Trick or Treat? Halal or Haram?

A ghostly ghoul surrounded by fog is guarding a smiling Halloween pumpkin (photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Category: Americas, Featured, Life & Society Topics: Halloween Views: 92648

Subhan-Allah, its Autumn! Every time I look around and marvel at Allah's creation of beautiful seasons, each unique and alternating with a rhythm and purpose, I am humbled and grateful towards our Creator, the artist who created the Universe and everything in it with a single infallible stroke of HIS omnipotence.

Every nation is rich in heritage, culture, history and prides in its traditions, customs and celebrations that have been passed down by their fore fathers. One such celebration very popular in the western world is Halloween.

Autumn marking the beautiful transition from summer to winter approaches us as we enter October, and we are hit "Boom" or should I say "Boo" with reminders of Halloween from every direction. From famous retail chains to regular grocery stores, all have their aisles and prominent portions of their stores conspicuously lined and decked with Halloween stuff ranging from spooky costumes, masks of witches, ghosts, werewolves, skulls, skeletons to pumpkins, jack -o-lanterns, decorations, special edition Halloween candies, treats etc. Even the media outlets like newspapers advertize various Halloween adventures and entertaining events like Spooky houses, haunted forests etc. targeting different age groups where you pay bucks to get scared and feel goose bumps and shivers run down your spine. The internet doesn't fail either to remind us and takes it a step further with pictures of animals in costumes as if humans parading in fancy or spooky costumes were not enough.

For majority of the parents in the west, Halloween is envisaged as images of young innocent children ringing doorbells, dressed up in eye catching pretentious scary costumes, impersonating their favorite movie character, their faces and eyes gleaming with excitement and joy, holding their loot of candies and with unanimous cries of "Trick or Treat" comes to mind. But, is there more to Halloween than just plain innocent fun?

Of course, it is no hidden fact that Halloween marketing is so extensive that Halloween accounts for the second most commercial successful holiday after Christmas in the United States. The Halloween retail spending in the U.S. is estimated by National Retail Federation (NRF) at $10.6 billion in 2022. The U.S. consumers spend almost $3.6 billion on Halloween Costumes annually and more than $3.4 billion on other trappings like the decoration, crafts etc. Of all the candy that is sold annually, one fourth is sold just during the Halloween time averaging sales of $3.1 billion annually. Imagine if we could donate this money to feed the poor and less fortunate who cannot afford even one proper meal a day. We are so mechanically and mindlessly caught up in this yearly ritual that we do not stop even for a moment to ask ourselves, "What is Halloween really about?" What is the history behind this celebration? Should we, as adults continue to dodge the responsibility from educating ourselves and our children on this subject and just blindly and heedlessly follow what the others in our society are doing just to "fit in"?

NO!! As a Muslim and furthermore as a parent it becomes our duty to understand it in the light of the Shariah. We have to teach them that respect and reverence for other customs, traditions and holidays in the society in which we live is not bordered on practicing their beliefs especially if associated with pagan roots.

Halloween originated 2,000 years ago from the ancient Celtic pagans. They used to live in Ireland Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Britanny, also known as the six Celtic nations. Halloween symbolized the beginning of the ancient Celtic New Year. The Celts observed only two seasons in the year: summer and winter. Samhain (Scottish Gaelic spelling: Samhuinn) which literally means "summer's end" was an important festival celebrated on November Eve, the night of October 31st. It meant the beginning of the Celtic year, the close of the harvest and beginning of the season of cold and darkness. Some believe that the festival was held to honor the "Lord of Death". The Druids believed that on the eve of this Festival Samhain, lord of the death, called together the wicked spirits that within the past twelve months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals. Sacrifices and gifts were offered to the dead spirits because it was a pagan belief that on this one night the dead spirits visit their earthly dwellings. If they are satisfied with the offerings they leave you in peace or else cast an evil spell on you. After the Romans conquered Britain and with the rise of Christianity "Samhain" was changed to 'Hallowmas', or 'All Saints' Day' or 'All Souls Day' and is observed on November 1st to honor all Saints in heaven. It began on the evening of October 31, which was called All Hallows Eve 1Halloween: Christian or Pagan Tradition? A talk by Imam Dr. Shabir Ally.

What remains of Halloween today is a hybrid and remnants of these two celebrations. Its originality over the years gradually got distorted with new additions and alterations made by people with their vested interests like the corporate world to mint money at the consumers expense.

Allah says in the Holy Quran (Al-Furqan, 25:72): And those who do not witness falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity.

According to renowned Islamic scholars and Mufassireen like Ibn Kathir, the word "Falsehood" or "Zoor" (زور) in the above ayah can be of different types. Even though the highest level of (زور) Falsehood is Kufr and Shirk other situations that also fall under this category of falsehood are places where Shirk, Kufr, dancing, music, drinking, back-biting, false accusations, and celebrations of mushrikeen is taking place.

