On the Nuances of “Halloween”

It is very popular, these days, to simply wave the Vigil of All Saints Day (or “Halloween”) off as “pagan” in general, or a recasting of Samhain in particular. While it is true that, as far as popular celebration among the public is concerned, it is often the case that “Halloween is quite shamelessly secular, without any explicit Christian referent,”[1] the subject is nonetheless more nuanced than many realize.

What About Samhain?

James George Frazer’s wildly successful late 19th century work, The Golden Bough, popularized the alleged connection between Halloween and Samhain. Since then, a great many have come to take the explanation for granted. One can easily find the claim repeated on numerous websites and television shows, thus it seems to be common knowledge. However, when one is pressed on the evidence for such a conclusion, it seems extant evidence is lacking.

Perhaps it is worth pointing out, as a Professor of Religious and Cultural Education at Glasgow University has, that “the only intact pre-Christian Celtic calendar to have so far been discovered —the second century Coligny Calendar from Gaul— makes no mention of Samhain”.[2] The earliest text to mention Samhain is apparently the Tochmarc Emire (which calls it Samuin), a text which may date to the eleventh century,[3] though some feel it contains language bearing signs of portions therein going back to the eighth century.[4] The text apparently does not say when, precisely Samuin is,[5] much less how it was understood (or, if it is celebrated, how it is celebrated). It is not even clear if Samuin night was determined according to a lunar or solar calendar.[6]

Meanwhile, regarding Halloween (the eve of All Saints Day), note the following:
«By 800 churches in England and Germany, which were in touch with each other, were celebrating a festival dedicated to all saints upon 1 November, instead. The oldest text of Bede’s Martyrology, from the eighth century, does not include it, but the recensions at the end of the century do. Charlemagne’s favourite churchman Alcuin was keeping it by then, as were also his friend Arno, bishop of Salzburg, and a church in Bavaria. Pope Gregory, therefore, was endorsing and adopting a practice which had begun in northern Europe. It had not, however, started in Ireland, where the Felire of Oengus and the Martyrology of Tallaght prove that the early medieval churches celebrated the feast of All Saints upon 20 April. This makes nonsense of Frazer’s notion that the November date was chosen because of ‘Celtic’ influence; rather, both ‘Celtic’ Europe and Rome followed a Germanic idea.»[7]
In short, it is far from clear that the date of Halloween has anything to do with Samhain, and it is not even clear that Samhain fell on the relevant date before Halloween did.

A Brief Segue on “Pagan” Dates

The above aside, for the sake of argument, what if a Christian feast day did fall on the same day as an older “pagan” celebration? It’s certainly a question which can come up for other feasts (e.g. the Feast of the Nativity). For some insight on this question, consider the books of Maccabees (considered Scripture by Catholics and Orthodox, appearing as an appendix to the Old Testament in some Protestant Bibles, and considered to have historical value by the early Reformers).

The opening chapter of the first book of Maccabees covers the forces who sided with Antiochus desecrating the Temple in Jerusalem, and trying to force the believing Jews to embrace a “pagan” system of religious practice. In the midst of that discussion, one comes across the following verses:
[1 Maccabees 1:54,59 (NRSV)]
«Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah […] On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering.»
So, according to that text, on the 25th of Kislev, “pagans” were performing a sacrifice inside the Temple. That just happens to be the date of the start of Hanukkah! This is something acknowledged by the relevant work itself. Note the following, which is referring to the Jewish believers, after they had reclaimed and rededicated the Temple, a few years later:
[1 Maccabees 4:52-54,56,59 (NRSV)]
«Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. At the very season and _on the very day_ that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. […] So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. […] Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.»
This is mentioned again in the second book of Maccabees:
[2 Maccabees 10:5 (NRSV)]
«It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev.»
Ergo, for those who recognize the books of Maccabees as part of the Bible, it could be said that, from a Biblical perspective, it is permissible to establish a new feast on the same day that a “pagan” celebration had previously occurred. For those who do not consider such texts to be Scripture, it can at least be said that ancient forms of Judaism recognized this permissibility. The books of Maccabees aside, Josephus acknowledges the same, writing the following in his Antiquity of the Jews:
«And on the twenty-fifth of the month Chasleu, which the Macedonians call Apellaios, they kindled the lights on the lampstand and burned incense on the altar and set out the loaves on the table and offered whole burnt-offerings upon the new altar. These things, as it chanced, took place on the same day on which, three years before, their holy service had been transformed into an impure and profane form of worship. For the temple, after being made desolate by Antiochus, had remained so for three years; it was in the hundred and forty-fifth year that these things befell the temple, on the twenty-fifth of the month Apellaios, in the hundred and fifty-third Olympiad. And the temple was renovated on the same day, the twenty-fifth of the month Apellaios, in the hundred and forty-eighth year, in the hundred and fifty-fourth Olympiad. […] So much pleasure did they find in the renewal of their customs and in unexpectedly obtaining the right to have their own service after so long a time, that they made a law that their descendants should celebrate the restoration of the temple service for eight days. And from that time to the present we observe this festival, which we call the Festival of Lights»[8]
King James and Halloween

While criticism of Halloween (in particular the accusation of redressed “paganism”) comes from non-Christians, it also comes from quite a few people who identify as Christian, as well. Interestingly, a good portion of them are fans of the King James Bible (some are even KJV-Onlyists), so it seems worthwhile to explore the attitude of King James and his translators towards Halloween.

Many do not know that the 1611 King James Bible had a calendar listing feasts and fasts of the Anglican Church. The following image is made up of portions of scans from that calendar (if it is initially unclear, links to scans of the full pages for each month will be provided in subsequent discussion, immediately below).

What is being highlighted, here, is that, for the translators of the King James Bible, there were fasts which preceded major feast days. So notice that for February, on the 2nd the Feast of the Purification of Mary is noted, and the day before that (1 February) is a fast. Likewise, in March, the 25th is the feast of the Annunciation, and the day before that (24 March) is a fast. So too in December, the 25th is Christmas, and the day before that is also a fast.

With that in mind, note that in November, the 1st lists the Feast of All Saints, and the day before that, the 31st of October, is a fast. This would mean that, just as the KJV translators assigned some significance to Christmas eve, so too they did for the eve of the Feast of All Saints, or what was also called in English, “All Hallows Eve” (colloquially, Hallows Even, or Hallowe’en).

Distinguishing a Festival from Popular Celebrations 

Now, it would be fair to argue that just because King James and his translators observed the vigil of the feast of All Saints, that doesn’t mean they were dressing up as ghosts, monsters, demons and witches. Moreover, being that it was a fast, one can say with certainty that they  were not stuffing their faces with sweets (though sweets might have come out at midnight, or whenever they believed the feast of All Saints day began). The material presented in the previous section only shows that they didn’t have a hostility to Halloween, simpliciter.

