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Halloween: 10 Tips For Muslim Parents

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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:

“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.

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.

        • Avatar

          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!!!

    • Avatar

      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

        • Avatar

          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

      • Avatar

        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.

    • Avatar

      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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Challenges of Identity & Conviction: The Need to Construct an Islamic Worldview

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He squirmed in his seat as his Middle East history professor–yet again–made a subtle jab about Islam, this time about the jizyah.  This professor claimed to be pro-Arab and pro-Islam and was part of a university department that touted itself for presenting history and narratives that are typically left out of the West’s Eurocentric social studies sequence. Still, she would subjectively only present an Orientalist interpretation of Islam. Ahmad* sighed. He felt bad just thinking about what all his classmates at this esteemed university thought about Islam and Muslims. He was also worried about fellow Muslims in his class who had not grown up in a practicing household-what if they believed her? He hated how she was using her position as the “sage” in the room to present her bias as absolute truth. As for himself, he knew deep down in his bones that what his professor was alleging just could not be true. His fitrah was protesting her coy smile as she knowingly agitated the few Muslims in her class of one-hundred-fifty.  Yet, Ahmad had never studied such topics growing up and felt all his years of secondary education left him ill-equipped as a freshman in college.  He tried to search for answers to her false accusations after class and approached her later during office hours, but she just laughed him off as a backward, orthodox Muslim who had obviously been brainwashed into believing the “fairy tale version” of Islam. 

***

Asiyah* graduated as class valedictorian of her Islamic school. She loved Biology and Physics and planned to major in Engineering at a top-notch program. While both family, friends, and peers were proud of her (some maybe even wishing they were in her shoes), they had no idea of the bitter inner struggle that was eating away at her, tearing her up from the inside out. Her crisis of faith shook her to the core and her parents were at their wits’ end. While she prayed all her prayers and even properly donned her hijab, deep down she felt……..sort of….……atheist.  Physics was her life–her complete being. She loved how the numbers just added up and everything could be empirically proven. But this led to her greatest anguish: how could certain miraculous events during the time of the Blessed Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) have occurred? How could she believe in events that were physically and scientifically impossible?  She felt like an empty body performing the rituals of Islam.

*names changed

***

An Unwelcome Surprise

Islam is a way of life. Its principles operate in every avenue of one’s life. However, English, History, Science and Mathematics are often taught as if they are beyond the scope of Islam. It is commonly assumed that moral teaching happens, or should happen, only in the Islamic Studies class. Yet, if we compare what is being taught in the Islamic Studies class with what is being taught consciously or unconsciously in other classes, an unwelcome surprise awaits us. Examining typical reading material in English classes, for example, reveals that too much of the material is actually going against Islamic norms and principles. Some of the most prominent problems with traditional English literature (which directly clash with Islamic moral and ethical principles) include: the mockery of God and religion, the promotion of rebellion against parents and traditional family values, the normalization of immoral conduct such as lying and rude behavior, and the condoning of inappropriate cross-gender interactions. Additionally, positive references about Islamic culture are either nonexistent or rare. Toxic themes of secularism, atheism, materialism, liberalism, and agnosticism are constantly bombarding our young Muslim students, thus shaping the way in which they view and interact with the world.

Corrective Lens: The Worldview of Islam

We need our children to develop an Islamic worldview, one that provides a framework for Muslims to understand their world from the perspective of the Qur’an.  It is impossible for the Islamic Studies classes alone to successfully teach Islamic behavior and nurture moral commitment unless the other classes also reflect the Islamic worldview- an outlook that emphasizes the idea that all our actions should be focused on pleasing Allah and doing good for ourselves and others. Therefore, the majority of what is taught in all academic disciplines should be based on Islamic values, aiming to improve the life of the student by promoting sublime ethical conduct. The unfortunate reality is quite the opposite: a typical child in a school in the West spends a minimum of 576 periods (16 periods of core classes/week * 4 weeks/month * 9 months) of classroom instruction annually on academic subjects that are devoid of Islam and contain minimal teaching of morality that aligns with Islamic principles. How much Islam a child learns depends on whether their parents choose Sunday school, Islamic schools, and/or other forms of supplementation to provide religious knowledge. However, rarely does that supplemental instruction undo the thousands of hours of the atheistic worldview that children soak in by the time they finish high school through the study of secular subjects. By not having an Islamic worldview and not having Muslims’ heritage and contributions to humanity infused into the teaching of academic subjects, we witness the problems experienced by the likes of Ahmad* and Asiyah*–problems that plague modern Muslim youth.

