It’s October! Beautiful fall leaves, pumpkin-spiced everything, a nip in the air, and hoodies and sweaters out of storage bring warm thoughts and cozy memories. But the air is filled with challenges, too. Themed events, halloween props, crazy DIY make-up and costume tutorials, and a barrage of ads and scary movies bring the annual Halloween dread for Muslim parents.
Children will be interested and even eager to participate in activities related to the holiday, particularly if their schools are organizing events. Promises of fun and candy are after all hard to resist! But Muslim parents and children have options and should be mindful that participating in this secular Western holiday is a matter of choice. In order to direct the family’s course of action and do so with confidence, parents need to equip themselves with knowledge of the history behind the holiday and understand the implications of participation that challenges basic Islamic values.
Here are several strategies that can be helpful in taking assertive action to avoid participation in Halloween activities this year.
1. Acknowledge your child's wishes.
Kids are kids, and why shouldn't they be! Before you direct the conversation toward a lecture, take the time to understand their sentiments and perspectives, too. Afterall, its not easy to not be attracted to all the fun happening around you, especially when all of your friends and peers are indulging!
2. Start a discussion about Halloween early.
Talking about such events from an adult perspective is very different to the way children perceive them to be. Therefore, it is always beneficial to sit down as a family and get the dicussions going. Let your children bring their version or opinions to the table first and then be sure to get the facts straight. Here are some brief pointers that you might want to elaborate on, depending upon your child(ren)’s age(s).
- Halloween has pagan roots. Learn more about them. (Check out this article for more details: https://blogs.loc.gov/headlinesandheroes/2021/10/the-origins-of-halloween-traditions/.)
- It is associated with celebrating superstition, black magic, and devil worship.
- It requires one to dress up inappropriately (more so immodestly) and disguise your God-gifted natural beauty for Satinic pleasure.
- Trick or treating can be seen as either blackmailing or begging. As, Muslims both are considered immoral acts.
Its natural for children to be curious and ask questions, and as parents we must never shun them away. In fact, appreciating their keenness to learn can go a long way in offering a more productive and constructive way to empower them. Parents who help their children understand things backed by reasoning actually stand a greater chance at helping them feel prouder and in ownership of their religion.
3. Include peers in alternative activities.
Enlighten others, especially within your social circle where kids are of the same age group. Organize a play date and use the opportunity to have a kid-friendly discussion over their favorite snack! Children learn best, when they are in the company of other children. So why not make the best use of such opportunities, to get them spiritually heightened.
4. Reach out to get support from the school.
Proper support and reinforcement can help bring about a major positive impact when tackling such challenges. You may consider writing a letter (sample available here) to their teacher(s) explaining your stance on Halloween. You may also want to consider picking them up early or even not taking them to school on the day there is a Halloween party. Offer to meet your children’s teachers to discuss your concerns around these areas.
5. Be weary of “Halaloween” substitutes.
Some may differ in opinion here, but the reality is that we need to help our children become resilient and unattached to partaking in festivities as a substitute for secular holidays. When children’s programming is held on the same days and times and resembles the same types of fun and games, kids can be confused and question our convictions. Otherwise the whole idea of inculcating a sense in them from an early age, is lost to no cause.
6. Highlight the reward aspect.
There is no doubt that as parents, we need to be proactive when it comes to appreciating and praising our children for their efforts (where they deserve it). And, what better way than to remind them of the greater reward that shall be in store for them in Jannah, for controlling their desires and giving up on their urges against their wills (even when there may be some other Muslim friends who might be participating in such festivities).
Remind them that the harder they think it is for them to control themselves, the greater the reward. For, Allah is The Most Loving and The Most Merciful to his beloved people.
7. Walk the talk as a family.
Taking assertive action is the way we live the deen of Islam. Be sure to be consistent in your application of the rationale for avoiding Halloween activities. That would mean also not handing out candy on Halloween (be sure to turn out your porch light which indicates that you are not participating) or attending community activities related to the holiday.
Remind them that if they need a treat, all they need to do is ask for it. And, its as simple as that :)
8. Make duaa.
With the coming of age, the fitnahs or trials are becoming rampant and ever challenging to avoid. But, Allah is Al-Qadir, The All Capable. As parents we must never loose hope in the power of prayers, for duaa is the most powerful tool that we possess within our means, and that which has the capacity to alter fate.
So, lets gear up for the upcoming spook fiesta and remind ourselves and our children of the basic teachings and expectations of our deen. May Allah help guide us all, and our children onto the path of goodness and make it easy for us to deal with these ever growing challenges. Ameen.
Umm Ahmed is an early childhood educator and mother of three boys. Always on the quest to learn, she is passionate about seeking knowledge and passing it on to others. A writer in the making, she draws inspiration through deep conversations, laws of nature, and her own children. She and her family are currently living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.