Such a point, however, raises a question relevant to a more nuanced approach to the subject: should one simply object to Halloween as a whole, or more specifically to certain behaviors which some engage in on Halloween? For an analogy, consider the example of Purim, a holiday mentioned in the book of Esther. Today, the relevant holiday is celebrated with costume parties, though there is no indication such was the case in Biblical times. Beyond that, some less observant Jews will celebrate Purim by dressing up as devils, a practice one can be sure orthodox Jews object to. For example, see this video, in which Tel Aviv based make-up artist Sivan Ganzi provides visual tips on how to dress up as Satan for Purim (the title literally refers to Satan), and there are other videos like that.

If a person is able to distinguish between Purim itself and a person who dresses up as Satan on Purim, it would seem one should likewise be able to distinguish between “Halloween” itself and some person who dresses up as a devil or a witch for Halloween. The Vigil of Omnium Sanctorum has been observed for centuries, and it is far too simplistic to reduce it to how secular folk celebrate it, today.

A Northern European Approach to Vigilia Omnium Sanctorum
Dressing up as demons aside, one might wonder what, for example, pumpkins have to do with the relevant vigil. The answer is that such is a likely an accretion from a distinctly northern European handling of the vigil in Autumn.
As one former professor at the University of Hamburg noted, “in der Kirche ist ein Erntedankfest seit dem dritten Jahrhundert belegt,”[9] which translates, “in the Church, an erntedankfest has been held since the third century”. But what does “erntedankfest” mean? Ernte means harvest, dank means thanks, and fest means feast or festival. In other words, Teutonic Christians have held harvest-time thanksgiving feasts since ancient times, and both Halloween and the North American celebrations of Thanksgiving find their origins in variations of an erntedankfest. Similar themes can be seen in Праздник Урожая (Prazdnik Urozhaya), the Slavic Harvest Festival.
As the late Notre Dame professor George Minamiki once put it, “Christianity was not meant to totally supplant another culture, but rather to be implanted into the matrix of that culture.”[10] Ergo, certain cultures will approach an observance with some of their own unique cultural expressions, and it just so happens that some of those expressions will become popular among others. The appropriateness of each expression or accretion can be examined on a case by case basis.[11]
 ————————–
Notes:
(1) Nicholas Rogers, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, (Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 164.
(2) Robert A. Davis, “Escaping Through Flames: Halloween as a Christian Festival,” in Malcolm Foley & Hugh O’Donnell (eds.), Trick or Treat: Halloween in a Globalising World, (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), pp. 29-30.
(3) See Kuno Meyer’s translation of the text in vol. I (1888) of The Archaeological Review. On page 68 the relevant text is dated to 1050 A.D. The references to Samuin appear on pages 232 and 303.
(4) See the discussion in Gregory Toner, “The Transmission of ‘Tochmarc Emire’,” in Ériu, vol. 49 (1998), pp. 71-88. It is unclear, at this time, if the relevant portions include the two passing references to Samuin.
(5) On page 303, foot note 4, of the above-mentioned volume of The Archeological Review, Meyer asserts that Samuin night corresponds to the eve of the first of November, but the text of the Tochmarc Emire itself does not state such (thus it seems Meyer was retroactively speculating based on later practice?).
(6) Note that the oldest known Celtic calendar was lunar (more properly lunisolar, like the Rabbinic calendar), with each month being determined by the moon. However, also note that “the idea of a precise and all-pervasive Celtic calendar must be treated with considerable caution” [cf. Clive Ruggles, Ancient Astronomy: An Encyclopedia of Cosmologies and Myth, (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005), p. 76].
(7) Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, (Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 364.
(8) Josephus, “Antiquity of the Jews,” book XII, chapter vii, no. 6, as found in Ralph Marcus, Josephus, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957), vol. VII, pp. 165-169.
(9) Hans-Christoph Goßmann, Offener Himmel – Weiter Raum: Inhalte Christlichen Glaubens, (Steinmann Verlag, 2013), p. 224.
(10) George Minamiki, The Chinese Rites Controversy, (Loyola University Press, 1985), p. 22.
(11) Exempli gratia, in John Milton, L’allegro, Il Penseroso, Comus, and Lycidas, (New York: American Book Co., 1894), p. 15, n. 3, it is noted that the “Jack-o-lantern” may have also been called the “Friar’s lantern,” and symbolized the souls who were in purgatory, et cetera.
Advertisements


Categories: Catholicism, Christianity

Tags:

29 replies

  1. Would anyone believe me if i say that the catholic church in my country holds prayers for the occasion of “Diwali”? I don’t really understand why they do that…can catholics please explain this? Is it out of respect and stuff?

    Like

    • I’m just curious by the way….

      Like

    • I don’t doubt it. I’m sure there are more conservative Catholics who would balk at that, but I know Christians even here, in New York, who have no objections to Diwali. I cannot explain the motivations of the precise Catholics you have in mind, but the line of thought I have encountered is that Dipawali is so diverse in meaning even among Hindus, much less Sikhs, not to mention more secular types, it is hard to think of it as having a single meaning, and the more vague common themes can be appropriated into Christian expression.

      While I’m not well versed on the subject, I am fascinated by Catholicism’s interaction with modes of expression considered distinctly Hindu, and the ways that some (e.g. Roberto de Nobili, Bede Griffiths, Brahmabandhav Upadhyay, Henri Le Saux) have tried to push the limits of embedding Christian thought within that cultural matrix, while other Catholics objected. The complexity of the subject is potentially immense (and complicated all the more by the diverse Hindu spectrum’s ability to absorb other ideologies).

      Liked by 2 people

    • Denis, Thanks for the answer bro…Diwali is a celebration of the victory of light over darkness…more accurately, it celebrates the victory of Ram(incarnation of Vishnu) over the 10 headed demon king Ravan….

      Like

    • Jains and Sikhs who celebrate Diwali likely don’t give much thought to Ram, Hanuman and Ravan. Admittedly, the Sikh celebration of Diwali clearly post dates the Hindu celebration of such, but how the Jain approach lines up with the Hindu approach is less clear. Then, on top of that, as you know, there are lots of secularists from Hindu families, who joyfully celebrate Diwali, yet don’t believe a historical Ram, Hanuman or Ravan ever existed. Hence why more general descriptions, like “the victory of light over darkness,” are less problematic for some Christians.

      Liked by 1 person

    • @Denis, Thanks for making me understand this subject mate.. I really appreciate it…👍

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Denis

    Good article as always. Happy Halloween.

    Some Muslims will accuse me of saying “Happy Halloween”. Some Muslims accuse me of saying “Merry Christmas”, Happy Birthday” etc.

    I tell them them that the pagan Arabs used to greet pilgrims “Hajj” before our prophet but what the pagans believe is not what we Muslims believe, so saying “Hajj” does not mean ones believe. Christians say “Hajj” to Muslims why can’t we reciprocate by saying “Merry Christmas”?. Saying “Merry Christmas” does not mean we believe what Christians believe.

    Happy Halloween to everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Intellect,
      Your comparison between the fifth Pillar of Islam with you being greeting non muslims with their shirk festival is just ridicules with all due of respect. Hajj and the house of God with its origin began with Islam of the prophets of Allah(sw). It began with Abraham not pagan Arabs

      It’s not the matter of accusation but you just violate the consensus of four schools of Islam in Fiqh and sying of Sahabah.

