Hi Guys! Hope you had a fine weekend. I enjoyed mine thank you very much. I am so pleased to hear that people are enjoying all the Halloween-related posts I am putting up. It takes a lot to write-up the content and being appreciated is well, appreciated. We are ten days away from Halloween night and I am sure the little ones (and some big ones) have their Halloween costumes prepared for the night. I hope the adults are enjoying all the Halloween movies that are being shown on television currently. I never appreciated them before, but this year, for some reason, I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame.
The last ten days before Halloween also mean that teachers around the world (wherever Halloween is celebrated) are scrambling for lesson ideas and activities to make kids excited about learning for the rest of the month. So for those dedicated teachers and parents of course, who would like to add a bit of literary magic in their kids’ Halloween fervor, check out these picture books recommended by me.
An Anecdote For Adults
I thought a lot about the pagan background of the holiday and the supposed disagreement over celebrating it by the church. I know as Muslims, we love to have low-key Halloween affairs and don’t feel it impinges on any religious aspects of Islam. As a Muslim living in the United States, we constantly decide what traditions to adopt and which overlap our belief system and through the years we have found a balance that helps us celebrate holidays with our Christian and Jewish friends. Acclimatizing to a new culture (See HERE and HERE) consists of a set of experiences that bring personal growth and self-discovery unlike any other life lesson. I remember during the height of the gem industry boom in Pakistan, immigrants from the entire world were traveling to our tiny country in South Asia either to visit, study, or move permanently. We unwittingly invited millions of workers from as close as India and as far as Mexico, Canada, and the United States without any semblance of how this mass migration impacts not only the economy but our culture and religion.
While I had the best time making friends with Christian and Muslim students and their families making memories and building relationships that will inshallah last a lifetime, the flip side was making peace with immigrants with far different religious views than ours. One horrific experience was when a former Hindu with a supposed Muslim sounding name came to my school and asked people where to find me. Once she found me on the playground, she immediately picked a fight with me over sects of Islam. Never before from a Muslim did I hear the words “Shia” and “Sunni” until a Hindu uttered them to me and taught me a division with no religious context that has become a reality for me. I did get a cute nickname out of it – “Pinkie” (by Aishwarya Rai!).
My maternal family heralds from a lineage said to be a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. The following I witnessed happen in front of me. It was one afternoon my maternal grandmother was singing a poem she wrote in honor of our Prophet P.B.U.H and his immediate progeny (See HERE) in her room with the windows open. A Hindu woman was walking by the house and heard her. She rang the bell and asked my grandmother what the poem was about and my grandmother went into details about Prophet P.B.U.H and the early demise of his immediate family in Karbala (See HERE). The Hindu woman was so moved by it she started bawling comically and said she will never forget this conversation. A few days later, she called my grandmother up and said she had a surprise for her.
My grandmother took me to see what the surprise was. The venue we ended up was a Hindu temple where we saw them put on a mourning show. My grandmother and I were mortified and were so angry that we spoke to my father’s father, The then-General of Pakistan, General Zia (See HERE). It snowballed into such humiliation that Hindus now observe a fake mourning called Ashura (See HERE) because they are so in love with the idea of worshipping someone besides God or Allah (See HERE).
When there was an outcry in the country, the angry woman mentioned earlier came to me and actually said “We made Yazid. There is no Yazid, no Hasan, no Hussein. There was no such thing as Karbala and we shouldn’t observe anything in Muharram. Life is about having fun”. I was not more than seven at the time, and I thought that if she took away these names, she was wiping out my ancestral history. When my teachers told her to shut up, she started screaming that people were wiping “their” history, whatever that meant. And when they asked who she was, she was silent.
So in a nutshell, while globalization allows for a little migration to occur, it is important to be mindful when marrying values (and morals in some cases) with one another and retaining your identity. And if you wonder what I think of celebrating Halloween as a Muslim, I say celebrate it like any other tradition.
Picture Books For Children
- Bunnicula (See HERE): great for vegans and vegetarians and those who love Halloween wit and humor.
- Where the Wild Things Are (See HERE): a wonderful tale on how powerful imagination can me and how monsters or any fear can become friends with just a little courage.
- The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything (See HERE): an awesome storybook on fears, especially fears of the unknown and how far bravery can take you.
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (See HERE): hilarity resumes with this tale as a little boy with a big boy anger problems goes about his day at school. Teaches kids about moods, personalities, problem-solving, and makes adults wonder what it would be like to have a friend like Alexander.
- There’s a Nightmare in My Closet (See HERE): a cute tale about being nice to someone who is different from us.
- Bony-Legs (See HERE): this book was read to me as a classroom read aloud when I was in 1st grade (See HERE). I thought this witch was the scariest witch around. Major havoc issues covered in this picture books.
- Frankenstein (See HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE): a Halloween classic and a favorite among children and adults alike. These picture books are kid-friendly with just enough spook from the original novel.