Muslims and Halloween

Tell me that Halloween isn’t one of the countless things that Muslim kids are not allowed to participate in.

I suspect for Muslims, like anyone else, it comes down to the beliefs of the individual family (of course you realize it’s one of the countless things that plenty of fundamentalist Christian kids are not allowed to participate in it, right?)

Yet again, there is no homogenous mass known as “Muslims”. I’m sure some aren’t, but I know many who do. Do you specifically mean Muslims in America? Shia or Sunni? Bangladeshi or Indonesian? Liberal or conservative?

Also remember that Hallowe’en is (at least these days) an American semi-Christian thing being exported (or re-exported) all over the world. Different cultures and nations will treat it in different ways. Some embrace and adopt the practive, others ignore it, others look on in bemusement. E.g. trick or treating in the UK is really new, not everyone does it or understands it, and it’s certainly not an old tradition. Nor is decorating your house for the occasion.

I don’t know. Do Christian kids get to participate in Ramadan?

OK, maybe that is not a great example. They probably wouldn’t want to anyway. But Muslims must have some festivals that are fun, and that Christian kids don’t get to join in with.

Countless things?

OK. Halloween isn’t one of the countless things that Muslim kids are not allowed to participate in.

Halloween is one of the things that Christian kids aren’t allowed to participate in. Really.

I am not a theologian, but I seriously, seriously, seriously doubt that Muslim children are allowed to participate in the celebration of Satan’s birthday. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

A word of advice: if you do participate in Muslim Halloween, don’t go as Allah.

Well, I think you’d have to give me a cite for a connection between Halloween and Satan’s birthday.

For one thing I didn’t think angels were born, not even the fallen ones ;).

You’re wrong. Hallowe’en is not a celebration of Satan’s birthday.

You’re both wrong, Xmas is a celebration of Santa’s birthday

A few years ago, I lived in a dusty town in Northern Cameroon. Like all Cameroonian towns of size (and this was of size- we had two restarants and a bank) it was a diverse place. The market was full of bejeweled nomads with tattooed faces, brash Southerners in incongruous shorts and Indomitable Lions jerseys, a smatter of people- like the baker and his gorgeous young daughter- who must surely be at least somewhat Arab, and even, deep in the bush, two Polish nuns. But for the most part, this town was dominated by the Muslim Fulbe. The once rebellious city had come to see Islam as the religion of prestige. It offered a calm, contemplative way of life, some basic human decency and a code of ethics that required behaving with respect towards once hated groups, soberness and devotion to family, and a connection to a rich cultural heritage. And thus i lived in a world of flowing robes, the call to prayer, and a new set of holidays.

At night in this village, I would hold court in my yard, perched on my traditional stick bed. A steady parade of visitors would come- hopeful suitors bearing bags of avocados and chickens (and promised of a cow- or even two- for my father), bored housewives hoping to break up the monotony of home life (and maybe get their hands on one of the jars I was rumored to just throw away), kids hoping I’d give them a little something for dinner, students begging for a better grade, and people thinking I could help them with their improbable troubles (“Please, mademoiselle, is this rock a diamond? Can you exchange this money from colonial Rhodesia into francs? How do you make and market bracelets made of cow bone? Can you help me move to Nigeria, I really need to go there?”)

One Halloween, in a fit of “I’m an American godammit,” I carved a jack’o’lantern and set out to spend the evening sitting on my porch handing candy to whatever stray kids ventured in to my yard. I even wore a little costume and made some halloween decorations out of cut paper. I felt pretty smug. Usually my American moments were confined to Sundays, where I’d definently wear pants rather than the requisit knee-covering skirt. And then I would hide* in my room and not leave the house all day *because a woman going out in pants would be the scandal of the year.

As the nightly parade began, my neighbors of course asked what was going on. Northern Cameroonians are stunningly calm and accepting, so I knew they wouldn’t worry too much about it or think I was all that weird. So, I did my best to give them the short answer: it’s a western holiday. Years ago, we believed this was a particularly haunted night, and we used costumes and jack’o’lanterns to scare away the ghosts. We also gave candy to whoever knocked on our door in a bid to buy off restless spirits. I explained that these were old stories, and nobody really believes them now. And with that, I felt quite pleased with my little effort at cultural exchange and gave everyone a cough drop (which, in Cameroon, is candy, exactly the same as a Snicker’s Bar.)

My neighbors were fascinated. They began to ask rather exact, probing questions. What kinds of ghosts? How many? Was it just this night? What are the precise ways to scare them off? What sorts of faces are acceptable on a jack’o’lantern.

Then, nervously, they excused themselves. One of my friends turned to thank me. He said they were rushing home because it clearly wasn’t a safe night to be out. “To think,” he said “Here we’ve been spending every October 31st completely unaware of the danger!” and he thanked me for letting him know that it was a night to take precautions, and that clearly there was a lot of ignorance in Africa since they didn’t know these basic facts. From then on, my neighbors let me know, they’d stay inside on October 31st.

So yes, somewhere, there are Muslims that celebrate Halloween.

Delightful story, even sven.

even sven, that is hilarious!

Well I have never seen any American celebrate Basant, so why would anyone in a country thousands of miles away and from a totally different culture celebrate a NW European origin holiday?

Presumably the OP is referring to Muslims living in countries which celebrate Halloween.

Pfft. Yeah, right. Next you’ll be claiming that there are Muslims here in good ol’ God-fearing USA!

Ramadan! Ramadan! Lots of praying with no breakfast! Ramadan! So much fun! Do all your shopping at Wal*Mart!

In the mosques they preach against and teach Sunday-school kids against anything Christian or Pagan, including Christmas, Saint Valentine’s Day, and Halloween. But lots of mosques are cool with Thanksgiving. They call it ‘Id al-Shukran. I’ve never heard of a word ever being uttered against Hanukkah or anything Jewish, though.