      Once the worshipers of Satan begin their festaval, make sure to great them as well. After all, it’s the same theme of halloween. 🙄

      Like

    • While I understand that Dennis is trying to differentiate between the wicked popular holiday today from the original intent as a day of fasting, it should not be forgotten that the Christian church has stood by passively while the popular celebration has incrementally gone out of hand, and has continually degenerated with each passing year until it has today become the most grotesque and often horrifying display that it is, as well as an annual opportunity to glorify evil incarnate.

      Regardless of the origins of Halloween, It is not just “innocent fun” as we are often told.

      Dressing kids up as demons, devils, witches, gory zombies, serial killers, etc. should be considered as child abuse, and if nothing else truly an abuse to the soul. Such a disgusting tradition really desensitizes children to evil, blood, pain, suffering, torture, death, and all sorts of terrible things. It also acts as a doorway into demonic, paganistic, and occult practices.

      The custom of kids “Trick or Treating” really teaches that if one doesn’t get what one asks for (something for nothing) from someone then it is ok to do evil and harm to that person. This is detrimental to the child and society as a whole.

      I don’t think that either Prophet Jesus (as) or Prophet Muhammad (Sws) nor any other of the true prophets of God would approve of Halloween nor of passing a friendly greeting to anyone engaging in such a holiday, which has truly become “Al-Lailat al- Shaytan” – The Night of Satan. In such a situation as Halloween, it is better to be clear on where we stand as Muslims and not to give any sign of encouragement or approval to such a malevolent and wicked “holiday.”

      While Christianity seems to clearly embrace such evil, Islam remains firm in its teachings and offers clear guidance between what is right and wrong steering us clear of such sick and twisted customs

      I prefer to keep myself and family firmly entrenched in Islam and far removed from such evil practices.

      Let the Church and Christians have Halloween, while we Muslims hold tightly to the true religion of God.

      Like

    • Greetings Ibn Issam

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Christian church has stood by passively while the popular celebration has incrementally gone out of hand»

      I disagree. I have been in church services where the priest has spoken out against various practices. But the Church only has so much reach (and that reach has diminished considerably over the last half millennium, with such accelerating over the last two centuries).

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Regardless of the origins of Halloween, It is not just “innocent fun” as we are often told. Dressing kids up as demons, devils, witches, gory zombies, serial killers, etc.»

      What makes you think that dressing kids up as demons and devils is part of the origins of Halloween? What’s the earliest source you know of describing such a practice as part of the core of the Christian celebration of such?

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «The custom of kids “Trick or Treating” really teaches that if one doesn’t get what one asks for (something for nothing) from someone then it is ok to do evil and harm to that person.»

      There is lots of speculation about the origin of the phrase “trick or treat,” but little in the way of evidence from what I’ve seen. Nonetheless, the act of receiving sweets may have roots in the fact that the vigil preceded a feast. Whatever the case, I see no reason to think either “trick or treating” or the sweets themselves are part of the origin of Halloween. When I dig into older texts discussing the relevant vigil, I find no reference to such, thus I fear you might be swinging at the accretions and blaming the vigil itself.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «I don’t think that either Prophet Jesus (as) or Prophet Muhammad (Sws) nor any other of the true prophets of God would approve of Halloween»

      How, precisely, do you propose we measure the truth of such speculation? For example, it is possible Jesus had no problem with Purim and Hanukkah, which would mean he was open to the establishment of new festivals (i.e. neither appears in the Torah). If He found Hanukkah permissible (cf. John 10:22), it could mean He was even open to feasts which fell on the same day as “pagan” celebrations.

      If you wish to say that He wouldn’t have been in favor of dressing up as demons, I would agree, but let us not confuse the feast for secular observance (e.g. I doubt He would have thrown out Purim simply because today some secular Jews dress up as Satan in their celebrations of such). However, if you throw out the idea of Him approving of Purim or Hanukkah, it brings us back to the question of how we guide such speculations? What, precisely, do you think He would object to, and how do you know?

      Like

    • Dennis,
      You must have a lot of free time on your hands to pick apart my comments line for line.

      For every church that speaks out against various practices there are a thousand others that have no problem with such and actively encourage such innovated traditions. I have seen with my own eyes, Christian churches hosting Halloween parties where children come dressed as devils and demons, etc. Whereas, there are no masjids that I know of anywhere that teach such obscenities. Why do you think that is? I believe it is because Islam draws a clear line between Prophetic revelatory truth and man-made innovation.

      While it is true that the “…Church only has so much reach (and that reach has diminished considerably over the last half millennium, with such accelerating over the last two centuries)” It would seem to me that if the Church would have been more firm about rejecting innovation in religion they could have averted customs like those associated with Halloween from spiraling out of control. Now it is too late to put the “genie back into the bottle” Christians like you are forced to try and give the holiday some form of support and legitimacy, when truly none should have been given in the first place.

      I never said that dressing kids up as demons and devils is part of the origins of Halloween. Neither did I say trick or treating was necessarily part of the origins of the holiday. You misunderstood my initial statement which I began with “Regardless of the origins…” and then went into discussing contemporary celebrations. Sorry if I was unclear. Whether these things were original to the celebration or not, can be debated, but what is clear is that these small innovations in religion incrementally led to further innovations and misguidance which has now gone far outside of the bounds of any true Abrahamic teachings. And yet those like you still seem happy to defend such things, as if the validity of your faith hangs upon it….and maybe that is because it partly does.

      You seem to think that it is mere speculation to assume that the Prophets (even Jesus) would not approve of Halloween. Your question regarding would Jesus “would object to, and how do you know” is really a straw man. The real question is where is the scriptural evidence in your Bible that proves that Jesus ever approved of the wicked spectacle of Halloween (not to mention other innovated Christian Holidays)? Your example of Purim and Hannukkah is a far cry from the disgusting display that comprises modern Halloween celebrations. If you are only talking about the fast/feast even that is really an innovation which there is no real strong evidence that Jesus approved. Furthermore, how can we take your Purim/Hannukah argument as fact when it is really based on your own speculation itself?

      I understand and agree with you that we should not confuse the feast for the secular celebration. However I question why is it that Christianity so often celebrates its holidays on the same days as pagan holidays? I can see this happening as a coincidence once or even twice, but it seems to happen so repetitively in Christianity that it cannot possibly be coincidental and must be in fact intentional which raises even further questions.

      Like

    • Greetings Ibn Issam

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «You must have a lot of free time on your hands to pick apart my comments line for line.»

      Actually, my experience is that my time for such correspondences is more limited than I would prefer. But I do attempt to respond as soon as possible, and the “line by line” approach strikes me as one of the more respectful approaches, insofar that it attempts to grapple with much of what the person I’m corresponding with put forth.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «For every church that speaks out against various practices there are a thousand others that have no problem with such and actively encourage such innovated traditions.»

      I think we need to be more clear what we’re talking about. Mere “innovation” (itself not the most clearly defined term) is not what I was referring to, but rather the more overtly demonic elements in popular celebrations. There might be much that certain churches let slip (that would be true of everything if we are including any group called a church), but I had in mind more conservative, traditionally minded Catholic congregations, which permit “Halloween,” yet speak out against some of the more egregious secular (and at times irreligious) approaches to the relevant vigil.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «While it is true that the “…Church only has so much reach (and that reach has diminished considerably over the last half millennium, with such accelerating over the last two centuries)” It would seem to me that if the Church would have been more firm about rejecting innovation in religion they could have averted customs like those associated with Halloween from spiraling out of control.»