The above Ayah explains that true servants of Allah should try and refrain from such gatherings and if they happen to be there, should leave the scene right away with dignity coming out clean and pure.

However as a Muslim who strives to acquire knowledge, it is important that we learn about any event before we take part in its celebration. Celebrations that may seem completely innocent on the outside, but with deep roots and elements of pagan beliefs, rituals and devil worship should be avoided. Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) said in authentic narration: "Whoever resembles a person is from them". This is a general statement that prohibits a Muslim from imitating a kafir 2Wikipedia: Kafir is an Arabic term which, in the Islamic tradition, refers to a person who disbelieves in God as per Islam, or denies his authority, or rejects the tenets of Islam. The term is often translated as "infidel", "pagan", "rejector", "denier", "disbeliever", "unbeliever", "nonbeliever".. Let us rely on the principle that was prescribed and enacted by our beloved prophet Mohammed (S.A.W.). He clearly stated:" Do not be like them" (Khaalifu).

What do you think the advice of our beloved prophet would be in the context of Muslims celebrating Halloween?

I pray for Allah's guidance and apologize if my article or view offends anyone; its sole purpose was to highlight the origin of Halloween celebration and to open minds. Allah knows Best!


  Category: Americas, Featured, Life & Society
  Topics: Halloween
Views: 92648

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Older Comments:
I like the article. Thanks a lot When I read some comments, it seem to be a sad reality. If the kid wants to join in some activities where nonmuslim festivals are celebrated, why would he/she even go there even if they know the fact that it is haram. The parents try to explain to them, you have to be open minded or fit-in to current society. This is a complete disaster in Muslim ummah. Whatever you teach your kid, he will be like that forever, no matter if he is 13 years old or older than that. At the end, it is all your choice to celebrate or not, this article is just a reminder or so called “food for thought” for all of us. Allah bless you all.

I don't understand. Halloween used to be a way to celebrate an untrue god, but it's not anymore. Now it's a free way to get candy. I think the intention is important and kids should be able to celebrate. When we think of Christmas we think "Jesus Christ. Santa Claus. Presents." The first two is bad so we don't celebrate Christmas. But when you think of Halloween I think of "free candy" not anything bad.


While I certainly understand what you are saying, I can't help
but wonder about this statement:
"Celebrations that may seem completely innocent on the outside,
but with deep roots and elements of pagan beliefs, rituals and
devil worship should be avoided".
Does this apply in the modern day when a majority of people in
the Western world do not view Halloween in the way that you have
just described it? The meaning of Halloween now has completely
changed from what it once meant, and I feel like this should be
taken into account when discussing this topic.


Fahad: are you sure that you read this article. It states (amongst many things)

"...The Druids believed that on the eve of this Festival Samhain, lord of the death, called together the wicked spirits that within the past twelve months had been condemned to inhabit the bodies of animals...."

Samhain = lord of death. As far as I know Islam, associating a partner with Allah is shirk.

I am not a scholar/imam but reputed scholars in America have clearly said that Muslims cannot celebrate non-Muslim holidays.

As for intention - then why not celebrate Christmas. We can change our intention to whatever we want. How about celebrating Diwali - Indians are on the rise - maybe we should start following them. We can change our intention to be one with our brothers in humanity...I mean its just burning candles and eating delicious sweets.

Just so that my opinion is clear: Christmas/Diwali/Halloween are all pagan celebrations and are haraam. Even wishing on these holidays is haraam (PS: I have asked this question to scholars trained from Madinah University and from Deobandh)

You just read part of my comment. I'm not saying adults don't feel pressure. I'm saying kids also feel pressure, similar and equal. Drinking parties are different from celebrating with coke. I'm not saying start telling the kid at he age of 13, I'm saying just he is told not to have fun even at his much tender age. A child's lots of energy is wasted fighting trivial issues, possibly.

And I'm not saying to celebrate Halloween, I'm just saying think different and be easy on kids instead of saying no to all. And be careful they not losing to the unnecessary pressure and being a rebel to the family.

If we put everything in to microscope just the way I stated in original mail, one could prove it is hypocrisy. I have read that animal substances are used in purifying sugar in western part of the world :)

Again, God alone knows the best.


Asif, well i think you are incorrect stating that Halloween is associated with shirk. You should not make such huge statements if you do not possess the credentials or knowledge as a statement like that signifies a major fatwa. The prophet ( pbuh) once said there will be various fitnahs during the end of times including disunity in the ummah and thats why I think muslims are fighting over petty issues like these when Most Muslims dont even pray 5 times a day, backbite and look at others when you should be looking at yourself..what kid do u know goes out in halloween thinking this was at one point a pagan belief? They go out for candies and thats that.. Every act is based on its intention so if the kid goes out with the intention that he is following a pagan ritual, than thats his intention but most kids dont go for intention, now do they?

