Muslims are now prohibited from celebrating the Halloween festival traditionally held at end of this month, according to an edict released by the National Fatwa Council today. Fatwas are opinions issued by Islamic clerics on a multitude of issues. Although these are advisory in nature, Malaysia occasionally gazettes some into law.
Based on the fatwa released on its website, the council has categorised Halloween as a Christian celebration of the dead and against Islamic teachings, and is urging Muslims to pray for their deceased instead.
With reference to Islamic laws and codes, the council said:
The Halloween celebration is clearly against the values of Shariah. It cannot be celebrated by Muslims. To remember those who have passed away, Islam suggests the practices of reciting doa (prayers) and Quran. Halloween is celebrated using a humorous theme mixed with horror to entertain and resist the spirit of death that influence humans.
Despite declaring Halloween to be a Christian festival, the council noted that it is now celebrated through costume parties, trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted locations, pranks, and horror story-telling. Several Muslim groups are now training their sights on the coming Halloween festival, warning that the annual event to remember the dead is part of Western culture and could wrongly influence local Muslim youths.
According to a Sinar Harian Online report, banners promoting the 31st Oct event at a Seremban international school have triggered unease among the Muslim residents in the Negeri Sembilan township.
Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) has also waded into the issue, urging the state authorities, including the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Council (MAINS), to monitor the event. But Ikatan Guru Muslim Malaysia (IGMM) deputy president Mohd Azizee Hassan has since decided that the celebration is inappropriate as it clashes with Malaysian culture and traditions.:
ISMA president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman also claimed that Halloween celebrations are organised by non-Muslims worldwide to shake the faith of Muslims and turn them godless. Abdullah said it was likely that atheists were behind the events, claiming further that Halloween celebrations were also intended to spread atheism.
In fact, he went as far as to say:
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.
Halloween is the most recent non-Muslim event to come under criticism from Muslim groups, which previously targeted the Oktoberfest beer festival for ostensibly being insensitive to their Islamic values.
What do you guys think? Is this necessary at all? Are they taking Halloween celebrations just a little bit too seriously? Sound off in the comments box below!