      I don’t see why we should conclude this is the case. A lack of reach remains a lack of reach, irrespective of how hardline a position is taken by an organization which lacks such reach. There are hardline Evangelical churches and certain Orthodox churches which reject Halloween in toto. Almost all orthodox Jewish synagogues reject it. By your own admission, many, if not most masajid reject it. Yet the masses still celebrate as they do. So we have lots of religious groups taking a rigid position on the day, with little effect on the popular, secular celebration of such, precisely because a lack of reach remains a lack of reach, regardless of whether the organization incapable of controlling the masses is Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish, or Muslim. Moreover, there are American Muslims who take part in variations of Halloween [exempli gratia: 1, 2], and I suspect that, at least for the next few decades, their numbers are likely to rise rather than shrink, which would seem to mean that American masajid who reject such likewise don’t exactly have full control over Americans who identify as Muslims (but we already knew that).

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Christians like you are forced to try and give the holiday some form of support and legitimacy»

      This still seems to toe the line of assuming the way Halloween is popularly celebrated, now, is the original observance, and the Church is trying to legitimize it after the fact. I know you clarified that you’re not actually making precisely that claim, but then if not, I would offer this alternative: the vigil already had legitimacy among Catholics, with the more poisonous elements in secular observance coming later.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «these small innovations in religion incrementally led to further innovations and misguidance which has now gone far outside of the bounds of any true Abrahamic teachings.»

      This seems to me to come close to saying that if one establishes a vigil not found in the Bible, then people will necessarily start dressing up like Satan. How precisely does “innovation” necessarily entail the ugliness of present day secular approaches to Halloween?

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «You seem to think that it is mere speculation to assume that the Prophets (even Jesus) would not approve of Halloween.»

      I think it would depend on what we mean by Halloween. That’s why I keep emphasizing the difference between the vigil itself and how it is celebrated in modern secular circles. I imagine Christ would have less objection to a vigil fast, or a vigil devoted to reading Scripture and prayer, than to a party where people dress up like demons.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «The real question is where is the scriptural evidence in your Bible that proves that Jesus ever approved of the wicked spectacle of Halloween (not to mention other innovated Christian Holidays)?»

      But this begs another question: is the rule being proposed here that Jesus would only approve of that which is mentioned in the Scriptures? If so, the rule seems potentially self-defeating, as the rule itself is not mentioned in the Scriptures.

      That aside, as is discussed in the blog entry, above, the Old Testament acknowledges the ability to establish new feasts (the establishment of Purim is in the book of Esther, and if our Old Testament goes beyond the Rabbinic TaN”aKh [as it does for Catholics and Orthodox], we can note that so too the establishment of Hanukkah is in the books of Maccabees).

      Moreover, in the quotes attributed to Christ by the New Testament one finds Him bestowing upon the Episcopacy the authority to ‘bind and loose’ (Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:18), paralleling a similar authority found in Isaiah 22:20-22, which, when understood in the context of Esther and Maccabees, would easily entail the authority to establish new feasts.

      As for “the wicked spectacle of Halloween,” yet again we seem to be at risk of uncarefully conflating modern secular approaches with the vigil itself. One can have Halloween without the “wicked spectacle”.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Your example of Purim and Hannukkah is a far cry from the disgusting display that comprises modern Halloween celebrations.»

      As was noted in the blog entry, these days you can find secular Israelis going to Purim parties dressed as Satan. In the blog entry I linked to two different videos where Israelis give advice on how to dress up as Satan for Purim (and they literally write Satan). The analogy, therefore, is a helpful one, as there is a difference between the ancient Jewish feast of Purim and the way secular Israelis celebrate it today.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «If you are only talking about the fast/feast even that is really an innovation which there is no real strong evidence that Jesus approved. Furthermore, how can we take your Purim/Hannukah argument as fact when it is really based on your own speculation itself?»

      That’s fine, but then, in such a skeptical environment, where even the Bible becomes potentially irrelevant to what we might conclude about Jesus, then we really are left with little to work with other than speculation.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «I question why is it that Christianity so often celebrates its holidays on the same days as pagan holidays?»

      Different reasons.

      In some cases, the so-called “pagans” may be adopting the date after the Christians do [for an analogy, note how some Hindus will attempt to saffronize anything and everything, after the fact, to retroactively claim it was originally their’s; I have encountered Hindus who claim the word Christ comes from Krishna, that the Taj Mahal is a former Hindu temple, that both the Ka`ba and St. Peter’s Basilica are obvious Shiva lingams, et cetera; would it be so implausible that Western or European folk “pagans” might make similar attempts?]. Consider this (which was alluded to in the blog entry): we have no extant evidence of Samhain being celebrated before the earliest fall celebrations of Omnium Sanctorum by Catholics, and, besides, the pre-Christian Celtic calendar being lunar, it would be impossible for it to consistently fall on the same day of the Roman solar calendar. Thus, rather than it being the case Omnium Sanctorum was made to line up with Samhain, the reverse may be the case! And this phenomenon can even happen with the truly Satanic (e.g. Catholicism has long had the Mass and the Eucharist, and in a show of contempt for the Church, Satanists later developed deliberate profanations of such, with their “Black Mass” and “Black Eucharist”).

      In other cases, there can be other explanations, such as for example, an issue of a prisca theologia (which is precisely why I find the previously mentioned Talmudic legend that Adam started Saturnalia so interesting). I do believe that allusions to the Christian faith are written into creation, and that even ancient non-Jews could vaguely discern references to such from their readings of the heavens. I may do an article on this subject in the future (it is a fun one).

      But those points aside, as was also covered in the blog entry, it is also permissible to hold a feast on the same day as a previously existing “pagan” celebration. Both the books of Maccabees and Josephus acknowledge such is the case with Hanukkah.

      Like

    • As a quick addendum, the following post is interesting at least insofar that it shows that opinions among present day Muslims, regarding the nuances of “Halloween,” are more diverse than some are letting on:

      HALLOWEEN OR HALALOWEEN? by Mufti Abu Layth

      Like

    • Dennis,
      You may feel that the line-by-line approach is respectful; however, others may feel that you are picking apart every line in order to “crucify” each disagreeable comment…and that does not come off as respectful. Nevertheless, do as you like.

      As for me, I simply don’t have the time to address EVERY line you write, however I will attempt to reply to some of the lines in both of your recent comments. I will post my reply further below together as one comment.

      Like

  3. It is amazing how historically Christians have adopted so many pagan practices into Christianity. Christmas (Winter Solstice, Saturnalia); Easter (spring equinox/pagan Goddess Easter/Hester/Ishtar); the ugly satanic spectacle of Halloween/ All saints day, St. Michael (Fall equinox/Samhain); Candlemas (Pagan celebration of Imbolc & Goddess Brigid; traditional quarter day) St. John’s Day (summer solstice). Paganistic blood sacrifice (crucifixion) drinking blood, and eating flesh (communion); along with many other paganistic symbology and traditions.

