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Guest Post: “Trick or Shirk” Indeed

Charles Cameron is the regular guest-blogger at Zenpundit, and has also posted at Small Wars Journal, All Things Counterterrorism, for the Chicago Boyz Afghanistan 2050 roundtable and elsewhere.  Charles read Theology at Christ Church, Oxford, under AE Harvey, and was at one time a Principal Researcher with Boston University’s Center for Millennial Studies and the Senior Analyst with the Arlington Institute:

[Originally cross-posted at Chicago Boyz]

“Trick or Shirk” Indeed

by Charles Cameron

The fine jihadist-media-monitor Aaron Zelin has a Halloween special by that title today – featuring a piece by Omar Bakri Muhammad, founder of the UK group “Al Muhajiroun”, regarding the holiday of the season:

Realising this reality of Halloween, the true believer in the One and Only true God (Allah) we must ask what is the Islamic ruling on: Belief in false gods, pretending to be a false god, offering sacrifice to a false god and praying for the dead from the non-Muslims? What is the Islamic ruling on celebrating Halloween i.e. Dressing up in costumes, asking for treats, offering treats, decorating houses, displaying pumpkins? [ … ] As Muslims we are responsible for purifying the lands from any corruption hence we are duty bound to eradicate all evil and the worst is Shirk (giving the right of Allah to another). Dear Muslims we must realise and understand that any practices, celebrations that do not come from Islam are evil, because if it was good then Allah (SWT) would have included it in our Deen. Halloween is an evil celebration which promotes worship and sacrifice to false gods, an evil that pollutes one’s belief and worship to Allah. Halloween is a form of Shirk and disobedience introduced by Shaytaan in the form of a trick, enjoyment and celebration.

That set me off on a bit of a holiday spree…

According to other Muslims, Valentine’s day is just as bad

Conservative Muslims opposing St. Valentine’s Day took to the streets of Lahore on Feb. 14 demanding an end to what they call an un-Islamic tradition. About 100 protestors gathered in front of the Lahore Press Club to condemn the “un-Islamic, unethical day.” The Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), a religio-political party and Lahore Cultural and Heritage Society jointly staged the protest. The participants, most of them women clad in black burqas (a head-to-toe garment worn by Muslim women) waved banners which said “It is a conspiracy to corrupt Muslim children” and “it is treachery to culture.”

At least that’s one thing some conservative Hindus can agree with some conservative Muslims on:

India’s Hindu hard-liners are showing no love for Valentine’s Day. A few dozen protesters briefly blocked a road in downtown New Delhi on Wednesday, burning Valentine’s Day cards and chanting “Down with Valentine.” In the nearby city of Lucknow, extremists threatened to beat up couples found celebrating their love. “We are deadly against Valentine’s Day,” said Sapan Dutta, a regional leader of the hard-line Shiv Sena group. “We are for civilized love and affection.” The protests by groups like Shiv Sena, who say they are defending traditional Indian values from Western-style promiscuity, have become an annual media event.

But then, you know, not all Hindus feel that way:

A unique Hindu temple of Sri Krishna dedicated to the concept of Valentine’s Day will be consecrated in April 2010 at Sholingur in Vellore District in Tamil Nadu (140 km from Chennai). The unique temple which tries to amalgamate the ideas of Saint Valentine and Hindu God Krishna – both synonymous with love – is being built by R. Jaganaath, a former food and beverages manager and the author of a book on cocktails.

And here’s another approach to Valentine’s Day from some Muslim women in the Maldives:

A group of self-styled “underground feminists” calling themselves the ‘Rehendhi’ movement claim to have bombarded Sheikh Ibrahim Fareed with women’s underwear on Valentine’s Day, in protest “against misogyny in Maldivian society.”

That sounds more like a Tom Jones concert!

Thing is, St Valentine, whose day February 14th supposedly is, wasn’t a lover in the romantic sense – he was a lover of God who died for his faith — a martyr:

A group of parents in Texas’s Katy Independent School District got a judge to issue a restraining order today to make sure that children can pass out Valentine’s Day cards with religious themes. The school district, however, says it doesn’t understand what the parents’ lawsuit is all about, and was never contacted by the parents about the issue. [ … ] In any case, kids in the district get to give out religious cards today. But did you ever consider what historically accurate religious Valentine’s Day cards might look like? Here are some ideas: “I Love Your Martyr Complex.” “Baby, I’d Rather Die Than Renounce Our God.” “If Love Is Blind, Maybe I Can Cure It.” “I May Not Exist, But My Love Is Real.”

Maybe we should just forget about Valentines. What about Christmas? It seems even Christmas isn’t exempt from suspicion…

What ought to be a time of meditative joy and happy celebration has become a time for combat. December, say scores of the faithful, is a time for war—the Christmas wars. Happy holidays is denounced as a godless substitute for Merry Christmas. The Christmas wars are now as much a part of the season as mistletoe and reindeer. Which brings us to one of the principal battlegrounds of this annual Christmas debate: Santa Claus. Millions of Christians accept Santa uncritically, but some denounce the attention given to him as idol worship. Many pastors crusade against images of the jolly old man’s presence in churches.

Santa Claus? Let’s just get back to Halloween

While our modern tradition of Halloween has no substantial ties to any paganism or occultism, there remains a strong cultural association and perception of Halloween as occultism and anti-Christian. Christians should be cognizant of the negative cultural implications of partaking in cultural festivals and willingly refrain when appropriate. This is true also of “Christian” holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, as well as holidays that are currently understood in more secular terms, such as Valentine’s Day and Independence Day. The practice of the Days of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that is associated with Mexican culture, so for us from another culture to borrow that practice with new meanings and interpretations was, in my opinion, culturally insensitive and inappropriate.

Independence Day? Independence Day?

I think that pretty much covers everything. Happy All Hallows all, and Feliz Dia de los Muertos.

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