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Halloween: 10 Tips For Muslim Parents

The following article was compiled by Iesa Galloway for the Islamic Society of Greater Houston‘s E-Newsletter. It draws heavily from content originally written by other authors for SoundVision.com and by blogger Nesima Aberra (links below).


The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for those under your care. A man is a shepherd, and he is responsible for those under his care. The woman is a shepherd in her husband’s household and she is responsible for those under her care.” [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

While researching tips to help Muslim parents talk to our children about Halloween, I came across the following segment of a young American Muslimah’s blog that really illustrates a common problem many of us face:

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“It was the day before Halloween and our mosque’s Sunday school principal asked the younger kids if we celebrated Halloween. SadPumpkinThe response was entire rows of kids squealing with excitement as they nodded their heads and raised their hands to show they were in fact celebrating. The principal shook his head and chastised the children in a thick accent: “No we do not celebrate Halloween! It is haraam! Why would you celebrate it?”

One kid responded bravely: “Because there’s candy! We want candy!”

The principal was quiet for a moment and then said: “If you want to have candy, go to your parents and ask for five dollars and then go to the candy store and buy yourself a bag of candy!”

There was some laughter and disappointed faces and then we prayed… And that was it.

There was no discussion about Halloween and why the holiday is antithetical to our religion. A much more productive and constructive way to empower our youth and help them be proud of their religion is to actually help them understand the reasoning behind what we do. Do we really think that simply telling kids “no” is enough to satisfy their questions about why they can’t drink, or date, or do drugs, or gamble or etc. etc. etc.” (adapted from: http://justnes.wordpress.com)

Consider the following 10 tips when discussing Halloween with your family:

1) Get the facts. The more you know about a subject the more secure you will be in your stance regarding it. Remember that your children need to know why you want them to be different from their peers. This is not a trivial matter. If you show them that you respect them and their intellect, they will feel more empowered and confident. Their confidence and understanding of Islamic principles will be very important if they are going to differentiate themselves from their classmates. Here are two resources you can learn more about the history of Halloween:

    1. Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html
    2. The History Channel: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween 

2) Have a united position: It is essential that you and your spouse agree on your family’s position on Halloween. Discuss your concerns, ideas and your desired approaches with each other. Once you both come to an agreement and understand each other’s concerns call a family meeting.

3) Show compassion: Introduce the topic by asking your kids questions. Find out what their school or friends are planning for Halloween. Ask them how they feel about it. make sure you really listen to your children. Do not cut them off while they express their thoughts and feelings. Let them know you understand and care about where they are coming from by doing more than just listening to them, validate their feels to show that you understand. Parents can say things like, “I know it’s hard to watch your friends having fun on Halloween and it might make you sad because you feel left out.”

4) Explain your position: Present your research about Halloween. Allow your spouse to support you. Explain what your position will mean for your children. Emphasize that this is you and your spouse’s position and remind them that you love them. Do not over emphasize fatwas or what people in the community might think. You do not want your children to think that Islam is limiting their lives or that you care more about what people think than about your kids and what they want. Be sure to help them understand the following facts:

  1. Halloween has pagan roots
  2. It is associated with celebrating superstition, black magic, and devil worship
  3. Costumes are often inappropriate and immodest
  4. Trick or treating can be seen as either blackmail or begging and Muslims are not supposed to beg or extort people.

5) Show more compassion: Encourage your kids to ask questions and respect them by discussing their concerns. You are looking for changes in how they see Halloween after you have discussed your family’s position with them.

6) Accept reality: Your kids most likely know other Muslim families who will take a different stance on Halloween (and other holidays) than you want your family to. Remind your children that each family is responsible for their own decisions. Just because another Muslim family is doing something, it does not mean that their decision is right for your family. Remind your children to be confident in their decisions and not to be judgmental of other people.

7) Teach them to be proud of whom they are: Remind your children that it is OK to be different. Emphasize that this does not mean that they cannot have non-Muslim friends or that they will have to be excluded from all of their school or peer activities. Remind them of all the things that they love about Islam and the Muslim community. Tell that in Islam we accept the best aspects of what is good and safe guard ourselves from things that contradict Islamic principles.

8) Organize a fun event: On Oct. 31st put together a family night at the masjid or a even just a small get together with friends. This will help your kids take their minds off Halloween and bond with other like minded people so they do not feel alone.

9) Consider their school: Write 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 you and your children’s concerns.

10) Reward your kids: Both Eids have just passed, however you can still do something special to show them you appreciate how they handled the situation. End the event by getting your family excited about Ramadan, Eid al Fitr, Hajj and Eid ul Adha! Explain the significance of our Islamic celebrations and the meanings and purposes behind them. Seek input from your children about ways to do something special in lieu of celebrating Halloween. Ask for their suggestions by saying things like, “Since you’re trying so hard to please Allah, let’s try to think of something we can do as a family that would be fun.”  In this way, your children will have more ownership over the alternatives and feel empowered to share their perspectives with you.

The most important point of this article is that we have to establish better communication with our loved ones. We have to encourage them to open up to us. To do this we must create an environment where our children will trust us with their mistakes, their curiosity and their problems. They will do this more and more when they are reminded of how much we love them.

And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds. Every person, for what he earned, is retained.” (The Holy Quran: 52:21)

PLEASE NOTE: Many of the tips above and the sample letter have been adapted from a series of excellent Halloween articles originally published at SoundVision.com.

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Paul "Iesa" Galloway is a native born Texan. He was recently called "the Yoda of interfaith affairs" by a colleague from his daytime gig. After hours Iesa serves as a consultant, messaging strategist and trainer on media, government and community relations.Iesa is a product of the "Military Brat" experience of the 1990's on US Army bases in Germany he has traveled extensively, for extended periods in Kenya, Hungary and Communist Poland on missionary trips, visited Communist East Germany with the Boy Scouts of America, as well as enjoyed time in France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and Austria. Since embracing Islam, Iesa was asked to be the founding Executive Director of CAIR-Houston, where he served the community from 2002 to 2006, he has completed the Hajj pilgrimage, participated in an interfaith pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the Society for Biblical Studies and completed a study abroad program on the history of Islamic Spain, Morocco and Andalusian Philosophy with the University of Houston. Iesa's education is rooted in History and Public Relations and he has a interfaith and multiracial background.

84 Comments

84 Comments

  1. Avatar

    grace

    October 28, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Excellent tips!!!.Jazaka Allah Khayrun, We can also remind our children that asking complete strangers for candy is not really a safe thing to do.

  2. Avatar

    Regular reader

    October 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    This advice may not be true all kids. Those of you have kids who are obedient by default, and who abhor halloween by default for them its all “Mashaallah Mashallah Mashallah.” But for the rest of us its “Alhamdullilah”.

    Here is a scenario..what if your child has mild behavioral problems and he is always picked on by teachers and kids (in a mild way)..and requires change in seating arrangements and in some cases is made to sit separately from the rest of class.

    For such a kid to be asked to not take part in the norm…..he/she may get affected in the long term adversely. “I am different from the rest ” in a negative way is a possible conclusion that the child may make.

    And this is not in the case of public schools alone…lots of haraam activities happen in Muslim schools….can we address them?

    Please advise.

    Note from Comments Team: Your lack of name and use of a false email are grounds for deletion of your comment. However, since the issue you highlight adds relevance to the discussion these deficiencies have been overlooked. However, in future please refrain from the same.

    • Avatar

      Iesa Galloway

      October 28, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Asalaam Alaikum, may Allah make things easy for all parents, especially parents with children that are currently facing serious issues.

      You raise many important points. I hope you can give a few examples of mistakes/issues happening in Islamic schools. I think it would be very useful to compile a list for a future article about such things. If you are willing to do so please do not name the school or people involved in any public venue like the comments section here on MM.

      I would be willing to get a qualified educator (a Muslim principal with a degree in education and who is certified to be a principal) along with a Islamic scholar who deeply understands the local culture and community issues to give their take on each item.

      I would also recommend that any parent who has a child that regularly has issues with both their peers and their teachers to consider the idea of having a child counseling session with a qualified professional. If nothing else just to have an assessment done so you would know if there are any serious issues. May Allah bless your family and help us all raise righteous children that will be inhabitants of Jenna.

    • Avatar

      Don Craig

      October 28, 2016 at 12:07 PM

      Though not Muslim and a practising Catholic, I agree with every word written here, and it’s how my wife and I have raised our children too. My greatest respect to everyone in this forum for not following the group but for making a stand for not celebrating Halloween. There’s enough evil in the world without encouraging our children and families to take part in such activities.

  3. Avatar

    Razan

    October 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Notes from a girl who was brought up in a non-Halloween household:

    The most important rule is, CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE. This goes for EVERYTHING, from proms to parties – it doesn’t matter how ‘open’ and ‘communicative’ you are, it still pretty much sucks to be sitting at home staring out the window at your friend’s cool costume and having nothing to do. Organize a ‘play date’ for younger kids, have them bring their friends over, maybe teach (boys and girls) to bake something tasty! When you’re older and you can create those alternatives for yourself, you honestly stop caring because you don’t feel like you ‘missed out’.

    One Muslim ladies’ website suggested having a dress-up box in the house so that younger children can create costumes year-round, rather than longing for Halloween as the chance to do so.

    • Avatar

      zenola

      October 27, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      I always bought things from the 2nd hand store or a sweatsuit and remade them into costumes. My kids wore these clothes all year. Around halloween, i would take them to visit our family members dressed up.NOTHING scarey was allowed. I did prince and princess, panda bear,superheroes, historical figures, etc. The family members were always happy to see them.Now they are grown ups.I also buy generic decorations from the dollar store and keep the decorations up all year. I say every day is a celebration of life. It’s like when non muslims ask about anniversary or birthdays. I say, I don’t have to have a special day to know life is great.

  4. Avatar

    Lasantha Pethiyagoda

    October 28, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Especially in the western developed world, there is an undercurrent of “defeating” the proliferation of Islam and it is therefore depicted as an impractical, cruel and out-dated religion. The culture which is promoted is largely one of blind consumerism and decadence which are both antithetical to the teachings of any great religion.

    Hence, teaching young children the inappropriateness of celebrating a “pagan” festival is fraught with difficulty, as mainstream culture actually promotes consumerism through various insidious ways that target children in particular. A broader approach is therefore necessary.

  5. Avatar

    Moneeb

    October 28, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Ok. But brother. There is one problem you forgot to leave out. It’s the youth and the Muslim teens. I mean seriously some brothers said it is ok to go trick or treating without wearing costumes and some of them and sisters go to haunted houses for fun. What’s your advice for the youth and them?

    • Avatar

      Moneeb

      October 28, 2013 at 6:36 PM

      Also about what should the parents, imams, youths themselves do about this?