    I am sure Dennis can give us some “good” reasons for all of these innovated Christian holidays, but the question is why should he be forced to do so in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been better if Christianity never adapted itself to these pagan customs, traditions, rituals, and holidays to begin with?

    This not only illustrates how there is no firewall in Christianity to guard against this type of alteration, absorption of falsehood, and constant innovation, within Christianity. It also underlines, how Christianity on the whole has never really been concerned so much with preserving the pure truth of God’s message to mankind, but rather with the single minded goal of claiming souls for Christ, by any means necessary….even adopting pagan practices and diluting the truth with falsehood if that serves the ends.

    In light of this, it is no wonder that the Bible was altered for likely the same ends as well.

    Like

    • Greetings Ibn Issam

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «It is amazing how historically Christians have adopted so many pagan practices»

      I’m not sure what makes a practice itself “pagan” (though I would reject a line of reasoning that if someone outside of my faith did something, then that action is automatically off limits). But let’s consider some of the examples you gave.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Christmas (Winter Solstice, Saturnalia)»

      I actually have an article on the Nativity of the Messiah. It is a very old Christian feast, celebrating the birth of Christ. How it is celebrated now may often involve distinctly northern European modes of expressions, but I think we should take on a case by case basis what is permissible and what is problematic (and why).

      As for Saturnalia, when consulting ancient sources on the subject, it seems to have more in common with Hanukkah (as I touched on here). Also interesting, as I noted here, the Talmud asserts that Saturnalia was first started by Adam! Now, we can say that claim remains unproven (i.e. its not true simply because some sage in Talmud made the claim), but it provides some food for thought: we don’t know the origins of some of these non-Jewish celebrations, and we should be careful about blanket condemnations when exploring such subjects.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Easter (spring equinox/pagan Goddess Easter/Hester/Ishtar);»

      “Easter” (or Pascha in Latin and Greek) is the Passover, reinterpreted in light of Christ’s resurrection, and is also quite ancient. Similar to Christmas, it may have come to take on various later accretions in popular celebrations, but what precisely is forbidden should be explored on a case by case basis.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «the ugly satanic spectacle of Halloween/ All saints day»

      That is already covered in the article. The uglier expressions pertain to popular, usually secular and at times even irreligious celebrations of the night. But that is not the fault of the day itself.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Paganistic blood sacrifice (crucifixion) drinking blood, and eating flesh (communion);»

      That comes from the New Testament.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «the question is why should he be forced to do so in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been better if Christianity never adapted itself to these pagan customs, traditions, rituals, and holidays to begin with?»

      The explanations are for those who are sincerely inquiring. But a tradition is not rejected simply because others criticize it or call it names (for an analogy, there are Evangelicals accusing Islam of all sorts of “paganism”; but rather than abandon the objects of those polemics wholesale, some Muslims actually attempt to engage the polemics).

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «This not only illustrates how there is no firewall in Christianity to guard against this type of alteration, absorption of falsehood, and constant innovation, within Christianity.»

      On the contrary, classical Christians will object to all sorts of things, but what, precisely, should be objected to should be taken on a case by case basis. If someone claims a particular thing should be forbidden will lead to the question: WHY should it be forbidden?

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Christianity on the whole has never really been concerned so much with preserving the pure truth of God’s message»

      I don’t see how that follows. For example, suppose an emphasis on baptism, belief in Christ, belief in His resurrection, is part of the core message of Christianity. That doesn’t disappear simply because someone gave their kids sweets in the Autumn, or used an evergreen tree as a decoration in Winter. Perhaps you could elaborate on what you mean?

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «adopting pagan practices and diluting the truth»

      While I already noted that there needs to be some exploration of what makes a practice pagan, there is another question here: if a person from a certain culture embraces Christianity, must he abandon his culture in toto? Or are there aspects he can retain? If he can keep some of his culture, how do you determine what is permissible and what is not?

      Like

    • Dennis,
      I predicted that you would attempt to give us some “good” reasons for all of these innovated Christian holidays and you did not fail to oblige.

      It is well known that many holidays and practices in Christianity are in common with ancient pagan holidays and practices. Christianity simply refurbished many of these customs with a Christian veneer. I agree with you that we should “reject a line of reasoning that if someone outside of my faith did something, then that action is automatically off limits” However, I would still highly question a tradition with roots in paganism, that the Prophet himself did not teach or affirm.

      Though I understand that Christians believe that Easter is the same as Passover, there are many paganistic traditions in Easter celebrations that have nothing to do with Passover. Why do Christians so easily adopt such practices that have nothing to do with the original holiday, or original teachings?

      Accusations of paganistic origins of Islamic traditions, are much weaker and more easily addressed than the same accusations leveled at Christian traditions.

      In general Islam is very clear on what is to be forbidden as a opposed to what is acceptable. The fact that you ask the question “WHY should it be forbidden?” illustrates that you are unsure about this, and that Christianity is unclear about what is objectionable and what is not. Which may be why you often seem to write posts which attempt to justify the various traditions, customs, and holidays that have progressively developed into celebrations that no Prophet would ever have approved.

      You said:
      -“suppose an emphasis on baptism, belief in Christ, belief in His resurrection, is part of the core message of Christianity. That doesn’t disappear simply because someone gave their kids sweets in the Autumn, or used an evergreen tree as a decoration in Winter.” I agree with that much. However, in Islam, we believe that innovation leads to misguidance, and misguidance leads to the hellfire. Therefore, although such trivial innovations may seem harmless, they may lead to more misguidance, which leads to further misguidance and which may snowball until hell fire is reached. This certainly seems to be the case with Halloween and I don’t know how anyone could argue.

      You said
      -“….if a person from a certain culture embraces Christianity, must he abandon his culture in toto? Or are there aspects he can retain? If he can keep some of his culture, how do you determine what is permissible and what is not?”
      Those are some good questions for Christians like you to ponder. Islam has already addressed these issues, while Christians seem to have no answer for these simple problems.

      Like

    • Greetings Ibn Issam

      Permit me to begin by saying that the following exchange (which appeared at the end of your post) strikes me as setting well the tone of this part of the correspondence:

        I (Denis) asked:
        «if a person from a certain culture embraces Christianity, must he abandon his culture in toto? Or are there aspects he can retain? If he can keep some of his culture, how do you determine what is permissible and what is not?»

        Ibn Issam replied:
        «Those are some good questions for Christians like you to ponder.»

      And one answer I gave appeared at the end of the blog entry, when I quoted George Minamiki: “Christianity was not meant to totally supplant another culture, but rather to be implanted into the matrix of that culture.” Yes, as a result there are times where members of the church will dispute where the line is (a subject that also came up in my responses to Shaad), but it has nonetheless long been the case that those who embrace Christ are not required to utterly abandon their culture.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «It is well known that many holidays and practices in Christianity are in common with ancient pagan holidays and practices.»

