: Oct 29, 2016

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Halloween weekend is upon us, and as usual observant Muslims will need to decide what is the best course of action to follow.

A few pointers:

– I do view this issue to be a legitimate area of ikhtilaf and ijtihad. While I have my own opinions (to follow), we need to realize that the usool of our religion allow various people of ijtihad to come to different (and at times, contradictory) opinions. Therefore, whatever your views are, please understand and genuinely tolerate and even respect other points of view that are espouses by religious authorities.

– Celebrations that are not inherently religious (which means they do not involve venerating false gods or devils) are permissible in and of themselves as long as other impermissible matters do not occur within them. Therefore, a Muslim may participate in and commemorate days such as a national day, or personal milestones in one’s life. [I plan to write a longer article about this one day, and I am fully aware of the fatwas to the contrary].

– Celebrations that are religious in nature, and are intended to commemorate false gods cannot be followed by Muslims. Therefore, Christmas or Diwali should not be observed by Muslims.

– Some celebrations are not as easy to categorize and are ambiguous. They have some elements of false religions but perhaps those elements are absent or unknown to the vast majority of people who participate in such celebrations. The origins of a festival are important, but what is decisive in deciding whether a celebration is permissible or not is the way that it is perceived by those who practice it. The predominant understanding and intentions are critical, not its origins. [This is why the ‘mehndi’ wedding celebration that is practiced by the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent are permissible despite the fact that in origin they are Hindu rituals].

– While it is undeniable that Halloween has pagan roots, the predominant intention and cultural understanding of this festival has no religiosity in it whatsoever. Rather, most children dress up in costumes of actors and cartoon characters. Therefore, I can understand the argument of those jurists who say that Halloween has lost its religious component.

– Nonetheless, I do not fully agree with this, because the essence of the festival is in fact to commemorate the spirits of the dead and to ward off evil demons (i.e., jinns). And to this day small subgroups of druids and Satanists celebrate this day as a Holy day.

– Therefore, it is my humble opinion that this celebration should not be encouraged amongst our children, regardless of how innocent many others believe it to be. The least that can be said about it is that it is makruh even if the child goes dressed up as a fictional cartoon character, and that it would be impermissible if the child were to pretend to be an evil jinn.

– While we ourselves should not encourage our children to participate, there is a great benefit in being friendly with neighbors and visitors who come to our doors wanting candy. There is absolutely no hint of venerating false gods when we distribute candies. Therefore it is permissible to give sweets and chocolates to those who come to our doorstep.

And Allah knows best.

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