Identifying the Unlikely Suspect

This realization is perhaps the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to our bewilderment: how are large swaths of youth from some of the kindest, sweetest, practicing Muslim families going astray and getting confused? When we shepherd our flock and find one or more of our “sheep” lost and off the beaten path, we think of the likely suspects, which include negative influences from peers, family, movies, social media, etc. We may even blame the lack of inspiring role models. We are less likely to suspect that the very literature that our children are consuming day in and day out through our well-intentioned efforts to make them “educated” and “sophisticated” could cause them to question Islam or fall into moral abyss.

Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of the people of his house and he is responsible. A woman is the shepherd of the house of her husband and she is responsible. Each of you is a shepherd and each is responsible for his flock.”

Islamic Infusion in Academic Study as a Solution

There have been efforts across the globe to infuse Islam into academic study of worldly subjects. Universities such as the International Islamic University of Malaysia(IIUM), which has a dedicated “Centre for Islamisation (CENTRIS),” is an example. At the secondary school level, most brick and mortar Islamic schools do offer Arabic, Qur’an, and Islamic studies; however, few Muslim teachers are trained in how to teach core academic subjects using principles of Islamic pedagogy.

How exactly can educators infuse an Islamic perspective into their teaching? And how can Muslim children have access to high quality education from the worldview of Islam, taught by talented and dynamic educators?

Infusing Islam & Muslim Heritage in Core Academic Subjects, According to the Experts:

  • Dr. Nadeem Memon, professor of Islamic pedagogy, states that for a pedagogy to be Islamic, it should not contradict the aims, objectives and ethics contained in revelation (Qur’an) and should closely reflect an Islamic ethos that is based on revelation, the sunnah of the Prophet(pbuh), and the intellectual and spiritual heritage of his followers. It should also effectively develop the student’s intelligence (`aql), faith (iman), morality and character (khuluq), knowledge and practice of personal religious obligations (fard ain) and knowledge, skills and physical abilities warranted by worldly responsibilities and duties (Ajem, Ramzy and Nadeem Memon, “Prophetic Pedagogy: Teaching ‘Islamically’ in our Classrooms”)
  • Dr. Susan Douglass, expert in Social Studies, promotes a panoramic study of the world by global eras–emphasizing the interdependence of nations–rather than an isolationist civilizations approach (which in Western societies focuses only on Western civilization). Such study includes Islamic history and Muslims’ contributions to humanity throughout the ages.
  • Dr. Freda Shamma, pioneer in promoting culturally inclusive and ethical literature, emphasizes that English classes should carefully select literature aligned with Islamic moral values and include works by both Western authors and those from other cultures, i.e. literature that 1-features Muslim main characters and 2- is authored by Muslims.
  • Dr. Nur Jannah Hassan at CENTRIS, stresses that Science classes should be designed to awaken the student’s mind, to inspire a complete awe of and servitude towards the Creator and Sustainer, to instill the purpose of creation, vicegerency and stewardship of the earth and its inhabitants, to enable students to decipher God’s Signs in nature and in the self, to infuse responsibility in sustaining balance and accountability, and should include Muslims’ legacy in the field.
  • Dr. Reema alNizami, specialist in Math Education, advocates that Math classes should instill creative thinking, systematic problem solving and an appreciation of balance; include a survey of Muslims’ contributions to the field; and utilize word problems that encourage charitable and ethical financial practices.

Technology Enables Access to Islamically Infused Schooling for grades 6-12

Technology has now enabled this Islamic infusion for middle schools and secondary schools to become a reality on a global scale, alhamdulillah. Legacy International Online High School, a college preparatory, online Islamic school serving grades 6-12, whose mission is “Cultivating Compassionate Global Leaders”, offers all academic subjects from the Islamic worldview. Pioneered by leading Muslim educators from around the globe with background in Islamic pedagogy and digital learning, Legacy is the first of its kind online platform that is accessible to:

  • homeschooling families seeking full-time, rigorous, Islamically infused classes
  • Public school families looking for a part-time Islamic studies or Arabic sequence
  • Islamic schools, evening programs, and Sunday schools that are short-staffed and would like to outsource certain courses from the Islamic worldview
  • Schools and entities needing training/workshops to empower Muslim educators on how to teach from the Islamic worldview

Alhamdulillah, Legacy IOHS is an accessible resource for families with children in grades 6-8 who are seeking curriculum and instruction that is Islamically infused.

