It’s that time of the year again. Halloween. Though they have their importance, but instead of citing Hadiths and Fatwas on the rights and wrongs, here is my two-cents worth.
To begin with, we Muslims are often too embarrassed to admit their seemingly harmless celebrations can be a bit more fun than ours but instead of using the haram gun at everything they do, I simply share my candid thoughts with my 8 and 10 year olds:
“People sometimes have a funny way of celebrating. They dress up as monsters, Harry Potter and/or wear strange costumes for a day, etc., which is fine if they want to do it.
However for Muslims, every time we celebrate, it is first and foremost – also about giving. It is about what you do for other people while often times, their way to celebrate (or what they call “having fun”) is clearly about over consumption and wastage”.
As an example, I often remind my boys:
“Only going to the masjid for Eid prayers is not Eid. There is no real Eid if we forget to donate money to charity. There is no Eid if we don’t help the poor and needy.
There is no Eid if we don’t have ice cream for breakfast, milkshakes for lunch and chocolate for dinner (sorry, it’s a family tradition!).
There’s no Eid if the whole family does not eat together or go to the park or take the day off from school when all your other friends are at school.
Basically, there’s no celebration if you don’t have fun but at the same time, we need to think about making others happy too”.
I further emphasise how:
“In Islam, we celebrate by giving. How do you feel every-time mom and I give you a toy, gadget, half an hour of iPad, etc., it makes you happy but making you happy makes us happy as well!.
Similarly, giving always-always-always makes the other person happy. Meanwhile, “their” celebration – be it Halloween, Christmas or Easter is all about dressing up, shopping and quite frankly, wasting resources from meaningless Christmas trees to Halloween costumes, just to cite an example or two”.
To make this relatable to children today, I add:
“You learn this in school too. Conservation is important. Rhinos are going extinct. Climate change is real. We have to stop wasting our resources, right?.”
To my 10-year old, I pointedly ask, in front of his younger sibling: “You know this whole thing about UN Sustainable Goals, stuff you are learning in school right now, it is really about giving back”.
Of course, I make sure while donating online every time, my boys are always standing next to me so they can together take ownership of the deed and appreciate the power, pleasure and satisfaction of giving.
At the Masjid, I would also always hand them a fistful of X dollars and ask them to look for the various donation boxes, reminding them the Hadith “don’t let your left hand know how much you are donating with your right hand” i.e., don’t show off, which gets them all excited and becomes a sight to behold.
P.S., It’s real fun watching them looking over their shoulders and stuffing money into boxes as if they were doing something secret. Personally, I get a real kick out of it.
This, in my humble opinion goes towards helping build the soft identity which our children need.
Once the imprint is established, they will no longer see themselves as different but instead come to appreciate how the value system we encourage at home is a bit superior.
Not better than the others. Never. But come to voluntarily embrace the preference of being good, responsible members in our society.
Our children living in non-Islamic countries don’t want to be different. They want to fit in. So make them feel they have something special.
And stop using the haram gun and quoting complex Hadiths and Fatwas (and Halloweening the children yourselves). Instead, rephrase Hadiths and Fatwas into child-friendly terms *they* can relate to.
I started this I think two-years ago, and Alhumdulillah this year (last night, 29th October) when I sat down on their bed casually asking them their plans for this week’s school Halloween party, they shrugged and said themselves:
“Halloween is stupid”.
Job done. “Christmas, I’m coming after you next, lol”.