    • Avatar

      I love Minnie Mouse!?

      October 30, 2015 at 4:34 PM

      Asalamu Alaikum! It’s a MUSLIM/ISLAMIC SCHOOL!! There are no haraam activities inside there. Though u prove your points good in others!?? Shukria. PS, haraam activities do happen outside when people don’t know it. Nice they learn new things!

      • Avatar

        I love Minnie Mouse!?

        October 30, 2015 at 4:36 PM

        Ooh I’m so sorry I meant to say that to Regular Reader, not you! So sorry and ashamed!??

  6. Avatar

    berserk hijabi

    October 28, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this article,it’s really relevant and I’m glad someone’s addressed it. I agree with all of your points except:
    1.Is it really appropriate to “replace” Halloween with an event at the masjid? Yes I understand how you’re trying to explain it, but the reality is that the way a kid would see it is, well, replacing Halloween. That’s not what we’re trying to do,replace non-Muslim holidays with fun activities so our kids don’t feel left out. I was raised here in America and am in my teens but don’t recall any discussion about Halloween going on-“I know you might feel sad about it” yadda yadda yadda. Well things might be different for your family but on the whole, although it’s important to explain to your kids why Halloween is haram, leaving too much room for “discussion” is,erm,not a good idea I think.

    Other than that issue,this article really is very helpful. I personally am surprised by the children I know who seem to genuinely dislike the idea of Halloween-although they haven’t been raised in a very religious manner, it just doesn’t seem to appeal to them,which is saying something. Another reason for kids:Try and make them understand that Halloween and Christmas make the most money for companies in the USA. In fact they are HUGE moneymakers and really, do your research, that’s all that the people putting the costumes and candy in the aisles care about,money. Idk if kids will fully understand but it’s worth a try.
    JAK again. Allah grant us and our children Jannah al Firdaus,Ameen.

    • Avatar

      Razan

      October 29, 2013 at 2:38 AM

      I agree that you shouldn’t have Halloween merely ‘replaced’, Halloween is still Halloween no matter what you call it. And I also agree that you don’t need to go into the semantics of ‘you might feel sad’, if you don’t give people a REASON to believe that they’re missing out, then it shouldn’t be too big of an issue. But it honestly is different by each family, and I personally think that there is great benefit in having something else GOING ON that night – not replacing it, not a new celebratory activity by another name, but merely a distraction for when all a child’s friends may be talking about Halloween non stop.

      • Avatar

        ummkarimah

        October 26, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        exactly my point! why is there a need to replace it? doing things on the same day doesn’t solve anything, its just covering it up… thank you for such an excellent reply…

  7. Avatar

    JBT

    October 28, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    Salamu Alaikum, I really enjoyed this article and as a parent with a child who really wants to celebrate Halloween this year, I have found it very helpful. This is the first year we have chosen not to celebrate non-Islamic holidays and my daughter is very sad about that, she is seven. Alhamdulillah it was made possible to start homeschooling her this year so we don’t have the school issue but why I am writing is because I do disagree with your advise to try to get the school to stop its celebration. Non-Muslims in America tend to have ill feelings for us and I don’t believe that trying to stop a celebration that means so much to them is a great way to start making good relationships with them in the community which is essential if ever you want to give them dawah. I don’t think that doing something that might strain already fragile relations is a smart move, especially when it would be so easy to pull your child(ren) out of school for the day they celebrate.

    • Avatar

      Iesa Galloway

      October 28, 2013 at 11:39 PM

      Walaikum Asalaam JBT,

      Thank you for the feedback. I think you must have misunderstood parts of the article. I never called for non-Muslims to stop celebrating Halloween. That said I agree with your reasoning on why that would be a unwise idea and approach for our community.

      JazakAllahu Khairan,

      Iesa

      • Avatar

        JBT

        October 28, 2013 at 11:46 PM

        Brother, please forgive me if I have misunderstood you about contacting the school. I see upon rereading it that it may not have been meant in the way I understood it. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. JazakAllah Khair for the advice on how to deal with this day.

  8. Avatar

    Ummibrahim

    October 28, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    As Salamualikum. JAZZAKALLAH for this article. We don’t celebrate any holiday except EID. alhamdulillah. My kids they ask us why? We just explain them and they understand alhamdulillah also it’s good to give them some gift or take them out for fun. But I want to know do you know any other activities parents can do at home with their kids. Specially on EID TIME and RAMADAN TIME. If you know or if anybody know any fun activities for kids please post it. JAZZAKALLAH Khair.

  9. Avatar

    M.B.F.H

    October 29, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Warning: Very Offensive and shocking for some believers:
    Sorry! But I already see similarities here of the advice for “complete Isolation” that asks Muslims to “stay away from Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Old American culture”, it’s games, activities, plays, songs, neighborhood gatherings, birthdays, weddings, funerals, any public benefit or commercial shows, fund raising. I say; What are we up-to? We don’t volunteer in any community activities now, from highway clean-up to poor people house painting, from donations for firemen to neighborhood BBQ to discuss safety and new laws, from public school and city policies to national politics until or unless somebody wakes up 10,000 miles away to call our senator about what they have found in his speech about another country. Why are we here? What are we teaching our kids? Why would they not hate them and us later and eventually become a twisted and deformed mentally and emotionally
    handicapped member of the society if not become a ruthless extremist at all. I mean if the kids are not going to all night parties after candy run with an adult, not smoking anything or dancing or wearing vulgar…how is it going to effect their faith? I bet also some of the commenting parents here never take their kids to any games, teaming up with school kids in after school activities, participate in soup kitchen for poor christian or regardless, volunteer participation because they either are too disorganized, love to sleep, don’t work-out them self and are lazy to drive for kids, or they even can’t speak or learn to speak English, live in their hate-all non-Muslim dream world. I take my kids to Halloween with other US school parents and we all make plan wear proper covered clothes stay safe and come back to home by eight. My kids participate in all school activities. They work hard and win like any other Americans,.They read Quran from a Qari from old home country over Skype, they go to Sunday Madrassa here and do as much salaat & Quran as possible at home with us. I say don’t choke yourself from what is not mentioned Haraam-Haraam from local non-immigrant Imaam, who has experience from childhood and knows what has danger and what can be played safely while keeping kids happy. I tell you it’s not easy to keep a bunch of kids(4-6) happy with not-so=creative & nothing-new home-bound activity for long. You have no Idea what and where your kids will end-up to take out this frustration of locking indoor on holidays. I see lots of Such kids and t I don’t want to tell how nice their parents and their brought-up was. Get up from that sofa & throw that phone down and get involved with your kids…that’s is the only way they will be yours. Enough of cultural dinners and old dress shows for past community. Our kids won’t be doing anything we do today, neither will they have night long tea or coffee parties with folks or their kids who migrated with them from old country and have stories to share. Think of that!

    • Avatar

      arifeen

      October 31, 2013 at 5:22 PM

      Excellent writing, totally agree with you

    • Avatar

      Gul Hassan

      October 31, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Salaam

      Although you make some valid points you make sone gross over generalisations about the Muslim community.

      One can easily engage with the community at every single level and give back to the community without having to take part in Hallows Eve, a pagan celebrationwith roots in withcraft. Witchcraft and the like can throw ones precious Imaan in grave doubt so any type of association with it is a perilous act. When in doubt I avoid Halloween. I do not allow my kids to go and ask strangers for sweets; that is something l have always told them never to do!

      I am actively engaged in the community yet avoid Halloween as a point and l have never felt myself as the other or not engaged. To target Halloween as a means to engage is a mistake. There are a whole host of ways you can take part but its up to you to take the good if it and as we are told, when in doubt leave it out!

      My kids did not go trick or treating tonight and are busy playing and having fun at home. We give back to the community, feed the hungry and clean the streets as well as take part in civic engagement. We have never celebrated Halloween and we are happy Alhamdulilaah. I am not in a minority either. Thanks is only to Allah Swt! Thank you.

      • Avatar

        Michele Tariq

        November 1, 2013 at 10:38 PM

        just so you know, the tawaf (circling of the kaaba) was once a pagan (gasp!!) ritual. It was co-opted and made into something wonderful by Muslims.
        I was born and raised in this country and never associated Halloween with any;thing satanic or evil until I became Muslim and was told it is haraam to celebrate it. What I observed over the years ( I have children in college and one that is still in elementary school); The Muslim kids who grew up with my older children and came from homes where they were forbidden from celebrating Halloween (listening to music, etc), ended up being the most rebellious when they got older, they are the ones now attending the wild Halloween parties with alcohol, not to mention a myriad of other supposedly “forbidden” activities. The youth who grew up in families that had some “middle” ground, involved parents with a realistic approach, are now the ones who are not busy rebelling but are able to successfully navigate social situations without compromising their values. I think immigrant leaders often find it easy to label “American” customs as “haram” because they have no connection to them.

        • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          November 2, 2013 at 10:38 AM

          Tawaf was not a “pagan” ritual. It was something done by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) who was a Muslim. The Arabs at the time of Prophet (SAW) followed a corrupted form of the religion of Ibrahim (AS).

          -Aly
          *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

    • Avatar

      Michael Klein

      October 15, 2014 at 11:46 PM

      Nice to read an inclusive perspective!

    • Avatar

      Khadijah

      October 26, 2014 at 10:43 PM

      السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
      It’s a shame for parents to let their children participate in western holidays. I know from experience that a family that doesn’t pray together and parents who don’t teach their children Islamic knowledge and guide their children to the best of life that is Islam will end up regretting how their children are as young adults and older. Living in the west is very challenging especially for those with children. One doesn’t want to see their children grow up dressing as tho they are unclothed as the majority of people in the west dress nor pray nor read Qur’aan and then treat their parents with disrespect and yell at and insult them. Islam is a complete way of life not just a religion. Following Qur’aan and sunnah and having

  10. Avatar

    Iesa Galloway

    October 29, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Asalaam Alaikum M.B.F.H,

    I completely understand your main point. That we should be integrated. However, I am sorry to see that you have what appears to be a very low opinion of our community. I can tell you that it is not that bad everywhere. In fact in my city, Houston, TX we have Muslims doing all the things you mentioned. Just this weekend a group called MuslimGo did the City’s Half Marathon event and they regularly volunteer at the Houston Food Bank and that is only ONE small example of the many awesome things Muslims are doing. If it wasn’t for the rain a Halal interfaith TX style BBQ was planned with a synagogue, several churches and held a masjid. That is two amazing events in the same weekend and it is almost always like that here.

    The point of this article is to get parents and their kids talking. It was not to solve every problem or even provide a cookie cutter solutions to each unique situation.

