Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, a month that holds great significance for many Muslims around the world, including Shias and Sunnis. Literally meaning “forbidden, banned or prohibited,” this month is one of the four sacred months in Islam during which warfare is strictly forbidden. But what is that thing that makes this month, particularly the 10th day of it (Ashura), so special for many Muslims and generally a significant number of people throughout the history?!
About fourteen hundred years ago, on the 10th of Muharram, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP), Imam Hussain ibn Ali (AS) together with his family members and close companions were ruthlessly slain on the plain of Karbala.
Yazid, the son of Muawiyah, was illegally appointed as the leader of the Muslim community by his father. After Muawiyah’s death, Yazid started to take allegiance from the most influential tribal leaders. He also called upon Imam Hussain (AS) to swear the oath of obedience to him and accept him as the rightful leader.
Imam Hussain (AS) refused to do so as Yazid lacked the minimum qualities required for an ordinary Muslim let alone a Muslim leader. Anyhow, Yazid ordered his governors to either take allegiance from Imam Hussain (AS) or make him surrender by any means, even at the cost of taking his life. Imam Hussain (AS), however, did not give away to their unjust request and unkind pressure. So finally he was martyred along with his sincere companions by Yazid’s forces and their wives and children were taken as captives.
Since the 10th of Muharram of 61 A.H., millions of Muslims all over the world hold yearly mourning ceremonies throughout Muharram to commemorate the loss of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH & HP) grandson, Imam Hussain (AS). In their religious gatherings, each year, speeches are given about the life and merits of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions, the sufferings they went through and the sacrifices they made. People recall the incident of Karbala many times and try to keep the message and purpose of this greatest martyrdom in the history of humankind alive through their sorrow and tears. Not only that, but lots of people are also engaged in charitable activities like blood donation, giving food to their fellow brothers and sisters, and helping the ones in need to follow their Imam’s lead.
You might wonder what the real cause of this incident was that still evoke great emotions in the hearts of Muslims and generally anyone who gets the opportunity to hear about it, despite the passage of centuries! The most important purpose for which Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred was his faith. He fought in an unjust battle to revive his grandfather’s religion, the invaluable merits, and values that had been violated and taken for granted all those years. He, along with his companions suffered great miseries and sacrificed all they had for the sake of the principles of Islam, which they believed to be a lot more precious than anything else even their own lives. They practically showed the humankind of all times that sacrifice and martyrdom are essential when the cause is just.
Now, throughout centuries, in the month of Muharram, Muslims turn over a new leaf in their lives by remembering Imam Hussain (AS) and the incident of Karbala. They answer Imam Hussain’s (AS) call for help by expressing their anger to Yazid and the likes. They follow their Imam’s footsteps in fighting the Yazid within themselves and generally resisting any violent oppression and injustice out there in the social and political levels.
As a result, Muslims fully comprehend the core message of Islam, which is the Quranic principle of Tawhid; that there is no one but Allah, and we all need to be committed to Him; that even ordinary Muslims deserve more than a figure like Yazid, and they should always remain defiant against him and any oppression or injustice. The month of Muharram is an opportunity for all of us to remind ourselves of the right belief and the true Islamic teachings that never harmonize with any kind of oppression.
While we are waiting for Christmas to come, it seems impossible to ignore Halloween in the meantime. It is full of fun and excitement which is why it is so popular among many people around the world. But, have you ever thought about why you are celebrating this day? Or, as a Muslim is it compatible with your Islamic values? Let’s find out.
Halloween which is held on 31st of October annually marked “the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter”  for the pagan Celts of Samhain. They also believed that on this day “spirits from other worlds (such as the souls of the dead) were able to visit earth…and roam about” .
Therefore, they would wear some costumes and light bonfires to keep the ghosts away. They would also worship their idols and pagan Gods on this celebration.
Just the same as Celtics who worshipped their pagan Gods on this day, the Christians who entered the British Isles, tried to adopt this celebration with their tradition and replaced the pagan Gods with their Saints. So, Halloween turned into the day on which the Christian saints were commemorated, and became the All Saints Day. However, “the customs of Samhain survived anyway, and eventually became intertwined with the Christian holiday” .
In 1966, Anton LaVey who founded the false cult of “Satanism” declared Halloween to be one of its official holidays. Besides, the inappropriate and sometimes horrifying costumes that are used on this celebration include signs or symbols that are identified with Satanism.
However, since Halloween has been practiced long before this association was made, we cannot accuse anyone who is celebrating Halloween of being a Satanic. But, it is necessary to be aware of the ones who are taking advantage of this celebration for their ends.
Islam Respects Traditions, not Superstitions
As we have seen above, Halloween roots back to the rites and rituals of ancient pagans of Celtic origin and then continued to be celebrated by Christians along with some adaptations. While nowadays no one thinks about the reason for this celebration or the rituals practiced on it anymore (such as trick-or-treat, wearing scary costumes, etc.), they still represent the superstitions in which Celtic pagans believed.