Strengthening Faith & Identity in College and Beyond

For those seeking supplementary resources to address the most prevalent hot topic issues plaguing young Muslims of our times, Yaqeen Institute, whose initial publications were more targeted towards a university audience, is now working to make its research more accessible to the general public through both its Conviction Circles initiative and its short videos featuring infographics.

Another online platform, California Islamic University, offers a comprehensive course sequence which allows college students to graduate with a second degree in Islamic studies while simultaneously completing their undergraduate studies at any accredited community college or university in the United States. Qalam and AlMaghrib Institute also offer online coursework in Islamic studies.

What We Hope to Avoid

While volunteering at his son Sulayman’s* public school with ten student participants, Ibrahim* was saddened when he met a young boy named Chris*. When Chris met Ibrahim, he piped up and eagerly told Ibrahim, “my grandparents are Muslim!” Through the course of the conversation, Ibrahim realized that he knew Chris’ grandparents, a very sweet elderly couple (and currently very practicing) who had not made the Islamic worldview a priority early on in their children’s lives. A mere two generations later, Islam is completely eliminated from their family.  *names changed

Our Resolve

Legacy IOHS recommends the following to Muslim families/educators and Islamic schools:

  1. Instill in our children a strong grasp of the foundational sciences of Islam, while preparing them with the necessary contemporary knowledge and skills
  2. Teach our children in their formative years to view the world (including their “secular” academic study) through the lens of Islam
  3. Follow this up with relevant motivational programs that assist them in understanding challenging issues of today and coach them on how to respond to the issues in their teenage years.

We pray that with the above, we will have fulfilled our duty in shepherding our flock in a comprehensive way, with utmost care. It is Allah’s help we seek in these challenging times:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ

‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Grant us Your mercy: You are the Ever Giving. [Qur’an 3:8]

 رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

‘Our Lord, give us joy in our spouses and offspring. Make us good examples to those who are aware of You’. [Qur’an 25:74]

يَا مُقَلِّبَ القُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِيْ عَلَى دِيْنِكْ

“O turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm on your religion.”

Freda Shamma has a M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Ed.D. from the University of Cincinnati in the area of Curriculum Development. A veteran educator, she has worked with educators from the United States, South Africa and all over the Muslim world to develop integrated curricula based on an Islamic worldview that meets the needs of modern Muslim youth. She serves as Curriculum Advisor for Legacy International Online High School.

An avid student of the Islamic sciences, Zaheer Arastu earned his M.Ed from The George Washington University and completed his training in Educational Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. his experience in Islamic education spans over 15 years serving as both teacher, administrator, and dean of innovation and technology. He currently serves as the Head of School for Legacy International Online High School.

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Grit and Resilience: The Self-Help vs. Islamic Perspective

Omar Usman

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grit

I don’t really care about grit.

Persevering and persisting through difficulties to achieve a higher goal is awesome. High-five. We should all develop that. No one disagrees that resilience is an essential characteristic to have.

Somehow, this simple concept has ballooned into what feels like a self-help cottage industry of sorts. It has a Ted talk with tens of millions of views, podcasts, keynote speeches, a New York Times best-selling book, and finding ways to teach this in schools and workplaces.

What I do care about is critically analyzing if it is all that it’s cracked up to be (spoiler alert: I don’t think so), why the self-help industry aggressively promotes it, and how we understand it from an Islamic perspective. For me, this is about much more than just grit – it’s about understanding character development from a (mostly Americanized) secular perspective vis-a-vis the Islamic one.

The appeal of grit in a self-help context is that it provides a magic bullet that intuitively feels correct. It provides optimism. If I can master this one thing, it will unlock what I need to be successful. When I keep running into a roadblock, I can scapegoat my reason for failure – a lack of grit.

Grit encompasses several inspirational cliches – be satisfied with being unsatisfied, or love the chase as much as the capture, or that grit is falling in love and staying in love. It is to believe anyone can succeed if they work long and hard enough. In short, it is the one-word encapsulation of the ideal of the American Dream.

Self-help literature has an underlying theme of controlling what is within your control and letting go of the rest. Islamically, in general, we agree with this sentiment. We focus our actions where we are personally accountable and put our trust in Allah for what we cannot control.

The problem with this theme, specifically with grit, is that it necessitates believing the circumstances around you cannot be changed. Therefore, you must simply accept things the way that they are. Teaching people that they can overcome any situation by merely working hard enough is not only unrealistic but utterly devoid of compassion.