    I think an important point to always keep in mind with working toward healthy and positive integration is what are the core elements of the American Muslim identity? I argue that those core elements are the same for Muslims everywhere and start with our creed and core beliefs about monotheism and our Lord. To me we have to balance all other things around preserving tawheed. The old saying the devil is in the details applies here. My solutions may not work for you. We may think each others decisions are abhorrent. However, as Muslims lets keep or create a positive attitude and build what we want to see instead of just pointing out what we don’t see.

    All in all though I have to agree with your main point. I don’t think it is at all healthy to live in a bubble, or to try and raise our kids in one. We definitely need to learn to trust and empower our kids. That brings me back to the idea of real communication with them. We can’t really trust them or empower them if we are talking at them and conversing with them.

    May Allah reward you for your passion and give us all tawfeek to take action and improve ourselves!

    Iesa

  11. Avatar

    Yasmeen

    October 29, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    I have younger siblings and they basically grew up knowing we don’t celebrate Halloween, we didn’t really sit and have a formal discussion with them; it was a given. We’re Muslim so we have the two Eids as our holiday. They haven’t had any real problems with it alhamdulillah. The other day they did mention about how it would be cool to just get free candy from people and I just replied “Are you guys serious? Do you know how much better it is to just go to the store the next day when the candy is on sale and you can buy bags of the kind you like. Instead of going to each house, in the freezing cold, to only get a piece that you might not even want.” They agreed and moved on to talking about something else. We treat Halloween just as any other day and it isn’t a big deal.

    With regard to the organizing another event during Halloween, to me it seems, in a way, you’re still celebrating it, just not in the traditional sense. I think this tip would work best for families who have celebrated Halloween in the past and now wish to stop. When I was younger we used to dress up and go trick or treating, then alhamdulillah my parents wanted to stop. On Halloween there was an event at Chuck E Cheese where kids would go instead of trick or treating. A lot of people from the masjid would be there and also Christians who wouldn’t go for religious reasons. My grandma started taking me there as a way to sort of phase out of “celebrating” Halloween. After a few years of that I got too old for it and it was fine. I don’t ever remember feeling left out or anything.

    I like point 7 the best. We cannot eradicate our children feeling different, it’s bound to happen over and over and over again. It’s best that they learn to be proud of these differences early on.

  12. Avatar

    supam

    October 30, 2013 at 5:25 AM

    I liked ur post.. m not a muslim but I respect evry religion.. I liked way u explained how to handle ur children n guide them according to situation.. the most important is tell them how our religion teach us to walk on right path n stop being superstitious.. but on the other hand I feel children r very innocent n theu always want to follow what dey see around whether its in their home or in school.. the only important thing we shud teach dem is never do anything wrong to anyone n be pure n true from heart.. be a nice n respectful person.. rest it doesnt matter which festival they attend.. our concern is dey shud b safe n let dem experience each n everything n let dem decide dey liked it or not.. according to their experience explain dem wats wrong n wats right in dat..

  13. Avatar

    tawfiq

    October 30, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    I have to disagree with this hysteria. Halloween is not seen in this country as pagan traditions. It just allows kids to have fun one night a year. If parents are responsible they can go with their kids trick or treating. One is not begging for food.

  14. Avatar

    Pink

    October 30, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Don’t u guys know that the ancestors of Muslims were pagan?
    Don’t Muslims believe in magic? Isn’t magic bar huq in Quran? Even their prophet Muhammad was under influence of magic once!!
    Superstation!! Don’t Muslims believe in stuff like bad eye etc??? Is it something other then superstation??
    What does “trick or treat” means? Either treat me with candy or simply trick me, how on the earth it is like black mailing or begging?? It clearly is giving two choices. Don’t the Muslim kids ask for Eidi on Eids from their elders?? Is that begging and black mailing????

  15. Avatar

    NS

    October 30, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Although I’ve never gone trick or treating, and neither have my siblings, my family never made a conscious choice to not celebrate Halloween. I still attended the class Halloween part though, even if I didn’t dress up. I have to say that I disagree with your premise, there’s no harm in letting a kid play dressup for one night. Halloween isn’t a religious holiday today, it’s a commercialized, fun night for kids. It’s all about intention. If the intention is to just get dressed up and eat candy, what’s wrong with that?

    • Avatar

      kamalabdurrahman

      May 21, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      T
      his is sad refer back to ahadith and imagine what would prophet muhammad(saw) would say shariah please not modern muslim

    • Avatar

      MercifulSoul

      October 30, 2016 at 11:57 PM

      Yeah…I’m actually really sad about not TAKING PART. I have a friend that invited me to a Halloween party. I wanted to but this article pushed me away from the party. I refused and then I felt sad.

  16. Avatar

    Tanveer

    October 30, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Jazaka Allah Khayrun

  17. Avatar

    Pink

    October 30, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Looks like the admin had no answer to the facts I presented about Muslims that’s why my comment was deleted.
    Well this clearly shows how tolerant Muslims are!!
    If you guys thought what I wrote was not correct you should have corrected me.
    Good luck!!!

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      November 2, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      Dear “Pink”

      Thank you for commenting on MuslimMatters.org. Just a little clarification from the CommentsTeam. Your comment was never deleted. It is still there (I just read it myself) but hidden by the readers who voted it down.

      We do not delete critical comments unless they violate our Comments Policy in some way.

      Best Regards
      Aly Balagamwala
      CommentsTeam Lead

      • Avatar

        Maria

        October 30, 2015 at 6:44 AM

        So you don’t delete comments…you just hide unpopular ones….yeah I won’t be coming to this site anymore

        • Aly Balagamwala

          Aly Balagamwala

          October 31, 2015 at 6:20 AM

          Would you care to explain what you mean by “hide unpopular ones”?

    • Avatar

      Maria

      November 1, 2015 at 7:17 AM

      You said the comment was hidden by readers who voted it down….therefore you have your settings in such a way that unpopular opinions are hidden away…..not a good way to gain ground with readers

      • Aly Balagamwala

        Aly Balagamwala

        November 3, 2015 at 1:42 AM

        You are reading a very old comment and the site has been revamped since then to remove that feature.

  18. Avatar

    Aisha ahmed

    October 30, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    the easiest solution to this problem is that no body is forcing Muslims to live in a Halloween celebrating countries so they simply pack up their bags and go to some Muslim country like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan where there are no such problems and they can live in peace happily ever after!!

  19. Avatar

    Iesa Galloway

    October 30, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    @Pink Asalaam Alaikum – I pray that all is well with you and your loved ones. Many Muslims had ancestors that (key word here) “were” pagans. They left pagan beliefs and rituals for Islam, and that is the whole point. They did not leave one form of pagan celebrations, beliefs and rituals to simply celebrate another form later.

    People often label all religious belief as superstition, so the term varies from prespectives of who is using it, but you left out the other things I listed in that sentence, black magic and devil worship.

    With regard to “trick or treating” there is a choice between two things give me something or get a “trick” Please see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trick%20or%20treat for the aspect of a threat (i.e. blackmail if no treats are given) if you don’t like this resource, then well, Google is a useful thing.

    @NS Asalaam Alaikum – I tried to leave room in the article to acknowledge that people will and in fact need to make their own decisions. We will all have to answer to our Creator alone and for our own actions. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention it is all about our intention.

    Where I disagree with your comment is the idea that Halloween is totally harmless. Yes, it is commercialized. But by that rational you could say let’s celebrate Christmas and Easter, because many people who are not Christian do so just for fun and out of no religious belief. Would it be the end of the world if a Muslim celebrated Halloween? Of course not. Would their intention matter to Allah if they did go out trick or treating? Most likely yes, as it seems that Allah considers our intentions when looking at all of our affairs. At the end of the day, I could not imagine the Prophet (peace be upon him) adopting this holiday or allowing the companions to participate in it. That is my conjecture and I am very happy to live with and by that. Also, I don’t see how celebrating this holiday in particular adds value to our lives, helps us to worship our Lord or helps to accomplish other important obligations.

    Like you said, dressing up and eating candy… sounds like a good time. My line of thought on that is: if it is all about intention then why do it on Halloween?

    • Avatar

      JBT

      October 30, 2013 at 6:21 PM

      I think in general, not speaking about Halloween, we Muslims use “intention” as an excuse way too much. I have found myself trying to do it before too, so I am not passing judgement. I believe that it is haram to wear makeup out and I have found myself trying to say that “well my intention is to have greater self confidence” but in the end, I know it is haram so I am just making an excuse of it. I have seen this a lot, so very much, from tons of Muslims. What I am trying to say is that while intentions are very important, you can not “fool” Allah into thinking your intentions are to do x (even if you can fool yourself) when really they are to do what will make you feel normal/accepted/pretty/whatever and justify your behavior by saying you had the right intentions.

  20. Avatar

    Zainab

    October 30, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    Hi
    I totally agree with pink and would say that why Muslims are so non tolerant?
    no body is forcing Muslims to live in a Halloween celebrating countries so they simply pack up their bags and go to some Muslim country like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan where there are no such problems and they can live in peace happily ever after!!

    • Avatar

      Michele Tariq

      November 1, 2013 at 10:42 PM

      funny thing is, Muslims is those countries often less judgmental than the ones here. In Syria they celebrate many western holidays and I just read an article that even in Saudi they are having Halloween parties, that ought to make the Wahabis crazy.

  21. Avatar

    Pink

    October 31, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    Mr Admin you didn’t answered what I asked,
    Don’t Muslims believe in magic? Isn’t it mentioned in Quran?
    Don’t Muslims believe in bad eye? Isn’t it superstation?
    And don’t you think that like all other attires a Halloween costume can be worn modestly too?
    I can send you pictures of hundreds and thousands of Halloween costumes which are not at all inappropriate.
    Please answer,
    Thanks

    • Avatar

      Iesa Galloway

      October 31, 2013 at 8:56 AM

      @”Zainab” & “Aisha Ahmed” – Salaams, hope you are also going to other folks websites and telling all the Christians and people of other religions who do not want to celebrate Halloween (themselves or in their own families) to find another country to move to as well. You see one of the things that makes America great is that we are free to celebrate or not celebrate… It’s this little, novel concept called the anti-establishment clause and it protects sincerely held religious belief allowing for minorities (of all sorts) to use their conscious and decide what to observe. In fact the tone you all strike in your comments is curious. You’d be better off saving that hostile energy for people trying to restrict your freedoms rather than people exercising their own.

      @Pink – In my mind once something is a part of my religious tradition, (included in the authentic hadith or the Holy Quran) it is no longer a superstition for me, but a matter of belief. Islam like all faiths includes belief in things that are unseen and by non-believers looked at as superstitions. I was simply allowing you your views on what is superstition, but not allowing you to define what is a superstition for me. If you want to see what the quran says about people who disagree on a theological matter here is a basic yet excellent starting point: http://quran.com/109.

