As a Muslim, there is nothing to celebrate. I really do not feel comfortable going, but my friends are pressuring me. I feel if I do not go, our relationship will change; they might not talk to me the way they do now. Maybe they will exclude me from the group. I do not want to look an "extremist" but at the same time, I do not feel right to go, dress up, and have a party on this day. What shall I do?
In this counseling answer:
• I urge you to follow your feelings, your heart and your inclinations not to celebrate this holiday.
•If anything, your decision to not participate and go against the grain so to speak, should show your friends your dedication to the way you want to live and should earn you respect.
•If all your friends decided to go bicycling and jump off a cliff, would you go along with them? I doubt it.
As salaam Alaykum,
Thank you for writing to us with your concerns about Halloween. As I understand, you are a student in high school and as Halloween is right around the corner, you don’t know what to do. Like most schools, your school is going to hold a special event for Halloween. You stated that all of your friends are going, including your Muslim friends, but you don’t want to go.
Innocent Fun or Origins of Haram
I understand there is a lot of peer pressure from your friends to go. This is common at your age and it is also common to feel like one must submit to that pressure. However, I urge you to look deep within your heart, insha’Allah, and stand firm upon your reasons for not wanting to participate in this activity.
Some say that Halloween (also known as All Hallows Eve) goes back to pre-Christian Celtic festivals held around November 1st called Samhain. While these festivals are not fully understood, it was believed to be an annual meeting for the end of the year Harvest. “People would gather resources for the winter and bring animals back from the pastures; it’s also believed to be a time of communing with a dead”.
There is a belief that it was a day when the spirits of the dead would cross over to the “other world” and such moments were held as special and supernatural. So, basically, it is a way to “play with a concept of death”, according to Santino.
Other historians and researchers feel that there is no evidence for this theory. I think, however, what is most important is to understand that as Muslims we really should not participate in things that may have origins that seek to speak, convene, or reach out to the dead.
Other examples would be séances, some types of psychic sessions and so forth. It is haram. As the concrete origins of Halloween are somewhat hypothesized, we cannot be sure what the concrete origins are. With that said, we must be cautious attending festivities which seek to communicate, imitate or align with the deceased, even if in fun.
Do your Research & Follow Your Heart
I urge you to follow your feelings, your heart and your inclinations not to celebrate this holiday. While dressing up in costumes and running around gathering candy seems like harmless fun (and it may be), it is incumbent upon us as Muslims to know the origins of traditions so that we do not participate in things that are sinful or haram.
Many do take the view of it being innocent fun and do not delve into historical meanings. Given that some may not look too deeply into origins, that is possibly why your Muslim friends are going to go to the event and will celebrate it. They may look at it as just innocent fun.
As more people are seeking knowledge and origins about holidays and festivities, there are some Christians and other those from other religions who do not celebrate Halloween.
One thing is for sure is that it is not an Islamic holiday; it has pagan origins and it is not encouraged or even advisable in Islam. In fact, some scholars forbid it all together.
What is a Friend
When we don’t know something for sure, but we have a strong feeling within us, that feeling is usually a sign of which direction we should take.
I kindly suggest, insha’Allah, that you follow what you feel and do not participate. Regarding your friends, if they are truly your friends your relationship will not change. You have the right as an individual who is intelligent, thoughtful, and concerned about your deen to make choices which are true to yourself.
A friend is someone who respects our decisions. If your friends do not respect your decision, perhaps you might want to reevaluate what you consider the term “friend” to mean. In true friendships and relationships, people accept our decisions to do something or not do something, respecting our freedom of choice. They trust our judgments and decisions whether they agree or not.
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In an Islamic context, they recognize our upholding our Islamic principles. They do not exclude us from groups nor talk to us differently. Friends understand that the right to personal differences is to be expected.
If anything, your decision to not participate and go against the grain so to speak, should show your friends your dedication to the way you want to live and should earn you respect. I understand that you and your friends are of high school age, and this may be difficult right now for them to comprehend. At the same time, you may be growing up at a faster pace and using wisdom at an earlier age. Perhaps you are the one who could be setting a good example for them.
An example of following the crowd is the mythical staged scenario (Disney) of lemmings committing suicides. The lemmings all run together to the edge of a cliff and jump off in an apparent mass suicide. This is a vague analogy.
In other words, if all your friends were to drink alcohol and you knew it’s wrong and haram and you did not want to drink it, would you drink it? I don’t think so. If all your friends decided to go bicycling and jump off a cliff, would you go along with them? I doubt it. And if you did not, would you worry about what they thought of you? No, I don’t think you would!
My point is, there are going to be decisions you have to make in life which will go against the grain. Some of your decisions will be opposite of those of your peers, friends and maybe even family. As long as you know that you are seeking to please Allah and you were staying true to yourself, please know that you have made the right decision.
Seek to Please Allah
Insha’Allah, know that whatever reactions come afterward, such as friends leaving or treating you differently, know that you have pleased Allah and that these friends were not worth having in the first place. In some situations, where we seek to obey Allah and follow the inner intuition we may lose things that we think are good for us, when in fact it may be bad for us. Allah knows best.
Allah is most merciful. When we lose something that we think is beneficial to us, Allah will replace it with something much better.
With that said, I encourage you to stick to your deen, your feelings and your convictions about not celebrating Halloween. Whatever happens afterward, just know that Allah loves you and insha’Allah He is pleased with your decisions and will bless you abundantly for your efforts.
Insha’Allah, however, this will be an opportunity to set a good example for your friends and perhaps lead them on a path to increased knowledge, courage, and enlightenment.
We wish you the best,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.