Encyclopaedia Britannica states :
April Fools' Day also called ALL FOOLS' Day, first day of April, named from the custom of playing practical jokes or sending friends on fools' errands on that date. Although it has been observed for centuries in several countries, the origin of the custom is unknown. It resembles other festivals, such as the Hilaria of ancient Rome (March 25) and the Holi festival of India (ending March 31). Its timing seems related to the vernal equinox (March 21), when nature "fools" mankind with sudden changes in the weather. On April Fools' Day all people are given an excuse to play the fool. In France the fooled person is called poisson d'avril ("April fish"), but the origin of the name is unknown. In April the cuckoo, emblem of simpletons, comes, so in Scotland the victim is called gowk (cuckoo). The custom of playing April Fools' jokes was taken to America by the British. It has continued to be observed by children and adults and sometimes involves rather elaborate hoaxes as well as merely simple jokes.
ORIGIN OF APRIL FOOL DAY
The French came to call April 1 "Poisson d'Avril," or "April Fish." An April fish is a young fish and thus, one which is easily caught. French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying "Poisson d'Avril" when the prank is discovered. Traditionally, French pranks must include or at least relate to a fish. The nickname of "Poisson d'Avril" is said to have been acquired by Napoleon I when he married Marie-Louise of Austria on April 1, 1810.
April Fool's Day was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and the French.
In Scotland, April Fool's Day is actually celebrated for two days. It is also known as "April Gowk," "Gowkie Day" or "Hunt the Gowk." "Gowk" is Scottish for "cuckoo" -- an emblem of simpletons. The second day is also known as "Taily Day."
Mexico's counterpart of April Fool's Day is actually observed on December 28. In Portugal, April Fool's Day is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday prior to the Lenten Season, with the traditional trick being to throw flour at one's friends.
In spite of the "modern" origins of the day, many historians agree that the day has clearly ancient roots. We are told that ancient cultures, including those as varied as the Romans and the Hindus, celebrated New Year's Day on April 1. The Encyclopedia Britannica points out:
"What seems certain is that it is in some way or other a relic of those once universal festivities held at the vernal equinox, which, beginning on old New Year's Day, the 25th of March, ended on the 1st of April. This view gains support from the fact that the exact counterpart of April-fooling is found to have been an immemorial custom in India. The festival of the spring equinox is there termed the feast of Huli, the last of which is the 31st of March, upon which the chief amusement is the befooling of people by sending them on fruitless errands."
Other sources tell us that throughout antiquity, numerous festivals included celebrations of foolery and trickery. One source, "April Fool's Day: Early Roots," gives the following noteworthy report:
"The Saturnalia, a Roman winter festival observed at the end of December, was the most important of these [celebrations of trickery]. It involved dancing, drinking, and general merrymaking. People exchanged gifts, slaves were allowed to pretend that they ruled their masters, and a mock king, the Saturnalicius princeps (or Lord of Misrule), reigned for the day. By the fourth century AD the Saturnalia had been transformed into January 1 New Year's Day celebration, and many of its traditions were incorporated into the observance of Christmas... Northern Europeans observed an ancient festival to honor Lud, a Celtic god of humor. And there were also popular Northern European customs that made sport of the hierarchy of the Druids... During the Middle Ages, a number of celebrations developed which served as direct predecessors to April Fool's Day. The most important of these was the Festus Fatuorum (the Feast of Fools) which evolved out of the Saturnalia. On this day (mostly observed in France) celebrants elected a mock pope and parodied church rituals. The church, of course, did its best to discourage this holiday, but it lingered on until the sixteenth century. Following the suppression of the Feast of Fools merrymakers focused their attention on Mardi Gras and Carnival."
The same source states this regarding the "modern" origin of "April Fool's Day":
"The calendar change hypothesis might provide a reason for why April 1st specifically became the date of the modern holiday. But it is clear that the idea of the springtime festival honoring misrule and mayhem had far more ancient roots. In addition, the process by which the observance of the day spread from France to Protestant countries such as Germany, Scotland, and England is left unexplained by this theory. These nations only adopted the calendar change during the eighteenth century, at a time when the tradition of April Foolery had already been well established throughout Europe. Finally, it is not clear what, if any, primary evidence (i.e. first-hand accounts written during the 16th and 17th centuries) supports the theory. The link between the calendar change and April 1st appears to be based on modern conjecture rather than archival research. Therefore, while the theory remains a possibility, it should not be treated as a fact."
