|We lived in England for exactly one Halloween. Based on some bad intel involving the fact that London is ten cultural years (decades?) ahead of our beloved Bradford, we let our kids trick or treat in our thoroughly Muslim neighborhood! I don’t remember what they dressed as, but I’ll never forget the first house we went to: It was our next door neighbor, a first generation immigrant from Pakistan, a grandma and a wonderfully dear soul. She was also apparently clueless about Halloween. Somehow my little beggar children got through to her, she retreated to the kitchen and returned with a juice box and banana for each kid. I told them we’d go buy some candy and we packed it in.
Quite like Christians, Muslims in the U.S. (and I suppose wherever else Halloween is celebrated) struggle with whether or not to participate. And interestingly, much of the reasoning, both pro and con, is similar.
I’m not sure my Facebook friends generally represent Christians, but you can see what several of them think of Halloween here. You can read some thoughtful comments by Muslims here (con) and here. (pro).
Muslims deal with the “we already don’t fit in” factor more than most Christians do. So going dark on Halloween might feel internally alienating, while being seen from the outside as further evidence of not culturally integrating. It’s tricky.
Three things I hope we can agree on:
- Diversity of opinion should strengthen, not divide, us.
- Halloween might provide the socially accepted window in which to meet a neighbor, Muslim or not, whom God has been nudging you toward.
- It’s a bad idea to dress as a terrorist!
*Oh, please, please, please let it be a Muslim and a Jew!
Here’s something that’s been rolling around in my mind recently: Muslims don’t believe in the doctrine of original sin. That is, that we’re all born sinners because of Adam and Eve’s sin. Turns out Jews don’t believe this either and a good portion of Christians, including most who followed Jesus in the days before Augustine.
I don’t have the space here to fully deal with this doctrine. (I sometimes say that when I actually just don’t know how!) But I’d like to point out three things:
- It’s interesting that Muslims believe people are basically able to follow God’s purposes if they only will. If you want to look into this, here’s a Muslim talking about “Original Mercy.”
- I think most Muslims would say, as would most Christians, that they all too often, even regularly, sin. This reality makes John’s words in his second letter so deeply good and helpful: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
- This could be a good thing to kick around with your Muslim friends. Are people born sinful? What do you think sin is? Would you say you’re a good Muslim? What hope do we have against sin?
This line of conversation leads pretty directly to talking about Jesus. What did he say about sin? What does he do about it? Even this, “You know what his best friend said?” Then quote John from the passage above.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please comment below. If you enjoy Muslim Connect, please share it with a friend.
Prayer update: If you prayed for our daughter Anna after her crash two weeks ago, thank you. She’s still sore, but doing better. And she bought a replacement car a couple of days ago!