      Let’s put to rest the passive aggressive asking of questions with obvious answers. I put forward multiple reasons why Muslim parents would not want to participate in Halloween with their families. You can try to come up with exceptions to them all you like, but frankly I don’t understand why? I never told you what to do, or not to do. Furthermore just because a costume can be modest doesn’t mean that the immodest ones don’t exist or that a parent’s children would not be exposed to things thy wouldn’t want them to be exposed to.

      Our Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us to “Leave that about which you are in doubt for that about which you are in no doubt.” reported in Tirmidhi & “If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.” Recorded in Bukhari

      I believe that Halloween has plenty of things that make it doubtful for practicing Muslims. However I specifically wrote in the article that we shouldn’t be judgemental towards other people, just confident in ourselves and in our decisions and faith. Why does this bother you so much? If it doesn’t let’s consider this a topic put to bed. You do your thing in peace and I’ll keep doing mine.

      God bless you all with the best in this world and the next!

      Iesa Galloway

      • Avatar

        Pink

        October 31, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        If you are saying that that it is your belief not superstation then for those who are celebrating halloween it’s their belief and you should not call it superstation either.
        It is very strange why wouldn’t Muslim parents want their kids to be exposed to a few hours of joy and fun where they even have an option to dress them modestly just like they dress themselves with hijabs etc????
        Just because pagans used to do it it’s bad?? And as far as magic and superstation is concerned Muslims are equally doing the same in the name of Quran and hadayat.
        Quran asks you to do all kind of violent things one example is jihad with a “sword” which is way worst, harmful and unsafe then asking and tricking for treats like candies!!!!
        But since jihad is your belief so there is nothing wrong with it and tricking for candies is some other religion’s belief so there are several shadows in it….

  22. Avatar

    Mark

    October 31, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Oh, thank you. This gave me a good laugh. There is no devil worship on Halloween. That is just stuff from movies or people joking around pretending to do something to scare the people who believe that its real. Also “rewarding” your kids is bribery to force an opinion on them is basically the same as blackmail by your own definition of blackmail even, which is exactly what you suggested. Also you Muslims are big on astrology arent you not? That is rooted in ancient Egyptian and Babylonian societies making it very pagan. Most people do not have an awareness of the origins of halloween customs but because these are not exactly the same as the original pagan rituals i is not really the same as acting as a part of something from another religion. Halloween is more so about the generosity of strangers and just having fun. You have no need to worry about children going along with it since that is all they really see it as. I hope you and any Muslim or even Christian can come to an understanding of that.

    • Avatar

      The Salafi Feminist

      November 1, 2013 at 3:01 AM

      Astrology and all types of fortune telling is forbidden precisely for the reason that it has pagan roots that are antithetical to Islamic beliefs.

      Another reason that Halloween is forbidden is because Islamic explicitly prohibits the annual celebration of any festival outside of the two ‘Eids.

      • Avatar

        Ali

        November 3, 2013 at 6:22 AM

        Your second para is a bit confusing. Where does Islam prohibit celebrating anything outside the 2 Eids?

  23. Avatar

    Mark

    October 31, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    I should clarify more on part of what I said since I came off sounding wrong there. It is okay and good to offer alternative things they can do but youre use of the word “reward” makes it sound as if you want to offer them things only for them to not do Halloween. Activities are good but material things then that would be more of a bribe.

  24. Avatar

    Qasim

    October 31, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Jazaakumullaah khayra for this article.

    A common assumption many people even the Muslims that recently migrated) have ( is that ALL nonmuslims celebrate Halloween. This is far from the truth. Not everybody celebrates Halloween.
    In addition to this well written article by brother Iesa (May Allaah raise your status and widen your knowledge), I will like parents to also read

    http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/onlinediscipleship/halloween/halloween_watt05.aspx

  25. Avatar

    Mona Rox (@Monarox999)

    October 31, 2013 at 5:50 PM

    I can not believe the nutjobs that are here who are telling people to celebrate a holiday that is for devil worshipers! GO LOOK AT THE ROOTS OF HALLOWEEN! even religious christians dont celebrate it! there is a lovely lecture on youtube by a former witch. She said the highest number of murders/animal sacrifices happen on halloween. even witches laugh at these “religious” people who celebrate halloween. You dont see satanists celebrating christmas,hannukah,Eid or any other holiday..why celebrate a holiday made for devil worshipping?
    and taking part in magic is HARAM IN ISLAM! there is no magic done without shirk! meaning you have to commit acts of disbelef in order to get the evil jinn to work with you!

    listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLcNY7IDOTM

  26. Avatar

    Pink

    October 31, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    What about the animal sacrifices done on Eid ul adha?

    • Avatar

      Duston Barto

      September 24, 2014 at 3:45 PM

      You mean where we slaughter animals in a humane fashion to commemorate Allah’s mercy upon us and we distribute meat to the poor?

      What’s your question?

  27. Avatar

    Laila

    October 31, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    I have no problem with a child not celebrating but I was asked to take down my decorations. Why should I as a teacher cater to one parent’s wish? I understand everyone has different beliefs however should your beliefs change mine?

    • Avatar

      Pink

      October 31, 2013 at 9:14 PM

      That parent must be afraid that his/her belief will be in danger if their child looks at those Halloween decorations!!

    • Avatar

      Abdullah

      October 30, 2014 at 9:56 AM

      Dear Laila, the author never said that the school shouldn’t celebrate or that teachers should take down their decorations. His exact words were, “Write a letter 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 you and your children’s concerns.”

      I understood this to mean that we’re explaining to teachers why our kid(s) aren’t dressed up and joining in the celebration.

  28. Avatar

    Yasmeen

    November 1, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    It seems like people missed the point of the post. It isn’t debating whether or not it’s okay to celebrate Halloween. It’s giving tips and ideas to those families who have already made the decision not to.

    • Avatar

      Qasim

      November 1, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      @ Yasmeen
      It not that people missed the point… we continuously try to distinguish between truth and falsehood.
      Some of the excuses these people are giving for saying we should go for Halloween at at best laughable and at worst pitiful.
      We should go back to our “old country” what does that even mean. For some of us the only country we have known is the US and Millions don’t celebrate Halloween. “And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah . They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying.” Q 6:116
      Some of these parents claiming its just a one night fun… Are you saying you don’t have fun with your kids at other times and you have to wait for Halloween to give them candy (if that is your idea of fun)
      It just as bad as some people lying to their kids about the tooth fairy…. and yes some “Muslims” do and some even call their kids “angels”…. if you dwell with the blacksmith you start smelling like one. As my people say… ” A leaf wrapped with soap will soon become soap”… Go figure

      • Avatar

        Yasmeen

        November 4, 2013 at 9:15 AM

        Salam alaikum

        I agree with you. My comment was more directed towards those who were trying to convince others that there isn’t anything wrong with celebrating it. My point was there isn’t anything wrong with not celebrating Halloween and this post was for people who don’t, so I didn’t get what the reasoning is behind justifying celebrating it. ..if that makes any sense.

  29. Avatar

    Jamal

    November 1, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    You know, the Kaaba was once pagan and housed many idols. Today this obviously isn’t the case, it is the center of monotheism. Halloween may have initially been pagan, but today it is all about having fun, for both children and adults. I honestly find it hypocritical that many are quick to boycott and condemn Halloween, yet stand silent when our sisters are oppressed in Saudi Arabia. I mean, they can’t obtain a simple drives license. What we as Muslims should be doing is boycotting the Hajj and refuse to go to Saudi Arabia until the human rights situation changes there. The Qur’an teaches us that oppression is worse that being killed.

    • Avatar

      Pink

      November 1, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      Very well said!!!!

    • Avatar

      Qasim

      November 1, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      The origin of the Kaabah is Monotheism. And then the people changed.. It’s thinking like these (its OK to do Halloween) that may eventually lead to people doing Halloween parties at Masjid… Maybe then you can then compare with people putting idols in the Kaabah.

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      November 2, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      Just a correction. Kaaba was built by Ibrahim (AS) and later on the religion was corrupted and idols added to the Kaaba. So it was initially a symbol of monotheism.

      -Aly
      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

  30. Avatar

    Moi

    November 21, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    I was just thinking, could Muslim children (and adults) participate Halloween so that they don’t celebrate the spirit of Halloween, but still participate as friend. I mean that could they celebrate with other but not for what Halloween stands for but for friendship and fun? I also like to ask that can a child play in reasonable limits in your believes? Could celebrating Halloween count as playing? Something that isn’t supposed to take seriously? Make-believe like Santa in Christianity? Nobody but little children believes Santa, but it’s fun make-believe about giving, friendship and being with closed ones. I’m not a Muslim and there are probably much which I don’t understand, but I’m curious so I asked. Thank you for reading this to an end and there is snowing so I hope happy beginning of winter for everyone! :)

  31. Avatar

    Amberly Callahan

    February 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Halloween has its roots in European paganism, but Americans who go trick-or-treating are not practicing a religion. This holiday has made a completely secular evolution. However, look at our own practices and how they have changed and compare the Quran with what we do in our day-to-day lives. Much of what Muslims do today is not based on Quran, but culture that has melded with the religion and is now passed down to our impressionable children. Before, we shun everything that is western maybe we should check our own closets and make sure that we aren’t adding to or taking away from the Quran. So, many cling to culture and misunderstand what is faith and what is culture.

  32. Avatar

    JJ

    October 27, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    In my personal opinion, as a convert from Christianity to Islam, Halloween is fine. I think that we have far too many people who immigrate to the USA who have a deeply rooted distrust and dislike for everything Western. Especially those things that they do not truly understand. For example, when I got married, I told my husband that we had to “jump the broom”; a lovely African-American wedding tradition. He couldn’t understand why I was so adamant about this. He refused to do it. He didn’t understand it and he refused it.

    In America we have lots of traditions; cultural traditions, religious traditions, etc. Just because something has its roots in one area doesn’t mean it can’t be altered to be more appealing to the mainstream. I don’t conjure spirits on Halloween. I don’t speak to the dead. I don’t believe that the dead are walking free on that one night. Instead, I dress up as a favorite character, go trick-or-treating in my own neighborhood where everyone knows one another, go home watch a Halloween movie like Hocus Pocus, and enjoy the sugar high. Sometimes, I invite friends over and we enjoy Halloween themed treats and games. We bob for apples, we make caramel or candied apples. We make rice krispie treats and chex mix. It’s FUN!

    In my experience as a muslim these past 12 years, everything from birthdays to baby showers to wearing makeup and wearing jeans to Thanksgiving to Halloween is forbidden and frowned upon. I am a proud American and I am proud to have my own traditions. I’m not going to let a first generation American or an immigrant take that away from me especially if I believe in my heart that what I’m doing doesn’t contradict the teachings of Islam.