A German source, "Faz.Net," points out that neither the Jews nor the Muslims participate in the custom of April Fool's Day. Tagesschau.de wrote on April 1, 2002, that there are 800 theories regarding the origin of "April Fool's Day," and stated that the Catholic Church "has no problem" with its celebration. Dr. Manfred Becker-Huberti explained: "Even though the first April prank has only been recorded in Germany in 1631, the custom seems to be much older. It can be found amongst all Indo-Germanic tribes... One possible origin can be found in the Roman feast of Quirinalia, or of the Indian feast of Huli, during which fools cast out winter and demons. The best explanation is that it derives from a spring festival, like the German "Fastnacht" ["Fastnacht" is part of the German Carnival. The original "Fastnacht" was also celebrated for the purpose of casting out winter and demons]... In honor of [the Greek goddess] Venus, a feast of deception was celebrated in the spring. April 1 was her special day, and that is the reason why she was also called 'Aprilis.' The name of the Indian goddess of love, 'Maja,' has the meaning of 'deception.'"
The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings, points out:
"The origin of the practice is obscure... it was widely prevalent at the close of the 16th century. It seems difficult, therefore, to accept the theory that it was due to the transference of New Year's Day from the First of April to the First of January... The similarity of the fooling in India and the Celtic lands of Western Europe, taken together with affinities in religion and folklore... points to a common origin in very early times... The First of April was kept in ancient Rome as the Feast of Venus and Fortuna Virilis... It is to some Celtic form of this worship of Venus on the First of April that the origin of All Fools' Day must be traced... All Fools' Day may therefore be the relic of a Spring Festival of Llew [a Sun-god of Celtic mythology]."
AN IMPORTANT POINT:
Renowned Larousse Encyclopedia narrated a reason, and declared it more authentic. According to the traditions narrated by the Christians and the Jews, 1st of April was the day when Hazrat Essa (alaihis Salaam) was made the butt of jokes and the victim of mockery by the Romans and the Jews. The so called Gospels presently found with the Christians provide the details of the incident. The following are the words of Luke:
Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" And they spoke many other words against him, reviling him. Luke 22:63-65
The gospels also carry a narration of how Hazrat Masih (alaihis salaam) was also harassed by being bounced around from court to court. He was first charged and tried in the court of the Jewish elders and jurists, the Sanhedrin. But it merely transferred his case to the court of the Roman governor, Pilate, who sent the case back to the Jewish king Herod. Finally from the court of King Herod, he was taken back to the court of the Roman governor, Pilate, for decision.
The Larousse Encyclopedia opines that the very purpose of sending Hazrat Masih (alaihis salaam) from one court to another was to highlight his helplessness, to ridicule and deride him, and to subject him to mental distress. That incident, they say, took place on the first of April, and the tradition of April fool was in fact started in memory of that very shameless incident.
The victim of the custom of April fool, the person who is tricked and fooled is called ‘poisson d’avril’ in French. In English, it would be ‘April Fish’. (Encyclopedia Brittanica page 496 V1) So the person who has been tricked and made a fool of is like the first catch of the season, the fist fish that has been netted in the beginning of April, the New Year. In support of its opinion, the Larousse Encyclopedia claims that the French word ‘poisson’ translated into English as ‘fish’ is actually a degenerated form of another similar French word, ‘poison’ which means to ‘cause distress’ and to ‘inflict torture’. This tradition, they say, was actually selected to refresh the memory of the incidences of insult and torture which according to the Christian traditions Masih (alaihis salaam) had to endure on the 1st of April.
According to another French writer the word is indeed ‘poisson’ but it is an acronym. It is a composite of the first letters of five other French words that are when arranged sequentially: Essa, Masih, Allah, son and ransom. According to that writer, too, the origin of April fool is an attempt to memorialize the ridicule and distress inflicted upon Hazrat Essa (alaihis salaam).
