A Muslim's Halloween = Halaloween?!

Ohhhhhhhh, that time of year is here! I already hear the number of "Harams!" (meaning Islamically impermissible) and "Astagfirillahs!" (meaning asking for God's forgiveness) increasing from the mouths of Muslims as the spooky sounds of Halloween echo all around. You can basically divide Muslims into three groups: (a) Those who abhor Halloween and lock their kids in the house and pray extra hard to guard against kids knocking on their door; (b) those who think that participating in Halloween won't harm their kids' Muslim-ness; and (c) those who don't care about this topic and continue their lives on as normal.

I remember during the first season of "Little Mosque on the Prairie" an episode centred around Halloween. The Imam on the show, Ammar, suggested to a father that rather than stop his daughter from participating with her friends that they invent a Muslim version: he called it Halal-o-ween. His daughter was allowed to participate in trick and treating but she HAD to dress in a non-human costume...which in Islam leaves you with dates and figs! The BEST part of the show yet was how he got mistaken for wearing a Taliban costume (which was really his daily shalwar kameez, or South Asian, clothing). HA! I loved it! The show took a controversial topic and dealt with it in a very smart way. Kudos to them!

So back to the point at hand: do Muslim parents allow their kids to participate in Halloween, or not? Could they come up with an Islamic version? Or just ignore that it even exists altogether and maybe their kids won't notice?

I remember back to when I moved to Canada from the UK. The Brits didn't celebrate Halloween back then, so I only learned about it when I immigrated here with my family. We had close Iranian family friends and their kids were the same age as us. So for a couple of years we all dressed up and went trick and treating around the Prince Albert neighbourhood in Saskatchewan where we lived. Even the Pakistani family down the road did the same thing AND handed out candy!! It was fun and more about spending time with family and friends (and the candy) than anything else. Actually, it wasn't until I was in my teens that I looked into what Halloween is all about. Back then as kid I didn't care. I grew out of it a couple of years later anyway and would rather spend the cold October evening at home, chilling. There were no "haram" lectures from my parents about halloween and they didn't tell us to stop...it was left up to us to explore what the day was all about and for us to decide for ourselves.

So this presents one side of the argument...that parents should expose their kids to halloween, explain to them the history and perhaps why Islam isn't in agreement, and then let them decide. Sometimes kids need to go through something (along with the guidance of their parents) in order to fully appreciate what it is and to come to a decision about if it agrees with their inner moral compass. I'm not saying that this decision happens when two and three year olds are dressed up in fuzzy costumes. I'm talking about when kids are older and in school and the talk of Halloween is everywhere.

Side note: shuffling your kids into an Islamic school won't shelter them from Halloween! Just sayin'!

And then there's the other side that states that as Muslims, we should have nothing to do with Halloween. We explain to our kids why the day doesn't agree with Islamic teachings, answer their questions, but the decision is made for them. I'm not saying that this is not a good plan, since you're providing an explanation. Whether or not it's the right choice for your kids, that's your call.

A third option, which could be viable, is to explain that playing dress up is fun for kids any day of the year, so why do it only on one day? And then encourage them to come up with their own sort of dress up and event on another day. I'm not sure if any parents have used this tactic, it could work for younger kids but I doubt for even 7 or 8 year old since they're SMART!!!

Anyway, I don't have any answers (nor any kids at the moment!!), so I'm speaking from the experience of my own childhood! But rarely with anything in life can we tell our kids just "NO!" without explaining. And it only makes things worse when Halloween is mentioned and parents' eyes get big and we start spitting out how haram it is to talk about it.

Nothing is haram to talk about with our kids...it depends on how it's spoken about and the context. In fact, the more we talk with our kids, the better. So that's probably a good place to start.

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