31st October 2021
His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) is a beaming beacon of Divine guidance and support. His Holiness (aba) represents the highest level of a connection with God in today’s world and thus he is the spiritual leader for tens of millions across the world, and champions the message of fulfilling the rights owed to God, and fulfilling the duties we each owe to our fellow human beings. Over the course of his Friday Sermons, addresses on various occasions, meetings with different organizations and children’s classes, His Holiness (aba) imparts invaluable knowledge and insight on a remarkably vast array of topics.
The Review of Religions is honoured to present some of these ‘Rays of Wisdom’ from His Holiness (aba) taken from various sources, for the benefit of its readers.
Should Ahmadi Children Participate in Halloween and Christmas Celebrations at School?
Especially for those living in the West, things such as Halloween and Christmas have become so deeply rooted in the fabric of society that it can seem that there is no way to avoid them. This also includes schools, where there are often activities surrounding Halloween and Christmas. As such, parents must make the decision of whether they want their children to partake in these activities. Once, a mother asked His Holiness (aba) whether she should allow her child to take part in these activities at school.
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘Halloween is wrong as it is. What do the Christmas activities entail? If your child does not sing rhymes of “Jesus, son of God” then it is alright to attend. If the children simply want to share with one another then there is no issue. In that case, you should invite your child’s friends over on Eid. As for Halloween, it is a separate matter altogether and is entirely impermissible.’ 
Should We Give Candy To People Who Come to the Door on Halloween?
On the 31st of October, children often dress-up in different costumes, and in the evening, they can be seen in neighbourhoods going from door to door asking for sweets, in what is commonly known as ‘trick-or-treating.’ For those who do not celebrate Halloween, the question arises as to what they should do when costume-clad children show up to their door. Once, someone asked His Holiness (aba) what should be done in this situation when someone comes to their door asking for sweets.
His Holiness (aba) replied,
‘There are some people who become very furious and begin to hit and curse if someone does not give them any [sweets]. In that case, you can give them a box of chocolates to rid yourselves of them. However, you should not go along with them, knocking from door to door asking [for sweets]. You are not permitted to ask in this manner, but if people come asking to your door, then consider them as beggars and give them something. It is said that a beggar should not be turned away, hence you can give them something because the poor souls are asking. Another reason for which you can give them something is in order to save yourselves, because the wise thing to do is avoid any sort of needless confrontation. Nonetheless, it is not permissible that your peers and friends drag you along with them so that you all can knock on doors and ask others [for sweets]. Halloween is a tradition which the Christians essentially adopted from infidels, Pagans and ancient areligious traditions. Christians are known to adopt traditions wherever they go, however, we will not adopt such traditions.’ 
Understanding the Origins of Halloween
©The Review of Religions
Halloween has become a staple of Western society, and something which children and even adults look forward to, especially when the month of October comes around. Houses are decorated, often with carved pumpkins, skeletons, sheets turned into ghosts, and other forms of dark imagery. Then, on the 31st of October, children don their costumes and go from door to door asking for sweets. Even adults have started getting in on the celebrations, by dressing up, no different than their children, and feeding into the highly commercialised time of year. On the surface, all of this may seem like good fun and nothing but a means of enjoyment, but what are the real origins of Halloween? What do all of these celebrations actually entail? With something so widespread and something that involves children, it is necessary to know about its origins. On one occasion, His Holiness (aba) drew attention towards the real origins of Halloween and the consequences which following this tradition can have.
His Holiness (aba) said,
‘…Modern advancements have greatly contributed to the spread of certain vices, and some people, along with their children, mindlessly indulge in such things without realising their true implications and understanding the true spirit behind it. They simply mimic society and begin to indulge in such practices. If only one was mindful of the prayer taught to us by the Holy Prophet (sa) for deeds that are committed out of ignorance, that, “O Allah, we seek Your forgiveness.” If this prayer is offered with pure intentions and Allah the Almighty manifests His forgiveness, then one can also be saved from committing mistakes in the future.
I wish to speak about a vice which is celebrated nowadays in the West with great pomp and show, and will be celebrated in the coming days – the tradition of Halloween. As I have mentioned, Ahmadis mindlessly allow their children to participate in this tradition, despite the fact that if one was to closely examine this tradition, they would realise that it is an innovation which has entered within Christianity and draws a person towards shirk [associating partners with God]. The Bible also forbids against things such as witches, monsters and satanic practices, yet these things have still found their way into Christianity because they do not properly practice [their teachings]. Such things are considered to be “fun” and people partake to fulfil the desires of their children. That is why it should always be remembered that Ahmadis must abstain from anything that is rooted in shirk or harm, even if it is simply considered to be for the sake of “fun”.
My attention was drawn by one of the in-charges of our research team, who told me that his young daughter sought permission to do nothing more than simply dress up in a costume and walk around. He did not give her permission, and subsequently conducted further research into the matter, which resulted in some rather strange facts coming to light. I asked him to share these findings with me, and I will present a summary of what I read, because many children write to me asking what the harm is of participating in Halloween. [They say that] their parents do not allow them to participate, whereas they see other Ahmadi families where the parents allow their children to take part. I would often reply to them according to what I knew; that this is a wrong and undesirable practice and thus would forbid them from participating. Now that its origins have come to light, it is absolutely necessary for Ahmadi children to abstain from this tradition.
This is an innovation that took root In Christianity, or in other words the West, stemming from an Irish tradition which was established during the ancient era of Paganism and irreligiousness. It is all based upon concepts of devils and witches, and these concepts lay ruin to the dignity of our homes and religion. No matter how much one insists that it is simply for the sake of “fun”, its very foundations are wrong. Furthermore, this tradition involves shirk, as Its fundamental principle was that on the 31st of October, there is no longer a boundary between the living and the dead; on this day, the dead come out and bring harm to the living, create havoc for them, cause them to become ill and other such absurd ideologies that are well-known. Then, in order to safeguard against the dead, people turn to their so-called sorcerers who make a special sacrifice of animals and crops in a very specific manner. They also hold bonfires under this premise, in order to subdue dead spirits. These dead spirits are either scared away or appeased by offering sacrifices. If they are to be scared away, then there are specific costumes, attire and masks that are worn.
Nevertheless, as I mentioned before, when Christianity spread, they also adopted this tradition and included it among their celebrated festivals. Catholics, especially, celebrate this tradition more. Now, because of Christianity, the media and increased contact with one another, this tradition has spread all over the world, especially in the West, in countries like America, Canada, here in the UK, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and in certain European countries. As I mentioned, this is a hidden vice which Muslims in the West are also adopting. Children wear all sorts of costumes and go door to door. They take something from each home to appease the spirits. If the homeowners give something to the children dressed in costumes, then it means that the spirits will not cause any harm to their homes. This is a form of shirk; even if it is considered as a form of having “fun” or for the sake of amusement, the ulterior philosophy is still related to shirk. Moreover, it does not behove an Ahmadi child to dress in strange outfits and go from house to house like a beggar. No matter if they were merely going to ask for some chocolates, the simple fact of asking in this manner is wrong. An Ahmadi has a certain dignity, and that dignity should be instilled in the minds from an early age. Furthermore, such practices distance one from their faith.
To partake in this tradition is to portray the message that there is no harm in temporarily believing in witches, evil spirits worshipping the devil, and bizarre beings, all for the sake of “fun”; this is absolutely wrong and these are all satanic practices. Not only should our children abstain from such things, but they should completely avoid them altogether. Up until recently, people living in remote areas would give something to the children who came asking at their doorstep so that they would not be harmed by the spirits of the dead.
Since children ask me about this, or parents ask on behalf of their children, I am advising that this is an evil tradition and one that can lead to shirk. As a result, children develop the courage to misbehave, in the name of fun and amusement; and this is why, according to a survey, children are becoming more inclined to disrespect their parents, neighbours, the society around them and their elders. In fact, this is to the extent that there is also an increase in crimes, because such wrongful practices continue to negatively empower people. All sorts of evils are justified, protected and permissible in the West for the sake of children’s rights and amusement. However, now there are also people who have started raising their voices against such things, owing to the fact that these practices are ruining morality.
Those who are against Halloween also say that there is an increase in children’s desire to frighten and scare others for the sake of amusement and, as I have already mentioned, other crimes as well. Movies have already conveyed the wrong message, and if people begin to act upon these things and encourage them for the sake of amusement, then there will be nothing but corruption in society. Then, as I have mentioned, the most concerning aspect for us is that dead spirits are regarded as equals to God and evil actions are adopted in order to safeguard against their onslaughts. They regard these spirits as equals to God and associate partners with Him; they think that by giving gifts to children they can appease these spirits, or that can use sorcerers to scare these spirits away with their sorcery. All of these are vain and absurd beliefs.
The author Dr Grace Ketterman M.D. writes in the book You and Your Child’s Problems:
“A tragic by-product of fear in the lives of children as early as pre-adolescence is the interest and involvement in supernatural occult phenomena.”
This means that even before children enter adolescence, – either before or during this period – they unknowingly develop a state of great fear and helplessness due to their fascination and interest in supernatural things.
The various practices that are associated with Halloween are no longer limited to just wearing a costume and knocking from door to door asking [for sweets], rather, some older children actively try to scare the residents of the home. Consequently, they become involved in other crimes as well. As a result, they cause disturbance and harm to the society and they also become a headache for their parents and ruin their own lives. For this reason, I once again address Ahmadis and say that they must abstain from such practices. Ahmadi children and adults alike should try to increase in their relationship with God Almighty. They should realise their true purpose, and should do what God Almighty has commanded them to. They should not let the West influence them to such a degree that they are unable to distinguish between right and wrong, that they forget about the majesty of God Almighty and their relationship with Him, and that they begin to partake in a hidden shirk. As a result, one may begin to partake in more apparent shirk. May Allah the Almighty protect everyone from this.’ 
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