So, it can be said that the Jewish community started that custom and gave it currency probably with the intent and object of hurling ridicule upon Hazrat Essa (alaihis salaam). Yet it is amazing that the custom which the Jews initiated to disparage Hazrat Essa (alaihis salaam) was not only accepted by the Christians with cold calmness, but they also joined in the celebration and helped spread the custom. May be the Christian folks were unaware of the origin of this custom, and may be they began celebrating it without giving it much thought in a vacant absent-minded manner. Yet the approach of the Christians and their mental outlook concerning such matters is rather odd, to say the least. As a general rule, the cross upon which Hazreet Essa was crucified in their opinion should have acquired a hate-worthy status in their eyes, because it was employed as a means of torturing and ridiculing Hazrat Masih (Alaihis Salam). But amazingly, they declared it sacred and today it is the holiest symbol of the Christian faith.
ADOPTING APRIL FOOL DAY IS BIDAT:
April fool celebration contains lying, deceiving and inflicting pain upon others. As per Islaam, these are sins. It directly contradicts the morals and teachings of Islaam. Islam forbids lying even in jest, and it forbids frightening a Muslim whether in seriousness or in jest, in words or in actions.
Almighty Allah says: "Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies." [40:28]
Almighty Allah also says:"Curse of Allah upon those who lie." [3:61]
Ibn Katheer said: “Then Allaah tells us that His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is not a fabricator or a liar, because only the most evil of people who do not believe in the signs of Allaah, the kaafirs and heretics who are known amongst the people for telling lies, tell lies about Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was the most truthful of people, the most righteous, the most perfect in knowledge, action, faith and certain belief. He was known amongst his people for his truthfulness; none of them doubted that, to such an extent that he was known amongst them as ‘al-Ameen (the trustworthy) Muhammad.’ Hence when Heraclius, the ruler of Rome, asked Abu Sufyaan about the characteristics of the Messenger of Allaah(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), one of the things he asked was, ‘Did you ever accuse him of lying before he said what he said?’ He said, ‘No.’ Heraclius said: ‘If he refrained from telling lies about people he would not go and tell lies about Allaah.’ (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 2/588)
Al-Nawawi said: “What the commentators and most of the scholars said – which is correct – is that this means that these characteristics are the characteristics of hypocrisy, and the one who has these characteristics resembles the hypocrites in this sense.
The words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), ‘he is a pure hypocrite’ mean that he strongly resembles the hypocrites because of these characteristics. Some of the scholars said: this is concerning one in whom these characteristics predominate; one in whom these characteristics rarely appear is not included in this. This is the favoured view concerning the meaning of this hadeeth. Imaam Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated this meaning from the scholars and said: ‘The meaning of this according to the scholars is hypocrisy in one's actions.’” (Sharh Muslim, 2/46-47)
Allaah says : “Say: ‘Verily, those who invent a lie against Allaah will never be successful’” [Yoonus 10:69]
It was narrated that ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him): “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Do not tell lies about me. Whoever tells lies about me, let him enter the Fire.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 106). It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever tells lies about me, let him take his place in Hell.”
(narrated by al-Bukhaari, 110; Muslim, 3). Ibn al-Qayyim said:
“… ‘Whoever tells lies about me, let him take his place in Hell’, i.e., let him take his place in Hell where he will abide and settle; it is not like a manzil or camp where he stays for a while and then moves on.” (Tareeq al-Hijratayn, p. 169)
It was narrated from Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three to whom Allaah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection and He will not look at them or praise them, and they will have a painful torment.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) repeated this three times. Abu Dharr said: “May they be doomed and lost, who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “The one who lets his garment hang below his ankles, the one who reminds others of his favours, and the one who disposes of his goods by swearing a false oath.” (Narrated by Muslim, 106) . It was narrated that Hakeem ibn Hizaam (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The two parties involved in a transaction have the option [of cancelling it] until they part. If they are honest and truthful, their transaction will be blessed for them and if they conceal something and tell lies, the blessing of their transaction will be wiped out.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1973; Muslim, 532) . Ibn Taymiyah said:
“Allaah has enjoined truthfulness and honesty, and He has forbidden lies and concealment with regard to matters which should be known and revealed to people, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said in a hadeeth whose authenticity is agreed upon: ‘The two parties involved in a transaction have the option [of cancelling it] until they part. If they are honest and truthful, their transaction will be blessed for them and if they conceal something and tell lies, the blessing of their transaction will be wiped out.’ And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):‘O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allaah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety’ [al-Maa’idah 5:8].” (Minhaaj al-Sunnah, 1/16)
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever tells of a dream that he did not see will be commanded [on the Day of Resurrection] to tie two grains of barley together, but he will never be able to do it. Whoever eavesdrops on people’s conversation when they dislike that – or they try to get away from him - will have molten copper poured in his ears in the Day of Resurrection. And whoever makes an image will be punished and will be told to breathe life into it, and he will not be able to do so.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6635)
Al-Manaawi said: “ ‘to tie two grains of barley together, but he will never be able to do it’ – because tying one to the other is not possible ordinarily. He will be punished until he does that, and he will never be able to do it. It is as if he is saying that he will be enjoined to do something that he can never do, and is being punished for it. This is a metaphor for continuous punishment… The reason why barley (sha’eer) is mentioned specifically is because dreams are connected to feelings (shu’oor); the words sha’eer (barley) and shu’oor (feelings) come from the same root in Arabic. The punishment for that is so severe – even though lies when awake may cause more damage, because they may involve testimony that may lead to execution or a hadd punishment – because lying about a dream is a lie about Allaah, may He be exalted, for dreams are a part of Prophethood, so they come from Him, and lying about the Creator is worse than lying about created beings. (Fayd al-Qadeer, 6/99).
A similar hadeeth was narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Awsat (8/305) and classed as hasan by al-Haythami in Majma’ al-Zawaa’id, 9/17
‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Laylaa said: the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us that they were travelling with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). A man among them fell asleep and some of them went and took his arrows. When the man woke up, he got alarmed (because his arrows were missing) and the people laughed. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “What are you laughing at?” They said, “Nothing, except that we took the arrows and he got alarmed.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 5004; Ahmad, 22555 – this version narrated by Ahmad). This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7658) It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed from his father from his grandfather that he heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “None of you should take the belongings of his brother, whether in jest or otherwise. Whoever has taken the stick of his brother, let him return it.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 5003; al-Tirmidhi, 2160 in brief) The hadeeth was classed as hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7578
And it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever says to a child, ‘Come here and take this,’ then does not give him something, this is counted as a lie.’” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4991) This hadeeth was classed as hasan by Shaykh al-‘Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1319.
(narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 235. He said: this is a hasan hadeeth. Also narrated by Abu Dawood, 4990).
The punishment for lying: The liar is warned of destructive punishment in this world, and humiliating punishment in the Hereafter. These include: Hypocrisy in the heart. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): So He punished them by putting hypocrisy into their hearts till the Day whereon they shall meet Him, because they broke that (covenant with Allaah) which they had promised to Him and because they used to tell lies ." [al-Tawbah 9:77]‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said: “You may know the hypocrite by three things: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something he betrays that trust.”. He said: “Recite this aayah (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And of them are some who made a covenant with Allaah (saying): “If He bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily, give Sadaqah (Zakaah and voluntary charity in Allaah’s Cause) and will be certainly among those who are righteous.” Then when He gave them of His Bounty, they became niggardly [refused to pay the Sadaqah (Zakaah or voluntary charity)], and turned away, averse. So He punished them by putting hypocrisy into their hearts till the Day whereon they shall meet Him, because they broke that (covenant with Allaah) which they had promised to Him and because they used to tell lies
[al-Tawbah 9:75-77].”(Musanaaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 6/125) .
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “He is not a liar who reconciles between people and narrates something good or says something good.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2546; Muslim, 2605)
So, if we dwell upon the origin and reality of this evil custom seriously, we can easily comprehand the significance of its avoidance .Even the Christian Scholars advises to refrain from this fake custom. Church of the eternal God website writes:
"Considering all the evidence of the origin of April Fool's Day, as it has become available to us, as well as the very nature of the celebrations and activities accompanying that Day, we must conclude that true Christians should refrain from participating in it."