      This is a very popular claim, but it has been my experience that, upon closer inspection, many of the charges lack nuance, or, worse, are unfounded. For example, what makes a practice “pagan”? You agreed that it is not simply because someone outside the faith engaged in it. That would lead to just about everything beging “pagan”. Individual cases need to be explored on their own, rather than simply waving everything (including every cultural expression) off.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Though I understand that Christians believe that Easter is the same as Passover, there are many paganistic traditions in Easter celebrations that have nothing to do with Passover.»

      There are popular folk accretions, but to wave them off as “paganism” requires some further justification. It has been my experience that upon closer inspection, even the folk accretions are more complex than are popularly assumed. Take, for example, the so-called “Easter egg”. It is popular to just wave it off as a product of fertility worship, but the precise evidence that this was the intention is never furnished. I may write an article on “Easter,” next spring, but for now I’ll share some various past brief thoughts about the egg.

      First note that the egg served as a symbol with a variety of meanings for Jews (and even non-Jews in the Middle East). For example, in this post I note how the Zohar repeats on several occasions that eggs symbolize marey Miqra, the masters of the Scriptures. In another post, I note the presence of an egg on the Passover seder plate, and how, according to different Jewish views, the egg can alternatively represent mourning or new life, and even serve as an allusion to the coming of the Messiah! In still another thread, I touch on how Yom-Tov Lewinsky’s Sefer ha-Mo`adim mentions alternation between eggs and lentils during Holy Week among `Arab Christians, right after mentioning the Jewish association of the egg with mourning [the same source mentions a tradition of mixing chopped eggs with salt water to symbolize the crossing of the sea of reeds, comparing it with a practice in the Vatican]. The same thread also notes how the alternating use of egg and lentil as a symbol, found among Christian `Arabs, finds a parallel in the Talmud. In still another thread, I note a Talmudic reference to eggs cooked in wine, which can entail colored eggs, but I don’t leave it there; rather, I note in other threads the practice of colored eggs during Passover among Sephardim and during La”G b`omer or Purim among other Jewish groups (there is also brief discussion in that latter thread on a Hasidic Jewish view that, while the egg can represent mourning, colored eggs can be employed if the relevant death being mourned is somehow a happy occasion).

      Beyond that, in this thread, a video is shared touching on how some of the oldest known human artwork, going back to the stone age in Africa, was on decorated ostritch eggs, which were used to transport water and thus survive in more difficult, arid, desert like environments.

      With all that in mind, with the eggs having a variety of meanings among Jews, and with the egg possibily being among the oldest of human symbols, I don’t see why Christians should be forced to abandon any use (or even further development) of that symbol.

      ***

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Accusations of paganistic origins of Islamic traditions, are much weaker and more easily addressed»

      Recall why I brought up charges of “paganism” in Islam, in the first place. It was in response to your statement that Christians shouldn’t have to even address charges of “paganism” (which I read as insinuating that Christians should just abandon that which might be succeptible to such a polemical accusation). But we see that even Muslims don’t behave in such a fashion. They don’t abandon a practice simply because a critic called it “pagan,” and if they feel there is a deeper explanation, some Muslims attempt to convey it.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «Islam is very clear on what is to be forbidden as a opposed to what is acceptable.»

      I would say different schools of thought within Islam might take a firm stance on something, but disagreements among Muslims collectively can still exist (hence disagreements on Mawlid, and to a lesser extent Nawruz).

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «The fact that you ask the question “WHY should it be forbidden?” illustrates that you are unsure about this»

      It illustrates that I don’t see the justification for some of the declarations being made about what should be forbidden.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «traditions, customs, and holidays that have progressively developed into celebrations that no Prophet would ever have approved.

      We are not in agreement about which traditions, customs, or holidays would have been universally rejected by all prophets, for all people.

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «innovation leads to misguidance, and misguidance leads to the hellfire. Therefore, although such trivial innovations may seem harmless, they may lead to more misguidance, which leads to further misguidance and which may snowball until hell fire is reached. This certainly seems to be the case with Halloween and I don’t know how anyone could argue.»

      I fear there may be an unjustified employment of post hoc ergo propter hoc, here, which is to say, just because something precedes a thing does not necessarily mean it caused it. Christianity allowed “innovation,” and today Americans who identify as Christians are engaging in secular approaches to “Halloween”. Meanwhile, Islam has prohibited all “innovation,” yet today there are Americans who identify as Muslims increasingly engaging in secular “Halloween” approaches. So too, as was mentioned elsewhere, orthodox Jews, for all their rigidity, still couldn’t stop secular Israelis from dressing up as Satan during Purim. Hence it seems to me that it has yet to be demonstrated a more rigid stance on “innovation” by the Catholic Church would have prevented what has occurred in secular life.

      Like

    • Dennis,
      Here is my combined reply to your both of your recent comments in reply to my remarks.

      You seem to think that many Muslims celebrate Halloween and that this is justified by mainstream Islam. Halloween and participation in it is absolutely haaraam according to Islamic orthodoxy. The “Mufti” you provided a link for is highly controversial, and has made many unorthodox pronouncements, and has been rebuked by a leading Maliki scholar as well. Islam came to lift people out of the ignorance of Jahiliyah, therefore, why would anything within Islam teach a return to ignorance?

      Your argument here seems to be that a small minority of misguided Muslim youth, participating in Halloween (or Halaloween) somehow justifies or explains the development of and Christian participation in the popular Halloween celebrations. This in no way helps your case, for the simple reason that Halloween (either the vigil or popular modern celebrations) has never been endorsed or supported by mainstream Islam as a religious holiday. So regardless of what a few misguided people do, Islam is not responsible for their misguidance…as it is ultimately Christianity from whence the vigil was innovated, and it is Christianity alone which has misguided so many people by allowing the innovation to degenerate in to the disgusting modern spectacle that it is. The Christian misguidance is now spreading and affecting people from other faith traditions and you want to claim that Islam is responsible for that as well? I think Christians should take responsibility for their own mess, and clean it up.

      You also argue that there is a difference between the original vigil and the Halloween Holiday. That may be so, but as I made clear before, innovation is innovation and that leads to degeneration, misguidance, and hellfire. That is certainly the case with Halloween.

      In regard to culture, the same can be said of Islam in that “it was not meant to totally supplant another culture, but rather to be implanted into the matrix of that culture.” There is no requirement to utterly abandon ones culture upon acceptance of Islam. However, in stark contrast to Christianity, Islam clearly stipulates that anything that is antithetical to Islamic teachings should be faithfully ejected from the culture…..this would definitely include pagan holidays and traditions. So, while Christianity eagerly embraces paganism and varnishes it with a Christian veneer in order to appease the masses and win converts, Islam – in keeping with its avowed convictions – firmly rejects the same. This is to the credit of Islam. While other religions are diluted by man-made innovated cultural practices and traditions like Halloween, Islam continues to maintain the purity of God’s religion.

      I notice that you often seem to indulge in confusing the issue in order to try and justify the unjustifiable. For instance your explanation of the Easter egg. Just one question, where did Jesus consent to using an egg as a symbol for ANYTHING? Again, you are forced to try to make excuses for traditions and practices that have been innovated or absorbed into the Christian faith and which are things that Jesus himself never condoned or taught.

