Halloween; a yearly celebration observed annually in numerous countries on 31 October. Over time, like most other festive holidays, this day has been commercialised. Most retail stores now stock costumes and get ups to attract kids in order for them to dress up and celebrate, with children usually using the opportunity to go around their neighbourhoods asking for candy.
The celebration of Halloween however comes from a rather contentious source; the Pagan community of pre-Christian Europe, whom, according to Sheikh Muhammad West of the Long Market Street masjid in Bo-Kaap, were a very superstitious people.
“They worshipped idols and forces in nature. They did not understand science and technology and a lot of their beliefs were based on superstition. It was also very much based on the season of the year. Now in the Northern hemisphere the 1st of November marks the start of winter. As it gets colder they believe that evil forces and supernatural beings become stronger,” West added.
West explained that it is due to the belief that evil gets stronger due to the long nights in winter, that Pagans of the era chose to celebrate the day as one to honour the dead, give sacrifices to the spirits of the dead to keep them away from the living, as well as to seek protection from the dead.
Sheikh West elaborates: “This is outright shirkh because as Muslims we believe that there is no power except Allah (SWT). There is no good or bad in forces except through Allah’s (SWT) kudrah. So this is paganism in the highest degree.”
In recent times we have witnessed South Africans increasingly join in on the festivities of Halloween. We live in multi-religious communities and the concern comes in when 6 year old children opt to dress up and join their friends in ‘trick or treating’. According to West, it is important we make our children understand that such practices cannot be conducted by Muslims.
“We will always be surrounded by different beliefs and cultures and it is natural for a child to ask questions. All our kids want to do is have fun with their friends. Now this is when we know the Sharia says no, so we need to apply some wisdom to explain to our child why we don’t celebrate this event. Give them hadith and explain to them. If they have questions, answer them to the best you can. Ask them whether they think Allah will be pleased if they partake in this,” West expressed.
The scholar also emphasised the importance for parents and teachers to encourage halaal or ‘acceptable’ fun.
“We need to substitute these impermissible things with what is permissible. Sharia is wide there are many things that we can do.
We need to be in a circle of friends and parents in which we can encourage doing things that are fun…We should also reward our kids when they make the right decision,” he added. VOC (Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed)