Halloween celebrations are organised by non-Muslims worldwide to shake the faith of Muslims and turn them godless, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) alleged today.
Its president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman said it was likely that atheists were behind the events, claiming further that Halloween celebrations were also intended to spread atheism. He told a press conference:
We notice that such events are held to test moral limits or religion, and they are usually done by groups which are not religion-based — they are usually organised by non-Muslims. What they are doing is promoting something that is anti-religion. Maybe it is done by atheists who want to shake one’s faith.
ISMA ulama council chief Aznan Hasan also suggested that Halloween celebrations may be a concerted effort to weaken Muslim faith. “If it’s an isolated event, then it signals the poor understanding of Islam among Muslims, but what concerns me more is that if they are a form of planned attack (on Islam),” he told the same press conference. Aznan also said such events were intended to make Muslim Malays “forget who they are” as celebrations like Oktoberfest and Halloween are western constructs.
Zaik had made a similar accusation against the organiser of the Oktoberfest beer festival earlier this month. This was echoed by other hardline Muslim groups, as well as conservative leaders from PAS, the Islamist party in federal opposition pact
ISMA’s detractors, however, argued that the Malaysians have long participated in such celebrations, and that there is no data to suggest that such events have led to Muslims abandoning their faith.
Commenting on this, Zaik insisted that the Oktoberfest and Halloween celebrations were done to instil atheistic values and that they were designed to encourage Muslims to question the teachings of Islam. “It is a process. It is not just today. The reasons why they (non-Muslims and liberals) dare to question (the position of Islam and the Malays) is the culmination of such events,” Zaik said.
The coming Halloween festival came to the attention of several conservative Muslim groups after banners promoting the annual event were put up at an international school in Seremban. According to a report on Sinar Harian Online today, Ikatan Guru Muslim Malaysia (IGMM) deputy president Mohd Azizee Hassan said the celebration is inappropriate as it clashes with Malaysian culture and traditions.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, and is celebrated every year on 31st Oct, which is the eve of the Western Christian feast All Hallow’s Day or All Saints’ Day. In modern times (like now), typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related “guising”), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted house attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.
Malay rights groups like Isma and Perkasa have previously hit out at a number of events that they claimed could possibly ruin Malaysia’s image as an Islamic country and bring ruin to the nation. One such event is the Oktoberfest beer festival, which was held at a shopping mall car park in Selangor. Although the event was promoted to non-Muslims, conservative Muslim groups urged their supporters to rally against the event and venues that serve alcohol as part of the festival.
Last Sunday, a young Malaysian Muslim invited flak when he organised the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event at the Central Park in Bandar Utama, an event he said was merely to offer Malay-Muslims here the opportunity to pet canines, an animal that many in the community regard as culturally taboo. Muslim leaders from both sides of the political divide have since been up in arms over the event, claiming that it was deviant and could lead Muslims astray from the country’s accepted form of Sunni ideology.