      For instance, your argument regarding “bind and loose” is really a stretch. The Gospel of Matthew was written AFTER the Ascension of Jesus and puts words into his mouth after the fact. So we really do not know that Jesus ever bestowed such an authority to anyone let alone the Episcopacy to establish new feasts and festivals. The OT verses may be regarding Purim and Hannukah, but they clearly are not meant to establish Halloween nor any vigil thereby. So again, you are left only with your own interpretive stretch and speculation.

      You said: “…it has yet to be demonstrated a more rigid stance on “innovation” by the Catholic Church would have prevented what has occurred in secular life.” I say that Islam itself has demonstrated that a rigid stance on innovation can prevent such occurrences. You seem to be saying that Churches bare no responsibility for secular popular Halloween celebrations. I disagree. The fact that the masses will do what the masses will do as they are beyond the reach of the Church is kind of a lame excuse and a cop out in my eyes. For more than 1400 years, Islam has assured that no pagan holidays were ascribed to the authentic faith teachings. While Nawruz is generally celebrated mostly only by minority Shia, disagreements among Muslims on Mawlid are generally minor and cannot be compared with Halloween at all. Although I will agree, that there are certainly some Muslims who have done things that were un-Islamic, there is still a clear line between innovation and orthodoxy. It is this clarity which has allowed Islam to “auto-correct” and return to its authentic teaching whenever there was disagreement in the Muslim community. Christianity does not have any such fail-safe, and continually morphs and changes while adopting each new secular fad, which is how an innovated vigil that Jesus never ordained morphed into the current wicked Halloween Christian “holy” day.

      Ask yourself, do you want to follow the religion of Jesus or the very different religion that was developed by fallible men who came after Jesus? I prefer to follow the pure faith as revealed by God himself.

      Like

  4. Abu Lyth?
    I’m not sure who that man is? Regardless, he made the authentic hadith as a weak one, then he stated many hadiths which are not authentic. If he from the group that in my mind, then this really doesn’t surprise me.
    Also, his method of conclusion is not right. Imam Alshafi’y was talking about what ((the prophet pbuh approves)) not what our desire approve, and that If we consiered that hadith is authentic. In fact, Imam Al Nawawi wrote that statement of Alshafi’y in his explanation for a hadith in Sahih Muslim & Bukhari against that hadith
    https://sunnah.com/bukhari/71/9
    Also, in the same page Nawawi narrated that al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad said: The command to offer ‘ateerah is abrogated according to the majority of scholars.

    In sum, It’s so wrong to switch the sayings of scholars to establish a rule to permit something the consensus of scholars in 4 schools that it’s forbidden.

    The issues is not much as with those muslims who want us to be like the west inch by inch and step by step rather it’s when they try to “Islamizes” their desires. This is the real problem.

    Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying
    You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Allah’s Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words)” those before you”? He said: Who else (than those two religious groups)? Sahih Muslim.

    Like

    • Abdullah,
      Thanks for the clarification, Jazakallahu Khair. It seems that Dennis has a high regard for the twitter “Mufti” Abu Layth, but as you pointed out, he is clearly distorting Islamic teachings and issuing rulings which are not based on firm foundations. I have never heard of him and am not sure what is qualifications are either.

      It seems that for some reason he may be intentionally trying to misguide Muslim youth on certain aspects of the religion, such as in the question of the permissibility of Halloween.

      The fact that he was recently endorsed by the infamous Quilliam foundation may help to explain a lot. And based on that alone, I would reject much, if not all, of what he says.

      http://www.mpacuk.org/mufti-quilliam/

      Like

    • Greetings `Abdullah and Ibn Issam

        `Abdullah wrote:
        «he made the authentic hadith as a weak one»

      I assume you’re referring to his comment on the famous line man tashabaha bi-qawmin, fa-huwa minhum If so, to be fair, he didn’t merely call it weak; rather, he instead simply noted a couple others whom he says did not accept it. Moreover, and perhaps more saliently, he discussed how it relates to the rest of the sentences which precede it in the relevant tradition, asking whether it was limited to a specific context or has universal application (noting that it seems awkward to say this one small portion is universal but the rest of the tradition is contextualized).

        `Abdullah wrote:
        «Imam Alshafi’y was talking about what ((the prophet pbuh approves)) not what our desire approve, and that If we consiered that hadith is authentic. In fact, Imam Al Nawawi wrote that statement of Alshafi’y in his explanation for a hadith in Sahih Muslim & Bukhari against that hadith https://sunnah.com/bukhari/71/9 »

      What an-Nawawi quoted from ash-Shaf`i can be found here:

      شرح النووي على مسلم » كتاب الأضاحي » باب الفرع والعتيرة

      It’s interesting, as while the link you provided translates la fara`a wa-la `atirah as meaning neither is permissible, an-Nanawi quotes ash-Shaf`i stating that it means neither is wajib (obligatory). [By the way, perhaps it not being obligatory might offer an alternative understanding of what it means to say the amr (command) is mansukh (abrogated)?]

      That aside, Abu Layth’s post also had an interesting section on `aqiqah. What were your thoughts on that? Do you claim that, too, is now prohibited?

      ***

        Ibn Issam wrote:
        «It seems that Dennis has a high regard for the twitter “Mufti” Abu Layth»

      I actually don’t know anything about him. I came across the relevant post because a Muslim friend I’m connected to on social media had shared it, and it seemed relevant here. I thought the argument itself was interesting — and note the emphasis on the argument, not the man. I suspect we can agree that if, for example, Abu Layth said 2+2=4, simply declaring “Quilliam endorsed him!” would not demonstrate that statement to be false.

      Like

    • Dennis,
      I understand you are applying the argument and not the man. However, I agree with Abdullah, that the man who developed the argument uses an incorrect methodology which results in a false conclusion. The fact the Quilliam endorses him just adds to a long list of other concerning items (search “Mufti Abu Layth” online) in regard to this highly dubious person which brings into question everything that he says.

      Like

    • Denis,
      That man tried to say that Imam Alshafi’y had no problem with costume and festival of disbelievers based on that hadith. This is a lie,and that man tries to deceive his readers by put in this way.
      That hadith of Ateerah if it’s authentic, then that means the prophet and because his status as a prophet from God permitted for us to do that. Of course slaughtering animals by the name of Allah by itself has nothing to do with pagans. It’s to do with prophets of God. The fact that hadith stated that they had asked the prophet first because they’re afraid, it indicates it’s already in their mind that we being ok with pagan acts is not permissible in Islam.

      Regarding Aqiqah, the saying of Buridh and and ahdith in Abdurrazaq are weak and aqiqah has not to do pagan origin.
      However, we have to keep in minds that many acts of Qureish tribe were remnants from the Abrahamic origin. You find many hadith like that phrasing ( We used to do in Jahilyah such and scuh , then Islam came…). Islam approves the truth and eliminates the falsehood.
      Imam Ahmed said “there are hadiths with good isnads from the Prophet pbuh and from his companions and the Taabi’een, yet these people say that it is an act of Jaahiliyyah?!” And he smiled like one who is surprised ”
      Yes some scholars of Islam said that it’s to do with Jahyliah , and that’s why they say its obligatory status got abrogated not like what Abul Lyth tries to say.

