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About Halloween

Halloween


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Halloween is a festival that takes place on October 31. In the United States, children wear costumes on Halloween and go trick-or treating. Many carve Jack-o'-Lantern out of pumpkins. Halloween parties feature such activities as fortune telling, story telling about ghosts and witches and bobbing for apples. The origins of this celebration, as many others predate Christian times and were engrafted on earlier pagan holidays, ones often associated with the change of seasons and the symbolism that this provided. My purpose tonight is to consider, How should Muslims approach the celebration of Halloween? My perspective is that of being a Muslim revert, who lived over eleven years in the United States before moving to the Kingdom with my family. I am sharing with you the experiences of our Muslim community there. Especially I am taking note of the difficulties in raising children in that environment and trying to take the proper approach from our Islamic deen. This is also useful here since you may observe some aspects of this celebration on some of the foreign resident compounds here. Thus, it is important for us Muslims to be aware of this celebration.

Halloween

From the World Book Encyclopedia, 1985 Edition:

Halloween is a festival that takes place on October 31. In the United States, children wear costumes on Halloween and go trick-or treating. Many carve Jack-o'-Lantern out of pumpkins. Halloween parties feature such activities as fortune telling, story telling about ghosts and witches and bobbing for apples. Halloween developed from ancient new year autumn festivals and festivals of the dead. In the A.D. 800's, the church established "All Saints Day" on November 1 so that people could continue a festival they had celebrated before becoming Christians. The mass that was said on this day was called "Allhallowmas." This feast in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches is the day God is glorified for all his saints, known and unknown. Roman Catholics are obliged to hear Mass on this day. In medieval England it was called All Hallows; hence the name Halloween (Hallows' eve) for the preceding day.


From Microsoft Bookshelf, 1991 Edition:

All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, feast of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, the day God is glorified for all his saints, known and unknown. Roman Catholics are obliged to hear Mass on this day. In medieval England it was called All Hallows; hence the name Halloween (Hallows' eve) for the preceding day (Oct. 31).


From the Compton's Family Encyclopedia, 1991 Edition:

Customs and superstitions gathered through the ages go into the celebration of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, on October 31, the Christian festival of All Saints. It has its origins, however, in the autumn festivals of earlier times.

The ancient Druids had a three-day celebration at the beginning of November. They believed that on the last night of October spirits of the dead roamed abroad, and they lighted bonfires to drive them away. In ancient Rome the festival of Pomona, goddess of fruits and gardens, occurred at about this time of year. It was an occasion of rejoicing associated with the harvest; and nuts and apples, as symbols of the winter store of fruit, were roasted before huge bonfires. But these agricultural and pastoral celebrations also had a sinister aspect, with ghosts and witches thought to be on the prowl.

Even after November 1 became a Christian feast day honoring all saints, many people clung to the old pagan beliefs and customs that had grown up about Halloween. Some tried to foretell the future on that night by performing such rites as jumping over lighted candles. In the British Isles great bonfires blazed for the Celtic festival of Sambain. Laughing bands of guises, young people disguised in grotesque masks, carved lanterns from turnips and carried them through the villages.

In the United States children carved faces on hollowed-out pumpkins and put lighted candles inside to make jack-o'-lanterns. Halloween celebrations today reflect many of these early customs. Stores and homes display orange and black figures of witches, bats, black cats, and pumpkins. People dressed in fanciful outfits go to costume parties, where old-fashioned games like bobbing for apples in tubs of water may be a part of the festivities. Children put on costumes and masks and go from house to house demanding "trick or treat."

The treat, usually candy, is generally given and the trick rarely played. Some parents feel this custom is dangerous. There have been numerous instances in which sharp objects or poisons have been found in candy bars and apples. To provide an alternative to begging for pumpkins. People dressed in fanciful outfits go to costume parties, where old-fashioned games like bobbing for apples in tubs of water may be a part of the festivities. Children put on costumes and masks and go from house to house demanding "trick or treat." The treat, usually candy, is generally given and the trick rarely played. Some parents feel this custom is dangerous. There have been numerous instances in which sharp objects or poisons have been found in candy bars and apples. To provide an alternative to begging for candy from strangers, many communities schedule special, supervised parties and events at Halloween. The United Nations has used the Halloween observance to collect money for its children's fund.

