KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 ― Muslims are now prohibited from celebrating the Halloween festival traditionally held at end of this month, according to an edict released by the National Fatwa Council today.

Based on the fatwa released on its website, the council has categorised Halloween as a Christian celebration of the dead and against Islamic teachings, and is urging Muslims to pray for their deceased instead.

“The Halloween celebration is clearly against the values of Shariah,” said the council, referring to Islamic laws and codes.

“It cannot be celebrated by Muslims. To remember those who have passed away, Islam suggests the practices of reciting doa (prayers) and Quran.”

Despite declaring Halloween to be a Christian festival, the council noted that it is now celebrated through costume parties, trick-or-treating, lighting bonfires, visiting haunted locations, pranks, and horror story-telling.

“Halloween is celebrated using a humorous theme mixed with horror to entertain and resist the spirit of death that influence humans,” it said.

Several Muslim groups are now training their sights on the coming Halloween festival, warning that the annual event to remember the dead is part of Western culture and could wrongly influence local Muslim youths.

According to a Sinar Harian Online report, banners promoting the October 31 event at a Seremban international school have triggered unease among the Muslim residents in the Negeri Sembilan township.

Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) has also waded into the issue, urging the state authorities, including the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Council (Mains), to monitor the event.

Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman also claimed on Saturday Halloween celebrations are organised by non-Muslims worldwide to shake the faith of Muslims and turn them godless.

Abdullah said it was likely that atheists were behind the events, claiming further that Halloween celebrations were also intended to spread atheism.

Halloween is the most recent non-Muslim event to come under criticism from Muslim groups, which previously targeted the Oktoberfest beer festival for ostensibly being insensitive to their Islamic values.

Fatwas are opinions issued by Islamic clerics on a multitude of issues. Although these are advisory in nature, Malaysia occasionally gazettes some into law.