If you haven’t already watched Parenting Fuel on Instagram, it’s time to start! Parenting Fuel is a biweekly live session hosted by Hira from Zair Zabr Play and Kazima from Flowers of My Garden and they speak about real issues of [Muslim] Parenting today. One of the topics that really struck a cord with many of us parents was discussed last week, titled “To Trick or Treat or Not” and both mothers presented their [opposing] views on celebrating Halloween as Muslims.
I’m going to cover the basic points of the discussion, while also threading in my own views here and there. I know that it’s a touchy topic, and there are some very strong views. Disclaimer: I’m not here to judge or tell you what is wrong or right, just presenting the discussion regarding the topic.
Why Don’t Muslims Celebrate Halloween?
Before we delve into the topic, I wanted to touch upon the reasons behind why many Muslims choose not to celebrate Halloween. The roots of Halloween are believed to be Pagan tradition, and only became legalized by Christians many, many years after it was banned to practice. And because Pagans are not people of the Book, many Muslims don’t feel comfortable with celebrating a holiday that (a) Isn’t our holiday, but more specifically (b) was originated by Pagans.
There’s more details written on how the traditions of trick-o-treating, images of bats, costumes and jack-o-lanterns came to be associated with Halloween, but I’m not going to type all that here. The point is, many muslims don’t believe we should celebrate this holiday due to its origin and no connection to our faith.
But It’s Fun…
The holiday the way that it is celebrated today has very little to do with religion, which is the case with most if not every holiday. Hira briefly spoke about this in the live session. She said that many holidays have dark origins: Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus day, Valentine’s day and Halloween just to name a few. Even Christmas has been so commercialized that majority of the public don’t know the details of its origin. And those who celebrate any or all of these holidays are usually not doing it to celebrate the religious aspect, halloween is no different. The holiday has sort of evolved into a fun day, where children dress up as their favorite character, gather to share treats and call it a day.
I myself grew up dressing up each year, going trick-o-treating with other children from our community, and grew out of Halloween as a teenager, and never looked back thinking I did anything ‘haram’. Now I find myself in the driver’s seat, having to decide what traditions my daughters will participate in, and what they will not.
Let’s Not Confuse Our Children
A very important point Kazima made in the live session is that we have to be so, so careful not to confuse our children. One year they are allowed to dress up, the following year they are allowed to go trick-o-treating, then the following year, they are told none of it is allowed anymore. We are bound to be questioned anyway, without making it so complicated for the child. Regardless of what you choose to do, stick to it, be consistent and explain to your child your reasoning.
I recall trick-o-treating every year as a child, and then one year, the year that we had a scholar at our Sunday school who strictly spoke against Halloween, my parents forbid us to celebrate Halloween. It was abrupt and out of the blue, and I didn’t understand why not. It only made matters worse, and I felt extremely left out as I hadn’t saw it coming and always celebrated the previous years. Now, had I never celebrated Halloween, I might not have ever felt any need for it or sad when I suddenly couldn’t celebrate it anymore.
Now that I know better, I would make sure that whatever we decide, my children know it and we stick to it. And more importantly, if we don’t celebrate then explaining to our children that this something we as a family just don’t do. Not labeling it as Muslims as a whole, because many muslims do celebrate in their own way, and that choice is up to them.
Figure Out Your Parenting Goals
With any un-Islamic holiday celebration, we can apply it to one main point that will drive things home. What is your goal as a parent? If you ask yourself what you want to teach your child as a whole regarding their identity: are they Muslims living in America? are they Muslim Americans or American Muslims?
These questions are there to help you to decide what your overall goal is as a parent when you pick and choose what traditions to keep in and out of your home. If you are a parent raising Muslims in America, then you will most likely leave out those traditions that don’t relate to our faith, and strictly celebrate those that we do believe in. If you are a parent raising American Muslims then you may want to incorporate some American traditions [which Halloween is, among other holidays] into your home. Basically you need to figure out what is most important to your family, and what works for you.
Be Proud of Your Faith
I’ll be honest when I see Halloween decor and fun trick-o-treating activities, it always catches my eye. It’s colorful, attractive, fun and all of these commercial holidays are. I mean that is why they are so popular, right? What if we made our holiday traditions just as fun? We are competing with so much, it seems endless sometimes. But we have to start somewhere.
Honestly, my kids are impressed with very little at the moment. I can use that to my advantage, and make our own holidays very exciting by using very little. Just make it colorful, fun and an exciting time. Like Kazima and Hira said, build up the excitement, weeks, days, months before the actual Eid. We have the traditions, we have the history behind it, all we need now is the excitement! I’m so impressed by how much eid-centered decor, holiday cards, and gift items there are now. And not to mention children’s books! Let’s collectively take advantage of these materials, and bring them into our home and schools too, so that other people can learn about our traditions.
Not too long ago, when I was a child, I was never really excited for my own holidays, and never shared it with my school friends. We did very little when it came to “fun” on our holidays, and our Eid looked so dull compared to the very glamorous christmas traditions. Well, it’s time for a change now. There’s so many ways to make Eids exciting. Hosting an Eid party and rotating it with close friends each year. Decorating our homes with twinkling lights, and doing a big gift exchange. Maybe what we need is to just be proud of our own holidays, so that our children never feel like we need to steer outside of Islam to find a fun holiday.
I want to thank Hira and Kazima for doing this live, and touching upon so many thoughts surrounding this holiday that we as parents struggle with each year. All of the ideas discussed in this post are based on the Live session titled “Trick or Treat or Not“, if you haven’t seen it, please click the link.
How do you celebrate/not celebrate Halloween and what is your reasoning? Share below 🙂