 

Halloween customs
Regional Halloween Customs developed among various groups of Celts. In Ireland, for example, people begged for food in a parade that honored Muck Olla, a god. The leader of the parade wore a white robe and a mask made from the head of an animal. In Scotland, people paraded through fields and villages carrying torches. They lit huge bonfires on hillsides to drive away witches and other evil spirits. In Wales, every person marked a stone and put it into a bonfire. The people believed that if a person's stone was missing the next morning he or she would die within a year.

In England, Halloween was sometimes called Nutcracker Night or Snap Apple Night. Families sat by the fire and told stories while eating apples and nuts. On All Soul's Day poor people went a-souling (begging). They receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for promising to say prayers for the dead.

 
Trick-or-treating is the main Halloween activity for most children in the United States. The youngsters saying "trick or treat." The neighbors, to avoid having tricks played on them, give the children such treats as candy, fruit and pennies.

Jack-O'-Lantern's are hollowed out pumpkins with a face cut into one side. Most Jack-O'-Lanterns contain a candle or some other light. People in England and Ireland once carved out beets, potatoes and turnips to use as lanterns on Halloween. After this custom reached the America, pumpkins began to be used. According to an Irish legend, Jack-O'-Lanterns were named after a man called Jack who could not enter heaven because he was a miser. He could not enter hell either because he had played jokes on the devil. As a result Jack had to walk the earth with his lantern until the Judgment Day.

Fortune telling: Certain fortune telling methods began in Europe hundreds of years ago and became an important part of Halloween. For example, such objects as a coin, a ring and a thimble were baked into a cake or other food. It was believed that a person who found the coin would become wealthy. The one who found the ring would marry soon, and the one who got the thimble would never marry. Today, techniques such as card readers and palmistry have been added to the traditional Halloween methods of fortune telling.


Traditions of Halloween:

People once believed that ghosts roamed the earth on Halloween. They also thought that all witches met on October 31 to worship the devil. Today most people do not believe in ghosts or witches but these supernatural beings remain symbols of Halloween.

History
The Celtic festival of Samhain is probably the source of the present day Halloween celebration. The Celts lived more than 2,000 years ago in what is now Great Britain, Ireland and Northern France. Their new year began November 1, a festival that began the previous evening honored Samhain, the Celtic lord of death. The celebration marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness and decay. It naturally became associated with human death. Celts believed that Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their earthly homes for this evening.

On the evening of that festival, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, had a three-day festival and ordered the people to put out their hearth fires. They believed that on the last night of October spirits of the dead roamed abroad, and they lighted bonfires to drive them away. They built a huge new year bonfire of oak branches, which they considered sacred. They burned animals, crops and possibly even human beings as sacrifices. Then, each family relit its hearth fires from the new year's fire. During the celebration, people sometimes wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. They told fortunes about the coming year by examining the remains of the animals that were sacrificed.

The Romans conquered the Celts in A.D. 43 and ruled what is now Great Britain for 400 years. During this period, two Roman autumn festivals were combined with the Celtic festival of Samhain. One of them called Feralia, was held in late October to honor the dead. The other festival honored Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit, trees, and gardens. It was an occasion of rejoicing associated with the harvest; and nuts and apples, as symbols of the winter store of fruit, were roasted before huge bonfires. Still, these agricultural and pastoral celebrations also had a sinister aspect, with ghosts and witches thought to be on the prowl. Apples probably became associated with Halloween because of this festival.

Even after November 1 became a Christian feast day honoring all saints, many people clung to the old pagan beliefs and customs that had grown up about Halloween. Some tried to foretell the future on that night by performing such rites as jumping over lighted candles. In the British Isles great bonfires blazed for the Celtic festival of Sambain. Laughing bands of guisers, young people disguised in grotesque masks, carved lanterns from turnips and carried them through the villages.