“The notion that kids in poverty can overcome hunger, lack of medical care, homelessness, and trauma by buckling down and persisting was always stupid and heartless, exactly what you would expect to hear from Scrooge or the Koch brothers or Betsy DeVos.” -Diane Ravitch, Forget Grit, Focus on Inequality

Focusing on the individual characteristics of grit and perseverance shifts attention away from structural or systemic issues that impact someone’s ability to succeed. The personal characteristics can be changed while structural inequalities are seen as ‘fixed.’

Alfie Kohn, in an article critical of Grit by Angela Duckworth, notes that Duckworth and her mentor while studying grit operated under a belief that,

[U]nderachievement isn’t explained by structural factors — social, economic, or even educational. Rather, they insisted it should be attributed to the students themselves and their “failure to exercise self-discipline.” The entire conceptual edifice of grit is constructed on that individualistic premise, one that remains popular for ideological reasons even though it’s been repeatedly debunked by research.

Duckworth admitted as much in an interview with EdSurge.

There was a student who introduced himself having written a critical essay about the narrative of grit. His major point was that when we talk about grit as a kind of ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ personal strength, it leaves in the shadows structural poverty and racism and other things that make it impossible, frankly, for some kids to do what we would expect them to do. When he sent me that essay, of course, I wanted to know more. I joined his [dissertation] committee because I don’t know much about sociology, and I don’t know much about this criticism.

I learned a lot from him over the years. I think the lesson for me is that when someone criticizes you, when someone criticized me, the natural thing is to be defensive and to reflexively make more clear your case and why you’re right, but I’ve always learned more from just listening. When I have the courage to just say, “Well, maybe there’s a point here that I hadn’t thought of,” and in this case the Grit narrative and what Grit has become is something that he really brought to me and my awareness in a way that I was oblivious to before.

It is mind-boggling that the person who popularized this research and wrote the book on the topic simply didn’t know that there was such a thing as structural inequality. It is quite disappointing that her response essentially amounted to “That’s interesting. I’d like to learn more.”

Duckworth provides a caveat – “My theory doesn’t address these outside ­forces, nor does it include luck. It’s about the psychology of achievement, but because psychology isn’t all that matters, it’s incomplete.” This is a cop-out we see consistently in the self-help industry and elsewhere. They won’t deny that those problems exist, they simply say that’s not the current focus.

It is intellectually dishonest to promote something as a key to success while outright ignoring the structures needed to enable success. That is not the only thing the theory of grit ignores. While marketing it as a necessary characteristic, it overlooks traits like honesty and kindness.

The grit narrative lionizes this superhero type of individual who breaks through all obstacles no matter how much the deck is stacked against them. It provides a sense of false hope. Instead of knowing when to cut your losses and see a failure for what it is, espousing a grit mentality will make a person stubbornly pursue a failing endeavor. It reminds me of those singers who comically fail the first round of auditions on American Idol, are rightly ridiculed by the judges, and then emotionally tell the whole world they’re going to come out on top (and then never do).

Overconfidence, obstinance, and naive optimism are the result of grit without context or boundaries. It fosters denial and a lack of self-awareness – the consequences of which are felt when horrible leaders keep rising to the top due, in part, to their grit and perseverance.

The entire idea of the psychology of achievement completely ignores the notion of morality and ethics. Grit in a vacuum may be amoral, but that is not how the real world works. This speaks powerfully to the need to understand the application of these types of concepts through a lens of faith.

The individual focus, however, is precisely what makes something like grit a prime candidate to become a popular self-help item. Schools and corporations alike will want to push it because it focuses on the individual instead of the reality of circumstances. There is a real amount of cognitive dissonance when a corporation can tell employees to focus on developing grit while not addressing toxic employment practices that increase turnover and destroy employees physically and emotionally (see: Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer).

Circumstances matter more than ever. You’ve probably heard the story (of course, in a Ted Talk) about the famous marshmallow test at some point. This popularizes the self-help version of delayed gratification. A bunch of kids are given a marshmallow and told that if they can avoid eating it for 5 minutes, they’ll get a second one. The children are then shown hilariously trying to resist eating it. These kids were then studied as they grew older, and lo and behold, those who had the self-discipline to hold out for the 2nd marshmallow were far more successful in life than those who gave in.

A new study found that a child’s ability to hold out for the second marshmallow had nothing to do with the ability to delay gratification. As The Atlantic points out, it had much more to do with the child’s social and economic background. When a child comes from a well to do household, the promise of a second marshmallow will be fulfilled. Their parents always deliver. When someone grows up in poverty, they are more attuned to take the short term reward because the guarantee does not exist that the marshmallow would still be there later. The circumstances matter much more than the psychological studies can account for. It is far easier to display grit with an entrepreneurial venture, for example, when you have the safety net of wealthy and supportive parents.

Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post that grit discourse is driven by middle and upper-class parents wanting their spoiled kids to appreciate the virtues of struggling against hardship. Unfortunately, this focus on character education means that poor students suffer because less money will then be spent on teaching disadvantaged students the skills they need to be successful. Sisyphus, she notes, had plenty of grit, but it didn’t get him very far.

Strauss asks us to imagine if a toxic dump was discovered near Beverly Hills, and our response was to teach kids how to lessen the effects of toxins instead of fixing the dump.

The grit discourse does not teach that poor children deserve poverty; it teaches that poverty itself is not so bad. In fact, hardship provides the very traits required to escape hardship. This logic is as seductive as it is circular. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is seen as a virtuous enterprise whether practiced by Horatio Alger’s urchins or Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs (bootstrapping is a common term in technology finance circles). And most importantly, it creates a purported path out of poverty that does not involve any sacrifice on the part of the privileged classes. -Valerie Strauss

This approach is a way to appear noble while perpetuating the status quo. It provides the illusion of upliftment while further entrenching the very systems that prevent it. We see this enacted most commonly with modern-day Silicon Valley style of philanthropy. Anand Giridharadas has an entire book dedicated to this ‘elite charade of changing the world’ entitled Winners Take All.

The media also does its fair share to push this narrative. Stories that should horrify us are passed along as inspirational stories of perseverance. It’s like celebrating a GoFundMe campaign that helps pay for surgery to save someone’s life instead of critically analyzing why healthcare is not seen as a human right in the first place.

Islamic Perspective

Islamically, we are taught to find ways to address the individual as well as the system. Characteristics like grit and delayed gratification are not bad. They’re misapplied when the bigger picture is not taken into account. In the Islamic system, for example, a person is encouraged not to beg. At the same time, there is an encouragement for those who can give to seek out those in need. A person in debt is strongly advised to pay off their debts as quickly as possible. At the same time, the lender is encouraged to be easygoing and to forgive the debt if possible.

This provides a more realistic framework for applying these concepts. A person facing difficulty should be encouraged to be resilient and find ways to bounce back. At the same time, support structures must be established to help that person.

Beyond the framework, there is a much larger issue. Grit is oriented around success. Success is unquestionably assumed to be a personal success oriented around academic achievement, career, wealth, and status. When that is the end goal, it makes it much easier to keep the focus on the individual.

The Islamic definition of success is much broader. There is the obvious idea of success in the Hereafter, but that is separate from this discussion. Even in a worldly sense, a successful person may be the one who sacrifices attending a good school, or perhaps even a dream job type of career opportunity, to spend more time with their family. The emphasis on individual success at all costs has contributed to the breakdown of essential family and community support systems.

A misapplied sense of grit furthers this when a person thinks they don’t need anyone else, and they just need to persevere. It is part of a larger body of messaging that promotes freedom and autonomy. We celebrate people who are strong and independent. Self-help tells us we can achieve anything with the right mindset.

But what happens when we fail? What happens when we find loneliness and not fulfillment, when we lack the bonds of familial solidarity, and when money does not make us whole? Then it all falls on us. It is precisely this feeling of constriction that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), give good news to those who are steadfast, those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (2:155-157)

Resilience is a reflex. When a person faces hardship, they will fall back on the habits and values they have. It brings to mind the statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that patience is at the first strike. He taught us the mindset needed to have grit in the first place,

“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).

He also taught us the habits we need to ensure that we have the reflex of grit when the situation warrants it –

“Whoever would be pleased for Allah to answer him during times of hardship and difficulty, let him supplicate often during times of ease” (Tirmidhi).

The institution of the masjid as a community center provides a massive opportunity to build infrastructure to support people. Resilience, as Michael Ungar writes, is not a DIY endeavor. Communities must find ways to provide the resources a person needs to persevere. Ungar explains, “What kind of resources? The kind that get you through the inevitable crises that life throws our way. A bank of sick days. Some savings or an extended family who can take you in. Neighbours or a congregation willing to bring over a casserole, shovel your driveway or help care for your children while you are doing whatever you need to do to get through the moment. Communities with police, social workers, home-care workers, fire departments, ambulances, and food banks. Employment insurance, pension plans or financial advisers to help you through a layoff.”

Ungar summarizes the appropriate application of grit, “The science of resilience is clear: The social, political and natural environments in which we live are far more important to our health, fitness, finances and time management than our individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. When it comes to maintaining well-being and finding success, environments matter. In fact, they may matter just as much, and likely much more, than individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. A positive attitude may be required to take advantage of opportunities as you find them, but no amount of positive thinking on its own is going to help you survive a natural disaster, a bad workplace or childhood abuse. Change your world first by finding the relationships that nurture you, the opportunities to use your talents and the places where you experience community and governmental support and social justice. Once you have these, your world will help you succeed more than you could ever help yourself.”

The one major missing ingredient here is tawakkul (trust in Allah). One of the events in the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that epitomized grit, resilience, and perseverance was the Battle of Badr. At this occasion, the Companions said, “God is enough for us: He is the best protector.

“Those whose faith only increased when people said, ‘Fear your enemy: they have amassed a great army against you,’ and who replied, ‘God is enough for us: He is the best protector,’“ (3:173)

This is the same phrase that Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), while displaying the utmost level of resilience, said when he was thrown into the fire, and it was made cool.

There is a core belief in Islam about balancing between fear and hope. Scholars advise when a person feels despair, they should remind themselves of the traditions that reinforce hope in Allah’s forgiveness. When a person feels themselves sliding further and further into disobedience to Allah, then they should remind themselves of the traditions that warn against Allah’s punishment. The focus changes depending on the situation.

Grit itself is a praiseworthy characteristic

There is no doubt that it is a trait that makes people successful. The challenge comes in applying it and how we teach it. It needs a proper level of balance. Too much focus on grit as a singular predictor of success may lead to victim-blaming and false hope syndrome. Overlooking it on the other hand, enables a feeling of entitlement and a victim mentality.

One purpose of teaching grit was to help students from privileged backgrounds understand and appreciate the struggle needed to overcome difficulty. Misapplied, it can lead to overlooking systemic issues that prevent a person from succeeding even when they have grit.

Self-help literature often fails to make these types of distinctions. It fails to provide guidance for balancing adapting the advice based on circumstance. The criticisms here are not of the idea of grit, but rather the myopic way in which self-help literature promotes concepts like grit without real-world contextualization. We need to find a way to have the right proportionality of understanding individual effort, societal support, and our reliance on Allah.

Our ability to persevere, to be resilient, and to have grit, is linked directly to our relationship with Allah, and our true level of trust in Him.

To stay up to date with more articles from Omar, sign up for his email list at http://ibnabeeomar.com/newsletter

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Who Can We Trust?

Danish Qasim

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trust

Spiritual abusers are con-artists, and if they were easy to spot then they would be far less successful. That is why you must exercise vigilance and your own judgment above that of public opinion. Never let the person’s position make you trust them more than you would without it.

Spiritual abusers work covertly, present themselves well, and use their service as a cover beneath which to operate. The way to avoid them is to recognize their tactics and avoid being caught by them.

Blurring Lines

Spiritual abuse often begins with hard-to-spot precursors, with manipulators exploiting grey areas and blurring boundaries to confuse targets. For example, when setting someone up for illicit relations or secret marriage, teachers may begin with inappropriate jokes that lower boundaries.

They may touch others in ways that confuse the person touched as to permissibility, for example, men touching women on their hijabs rather than direct skin. They may inappropriately touch someone in ways that leave him/her wondering whether or not it was intentional.

There may be frivolous texting while the premise of engagement is ‘work only’. Boundaries may be blurred by adding flirtatious content, sending articles praising polygamy, or mentioning dreams about getting married. The recipient may struggle to pinpoint what’s wrong with any of this, but the bottom line is that they don’t have to.

While these tactics may be hard to prove, you don’t need to prove that you don’t want to be communicated with in this way and that you will not tolerate it. You can withdraw from the situation on the basis of your own boundaries.

One of the key challenges in standing up to spiritual abuse is the lack of confidence in calling out bad behavior or the need for validation for wrongs. We may be afraid to a question a teacher who is more knowledgeable than us when he is doing clear haram. However, halal and haram are defined by Allah and no human has the right to amend them. If a religious leader claims exemption to the rules for themselves or their students, that’s a big, bright, red flag.

Beware of Bullying

When you witness or experience bullying, understand that a Muslim’s dignity is sacred and don’t accept justifications of ‘tarbiyah’ (spiritual edification/character reformation) or breaking someone’s nafs (ego). If you didn’t sign up for spiritual edification, don’t accept any volunteer spiritual guides.

If you did sign up, pay attention as to whether these harsh rebukes are having a positive or negative effect. If they are having a negative emotional, mental, or physical effect on you, then this is clearly not tarbiyah, which is meant to build you up.

When abuse in the name of tarbiyah happens, it is the shaykh himself or the shaykha herself who needs character reformation. When such behavior goes unchecked, students become outlets of unchecked anger and are left with trauma and PTSD. This type of bullying is very common in women’s groups.

Trust Built and Trust Destroyed

There are different levels of trust, and as it relates to religious leaders, one does not need to investigate individuals or build trust for a perfunctory relationship. You do not need a high degree of trust if you are just attending someone’s general lectures and not establishing any personal relationship.

If you want to study something with an Islamic teacher, do so as you would with a school-teacher, understanding that their position does not make that person either exceptionally safe nor exceptionally harmful. Treat religious figures as religious consultants who are there to answer questions based on their knowledge. Give every teacher a clean slate, don’t have baseless suspicions, but if behavior becomes manipulative, exploitative, cultish, or otherwise abusive, don’t justify it either.

Personal accountability is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith and we have to take responsibility for our own faith and actions. There is no need to be suspicious without reason, but nor is there a justification for blind trust in someone you don’t know, just because they lead prayers or have a degree of religious education.

It is natural to ask ourselves whether people can be trusted after experiencing or learning about spiritual abuse. The answer is yes – you can trust yourself. You can also trust others in ways that are appropriate for the relationship. If you know someone well and they have proven over a long period of time to be trustworthy, keep secrets, and do not use you or take advantage of you, then it makes sense to trust that person more than a stranger or someone who has outward uprightness that you do not know well. That level of trust is earned through long-time demonstration of its characteristics.

Seeing someone on stage for years or relying on testimony of people impressed by someone should not convince you to lower your guard. Even if you do believe someone is pious, you still never drop your better judgment, because even saints are fallible.

Don’t Fall for Reputation

Never take other respected leaders praising or working alongside an individual as proof of his or her trustworthiness. It is possible that the teachers you trust are unaware of any wrongdoing. It’s not a reasonable expectation, nor is it a responsibility for them to boycott or disassociate themselves from another religious figure even if they are aware of them being abusive.

Furthermore, skilled manipulators often gain favor from respected teachers both overseas and domestically to gain credibility.

If one shaykh praises another shaykh, but you witness abusive behavior, don’t doubt yourself based on this praise. The praise may have been true at one time or may have been true in the experience of the one giving the praise, but no one knows another person’s current spiritual state as spiritual states can change.

Even if the abusive individual was previously recognized to be a great wali (saint), understand that there are saints who have lost their sainthood as they do not have isma (divine protection from sin or leaving Islam) like the prophets (upon them be peace) do. What was true yesterday, may not be true today.

Often praises of integrity, courage, and inclusiveness are heaped on men who support influential female figures. However, men who are praised as ‘allies,’ and thanked for ‘using their privilege’ to support female scholarship and the participation of women in religious organizations and events are no more trustworthy than those who don’t.

Abusers are often very image-conscious and may be acting to improve their own image and brand strength. Influential male and female religious figures also help one another with mutual praising and social-proofing. That is how the misdoings of men who are supportive of women are ignored, as long as they support the right politicized causes such as inclusive spaces and diverse panels.

Don’t be tricked into trust through a person’s credentials. An ijazah (license) to be a shaykh of a tariqa is purportedly the highest credential. It’s a credential that allegedly has a chain that goes all the way back to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but that does not impart any of the Prophet’s character or trustworthiness in and of itself. A shaykh has to continuously live up to the ijaza and position. The position does not justify behavior outside of the sharia or any form of abuse. Scholars are inheritors of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) only to the degree to which they embody his character.

When a teacher who hasn’t spent adequate time with righteous shayukh abuses, they are said to lack suhba (companionship of the pious), and that is why they are abusive.

The truth is many of the worst abusers in traditional circles are highly certified, have spent adequate time with shayukh, are valid representatives of them, and are able to abuse because the previously mentioned credentials lead to blind trust.

