

Both the highs and the lows have been extremes. Most of our daily lives fall somewhere in the middle. We interact a little bit more and we are harassed a little bit more. This has become our status quo. Our new normal, that continues as we live our lives post September 11th. As we continue journeying past this date, it is my prayer that Allah (God) continues to keep our country safe from another attack. I pray that the highs increase and the lows decrease. I pray that those who would use Islam to terrorize others return to the core Islamic values of peace and patience. If they refuse to come back to the fold of Islam and choose instead to hold fast to their terrorist tactics then I pray that they are stopped before they cause any harm. I pray that ultimately this event is something that brings us together as Muslims and makes our ummah (community) stronger. I pray that it also brings us together as Americans and teaches us to live together with tolerance and patience and reminds us of the dangers when we don’t.

Are you paying attention to Allah?

Today as I was driving home I was awestruck by the most beautiful violet and purple sunset. STUNNING, GORGEOUS SubhanaAllah I thought of the line from the Color Purple when she says something like “I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple

in a field and don’t stop to appreciate it.” What does Allah have to do to get our attention? On the flip side, sometimes He will show us the depths of inhumanity, savage atrocities, mass destruction, devastating wars or calamities but if it doesn’t affect us we barely notice. So again, What does Allah have to do to get our attention? I think this is why the Children of Israel story resonates across generations and religions. We are all Egyptians, getting God’s amazing signs everyday and ignoring them… smh… What does Allah have to do get YOUR attention…



Thor is NOT a god!

Salaams (Peace),

I don’t usually get a chance to watch tv.  So I missed the new Thor trailer.  If you’ve been stuck in Muslim Mommydom like I have then you might not even know who Thor is.  Thor is the latest of the Marvel comic heroes to come to “life” on the big screen.  In the latest Thor trailer, Marvel proclaims that “There are many superheroes, but only one is a god.”  The commercial ends with Thor asked the question, “who are you really?”

The answer according to the poster and trailer is  that Thor is a god.  On one of the movie posters, the word GOD is centered across his face.  With the tag line again…”only one is a god.”   As a Muslim mom, I have accepted that my beliefs do not reflect the beliefs of the majority of Americans.  As such, my children are exposed daily to ideas and values that are vastly different from mine.  I do my best to shelter them and teach them values that reflect our Islamic beliefs.

But seriously, isn’t this blasphemy?  Shouldn’t we as Muslims, Christians and Jews all agree on this point.  This is not entertainment.  This is an attempt to personify god.  To take what is basically “shirk” or idolatry and make it cool and heroic.  There used to be a time in America when to say “goddammit” was a bad word.  Because it was considered a terrible blasphemy.  People would tell children, “don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”  Christians would say, “we don’t have false or idol gods.”  Does anyone remember that?

The truth is in this country we have all become so relaxed.  We allow these small blasphemies without raising an eyebrow, much less a protest.  Small shirk (idolatry) leads to big shirk.  And if we don’t teach our kids to reverence God, how will they learn it.

When my children ask me about God.  I teach them that He is not black or white.  I teach them that He is not human at all.  I teach them that God is not anything they could EVER imagine, because He is not like anything they have ever seen or known.  I teach them that we are all His creation and He is our creator.  I teach them that to make pictures or images of Him is blasphemy.  Blasphemy because He is so superior to us that we could never get it right and any attempt would be insulting.  I teach them that God is worthy of all praise and glory and should be reverenced in the most special way.  Certainly not in a way that Thor deserves!

Truthfully, I don’t think that my kids will grow up and start worshiping idols because they watched Thor.  However, I want my kids to grow up with such a reverence for God, that they look with disdain and disgust at anything that blasphemes God in anyway.  It’s my job to teach them this disdain.  It’s the most important part of what I teach them.

Why I am afraid of Tinkerbell.

My Muslim daughter loves the Tinkerbell character and all things fairy.  I was not happy with this but I accepted it as part of being a young girl.  Then we watched the 1st Tinkerbell movie, together.  It starts by asking, “do you ever wonder…” how the sun rises, how the seasons change, what makes the leaves fall from the trees. Now my Muslim mommy antenna is up!  Because there is only one answer I know as a Muslim…Allah! But no, the answer given is “it’s all the work of fairies.”  The movies go on to explain that “fairies” are responsible for these things and more.  I sat there thinking, crap, this is shirk!  And Tinkerbell is going to have to go!

Ideas put into the minds of children are very powerful and messages internalized can stay forever.  That’s why I’m trying so hard to get them to internalize love for and knowledge about Allah.  I have been teaching her that Allah has power over all things and it is Allah that is responsible for all of the things she sees going on around her.  Now Tinkerbell is telling her I am wrong.

I wondered…what is a fairy exactly.  What kind of mythology does it come from, the origins.  I found this answer on Wikipedia…  “Their origins are less clear in the folklore, being variously dead, or some form of demon…”

According to Wikipedia (and other sources) fairy folklore originated in stories of demons.  And although pretty in pink and purple wings now, originally they were scary troll like creatures who were either undead or demonic.  Similar to what we in Islam would think of as bad jinn. Now I don’t know about you but I don’t like the idea of my daughter walking around with “bad jinn” t-shirts, backpacks and sneakers!  And these fairies are on all of these items and more.  Fairies are back and they are everywhere, just as cute as they can be.

I don’t imagine, that most people buying or even selling these fairy items realize the demonic connection.  Certainly the children don’t.  As with most demonically originated items in our culture we have forgotten the true origins and meanings behind many commonly used symbols. (like the heart and arrow symbol) So I don’t really believe that my daughter will grow up and worship the devil because she likes Tinkerbell at age 6.

What I fear most about Tink is that my daughter will grow up and realize that Tink is an imaginary character without the power to do anything.  She will be taught in school, scientific explanations for the seasons changing and rain falling.  And she will grow out of believing in the unseen magical world.  My fear is that as she is told to explain her world through science and to grow out of belief in magical creatures, that her new cynicism will lead her to question a faith in God.  Because, Allah is also unseen, powers unexplainable, something that must be taken mostly on faith.  I heard an atheist on television today saying, “I am an atheiest, because I don’t believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, God or any other illogical thing.”  SubhanAllah!  This is my fear.

I want her to believe in the unseen world.  There are powerful beings and forces at work both for good and evil that we can’t see.  The most powerful being God.  This is my fear, with Tinkerbell flying around trivializing this FACT she may start to doubt, the real unseen world.  Scary thought.