    Next thing I know, watching TV and reading books will be haram. Oh, but some people already believe that…

    • Avatar

      Amer

      October 27, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Thanks JJ! I completely agree with you on this. We had a great fun Haloween party this Saturday!

    • Avatar

      Maria

      October 30, 2015 at 6:55 AM

      My husband and I just buy a big bag of candy and have a junk food night in front of the tv watching movies and shows…but it’s not wildly different than what we already do on weekends. We do full celebration for Thanksgiving because it is NOT a religious holiday….purely secular and specific to US so I don’t see any harm in it. We don’t full-on participate in Christmas but we do make an effort to be with family because it is important to them to see us. In fact, the only one we really bought a gift for was my brother and that was only because he wasn’t going to have anything at all to open. We will accept gifts from others because we don’t want to hurt their feelings or make it seem like we don’t appreciate their thought and effort. We’re not celebrating it like they are….we are just being there with them in a happy time.

  33. Pingback: HALLOWEEN: 10 TIPS FOR MUSLIM PARENTS | Muslim Moms Blog

  34. Avatar

    Amer

    October 27, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    I love Halloween and Alhumdulilah I’m a muslim. :p

    Happy Halloween Mubarak everybody!

  35. Avatar

    An Educated Muslim!

    November 1, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    Just because your children dress up in costumes or get candy does not mean they will become pagans! Christians and Jews participate in Halloween! Come on! Open your minds a little bit! You are living in a western country! If you don’t like the culture or cultural holidays then move to an Islamic country! I am Muslim do not see anything wrong in Halloween. Allah will not send you to hell for going trick or treating or dressing up in a costume!

  36. Avatar

    Captain Richard M. Wright

    November 9, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    I am not a Muslim, in fact I’m not an anything when it come to religion. I was brought up Protestant Christian and later in life discovered believing in and praying to imaginary invisible magicians is all nonsense.

    That doesn’t mean teaching civil behavior is nonsense though. Whether you call it one of the 10 Commandments or something else, “Thou shalt not steal.” is a good way to behave in a civil society. Most religions do that pretty well. But it’s not neccessary to have any religion at all to understand “Do unto others . . .” In fact, in my opinion, providing a logical understanding of why stealing is not a good idea, rather than telling them it’s some god’s will, is probably a far better way to teach a child how to behave.

    As far as Halloween goes, yes it was/is a pagen celebration of the end of harvest and the beginning of the “period of darkeness” aka Winter. The Catholics tried to hijack it and call it All Saints Day, to remember the dead. Actually I think the pagen meaning is a lot more sensible. But what does it matter who started it, celebrating a bountiful harvest really isn’t all that bad. Hareem, I don’t even know what that means. I will look it up though.

    I do think the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”, unless it goes counter to appropriate, for you, behavior, does make a lot of sense. People who want to “fit in” will generally follow the customs of the locals. Encourage you kids to hang out with their friends whether they are Jewish, Chistian, Budhist, Hindi, or some other religion, or even atheist. They will enjoy the companionship and learn about other cultures. Maybe they will stop believing they should go out and slaughter people of other cultures just because of their religious beliefs.

    As I say, I’m not a Muslim, but I do have a really hard time understanding why the Sunni and the Shia want to shoot, blow up, and otherwise create so much misery for each other. Of course, as an American, and not someone who has to live in that region of the world, it would be easy for me to just laugh at these packs of fools. But I don’t, I feel sorry for them, and their replacing replacing education with religion. The two are just not the same.

    Be happy you are living in a country where your kids can get an education, and where they can learn how to live in the future rather than clinging to how to live in the past. I remember running into a Chinese guy in a store one day and laching as he struggled to speak to me in English while his two young children, 5 or 6, were babbling away in perfect Engilsh. I suppose he could have insisted they communicate in Chinese, but he was smarter than that!

  37. Pingback: Connecticut School Bans Halloween To Avoid Offending People | The Daily Caller

  38. Avatar

    Steve

    October 31, 2015 at 6:49 AM

    “Get the facts” & “Accept reality”. lol

  39. Avatar

    Meri Chutya

    October 31, 2015 at 8:26 PM

    It’s all in fun. When people become so stuffy about things it creates more of a divide. We should instead of saying no we can not do. Teach why we don’t believe in the basis of something. But just because we do not believe we do not shrug. We always enjoy Christmas with out Christian friends. We discuss why we don’t celebrate this as isa’a birthday a and discuss with our kids what the Islamic beliefs about Jesus are. But we then have the same friends that we spend Christmas Eve with spend Eid with us. They then see what we believe and how we celsbrate as do their children.

  40. Avatar

    Jake

    May 28, 2016 at 8:11 PM

    Wow, Muslims are the worst and most boring parents ever, you guys are like that town from footloose that tried to ban dancing and music,lol.

  41. Avatar

    waseem

    October 20, 2016 at 4:47 AM

    Is it really haraam to celebrate Halloween??

  42. Avatar

    Richard V.

    October 30, 2016 at 11:40 AM

    I’ve read through most if not all the replies on this site.
    Some good cultural facts and historical information was presented.
    Some logical arguments presented as well as illogical and emotional attacks.

    Open dialogue leads many groups to find common elements and build a relationship on them.
    It’s when one group starts placing\enforcing severe cultural and belief restrictions (Dogmas) on another group that we run into conflict\violence.
    All belief systems are a forerunner from a previous belief system – that is fact and you can attest it all you want or try to deny it, but all religions sprang from the fading breath of its predecessors.
    Islam \Christianity is no different in how it came to be. http://i.imgur.com/Sm2imkG.jpg
    Just different messengers interpreting the same base message
    – love one another, honor your family and friends, mercy and compassion on those who would do you harm. Give if and when you can for others are doing the same. meaning you yourself will receive- thus a perfect circle.

    I can respect your belief in how you wish to view this world – but when you hide behind dogma you do the world and yourself a disservice.
    The intent of holidays and festivals, where they sprang up and derived are no longer relevant to this day of age as our faith in our belief system will be 2,000 years in the future.
    For now – here and now in the present we are dealing with a global community never before in the history of man.
    We have seen so many cultures come to one point in time and shared their lives, hopes and dreams as well as fears and hatreds that we are ll being affected in one way or another – tis the middle ground we need to forge and create a win\win situation. WE are all created from one source and we will return to it sooner or later. What will be your legacy?.

    My personal take on this issue of Hallows Eve – its a fun time that has been designated on this particular month on this date – to poke fun at those issues that scare us, and horrify us the most. There is evil in the world that is not deniable – cruel hideous, soul ripping evil, done by man to man for whatever dogma you follow. So one time out of the year we get to poke fun at it, let kids know its alright to be afraid, to know you are protected by family as much as possible. Costumes, parties – food are all there to hide the simple fact that death, violence, the “unknown ” scares us. We need to laugh at them in order to move on.
    sorry for the long dissertation – stepping off my soap box and getting chocolate chip cookies and rootbeer, :)

  43. Avatar

    Lail S Hossain

    October 31, 2017 at 4:05 PM

    Thank you for the tips. I shared why we chose not to celebrate Halloween here – http://www.withaspin.com/2015/…/30/no-halloween-celebration/

    And how you can still be gracious if you opt out of trick or treating –
    http://www.withaspin.com/2017/10/31/being-kind-when-opting-out-of-trick-or-treating/

  44. Avatar

    SLD

    October 23, 2018 at 1:24 AM

    Muslims can do whatever they want regarding Halloween. You are just the latest in a long line of insular religions that views mainstream American community life as corrupting to their morals. No one cares, as long as you keep it to yourselves.

    As a non-Muslim, my only request would be that you do not misrepresent American holidays to your children.

    Halloween as currently practiced is a children’s costume holiday. Candy is provided by neighbors who enjoy participating in the fun and seeing children in their costumes. Once they trick-or-treated, now they get to pass out the candy. Businesses also participate to create goodwill with their communities. The vast majority of Americans have fond childhood memories of Halloween.

    Apparently, Muslims choose to interpret this reciprocal fun as “extortion” or “begging” in order to create a negative reaction in their children. Are you really that desperate?

    There are some spooky elements to Halloween, but there are absolutely NO religious or spiritual implications to the holiday anymore. Telling your children that their neighbors are participating in a holiday that celebrates sorcery or ancient paganism is ridiculous and untrue.

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#Life

Like Tinder, But Safer: Troubleshooting Arranged Muslim Marriage

Like many people in my mid-20s, I approached my parents about getting married and initially chose to use a more traditional route. That is to say, creating a resume – or biodata – and sending it to matchmaker aunties. I wanted this approach because I wanted to be able to balance my American, Desi, and Muslim identities. I wanted things to be done in a halal way with my parent’s knowledge. However, over the past 2 years, my experience with the process has left me jaded.

Before I continue, I want to preface with two things. The first is that my parents are wonderful. We’ve butted heads, but I recognize that they are doing what they think is best, via a method that they’re used to. Providing critical feedback of the method should not be taken as critical to my parents.

The second is that while I have critical feedback, I am not intending to discredit the entire process. Meeting people through family is hardly a bad thing, and maybe what some people need. It is very possible that I will still end up using this process. That said, there are changes that need to be made, especially in the modern world. I want to make sure that my younger brothers and sisters can get an idea of what the process is, and what they’re in store for.

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Superficiality

The biodatas that we send and receive are inherently superficial. They are, in total, the person’s education/career, info on their parents and extended family, and pictures. There’s nothing written about the person’s personality barring, perhaps, a few sentences about their interests. This doesn’t provide any real depth of information about the other person at all.

Then there is the emphasis that is placed on the pictures. It is important to acknowledge that physical attraction plays a role in all of this. I think one of my early mistakes was that I was trying to pretend it didn’t matter at all, and that’s not reasonable for a marriage. The problem, however, is that given the lack of personal detail in the written part of the bio-data, we are left with the photo being the most personal piece of information presented. Unless you really care about where a person’s grandfather went to University in the 1940’s, that photo ends up being the most important thing you’re making your choice on.

Like “Tinder, but safer,” a friend said to me, as I explained how these situations played out. That’s not far off from how the experience played out for me. We’re not given much time to make a decision on the bio-data, so the result is the superficial, un-Islamic swipe based on attractiveness alone.

How many times have I heard, “Oh, she’s too fat,” or “Oh, she’s too short,” or “Too tall,” or “She’s pretty dark isn’t she?” Bengali speakers will recognize the word “moyla,” [dirty] used to describe women who are slightly darker, which is terribly problematic.

It’s not just that women are being chosen based on their looks alone, but on top of that, they’re being held to Eurocentric notions of what is deemed attractive. We’re all being held hostage to a standard designed by and for an entirely different race of people, and I have been told that it would be weird for me to be attracted to a darker-skinned woman because in the minds of many, dark skin is undesirable.