Don’t let certifications about spiritual abuse, ethical leadership, or the like mean anything to you. Skilled narcissists will be the first to get such certifications and take courses because they know this will make people trust them more. You will see courses on ‘healthy leadership’ and ‘spiritual abuse prevention’ being taught and designed by them. There is a false premise behind such certifications that if religious leaders knew how abuse occurs and the damage it causes victims they wouldn’t do it. The fact is they know how abuse works, know how damaging it is, and don’t care. In a way, it’s good to have lessons on spiritual abuse from purveyors of abuse, just as learning theft prevention from a thief might be the most beneficial.

Don’t judge by rhetoric

Don’t look at the rhetoric of groups or individuals to see how seriously they take abuse. Spiritual abuse occurs in all groups. It is common for members of one group to call out abuse that they see in another group while ignoring abuse occurring within their own group.

Sufis who will talk about the importance of sharia, label others as ‘goofy-Sufis,’ and insist that real Sufis follow sharia, will very often abuse in private and use the same justifications as the other Sufi groups they publicly deride.

Many imams and religious leaders will talk publicly about the importance of justice, having zero-tolerance for abuse, and the importance of building safe spaces, while they themselves are participating in the abuse.

Furthermore, female religious leaders will often cover up secret marriages, and other abuses for such men and help them to ostracize and destroy the credibility of their victims as long as their political views align. Muslim mental health providers often incorporate religious figures when they do programs, and in some cases they involve known abusers if it helps their cause.

In some cases, the organization does not know of any abuse. Abusive individuals use partnerships with Muslim mental health organizations to enhance their image as a “safe person.” This is especially dangerous due to the vulnerability of those struggling with mental illness and spiritual issues, who may then be exploited by the abuser. It is a community responsibility to ensure the safety of these vulnerable individuals and to ensure that they do have access to resources that can actually help them.

Don’t judge by fame

One false assumption is that the local-unknown teacher is sincere while the famous preacher is insincere and just wants to amass followers. This contrast is baseless although rhetorically catchy.

The fact is, many unknown teachers desire fame and work towards it more than those who are famous. Other times the unknown and famous teacher may have the same love of leadership, but one is more skilled than the other. They both may also be incredibly sincere.

Ultimately, we cannot judge what is in someone’s heart but must look at their actions, and if their actions are abusive, they are a danger to the community. Both famous and non-famous teachers are equally capable of spiritual abuse.

Look for a procedure

Before being involved in an organization, look for a code of conduct. There is no accountability without one in non-criminal matters. Never depend on people, look at the procedures and ensure that the procedure calls for transparency, such as the one we at In Shaykh’s Clothing published and made free for the public to use.

Procedure also applies to an organizations’ financials. Do not donate money to organizations based on personalities, instead demand financial transparency and accountability for the money spent. There is great incentive for spiritual abusers to win the trust of crowds when it means they can raise money without any financial accountability.

But what about Husne-Zann? Thinking well of others?

Allah tells us يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ

O You who believe, leave much suspicion, indeed some suspicions are sinful” (Quran 49:12).

From this verse, we see that some – not all negative opinions are sinful. The prohibition is partitive, meaning some bad opinions are permissible.

If someone punches you, it is not hunse-zann to assume that person just happened to stretch with a closed fist and did not see your face was in the way. This kind of delusion will lead to you getting punched more. To be wary of their fist isn’t a sinful level of suspicion.

Part of why spiritual abuse is difficult to detect is that its purveyors have a reputation for outright uprightness. They are thought well of in the community, and in many cases they are its pillars and have decades of positive service to their defense. Assuming that someone cannot be abusive simply because they have been a teacher or leader for a long time is not husne-zann. When facts are brought to light- like a fist to the face – it is delusional to assume they didn’t mean it that way.

If someone does something that warrants suspicion, then put your guard up and don’t make excuses for those actions. Start with a general guard and be procedural about things which require a procedure.  For example, if you are going to loan someone money, don’t just take their word that they will pay you back but insist on a written record. If they say they are offended, just say “it’s my standard procedure to avoid any confusion later on.” A reasonable person won’t have an issue with that. If someone mentions on the phone they will pay you $100 for your work, write an email to confirm what was said on the phone so there’s a record for it.

Lastly, and most importantly, never leave your child alone with a teacher where you or others cannot see them. Many cases of child sexual assault can be prevented if we never allow children to study alone with adults. There should never be an exception to this, and parents much uphold this as a matter of policy. Precaution is not an accusation, and this is a professional and standard no one should reject.

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