Is Halloween halachic? Halal?

As a nod to Halloween, I decided to see what would turn up on Google when I went looking for quick answers to the questions: Does Jewish law permit the celebration of Halloween? What about Islamic law?

The most Google-prominent answer to the question about Jewish law is this essay by Emory professor Michael Broyde. Broyde’s argument, focused on trick-or-treating specifically, is that the custom is pagan and therefore idolatrous in origin, ergo forbidden. Or rather, it’s forbidden for Jews to go trick-or-treating. Broyde believes it’s acceptable for Jews to give candy to trick-or-treaters in order to cultivate good-neighborly relations with Gentiles and avoid “unneeded hatred towards the Jewish people.”

Regarding Islamic law, one of the first hits Google turns up is this article from IslamiCity by Sarah K. Her argument parallels Broyde’s: the holiday is pagan in origin and therefore should not be celebrated.

My Google search for “Halloween halal” also turned up an essay by Yusuf Estes. As I was reading it, I was struck by how much Estes’s rhetoric reminded me of fundamentalist Protestant discourse I’ve seen about Halloween, including use of the word “occult” and concerns about organized Satanism. I began to wonder, in fact, if Islam Newsroom might be a fundamentalist Christian ministry to Muslims posing as an informational website on Islam. Come to find out, Estes is a Christian convert to Islam, reared in Texas, so, um, yeah. That explains it.

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