As Muslims, if we want to find out about Islam’s attitude toward Halloween, we should look at Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUHHP) way of reacting to such traditional celebrations. At the time of the emergence of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (PBUHHP) respected most of the traditions and all monotheistic religions that existed at that time. However, he tried to reject the superstitions that had no rationale behind them and were based on false beliefs. So, he decided to wipe away the superstitious traditions that were practiced by pre-Islamic Arabs through informing them of their falsehood.
Of course not. However, there are three points that we should observe when we are having fun:
Many reports reveal the dangers that threaten people, especially children, on the Halloween’s eve; these include car accidents which have a high rate on this night . As Dr. Rebecca Parker, chairwoman of the American College of Emergency Physicians' board of directors, puts, “ This is a time when we see an increase of kids being hit and killed by cars” .
Also, according to the tradition of this day, people would wear scary costumes to send the ghosts coming from the other world away. But, as a person who lives in the twentieth century, we know that such a belief is entirely superstitious and irrational. So, what is the use of scaring other people and our children with a weird and sometimes disgusting look? Doesn't it result in a psychologically adverse effect?
As Muslims, we should always be observant of our actions, even if we are having fun. It is essential to keep in mind that our activities, whatever they are, do not prevent us from what Allah has commanded (prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), etc.). Nor do they invite us toward committing what He has forbidden (e.g., drinking alcohol, dancing, participating in inappropriate parties, observing modesty, etc.)
Islam always recommends us to be aware of what we are doing and think about our intention before any action. Even when we are having fun, there should be something behind it that makes it worthwhile. When enumerating the characteristics of a faithful person in Quran, Allah also mentions those who avoid vain actions (23:3); i.e., those activities that have no use for us and would only waste our time.
As mentioned above, Halloween roots back to Celtic pagan’s worship of their idols and many Gods. It can be argued that today we don’t celebrate Halloween with the intention of worshiping idols or performing a Satanic holiday. The rituals are still the same and still represent the Celtic culture and tradition – as we said Christians had a very limited influence upon Halloween and the way it is celebrated- which was polytheistic.
A Muslim’s life should mirror his beliefs in every aspect. So, if an action even in appearance, represents what is against Islam or far from its teachings, then it should be avoided by Muslims.
So, if you are a Muslim and wonder what to do on Halloween’s eve, make sure that you know enough about the reasons behind this celebration. And make sure it has no danger toward yourself or others, you do not commit any action against Islamic laws (e.g., drinking alcohol, wearing immodest clothes, etc.), you don’t waste your time in doing them, and you won’t contradict your belief in Islam through looking like an atheist.
Medicine is one of the well-respected fields of science in the holy religion of Islam, to the extent that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) mentioned it along with theological studies as two main branches of knowledge . However, as in any branch of practical science, there are specific moral codes that Islam obliges people who are involved in them to observe.
Accordingly, a Muslim doctor is not only concerned with his/her patient’s bodily health but also is responsible for his/her spiritual side. This is where doctors need medical ethics in their profession to fulfill their job satisfactorily both for themselves and patients, which ultimately brings with it God’s satisfaction and contentment.
The first and foremost responsibility of doctors is to find a cure -if there is any- as fast as possible and to put the needs of their patients above their financial concerns. Imam Sadiq (AS) said: “the one who avoids curing the injury of an injured person, would be associated with the one who caused the injury. Since the injurer intentionally harmed the wounded person, and the one who avoided his/her treatment did not intend to cure him, thus he/she intended his/her destruction” . In other words, if a doctor neglects his responsibility and does not make enough effort to help the patient, he would be the cause of any harm that inflicts on him/her.
In their decision-making also, doctors should follow the codes of ethics. First of all, they should consider the patient’s opinion and then try to offer the best option to him/her, being always observant of his/her wellbeing and satisfaction. Islamic rules and regulations should play an essential part in the decision that doctors make - e.g., in the case of child abortion, euthanasia, etc. Moreover, they should try to be as kind and tolerant as possible toward their patients; the disease is severe enough for patients to make them anxious, add an impatient and rude doctor to that and imagine how they might feel.
Being a doctor, according to Islam, is not only a religious responsibility but also a social and humane necessity and a moral obligation . Therefore, a doctor should do his best to fulfill all those duties and should not be content with the mere financial benefits of the work or the social position that might be attached to his/her job.
Finally, the most important characteristic of an ethical work is to gain Allah’s satisfaction; in other words, if a person did something and his intention in doing it was God’s contentment and not financial matters and earning more money, the given effort would be worthy to be called ethical .
While a Muslim doctor believes in his/her power in curing the patients, he/she knows that the ultimate healer and decision-maker is Allah and all he/she does is in line with His will.
- Bihar ulanvar. Vol. I, p 220.
- Muhammad ibn Yaqub Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi (The Sufficient Book). Vol.VIII. Tehran, Masjed Publication, p 345.
- Morteza Ameli, Medical Etiquettes in Islam, Jame’e Modaressin Qom publication, p 59.
- Morteza Mottahari, Taalim va Tarbiat dar Islam (Teaching and Education in Islam), Sadra publication, 23rd ed. p71.