"I hate the people who invented this ridiculous Halloween!" my mom said angrily while scrubbing the dishes. The bell rang for the hundredth time that night, despite nearing eleven o'clock. The screeching sound of the bell only added to the eeriness of the night.
Frankly, I wasn't paying attention to anything except the large pool of candy in front of me. I sorted the chocolate from the lollipops, the expensive from the cheap.
I had returned three hours earlier from trick-or-treating with Humza, my two young cousins, and the Chinese girl who lived across from us. Basically, I was the baby sitter for all the kids who wanted to go out and get candy and whose parents refused to or were unwilling to tag along.
I didn't mind at all. I loved being with the children in their little costumes and the freaky decorations creeping up people's driveways and bushes. We stuck to the neighborhood, so we knew most of the people anyway.
Eight year old Ayesha was dressed as an Indian princess, which was sadly, my costume for the two years I had a Halloween party at school when I was in elementary school. It involved taking out a fancy Shalwar Kameez worn from a previous Eid or wedding and wearing it with some bangles and anklets. The only comfort was from the other girls who adored my inexpensive "costume" but the envy was always hidden beneath. But, even now, I stuck with my simple lavender Shalwar Kameez. I was only interested in the candy.
Amir, two years older than his princess sister, was a pirate and an extremely adorable and hardly dangerous one too. I wouldn't have minded if he captured me and took me away on his nonexistent ship.
Lisa was dressed as the good witch from the Wizard of Oz, and was a very animated one too. "Immi, I shall grant you your wish," she giggled delightedly.
"Okay, take me all around the world, and no homework for the rest of my life and--"
"Why so serious? Wanna know how I got these scars?" Humza interrupted. He's such a terrible actor.
He wasn't really into dressing up much but he caked his face with make up to look like the joker from Batman.He didn't understand that saying these lines over and over again just made him less impressive. He was also annoying me because Abu and Ammi ordered that he had to come along with us instead of his friends. I probably would too, considering he came home past eleven last Halloween.
Anyways, it was very embarrassing because Ammi insisted she wasn't going to keep a bowl of candy out for the kids who came to our house. Instead, she put crackers, nuts, and a combination of other obviously non-chocolate-too-healthy-for-Halloween "treats." Now which kid wants that? Abu and I sneaked some chocolate in the bowl to save our reputation in the neighborhood.
I really had planned to last all the good candy for at least a week, but two days later, I've exhausted my entire supply. Instead of lamenting me with me or comforting me, my friends decided to engage in a debate of whether Halloween should be celebrated or not.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with it," Laila said.
"No, really, isn't not such a good thing. This is a holiday that originated from pagan and idol worshipers," Farah argued while munching on a cookie.
"Oh, c'mon, people don't go out and worship the lord of death. They go out to have fun," Anum disagreed.
"And having fun by dressing up as Cleopatra or a slutty cop costume and going to stranger's houses is okay?" Farah asked.
I wanted to say something, but every time I opened my mouth to speak, someone else would just get started. My eyes moved towards Kathy who occasionally joined us for lunch sometimes. She too listened to the conversation in between bites of her chicken burger.
"I know my grandma is really against Halloween because she's really Orthodox and she doesn't believe in witchcraft," Kathy said, "but what's wrong with little kids having fun?"
"Exactly. Kids dress up to be their favorite hero and it's so cute and fun for them," Laila said.
"That's the problem. Their hero shouldn't be someone like Iron Man or Cinderella. And besides, if they celebrate Halloween as a kid, they're gonna want to when they are older anyway." Farah was hanging to her argument stubbornly. She had a point, but I didn't think she realized that superheros and princesses are really what little boys and girls care about.
"Uh, I'd kinda feel left out if I was the only kid in class to not dress up in a costume for a Halloween party. No kid likes to follow a million rules at such a young age, or they'll just end up hating the source of those rules, which would be their parents or Islam," I pointed out.
The bell ended just after I finished talking, signaling the end of our little debate. But, it left me thinking about the issue later that week.
"What do you think, Abu? Is it bad to go out to trick-or-treat and celebrate Halloween?"
Abu flipped through pages of some sort relating to his work. He had his reading glasses on and I wouldn't have bothered him but he didn't seem to be focused much.
"Like any other American holiday, Iman, it's all about making money."
Of course Abu would talk about money. It was only natural for him to do that, but he also had a very good point.
"But I mean is it a bad thing for Muslims?" I knew Ammi's answer already; she would have said yes just because Halloween always ended with a stomach full of candy.
Abu hummed for a bit. I tried to recognize the tune. I think it was a classical Bollywood tune, probably from before I was even born. He took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and leaned forward.
"All these people have such a negative view of Muslims, beta. They think Islam is such a backwards religion and we're not allowed to do anything. Hassan told the teacher he didn't want his son to be part of the Valentine's party in his class. What kind of impression does the teacher have about Islam? That they don't let their kids have fun."
Hassan is one of Abu's many friends and perhaps a little more conservative. I wonder what his son felt like.
What do you think? Is it okay to celebrate Halloween?
Kindly pondering these thoughts,
American Muslim Girl