      I have no idea that in in Osol Al Fiqh you can a break (the standard rule/ the mega one) substantiated by many verse/hadiths and understand and acts of Sahabah because of marginal incident has its own condition when it happened. All the four schools of Figh in Islam came with consensus that it’s forbidden to (greet) disbelievers for their religious festivals, let alone to celebrate with them as that “mufti” says!

      If he wants to celebrate with them , that would be a problem, but to (Islamize) that celebration is a greater problem

      BTW, do you read Arabic ?

      Like

  5. Dennis,
    The theory of Germanic origins of Nov. 1 seems to based in little evidence, while the parallels between Halloween and Samhain are too many to ignore.

    The Romans celebrated the festival of the Goddess Pomona on Nov. 1. In 50 B.C.E the Romans conquered Celtic areas and spread the worship and celebration of Pomona to the lands of Samhain.

    According to Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306 – 373), the feast of All saints day was originally observed on May 13th in his time. It is known that this date coincided with the pagan Roman harvest festival of Lemuria. Some scholars theorize that the festival of Lemuria was the earliest origin of All saints day, due to the identical dates and similar theme in celebration of “all the Dead.”

    Pope Gregory I, encouraged Christians to graft Christianity on to the old pagan religion by appropriating pagan customs and practices into Christianity. This act by Pope Gregory I, co-opting pagan festivals into Christianity has caused much confusion and misguidance for Christians ever since. An appropriation of a pagan holiday and adapting it to Christianity, is NOT the same as a Christian Holiday which was innocently coincidentally held on the same day as a pagan Holiday. There is a big difference!

    Later, in an effort to Christianize the festival of Samhain, Pope Gregory III (731–741), moved the date of All Saints day from May 13th to Nov. 1, which coincided with the Irish Celtic Pagan harvest festival of Samhain which was also a celebration of the dead, etc. the 31st day of Oct. 31 later became known as all-hallows eve (Halloween). The etymology of the Gaelic word Samhain or sauin actually means “November” which signified the beginning of Winter.

    In regard to the argument for a Germanic origin of the feast I only see one scholar, Ronald Hutton, making such a claim, and like you, every Christian website seems to be repeating his theory as a justification for celebrating Halloween. Although there is much about Celtic culture that we don’t know, it does not negate the possibility that Samhain was appropriated by the Roman Church. Furthermore, if Ronald Hutton is right and Nov. 1 is a Germanic idea….then where did that idea come from? Gerhard O. Marx writes in “The Origin of Halloween” published in Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967, that,

    “….in 834 A.D. the Church in the Middle Ages began to celebrate Hallowe’en on the FIRST OF NOVEMBER for the first time. This was the very same day the Druids in Britain, the Norsemen in Scandinavia, and the pagan Germans among others were keeping their festival of ALL SOULS EVE, in commemoration of Saman, lord of death, and his demons.”

    So it can be seen that the ancient Celts were not the only people worshipping Samhain, or at least some version of the same demonic God of death, whose festival was on or around Nov. 1.

    Here is some more information on the Germanic origins by Gerhard Max:

    When the German Frankish king Charlemagne invaded and conquered parts of Eastern Germany, he compelled the conquered German king, Wittekind, to be baptized and to accept Christianity. Having no choice and seeing his life was at stake, this heathen ruler who knew little or nothing about Christ — was forced into this “conversion.” And with him his entire people. This policy brought complex problems. These pagans, who were usually baptized EN MASSE, were still pagans at heart. Even though they became nominal Christians, they still yearned for many of their heathen practices, which they were expected to discard…

    Wittekind’s Germans, now professing Christians, and other conquered pagans, had a profound influence on the ecclesiastical affairs of the church in the early 800’s A. D. These barbaric and uncultured people brought with them many outright pagan practices and celebrations, Hallowe’en merely being one of many. They were fervent in clinging to their past ceremonies and observed them openly — yet supposedly converted to Christianity. What was the church to do? Excommunicate them and thus reduce her membership? This she would not do. Was she to force them into discarding their heathen practices and adopt Italian or Roman ones? This, as she had learned in past times, was not possible.

    There remained only one other way. Let the recently converted pagans keep certain of their heathen festivals, such as Hallowe’en or All Souls Day — but label it “Christian.” Of course the Germans were asked not to pray to their ancient pagan gods on this day. They must now use this day to commemorate the death of the saints. To make it easy for them, the Roman Church even CHANGED HER DATE of All Saints Day from May 13 to November 1st to satisfy the growing numbers of Germanic adherents. The Church understood the yearnings the Germans and others had for their old ways (Marx, Gerhard O. The Origin of Halloween. Plain Truth Magazine, October 1967).

    Also Ronald Hutton does not seem to be clear as you might think about the origins of Halloween and the date of the celebration of Samhain:

    “According to historian Ronald Hutton, in the 19th century, Hallowe’en guisers in parts of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands commonly used jack-o’-lanterns made from turnips and mangelwurzels. They were “often carved with grotesque faces to represent spirits or goblins”. In these areas, 31 October to 1 November was known as Samhain and it was seen as a time when spirits or fairies were particularly active. Hutton says that they were also used at Hallowe’en in Somerset (see Punkie Night) during the 19th century. Christopher Hill also writes that “jack-o’-lanterns were carved out of turnips or squashes and were literally used as lanterns to guide guisers on All Hallows’ Eve.” Some claim that the jack-o’-lanterns originated with All Saints’ Day (1 November)/All Souls’ Day (2 November) and represented Christian souls in purgatory.” (Jack-o’-Lantern. Wikipedia, viewed 04/05/15) http://www.cogwriter.com/hallo.htm

    Either way, the Vigil which you so fervently defend seems to have its origins either in the pagan Roman festivals of Pomona/Lemuria, or of the Pagan Celtic/Germanic festivals of Samhain, or both. The Christian vigil seems to have never been free of paganistic roots and origins.

    This Christian website seems to give some good arguments against Halloween which you and others might want to read.
    http://www.cogwriter.com/hallo.htm

    Like

    • Sorry, I tried to indent the quotes but it didn’t appear correctly when I posted the comment.

      Can anyone inform me on how to indent a line or quote in my comments? Thanks!

      Like

    • Dennis,
      In regard to King James and Halloween:

      As I illustrated above, however you or the Church would like to spin it, the vigil of Omnium Sanctorum or all saints day most certainly originates in paganistic Roman/Celtic/Germanic celebrations. It doesn’t really matter what celebrations are listed, centuries later after the fact, in the KJ Bible or what the attitude of the KJV translators was towards the celebration. By 1611 the fast of all saints (Halloween) had become firmly entrenched in Christianity and there was a probably a general lack of available information in regard to its paganistic origins. Even if we separate the popular festival from the fast or vigil, the fact that the KJV translators celebrated it at all does not justify or erase the ancient pagan roots of the vigil/fast in the first place. If the ungodly vigil/fast is tainted with paganism at the root, then it should have never been co-opted into Christianity, and it should therefore be rejected by all good modern Christians.

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. On the Nuances of “Halloween” | kokicat

Please leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: