Origins of the Halloween Festival
If we go by definition and a brief history of the event, we find the following comments in the Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Halloween had its origins in the festival of Samhain among the Celts of ancient Britain and Ireland. The date was connected with the return of herds from pasture, and laws and land tenures were renewed. The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. In addition, Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divination concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes.”
By the 19th century, witches’ pranks were replaced by children’s tricks. The spirits of Samhain, once believed to be wild and powerful, were now recognized as being evil. Devout Christians began rejecting this festival. They had discovered that the so-called gods, goddesses, and other spiritual beings of the pagan religions, were in fact diabolical deceptions. The spiritual forces that people experienced during this festival were indeed real, but they were manifestations of the devil who misled people toward the worship of false idols. Thus, they rejected the customs associated with Halloween, including all representations of ghosts, vampires, and human skeletons – symbols of the dead – and of the devil and other wicked and evil creatures.
It must also be noted that, to this day, many Satan-worshippers consider the evening of October 31st to be their most sacred.
And many devout Christians today continue to distance themselves from this pagan festival.
Does Islam agree with all of this?
Allah Ta’ala mentions in the Qur’an:
“Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah.” [Luqman 31:33]
And the commandment does not end there, Allah, the Almighty, has asked us not to even follow anything remotely associated to Shaytan (Satan).
“O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaytan.”[an-Noor 24:21]
Apart from this clear warning, we have been asked to maintain our own identity as Muslims and not follow blindly the ways of the disbelievers, which we sometimes end up doing in a state of excitement or under the excuse of keeping a friendly atmosphere among friends and colleagues. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) warned us about this, saying:
“Whoever imitates a people, is one of them.”[Abu Dawood, 3512]
He (ﷺ) also warned:
“You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also.”
We said: Allah’s Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words)” those before you”? He (ﷺ) said: “Who else (than those two religious groups)?” [Sahih Muslim 2669]
Muslims are enjoined to neither imitate the behavior and customs of the non-Muslims, nor to commit their indecencies. Behavior-imitation will affect the attitude of a Muslim and may create a feeling of sympathy towards the indecent modes of life. Islam seeks to cleanse the Muslim of all immoral conducts and habits, and thus pave the way for the Qur’an and prophetic Sunnah to be the correct and pure source for original Islamic thought and behavior. A Muslim should be a model for others in faith and practice, behavior and moral character, and not a blind imitator dependent on other nations and cultures.
Even if one decides to go along with the outward practices of Halloween without acknowledging the deeper significance or historical background of this custom, he or she is still guilty of indulging in this ignorant festival which involves shirk, acts of disobedience and transgressions.
We must remember that we are fully accountable to Allah for all of our actions and deeds. If, after knowing the truth, we do not cease our un-Islamic practices, we risk the Wrath of Allah Who warns us in the Qur’an with the verse (which means):
“…So let those beware who dissent from his [i.e., the Prophet’s] order, lest a grievous trial strike them or a painful punishment.” [Noor 24:63]
This is a serious matter and one not to be taken lightly. May Allah guide us, help us to stay on the right path, and protect us from all deviations and innovations that will lead us into the Hell fire. Aameen.
“Help you one another in Al‑Birr and At‑Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.” [al-Maeda 5:2]