What is "Halloween" all about?
Ah, October! If you haven't seen it already, malls, schools, and grocery stores will soon be decorated in garish orange and black paraphernalia in preparation for the age old ritual of Halloween. What tugs the heartstrings though, is not the gaudy decorations, the sales of cavity-inducing candy and plastic pumpkins, but the adorable children dressed like Pokemon, the Teletubbies, Spiderman and Wonderwoman. And let's not forget: devils and witches.
Halloween has evolved and been influenced by a number of different cultures and religions, the most important of which are paganism, the Romans, the Celts (the people of Ireland, Scotland, Britain, Wales) and Christianity. However, almost all of the traditions surrounding Halloween as we know it today can be traced back to the Celtic "Day of the Dead", a pagan holiday.
Samhain was the Druid god of the dead. The Druids were a religious order amongst the Celts. On this day (Oct. 31st), they would try to appease their Lord of Death. These Druids also believed that witches rode on broom sticks and that ghosts were the cause of supernatural occurrences!
The belief was that on the eve of the Celtic New Year (which for them was October 31), the souls of the dead people roamed the land of the living. The Devil, spirits and witches were also believed to be moving about and at the height of their power.
Halloween was also a time for MAJOR Shirk (idolatory and paganism). There were games and rituals involving fortune-telling, palmistry, and astrology. Young people, for instance, would try to see what their marriage prospects were, using omens like apple pairings that were thrown over their shoulders, or nuts being burned in a fire.
Then the Christian Pope, in the eight century, decided to Christianize this pagan holiday since he wanted people to abandon the occult and idolatrous practices associated with it. He declared November 1st "All Saints' Day" or "All Hallows' Day". It became a day to remember the Christians who had died for their faith. October 31 was then considered All Hallow’s Eve, and this word later evolved into the modern day Halloween!
Following is some advice from the Islamic scholar, Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick, to Muslims on dealing with Halloween:
1. Avoid it, it's a night of evil. Shaytan (Satan) is our open enemy and we do not play with evil.
2. Trick-or-treating is really kids begging for candy. Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) disliked and discouraged begging.
3. Remember that Satanic cults have engaged in dangerous acts in the past on these days, and many kidnappings, rapes, and murders are reported on Halloween.
al-Baqarah (The Cow)
Chapter 2: Verse 183
"O Believers, Fasting (sawm) has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa (God-consciousness)"
The verse establishes that fasting had been made obligatory for all believers, past, present and future, and that the aim behind it is to open their hearts to God and make them more conscious and fearful of Him. Therefore, the principal objective of fasting is to attain and refine this quality of Taqwa. Fasting, when observed in obedience to God, and in pursuit of His pleasure, instils and revives Taqwa in the human heart.
What is Taqwa?
Talq ibn Habeeb (d.100 AH), may Allah have mercy on his soul, said: "When Fitnah (trials and tribulations) appear then extinguish it with Taqwa!"
When he was asked as to what Taqwa was, he replied: "Taqwa is to act in obedience to Allah, upon a light (of faith) from Allah, hoping in the Mercy of Allah. And Taqwa is leaving the acts of disobedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, due to the fear of Allah."
This is one of the best definitions of Taqwa. For every action must have both a starting point and a goal. And an action will not be considered as an act of obedience, or nearness to Allah, unless it starts from pure Iman (faith in Allah). Thus it is pure Faith – and not habits, desires, nor seeking praise or fame, nor its like – that should be what initiates the action. And the [goal of the] action should be to earn the reward of Allah and to seek His good pleasure.
Fasting is only Natural for a Nation of Struggle
For the Ummah (world-community) of Islam, whose duty is to undertake a campaign of struggle (Jihad), as a means of establishing God's universal order of mercy, peace, and justice, and who is to stand witness to the rest of mankind, it is only natural that fasting should be made obligatory. Fasting is a means of testing a person's determination and will-power, and an important aspect of his or her relationship with God. It is a discipline that teaches one how to rise above his or her physical needs and overcome the pressure of temptation in order to earn God's blessings and reward.
[compiled from "In the Shade of the Quran" by Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 1, pp. 182-184
and article from al-Istiqamah magazine "Important Lessons from Ramadan"]
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