The National Fatwa Council (NFC) in Malaysia banned Halloween celebrations for Muslims, calling the annual celebration of Catholics “un-Islamic”.Halloween’s day is observed on the eve of All Saints’ Day and it is the third non-Muslim event that the NFC has banned this year. The last two events banned by NFC include the Touch a Dog Campaign and the Oktoberfest Beer Carnival.
According to Malay Mail, the ban states, “Halloween is celebrated using a humorous theme mixed with horror to entertain and resist the spirit of death that influences humans. ... It cannot be celebrated by Muslims. Instead, the council advises Muslims to remember the dead by reciting prayers and reading the Koran. There are concerns among some Muslim groups in the country that Halloween is too Western and could wrongly influence local Muslim youths.”
However, thousands of people in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, celebrated the evening dressed in fancy costumes, only to prove that the ban had failed to dampen their spirit. Dressed as zombies, monsters, vampires and other scary characters, both children and adults went from door to door trick or treating, a common Halloween practice by which individuals collect candies in their neighbourhood.
According to NFC, Halloween is a Christian practice with possible pagan roots that violate the teachings of Islam and that is why Muslims must avoid participating in the event if they really want to protect their own beliefs.
“Superstition is not something that we encourage because it has no basis. And of course when you believe in superstitions, you are superstitious about ghosts ... it contradicts our faith in Islam,” said Siti Mariah, a Member of Parliament from the country’s opposition Islamic party PAS.
In addition, the Education Ministry too, said schools must refrain from celebrating Halloween’s Day.
“We should succumb and we should follow the fatwa (Islamic ruling) given by the National Fatwa Council as Islam is the ‘national religion’,” said Education Minister Idris Jusoh.
However, Cabinet Minister in charge of National Unity, Joseph Kurup, disagreed with NFC’s ruling.
“This has been going on for years and it has been celebrated in a cordial and peaceful manner, which we think will make people interact, will make people integrate better and create unity. My personal opinion is that they should be allowed to do so,” he said.
The ban is not legally binding, as it has not been passed as a law yet and so Muslim or non-Muslim Malaysians were not obliged to abide by it. However, critics have voiced their concern over Malaysia being Islamized gradually, especially since the country is a major tourist spot, often referring to itself as “the melting pot for all races and religions.”
Reportedly, the ban opposes the principle of wasatiyah or moderation, an idea propagated by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Apparently wasatiyah urges Malaysians’ racial acceptance and tolerance towards one another.
Photo Credits: Al Arabiya News