The superficiality is worse for women, but even as a guy I felt it. I’m fine with how I look, but you can only hear, “Oh, your face looks weird in that picture,” or, “He’s not tall enough,” so many times before it starts to mess with you. Men face another superficial judgment as well: the problem with men being reduced to their ability as moneymakers. I’m a graduate student and there are people in my class who have a spouse and children and are making it by just fine on the stipend we receive. But, inevitably, it will come up that I’m not making tons of money, so how can I support a family? While recognizing that men do have an Islamic responsibility to financially support their families, it troubles me that the process boils men down to one thing and one thing only – money, and not just having enough of it, but lots of it.

Age

I’m relatively young, 27 in May, and so when I started this process two years ago, I told my parents that I was willing to go +/- 3 years, just because I thought that would be a good range to encompass people I’d have some similarities with. However my prospect of an older wife – even a day older – was rejected with quite some vigor. I’ve been disqualified from matching with some women because they were born just a couple of months before I was.

The majority of the biodatas sent to me are of women still in college, between the ages of 19 and 22. It doesn’t matter when I say that’s too young, or how that I feel like I’d be taking advantage of someone who hasn’t fully grown up yet. I get told that I’m wrong.

Do you know how many random aunties and uncles have told me that a 7-8 year age gap is necessary to make a marriage work because otherwise, the women “will demand too much?” It’s shocking that I’m being told specifically that I need a wife young enough to be manipulated and shaped to my desires. When I push back on this, I’m, again, told that I’m weird.

I’m being constantly told to reconsider my age preferences as if wanting to marry a woman in her mid-20’s is a weird thing to do when I myself am in my mid-20’s. The sheer number of times I face this makes me think it’s an inherent flaw in how our cultures think, and not something unique to my situation. This is to say nothing of the fact that people will, to our face, tell me (26) that I’m too young for marriage, but my sister (25) is rapidly passing her expiration date.

Race

As a Bengali man, I have no problem marrying a woman of Bengali descent, but it’s annoying that even in 2020, it’s seen as a taboo to marry outside of your race in Desi culture. I personally have had it conceded to me, that if I choose an Indian or Pakistani woman on my own, that might be ok, but nothing else. Not an Arab. Certainly not someone with (black) African descent. And a white/Hispanic/black convert would cause a genuine scandal.

And even this concession is not universal, as there are many Bengali parents I know who will not let their child marry anyone outside of their own culture. Even when people have pushed through it and married outside of their ethnic backgrounds, there is still gossip and concern as to how the parents could “let this happen.”

Going into this I thought, “Well, all I have to do is show a few videos from Imams talking about how inter-racial marriages shouldn’t be taboo for Muslims,” but it doesn’t matter how many of these clips I show, it falls on deaf ears.

I understand the concern of losing culture and heritage to life in the West, I get it. But if I want to teach my kids about their Bengali roots I can do that with a wife of any background, and if I don’t want to teach them, having a Bengali wife isn’t going to make me any more likely to do so.

Ultimately, the feeling I get is that the older generation wants in-laws who they can go and have chai and gossip with, to do traditional things they saw their parents do with their in-laws. And again, while I empathize with the desire to do something familiar, this seems like an unhealthy reason to dictate why your children can’t marry someone from another race or culture.

Classism

I understand that families need to mesh and that it makes things easier if there are similarities that exist. However, in what world am I reading a biodata and seeing what a woman’s uncle does for a living, and then deciding that she’s marriage material?

It doesn’t work for me that way, but it works on the minds of the older generation, and there are even ways of working the class distinction to your advantage. Uncles in the community have actually told me that marrying into a “lower class” may be good if you want someone to be subservient to you because they’re thankful you brought them to your status. But they’ve also told me that marrying a “higher-class” woman isn’t bad either, because a rich father-in-law could have its perks. Caveat- beware of them being snobby with you, since you may be expected to be thankful, subservient one instead.

I can’t even wrap my head around what people are talking about here, but it’s yet another factor that I end up having to deal with during this process.

Religion

I want a wife who cares about the deen and prays 5 times a day, and I want this not to be a controversial take.

I have been told that’s unrealistic. Literally a couple of weeks ago, an auntie told my sister that ‘modern women’ do not pray regularly and so I should not expect that in a future wife. She said this, of course, to my sister who is both a modern woman and someone who prays five times a day without fail.

It’s crazy to be told that I’m being too picky because I want a wife who already has her religious-ness established. I have been told, by both aunties and uncles, that it’s better for me to marry a wife who isn’t too religious yet so that I can shape her deen. This isn’t about mutual growth in faith as you may hope for in a marriage. This is about controlling women with religion by only teaching her what I want to teach her. When older women tell you this, it raises so many concerns about what they’ve been through and what they want future generations of women to go through.

When I tell people I want a religious wife, they seem to translate that as subservient to me, not Allah. And that scares me. I don’t mean to fetishize anybody, but I want a wife whose religion drives to be bold, to stand up for what’s right, to be outspoken. I want to partner with someone whose religiosity pushes me to be a better version of myself, not to do what she’s told.

Marry Back Home

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me, as someone who has lived their entire life in the US, to think that I’ll mesh much better with someone with a similar background. This isn’t universal, some people will genuinely get along better with people from “back home,” and that’s fine, but this needs to be a personal choice.

Yet, I keep getting told that it would be better for me to marry from “back home.” I have been told, straight up, if you bring a wife over here, she’ll be more “indebted,” to me because I brought her to America. Setting aside that I don’t want to marry someone who just wants to marry me for a Green Card, why would I want to marry someone who feels like they owe me?

I fail to see how marrying from “back home” is an issue of compatibility in this case, it feels way more like an issue of subservience.

You can see here that the concern isn’t about finding a spouse who matches with my personality, it’s about finding someone who’ll come and cook and clean and bear children for me without speaking up about it because they feel like they owe me. Which segues to…

Gender Roles

I want to preface this section by saying that this is one topic where my parents haven’t, at all, been the source of my concerns, but rather, this something that comes up when talking to certain members of the community.

For men, there is an emphasis on making money to provide for a family, and for women, raising children and taking care of the home. There’s no problem with this model, but it is not the only model. It’s a valid option, but I am being told it’s my only choice.

In the eyes of many, the preference is to pick a homemaker. This seems at odds with the desire to select a woman with a good education, making it seem that I’m then not expected to let her utilize that education professionally. After all, it could be embarrassing for me if my wife makes more than me, and I have been told to be careful, because a wife who makes too much money could be “too independent.”

I must also be careful to stay in my exclusive role as a moneymaker too, and not try to go beyond that. I had pictures with my nephews in biodata because they mean the world to me. I was told to take them out because somehow a man taking care of children is deemed…bad?. I also like cooking. I once said this to an auntie and I remember her saying, “Why do you like doing girl’s stuff?”

Quite bluntly, I don’t want a wife who will only cook and clean and raise children for me. I want someone I can share those duties with because they’re my equal partner, an idea that, to me, keeps getting glossed over in this process. Every couple deserves the opportunity to figure their marriage out for themselves.

Quick Marriages

There are limits to what we can(‘t) do as Muslims. I understand that we shouldn’t have 3 year-long courtships or live together before getting married, and I am not advocating that. But we should be allowed some time to make such an important decision. I’ve been shown bio-datas and have been expected to come back with an answer in two days – just two days – about whether the information on this piece of paper is the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.

Please, can we have a few months? Can we talk, and try to make sure that this is the decision we want to make (chaperoned)? When reviewing potential spouses, try to make sure everyone is one the same page about how much time you give to each other in order to avoid heartbreak and confusion.

Nature Of Relationship With Parents

My parents and I have a pretty good relationship. It’s relatively open and comfortable, but it’s still a Desi parent-child dynamic. Expressing a dissenting opinion is disrespectful, which means it can be harder to speak up without fear of disappointing them.

Plus, my parents and I never openly spoke about sex or physical attraction, at least not in-depth. To go from that to suddenly having to talk to your parents about the physical aspects that you’re looking for in a wife is awkward, and it can lead to miscommunication.

It’s a culture clash on top of a generational one. I have a hard time articulating what I want to my parents, and it’s not easy to figure out. If you know this before starting the process, you can make an effort to speak as openly about things as you can. You can even recruit an older cousin or friend, or an Imam you trust to help you. Don’t do what I did and go by yourself, have people to support you to make sure you and your parents are communicating well.

In Conclusion

It’s not reasonable to expect that you’ll get everything you want in a spouse. There will be compromises that are made, whether they be with yourself or with what your parents want. But don’t sacrifice on the points most important to you. Determine those, know what your must-haves are, and negotiate on other things. Make sure your potential spouse is on board. It can be awkward, especially with how many of us were raised, but talk to your potential spouse about these important things.

While this was a reflection of my own experience, I place emphasis on the aspects I feel are more universal. Speaking to other Desi Muslims in my age bracket, it certainly does seem that my concerns are relatively common. Obviously, there are individual factors that are at play, but these were things that came up regularly when speaking to elders in the community.

I also, again, want to stress that this isn’t an attack on my parents. While I have a level of frustration with how this situation has played out, I recognize that this is what they’re used to. And to their credit, they have made some concessions. Furthermore, it’s not just parents who are playing a role in this. The (often unwarranted) voices of certain elders are given undue emphasis, and that, I think has complicated the situation even further.

Ultimately, I’m not telling people that they shouldn’t consider arrangements or biodata, but if you do, then you must openly discuss this with your parents. Make sure they know what you want, and stand firm if it’s something important, even if it complicates things. It may put a strain on your relationship with your parents, but it’s better to open about things now than to have anger and resentment towards them for years later.

I’ll end with a specific piece of advice to the brothers: You have a duty to learn about why these issues are red flags and to push back on them yourselves. Women can be labelled as too rebellious if they push back themselves, and we need to be aware of this. Speak up for your (biological) sisters, family members, and friends when you notice their discomfort. Make sure you establish with your potential spouse that she is actually on board with the process, not just going along with it because she feels that she needs to. It might be awkward, but it’s important to establish a clear line of communication with someone even before you get married.

May Allah bless us all with happy, healthy, and fruitful marriages. Ameen

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Black Youth Matter: Stopping the Cycle of Racial Inequality in Our Ranks

In Malcolm X’s Letter from Mecca, he said, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.” Yet, as Muslims living in America, we are not fulfilling our role in eradicating racism from our own ranks. We are making race our problem. With so much injustice plaguing the world, the time is now to embrace the youth, celebrate their diversity, and let them know there is a place for them in Islam.

