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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

What is Halloween and where did it come?

What is Halloween and where did it come from?
Taken from www.alhudapk.com

Halloween today is defined by children going house to house on the night of October 31st, dressed up in a variety of costumes collecting treats.

Although Halloween may seem like a time for children to have fun carving pumpkins and collecting candy, not many know the origins of this ‘festival’ and its traditions that date back centuries.

The origins of Halloween date back to the time of the Celtics or ‘Celts’. They were a group occupying the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Northern France about 2,000 years ago. This group celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of the summer and was reflected upon as a time of darkness and cold as winter approached. The Celtics associated this dark time of year with death.

On October 31st (the Celtic new year’s eve) they celebrated a festival called Samhain. This celebration was supported by the belief that the ghosts of the dead roamed the earth. Priests (‘Druids’) were believed to be able to communicate with these ghostly spirits and tell the future by doing so; by telling the ‘future’ many were given hope for the long, dark winter ahead. The Priests built large fires on this night and the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities/gods. During the festival they wore animal heads and skins as costumes.

Dressing up in costumes: This was done so that the ‘spirits of the dead’ would not recognize people. It was also done by people imitating supernatural beings that were believed to roam the earth at that time.

Trick-or-treating: The Priests/Druids would go from house to house on October 31st and demand specific types of food (to offer to the spirits in order to calm them). If their demands were not met, it was believed the people and their homes would be cursed with trouble, sickness, and death. Prosperity was promised to those who generously donated (hence the phrase, ‘trick or treat’, implying a demand for treats or else a certain consequence would have to be given).

Jack-o'-lantern: This started off as a legend associated with a man of Irish origin named Jack who supposedly enjoyed playing pranks on the Devil. The legend states that after his death, Jack did not go to Heaven or Hell and therefore, had to wander the earth carrying a lantern, providing him with some light to see where he was going. Pumpkins that were hollowed out and had candles lit inside were representative of this legend. They were also supposed to scare evil spirits away (this is why odd looking faces are carved on the pumpkins).

Bats & Black cats: These animals were believed to communicate with the dead. It is also believed black cats were able to house the souls of witches.

How Halloween came into Christianity
By the 800s A.D., the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1st as All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas, (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be known as All-hallows Eve or Holly Eve (because it was the eve of a holy celebration the next day) and eventually, Halloween.

Quick Fact: The word Halloween does not appear in the bible at all. Jeremiah 10:02 clearly warns: “Do not follow the ways of other heathens (pagans)”.

Halloween Today
Each year people spend billions of dollars on candy and costumes at this time of year. A survey conducted by BIGresearch found that an estimated $3.29 billion was spent on this holiday in 2005. In a world stricken with poverty and malnutrition in many underprivileged countries, this amount seems rather Ridiculous to be spent on candy and costumes.

Quick Facts: In 2003, the major pumpkin producing states in America produced an estimated 805 million pounds, valued at $81 million.

United Nations World Food Program
- more than 800 million people go to bed without food everyday
- one child dies every five seconds in the world form hunger and other related causes

Many devil worshippers and occult groups now ritualistically recognize Halloween as the Devil’s Day. Over 60% of costumes are sold to adults who become outrageous exhibitionists.

The Islamic Perspective
“We have sent them the truth, but they indeed practice falsehood” (Quran 23:10)

“You must keep to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly Guided Caliphs; cling to it firmly. Beware of newly invented matters, for every new matter is an innovation, andevery innovation is misleading.” (Bukhari).

In order to save one self from falling into and following the practices of a society, one must have firm knowledge of the teachings and rulings of ones own religion and belief system. Clearly all that deviates from the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) and leads to wrong practices is contrary to the beliefs of Islam.

Halloween is a celebration that rejoices in all things magical and evil. In the Quran Allah says of magic that it only harms and brings no benefit (Surah Al-Baqarah, V.102).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The final hour will not come until my followers copy the deeds of the previous nations and follow them very closely, span by span, and cubit by cubit” (Bukhari).

“Whoever imitates a nation is one of them” (Abu Dawud).

Islam propagates the idea of conscious living, and upon the advent of Islam, it served to cleanse ignorant and superstitious practices. Muslims have been ordered to work for a purposeful, beneficial cause for mankind. Indulging in prehistoric and ignorant practices can only lead to frittering away ones life and thus making one an ultimate loser in the Hereafter.


What we can do tonight when the children come for candy?
This is an extract of letter response to the above article sent to alhudapk.com

Alhamdulillah, my children never went trick or treating on halloween ever, instead we always tried to educate ourselves and others about this event. We tried different strategies every year.

Couple of times I gathered my children and invited their friends to share the reality of Halloween on that evening that helped them stay away from the influence of this event.

Alhamdulillah, children responded very well and they were shocked as well as disgusted when they found out the reality behind this tradition. They were so exited that they even wanted to tell all this information to the children that were coming to the door for candy.

About the candy giving issue we tried different strategies as well. One year we just went to the Masjid during that time and came home after it was over. One year my children made different signs and put them on the entrance door facing outside. They had different messages like “sorry! No candy, your dentist will be mad! Etc.

Last year we tried a different approach as we are always apprehensive and skeptical whether to give candy or not because generally it is not a good manner to let someone go empty handed when they come to your door for whatever reason. So along side the candy we gave books. The book was “An illustrated guide to understanding Islam”, which we have been distributing in our community for some time now, Alhamdulillah. Tonight, Insha Allah we plan to give the book “One Message” along side the candy. Alhamdulillah, I believe this is a blessing from Allah SWT because the people are already coming to our door so we can do dawah work instead of letting this opportunity slip by or just get mad at them.

We are fortunate in this way that we have a facility here which provides us with books for dawah in large quantity, Alhamdulillah. People can look for similar options in their areas, e.g. masaajid, Islamic libraries or dawah centers to provide them with materials or just print out something good and relevant to the occasion from the internet if possible.

I hope that we can all learn and practice our beautiful Deen the way we are supposed to and help others do the same. I hope and pray that this can be beneficial for others as well. Any ideas or comments to improve our ways further will be greatly appreciated.