I gave Nabila a mini ornamental pumpkin for Canadian Thanksgiving. Shuddering, she looked dubiously at it, and groaned, “Oh no… it’s about Halloween.” It obviously didn’t take much to trigger her fear of Halloween.
Not everyone is frightened by Halloween. Ayaan ushered me into her house and said her mother went to the Dollar Store to get Halloween stuff and would be back shortly. Her mom came home with masks, pitch fork, and black witches’ hats. Ayaan was so excited and got dressed up and jokingly announced, “I’m the devil!” Halloween can be a good time to talk about the masks we wear and pretend before people and God.
I have observed that when Muslims are new to our country they often are bewildered by Halloween customs. They are confronted with witches, skeletons, spider webs, and ghost figures floating around in banks, stores, schools, yards, etc. It is very strange and scary to them. In the beginning Zahra didn’t want to send her children to school where they would hear scary stories. This year her children will be constructing a mini haunted house in their classroom and they can’t wait for the fun. After a few years of settling here, like Ayaan, they usually lose the fear and enter into the Halloween spirit and fun of dressing up and collecting candy. Their mothers, however, don’t always welcome Halloween.
While Westerners, including many Christians, are not very conscious of the world of evil spirits and witches and sorcerers, Muslims, generally speaking, are keenly aware of the invisible world where jinn live and move and can cause harm and be easily provoked. Any reminder of the dark invisible world(or animistic rites) frightens them. Halloween can heighten their fears. I find Halloween to be one of the most productive times for witnessing to my Muslim friends. Instead of dismissing their fears I try to get them to talk about them and then bring in the Good News of how Jesus Christ, our Savior, has the authority and power over Satan and evil spirits. There are many good Bible stories to share about how Jesus has victory over the evil spirits. I also share about my own fears I’ve had and how Jesus has delivered me from those fears.
Nuri sold her house and lives in an apartment now. She didn’t like a basement. When I inquired why she said, “A basement is scary. You never know if someone is there and they might grab me.” “I have a suggestion for you, Nuri,” I answered. “Before you go into a basement ask God to go there before you and then He will and you will be okay.” She simply couldn’t comprehend such a suggestion. Even though my Muslim friends declare Allah is great and has all power, in reality, their fears indicate that the power of Satan and evil spirits loom larger to them. It is important to teach them the difference between God and Satan. I have been surprised how often they talk about them and it sounds as if they are the same! The book of Job unfolds the differences well.