As we joined the rest of America in celebrating Black History Month and commemorating the legacy of the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., with tweets, infographics, and sharing famous quotes, racism and colorism continue to plague the Muslim community. 

When we hear of a weekend course about the illustrious muadhin of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Bilal Ibn Raba’ah, may Allah be pleased with him, or a whitewashed cartoon movie based loosely on his life, we flock to the location. When the imam retells his story during a Friday sermon, we listen intently and feel inspired, we smile in awe upon hearing about his fortitude in the face of incessant torture. We cry while reliving the part where he enters the city of Makkah alongside the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) victorious, and calls the adhan atop the Ka’aba. 

Then, we leave. 

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We return to our homes and all but forget about it until the next time he is brought up— unless we are Black Muslims. Like King, his impact comes in waves, maybe once a year like MLK Day or like Black History Month, for many of us. Yet, there were more Black companions and renowned Black Muslims in our history, just as there were countless civil rights leaders who fought for racial equality in America. For many of us who are not American of African descent, we live our lives unperturbed by the implications of ignoring the racial disparities that exist within our own places of worship.

However, it is our youth that bear the brunt of this injustice. 

A few weeks ago, I witnessed an incident that made me reflect deeply on the effects of racism and fear on our youth and the Muslim community. After picking up my son from middle school in Baltimore County, I drove to a nearby 7-Eleven for some snacks. While I was standing in line to pay for my groceries, I noticed that the man behind the counter was Muslim. From his outward appearance, accent, and name tag, I guessed he was South Asian. We greeted each other with salaam, a smile, and a head nod of camaraderie.

As he was ringing up my items, a group of chattery students still in school uniforms, approached the entrance of the convenience store. The cashier looked up horrified, and in mid transaction swung his arm back and forth as if swatting a fly. I turned to look at who he was gesturing to and saw the children were swinging the door open to enter. They were about 6 African American children from the same public middle school as my son. In his school, each grade level wears a different color polo with khaki pants as part of their uniform, so I could tell that most of them were in his same grade level.

“No! No! No!” the cashier cried harshly, “Out!”

I turned to him grimacing in disbelief, surprised at his reaction to the kids and then I noticed his expression. He had a look on his face of fear coupled with disgust.

One child cheerfully told him, “I got money, man!” My head turned back and forth from the students to the cashier. He reluctantly said, “Fine,” but as more students followed, he added sternly, “Three at a time!” I wondered if this was a rule when one of the girls in the group said, “Yeah, three at a time y’all,” and the majority stayed back, as if they were familiar with the routine. Some of them rolled their eyes, others laughed, but they remained outside the door. The cashier followed the ones who entered with his eyes intently as he finished bagging my items. He looked genuinely concerned. I tried to make light of the situation and get his attention away from the children, asking, “The kids give you a hard time, huh?” He smiled and nodded nervously, but I was not satisfied with his answer. 

As I swiped my debit card to pay, I felt troubled. My maternal instincts were telling me that I should defend these children. I felt anger and helplessness at the same time. These kids were tweens or barely 13 years old, yet they were being judged because of the color of their skin. There was no other logical explanation. They were not rowdy or reckless, not any more than any other child their age. They did not look menacing; in fact, they were all smiling and joking with one another.

Yet, this cashier, my Muslim brother, was looking at them as if they were a threat. The same way some white American may look at a Muslim sporting a beard and thobe boarding a plane.  

I tried to find excuses for his behavior. Perhaps he had a bad experience, or he was having a bad day. Could some of the kids from the middle school have stolen something before and this prompted his apprehension? There is some crime in this neighborhood located in the southwestern part of Baltimore County, on the outskirts of the City. Could he have suffered from some type of trauma that led to his anxiety? Maybe there was a fight in his store one day? Yet, even if any of these assumptions were true, I still felt like he was overreacting.

After all, these were just kids.

In Dr. Joy Degruy’s book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, she mentions that policing continues to represent one of the most pervasive and obvious examples of racial inequality; one that even the youth are unable to avoid. She cites an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, highlighting a study by UCLA, the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Boston, Massachusetts, Penn State, and University of Pennsylvania that investigated how black boys were perceived as it related to childhood innocence. They found, “converging evidence that black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their white same-age peers.” Consequently, African American youth are often unfairly singled out as troublemakers. 

They found, “converging evidence that black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their white same-age peers.” Consequently, African American youth are often unfairly singled out as troublemakers. Click To Tweet

On November 22, 2014, a 12-year-old African American child, like my son and his middle school peers, was fatally shot by police while he played with a toy gun in a playground. The child, Tamir Rice, was just a young boy playing cheerfully outdoors, but police officers regarded him a threat, demonstrating the ghastly reality of the above-mentioned study. After hearing about this atrocity, I remember telling my own children that they can never play outside with nerf guns or water pistols, out of fear of this happening to them. This is the type of world our children are living in. As Muslims, why do we choose to be part of the problem and not its solution?

Black youth

Junior football team huddling together

As I walked through the door and past the group in front of the 7-Eleven, all I could think about is that the kids were no different than my son who was sitting in the car, hungry, waiting for me to bring him some food. The only difference was that I was there to defend him, if need be. The children did not have an adult to stand up for them against the discrimination to which they were being subjected. I felt guilty for not saying more. I also remembered an incident where a group of African American youth were turned away from the tarawih prayers at a local mosque, not too far from the 7-Eleven, during the month of Ramadan, because they were perceived to be “too rowdy.” This prompted me to write about this incident; to speak up for them now, and to remind myself and other Muslims that the Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us compassion. 

He said, “Whoever does not show mercy to our young ones, or acknowledge the rights of our elders, is not one of us.” (Musnad Ahmad)

Even when a bedouin came into the masjid, the House of Allah – a place much more sacred than any convenience store – and urinated, yes urinated there, he still treated him with dignity. (Muslim)

The students standing at the door of the 7-Eleven were just going in for a snack. Even if they had been misbehaving, the gentleman at the counter could have addressed them with kindness. Similarly, the youth at the local mosque just wanted to pray tarawih. Now imagine the impact it had on them to be turned away from praying with their brethren during the month of Ramadan. 

I sat in the car where my son was waiting and found him looking out the window, unaware of what was happening. We were parked far from the entrance.

“Do you know any of those kids?” I asked him. “Yeah, the girl on the right is in my gym class,” he said.

My heart sank more and as we sat in the car, I wondered, what would have been the cashier’s reaction if the kids had been white? More than likely, he would not have treated them the same way. This racial profiling leads to devastating consequences. A recent news report by WUSA9 revealed that the state of Maryland leads the nation in incarcerating young black men, according to experts at the Justice Policy Institute. Their November Policy Briefs for 2019 entitled, Rethinking Approaches to Over Incarceration of Black Young Adults in Maryland, revealed that disparity is most pronounced among emerging adults, or youth ages 18-24, where, “Nearly eight in 10 people who were sentenced as emerging adults and have served 10 or more years in a Maryland prison are black. This is the highest rate of any state in the country.”

“Nearly eight in 10 people who were sentenced as emerging adults and have served 10 or more years in a Maryland prison are black. This is the highest rate of any state in the country.” Click To Tweet

What was most troubling about the incident at the 7-Eleven was that the students had been conditioned; they were already used to being treated that way. It was routine for them and business as usual for the Muslim cashier. While he may believe that he is doing the right thing, by averting a potential “problem,” the harm that he is causing has greater ramifications. He is adding to the trauma these children are already experiencing being black in America. Black students in Baltimore County were not even allowed by law to earn an education past 5th grade in 1935, and 65 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, the county’s schools are still highly segregated. Local and federal leadership in America have continuously failed African Americans, and it is disheartening to think that the immigrant Muslim community is headed in the same direction. 

I was haunted by this incident and returned to the 7-Eleven a week later to ask the cashier or the owner of the store about their (mis)treatment of the middle schoolers. I parked directly in front of the glass doors of the entrance and it was there where I saw a sign typed in regular white computer paper that read, “AT A TIME NO MORE THAN THREE (3) SCHOOL KIDS ARE ALLOWED IN THE STORE & please do not bring bags inside the store. Thanks.” I had not seen the sign before, maybe I overlooked it the day of the occurrence. Nevertheless, I went inside and spoke with the owner of the franchise, a Muslim gentleman who greeted me with salaam. I asked him about the sign outside the door and the reason why the middle schoolers were treated like would-be criminals. He explained that students from local schools have stolen goods from the convenience store on many occasions. To prevent this, they established a rule that only three unaccompanied school children could enter at a time and they were not allowed to bring their backpacks. The owner further added that crime and vandalism were prevalent in the area. Unfortunately, because this side of town is predominately African American, the blame falls disproportionately on this group. 

Nevertheless, patrolling and intimidating the African American youth in the area is not the solution. As Dr. Degruy stated in her book, “The powerful oppress the less powerful, who in turn oppress those even less powerful than they. These cycles of oppression leave scars on the victims and victors alike, scars that embed themselves in our collective psyches and are passed down through generations, robbing us of our humanity.”

A thirty-four-year veteran police officer named Norm Stamper wrote a book about racism in the criminal justice system entitled, Breaking Rank, (2005) and he mentioned that, “It is not hard to understand why people of color, the poor, and younger Americans did not, and do not, look upon the police as ‘theirs’… Do the police protect ‘the weak against oppression or intimidation’ or do they oppress and intimidate the very people they’ve sworn to protect?” Likewise, this young generation will begin to see Muslims of all colors as no different, if we take the role of the oppressor. 

When Abu Dharr insulted Bilal ibn Rabah, may Allah be pleased with them, by calling him, “O son of a black woman!” and the Prophet, peace be upon him heard of this, he rebuked Abu Dharr and said to him, “By the One who revealed the Book to Muhammad, no one is better than another except by righteous deeds. You have nothing but an insignificant amount.” We may have read or heard this and other narrations before, however, we fall short in implementing these teachings.

In Malcolm X’s Letter from Mecca, he said, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.” Yet, as Muslims living in America, we are not fulfilling our role in eradicating racism from our own ranks. We are making race our problem. With so much injustice plaguing the world, the time is now to embrace the youth, celebrate their diversity, and let them know there is a place for them in Islam.

Sometimes it takes one person to stand up and point out the wrong to set the right tone. The sign at the 7-Eleven in my neighborhood has been taken down.

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No-Nuptial Agreements: Maybe Next Time, Don’t Get Married

marriage

 “Nikah is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me.”

–Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Narrated by Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)

Many Muslims have experienced marriage, then suffered a subsequent divorce as a financial, emotional, and social meat grinder. Some critics have noted the divorce system seemingly exists primarily to benefit itself; the lawyers: mental health experts, investigators, forensic accountants.

They form an entire industry dedicated to extracting the wealth of a disintegrating family, often forcing the middle class or working class into poverty and bankruptcy. All of this happens without any noticeable benefit to society. It’s a self-licking ice cream cone.

For many, divorce happens multiple times. A divorced person who gets remarried is more likely to get divorced again.

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While men often complain about how the “family court” system is against them, the reality is that women often bear the financial brunt of divorce. Divorce is more likely to drive women to bankruptcy than men.

After one or two divorces and a few lost years of retirement savings or a decade or more of home equity, another “marriage” starts to look downright irrational. My advice to such people: stop getting married, at least under state law. Get a nikah and a “no-nuptial agreement” instead. Allow me to explain.

Fun with Words

It is impossible to have a meaningful conversation about virtually anything unless we have a common understanding of the meaning of words we are using.

In law, even ordinary words have definitions that defy conventional understanding or even common sense. Basic familial terms like “son,” “daughter,” “father,” and “mother” have state law definitions that are different from what those words mean in Islam or our understanding. Under state law, “parents” can adopt adult “children” a similar age to them or even older, and have the same status as a biological child. In Islam, an adopted child is not the same as a biological child and does not have rights to inheritance in Islam.

In law, even words like “life” and “death” don’t always mean what you think they mean. A living person can go to court to dispute his death, demonstrate he is living, breathing, speaking, and everyone agrees he is the “dead person” in question, yet, he is ruled legally dead. Famously, corporations are legally people and are immortal.

Law is not the same thing as truth.

Similarly, it is folly to conflate nikah, the thing that exists in Islam, with marriage under state law. In different states, rules for who and under what circumstances people can get married can vary. One thing that all the state law definitions have in common is that they are not marriage in Islam.

What is Marriage?

For marriage, there is a state law definition, there is an Islamic definition, and there is the definition that the individual married couple has. Under state law, two men can be married to each other, but three men cannot be. In Islam, marriage (let’s call it nikah to be more precise) is a halal social and sexual relationship, and there are rules in the fiqh that are different from state law.

Under some state laws, “secret marriages” with no witnesses or publicly available registration are part of the law and commonly used. In Islam, there is a witness requirement for nikah. None of the rules in Islam require the state’s approval for nikah.

The third definition is how each couple sees their marriage. It is a flexible institution. To the extent it is an economic, social or familial partnership can vary widely. Couples may live together or apart. They may have one income or two.  They may share the same social circles or share none of them. The variations are endless.

Domestic Partnerships

For most of the history of legal marriage in the United States, marriage can only be between one man and one woman. States started allowing for “domestic partnerships” to give some “benefits” of marriage to same-sex couples, like employer health benefits and hospital visitation.

In many instances, these were available almost exclusively to same-sex couples, even after same-sex marriage became part of the law in all states. However, as of January 2020, California opened up domestic partnerships to everyone, including different-sex couples.

As a practical matter, domestic partnerships are simply state-sanctioned marriage by another name. It is notable though some jurisdictions may have limited domestic partnerships that are something less than marriage. In most states that have it, the same family law system, for good or ill, that comes with marriage under state law is also true of domestic partnerships.

While domestic partnership combined with a nikah is available to Muslims in states where it exists, there is no real advantage to using it.

No-Nuptial Agreements

For decades now, in the United States, there has been no taboo against men and women openly having sexual relationships with each other, living and raising families together outside marriage. Courts have long recognized these people should have contractual rights with each other.

When a man and women live together, those involved may be gaining something and giving something up. So if a man promises a woman something, and the agreement is not founded merely on sexual services, the state should enforce those promises, not in family court but civil court.

Marvin started it all

The principle case that established this is the California case of Marvin v. Marvin in 1976. A couple broke up, but the woman wanted to enforce promises made to her by the man. The man felt such a commitment should not be enforceable because, among other reasons, he was legally married to a completely different woman when this non-marital relationship started. Under California law, at the time (abolished by the time the case got to the court), this was criminal adultery.

No-nuptial agreements (sometimes called cohabitation agreements or Marvin agreements) can be used by couples when they want to have enforceable contracts but do not want to subject themselves to the family court system or the family code. They can include provisions of mahar, sharing expenses, equity as well as dispute resolution processes like arbitration and mediation.

The couple can also document limits on what they agreed to to what is in writing. For example, during a breakup, one party may be able to claim an oral promise the other party never made and potentially have it enforced in court. A written agreement protects both parties and the understanding they had when they entered into the relationship.

These agreements have a broad utility for many different kinds of couples. However, for some couples, the main benefit would be documentation that nobody is under the illusion that this is a marriage under state law. It is a private contract between two individuals.

Example of a No-Nuptial Agreement

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren. Both want to put their adult children at ease that this relationship does not exist for predatory financial reasons – a common fear when parents marry later in life.

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren.Click To Tweet

Salma and Sheher Ali do not plan to live together, which is common for couples their age. They mostly pay for their expenses themselves. They may spend the night at each other’s homes whenever they want but will split time with their separate children, grandchildren and social circles. Sheher Ali pays for joint vacations and outings. He agreed to a mahar. Both agree in writing they did not marry under state law.

Sheher Ali and Salma can still call each other husband and wife, since that is true for them and everyone they know. Both keep all of their finances separate, and each does their independent estate planning where they name each other as partial beneficiaries of their estates as required in Islam. The two also complete HIPAA forms allowing each to see the other’s private medical information and name each other in Advance Healthcare Directives so they can make healthcare decisions for each other.

Legal Strangers

Unmarried couples are “legal strangers.” Doctors won’t share healthcare information. Islamic spouses don’t get an inheritance from a no-nuptial agreement spouse by default. They don’t get things like tenancy by the entirety, community property, or elective shares in places where such things exist. As I described above, though, this can be remedied. However, as I described in the example above, the “legal stranger” aspect of the relationship may be more of a benefit than a downside in some cases.

Some “benefits” of marriage under state law are against Islamic principles.  For example, some state laws that provide for “elective shares” are diametrically opposed to the Quran’s share of inheritance.  Muslims must follow Islamic rules of inheritance anyway, which are different from default state rules, so being under state law is no special advantage. Even with proper planning, the downsides of the “legal stranger” problem still may come up in extraordinary contexts, however, such as lawsuits.

Immigration and Taxes

Another concern is that employee benefits to spouses and dependents don’t generally extend to those with no-nuptial agreements. Immigration law does not allow a path to the United States through the “family unification ” process for those with a no-nuptial contract. Marriage under state law (or the law of a foreign country recognized in the United States) may be the most practical solution in such cases.

In some cases, state-sanctioned marriage may lead to lower taxes. Other legally married couples may experience the so-called “marriage penalty” and pay higher taxes than couples with a no-nuptial agreement. Couples may often find they will pay less in taxes with a no-nuptial agreement than they would if they were married under state law.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

One may wonder, to avoid the “meat grinder” of the family court system, why not just get a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? It’s accurate that in general, having such arrangements are superior to not having them. These agreements offer greater certainty, though by no means total confidence, on how a divorce would end. There are disadvantages to such an agreement over no-nuptial agreements, however. A big one is that divorce is still in the family court system.

Many Muslim men, especially immigrants, may perceive cultural biases cause a stacked deck against them in family court. The nature of these agreements may make this perception worse. Sometimes, courts treat prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with a presumption of coercion. It is different from an ordinary contract. The family court system is often free to be more paternalistic and make a husband prove he did not force his wife to sign a document.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which will be worded differently in the different states that adopted it, provides for a process to make these marital agreements harder to defeat. However, the process is perhaps arguably more expensive, cumbersome, and awkward for a couple than a no-nuptial contract. Talking about a prenuptial agreement with a fiancé may be more uncomfortable than bringing up a no-nuptial arrangement and nikah. Without a state-sanctioned marriage, a written agreement is essential. Many people perceive the pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements as both optional and, perhaps unfairly, as a sign of mistrust.

Custody and Child Support

Unfortunately, there is no agreement you can come up with that will pre-settle child support and custody. A judge will decide those things.

It does not matter if you have a “plain vanilla” marriage governed entirely by your state’s family code, a prenuptial agreement, or a no-nuptial agreement. Children are not parties to such a contract. No court anywhere will subject a child’s care and welfare to such things.

For custody and child support, courts in family court will use the sometimes hard to define standard of “best interests of the child.” One Massachusetts family law attorney in a popular divorce documentary cryptically joked that she called children in the system  “little bags of money.” They are often a significant reason family law cases are so profitable for lawyers, mental health professionals, investigators, and everyone else.

No Protection for Poor Life Choices

A good rule to follow is never to do nikah with a person capable of having children unless you are sure she or he can be trusted to raise your future children, and you have made peace with making child support payments to this individual if your relationship ends. If you have a child, you may be suck with a child support order. There is no getting out of this one.

As an Islamic estate planning lawyer, the most important advice I can ever give anyone is not to get a proper estate plan. It is not to get a good lawyer. Of course those things are good, indeed no-brainers, but they have limits. The most important advice is to choose a spouse wisely. If you fail here, there is no law, no lawyer or document in existence that can turn back the clock. A no-nuptial agreement may make a future breakup easier than a family court divorce. There is still no guarantee it won’t be a complete mess anyway. Good documents are never a substitute for poor life choices.

“The Law of the Land”

Islamic institutions like masajid are conservative don’t like taking needless risks, as they should be. Many will not officiate a nikah unless there is a marriage license. They usually will not officiate bigamous marriages, on account of it being illegal.  Of course bigamy, like marriage, has a specific legal definition under state law. One almost universal refrain is that as Muslims we need to follow “the law of the land.”

No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the 'law of the land.' It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is. Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam.Click To Tweet

But what if that term did not mean what you think it means? No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the “law of the land.” It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is.  Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam. Recently, the Islamic Institute of Orange County, a large masjid in the Los Angeles area, changed its nikah officiating policy. Instead of always requiring marriage certificates, they will also recognize no-nuptial agreements.

Masajid Should Welcome No-Nuptial Agreements

Masajid should have standardized policies and procedures in place. Every masjid should have carefully considered policies to protect the vulnerable and the institution. No masjid wants to open themselves up to a “drive-by nikah” or other nonsense. One policy may well include mandating a no-nuptial agreement when there is no marriage certificate. There is no reason to believe one protects people and institutions better than the other.

Nikah is a vital sunnah for us. It is not something that should be in the shadows, secret, or something shameful. It is fundamental to how we organize our families and communities. When it’s done right, it helps us strengthen our iman, bring us closer to our communities and our loved ones. State definitions of words should not always be your guide to right and wrong.

It is appropriate that Muslims want to do the sunnah of nikah at the masjid, publicly and with friends and family watching.  We should recognize and celebrate every new couple that has done a nikah in our communities. Never mind the state has not sanctioned it.

The state statute book has its definition, we have ours.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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