I thank you for writing this article and i have found it very informative.

Maya: To avoid the problems you state, a family must start living Islamic values from the time their child is born. You cannot tell your 13 yr old not to dress up on Halloween when that is all they have been doing for the last 13 yrs. You have already lost the battle at that point.

It is tough when you see people children/people celebrating - but that is life. Deal with it or change it.

As for adults and Christmas - let me assure that while we may not go on holidays there is a lot of pressure to participate in off-site parties and especially drinking. Again the same principle of knowing the aqeedah applies. And yes.. not participating in these settings definitely does affect promotion... Deal with it or change.

I thank the author for his fore sight

I'm just trying to see a solution.
- Muslim kids go to school in the western world and they see non Muslim celebration, say Halloween : stay away it is haram, their peers go enjoy, don;t bother anything about the roots and technicality. Muslim child is kept away from the fun and s/he has been told why he can't participate. This child is under presssure within himself then among the peers.

- Same child is proabaly asked to stay away from Christmas celebration. Again pressure on the child and no fun for him. S/he must be explaining the religion to his peers at the age of 6/7.

- For adults Christmas day is off and s/he take off. He doesn't say I want to work today as I don't want to associate with other belief. S/he is convicned that it is company policy. But never challenges to think should he even work for companies with such policy -is this shirk or hypocrisy?

- s/he doesn't go to work on Sunday, which is not a Islamic holiday and never thought in life is that right or wrong- is this shirk or hypocrisy?

- S/he never thinks why he left more Islamic countries and moved to less Islamic country purposely, is this shirk or hypocrisy?

Muslim tradition will thus become a 'No to all' tradition.

Well, I'm not a scholar. Is it not better to let certain things go and adopt our own middle way. In the halloween stay away from 'bloody' costumes and go to school with a turban and if a girl with some Islamic modest dress? Is it not a easier option to educate the kid that we don't do it for the same reason, but just to have fun?!

God alone knows the best.


You talk about correcting big problems and say that discussing Halloween celebration should not be a big deal.

Hardly... the issue of celebrating Halloween falls clearly into the realm of shirk - probably the single biggest topic in Islam.

Yes.. world hunger, poverty are noble aims but it is more important to have the aqeedah straightened out before setting out to solve the problems of the world. Unless our aqeedah is not proper and grounded in authentic teachings of the prophet (pbuh) there is no point in solving issues. Have you ever wondered why the West (which claims itself to be the most superior ever and most learned) has not been able to solve the problems of poverty, hunger, prostitution etc... I attribute to lack of aqeedah.

Rather you go on the old & tired diatribe against the Muslim rulers - they are as much as the cause of the problem as the common Muslim.

I thought the right to declare anything halal and haram belongs to God Almighty. I hope what we would not play God in areas that we have no knowledge of. Things that have not been specified as haram by Allah may fall into categories such as likes and dislikes. These days Halloween is celeberated as a social event supporting the entertainment and candy industry. It is no longer a religious event. Rather than rejecting it altogether, we can use this day to highlght the plight of those young children who have been abused and who have been forced to live in abject humliation of poverty and homelessness.
But we always assume holier than thou attitude without contributing anything positive to the society. We would criticize everything without giving an alternative.
The social enthusiasm this festival generates can be used to achieve some highter goals.

Again we as Muslims fail to see the big picture. There are more important issues in todays world than figuring if halloween is allowed or not. When Muslims were in power during the ottoman period, everyone would imitate the muslims. Yet now Muslims are fighting each other. So the article said why dont we try to end world hunger, when there are billionare muslims living in super mansions in saudia arabia, uae etc... Not to mention building the tallest buildings in the world. The muslim leaders are millionaire crooks who disolve the money of the people yet somehow
halloween is the cause of the problem. This is just another opinion but there are much more bigger issues. Like praying 5 times a day with good character which many Muslims dont even do. The agree is correct about halloween but we should try to correct tge big picture in todays world.

A brilliant and informative article Mash'Allah. Muslim's should be aware of such events and this article perfectly illustrates why this event is Haraam. I will be sure to pass on the article to fellow Mu slims and non-Muslims insh'Allah.



R.P. FROM U.S.A. said:
You must be fun at parties.

Dear Sarah!
Thank you for putting out this great article. I did not know where Halloween really originated from or why it was celebrated. Thank you for bringing this to my and other reader's attention by providing such great details about this Holiday's history. I will be sharing it with our friends and family members. Appreciate your efforts!

May Allah bless and reward you, Sr. Sarah, for your efforts. I've printed the article and will give it to my 10-year old to read. this is his first year in public school and the issue of Halloween celebrations has come up. Jazaki Allah Khair.