Regional Halloween customs developed among various groups of Celts. In Ireland, for example, people begged for food in a parade that honored the god Muck Olla, The leader of the parade wore a white robe and a mask made from the head of an animal. In Scotland, people paraded through fields and villages carrying torches. They lit huge bonfires on hillsides to drive away witches and other evil spirits. In Wales, every person marked a stone and put it into a bonfire. The people believed that if a person's stone was missing the next morning he or she would die within a year.

In England, Halloween was sometimes called Nutcracker Night or Snap Apple Night. Families sat by the fire and told stories while eating apples and nuts. On All Soul's Day poor people went a-souling (begging). They receive pastries called soul cakes in exchange for promising to say prayers for the dead.


Halloween in the United States of America:Many early Americans settlers came from England and other Celtic regions and they brought various customs with them. But because of the strict religious beliefs of other settlers, Halloween celebrations did not become popular until the 1800's. During that period, large numbers of immigrants arrived from Ireland and Scotland and introduced their Halloween customs.

During the mid 1900's trick-or-treating became less popular in large cities where many neighbors did not know each other. Halloween pranks which had once been harmless, sometimes became rowdy and destructive. Traffic accidents also became a problem on Halloween. As a result, family parties, large community celebrations gained popularity. Today many communities sponsor bonfires, costume parades, dances, skits and other forms of entertainment to celebrate Halloween.

In the United States children carved faces on hollowed-out pumpkins and put lighted candles inside to make jack-o'-lanterns. Halloween celebrations today reflect many of these early customs. Stores and homes display orange and black figures of witches, bats, black cats, and pumpkins. People dressed in fanciful outfits go to costume parties, where old-fashioned games like bobbing for apples in tubs of water may be a part of the festivities. Children put on costumes and masks and go from house to house demanding "trick or treat."

The treat, usually candy, is generally given and the trick rarely played. Some parents feel this custom is dangerous. There have been numerous instances in which sharp objects or poisons have been found in candy bars and apples. During the mid 1900's trick-or-treating became less popular in large cities where many neighbors did not know each other. Halloween pranks which had once been harmless, sometimes became rowdy and destructive. Traffic accidents also became a problem on Halloween. As a result, family parties, large community celebrations gained popularity. Today many communities sponsor bonfires, costume parades, dances, skits and other forms of entertainment to celebrate Halloween.

Is it really appropriate for Muslims to imitate ceremonies honoring the god of the dead? Is it appropriate behavior for children to demand a treat or threaten to do a trick? We Muslims really have no need for such activities. The non-Muslims may say that it is harmless fun. But are we to be spending our time in such social activities, here in mixed male and female company? What should we be doing instead?

The following are some thoughts on what we Muslims should be celebrating (taken from the authorized Yusuf Ali translation of the Holy Qur'an):
 

[3:189]   To God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth; and God hath power over all things.

[3:190] Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding.

[3:191] Men who celebrate the praises of God, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (with the thought): "Our Lord! not for naught hast thou created (all) this! Glory to thee! give us salvation from the penalty of the fire.

[3:192] "Our Lord! any whom thou dost admit to the fire, truly thou coverest with shame, and never will wrong-doers find any helpers!.

[3:193] "Our Lord! we have heard the call of one calling (us) to faith, `Believe ye in the Lord', and we have believed. Our Lord! forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to thyself our souls in the company of the righteous.

[3:194] "Our Lord! grant us what Thou didst promise unto us through thine Apostles, and save us from shame on the Day of Judgment: for thou never breakest Thy promise."

[20:130] Therefore be patient with what they say, and celebrate (constantly) the praises of thy Lord before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; yea, celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day: that thou mayest have (spiritual) joy.

[20:131] Nor strain thine eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of this world, through which We test them: but the provision of thy Lord is better and more enduring.

[24:41] Seest thou not that it is God Whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And God knows well all that they do.

[24:42] Yea, to God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; and to God is the final goal (of all).

[52:48] Now await in patience the command of thy Lord: for verily thou art in our eyes: and celebrate the praises of thy Lord the while thou standest forth.

[52:49] And for part of the night also praise thou Him--and at the retreat of the stars!

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