How did Valentine’s Day originate?
Valentine’s Day also known as the ‘Festival of Love’of the pagan Romans dates back to the 17th century when paganism was on therise in Rome. TheChristian heirs of the era have associated many myths and legends with thisRoman festival based on ‘spiritual love’. The most popular of thesemyths was about Romulus who was the founder of Rome. Romans believedthat once he was suckled by a female wolf.
Every year this event was celebrated by Romans in mid-February with abig festival in which a goat and a dog was sacrificed. The blood of thesesacrificed animals was then smeared on the bodies of two strong, muscularyouths and washed away with milk. After this ritual the two men would lead ahuge parade on the streets with pieces of leather in their hands. They used theleather pieces to hit anyone who came in their way. Roman women welcomed theseblows as they believed that it would cure or prevent infertility.
The link between St. Valentine and pagan Romanfestival:
The name St. Valentine is given to two of the ancient‘martyrs’ of the Christian Church. Some say there were two of themwhile others say there was only one who was martyred by the Gothic LeaderClaudius in 296 CE. Half a century later a church was built in the honor of St.Valentine on the site of his death.
The celebrating of the Feast of Love continued by the Romans even afterthey embraced Christianity, however the pagan concept of ‘spirituallove’ was now changed to ‘martyrs of love’. This was done tocommemorate the massacre of St. Valentine who was a promoter of peace and loveand was supposedly martyred for the same cause. The festival was also called Feastof Lovers and Saint Valentine was considered to be a supporter of lovers.
A false belief connected with this festival was that the names of youngunmarried girls would be written on pieces of paper and placed in a dish on atable. A young man who wanted to marry would be called to pick a piece of paperto draw a name of a girl. He would then hangout with that girl for a year sothat the couple gets to know each other, and then get married. This process wasrepeated every year during the festival.
The Christian clergy abolished this tradition in Italy, as theybelieved it would cause corruption of the society. In the 18th and 19thcenturies it was revived again in some Western countries where they sold booksof love poems in shops. These books were called “Valentine books”and had suggestions for writing love letters.
Islam’s stance on the celebration ofValentine’s Day
Islam teaches us true love and cooperation for that which is good andrighteous. There are forms of love in Islam that are acceptable while others arenot. We must be aware that love for Allah and His Prophet (PBUH) must be giventhe highest priority over all other forms of love.
There are occasions in Islam that increase love between people and bring themcloser to each other. However, Islam prohibits us to blindly follow the West byadopting their customs and traditions such as the celebration of theValentine’s Day. Therefore commemorating and promoting that specialoccasion of Valentine’s Day is Biddah or innovation and has no place inour religion. Islam totally rejects all such innovations. Islam encourages usto love one another all the time throughout the year, and limiting the wholeyear to a single day is illogical.
There is evidence in Quran and Hadith that supports the statements mentionedabove:
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never beaccepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers [Aal‘Imraan 3:85]
And the Prophet (PBUH) had said that groups of his Ummah would follow theenemies of Allah in some of their rituals and customs, as it is stated in ahadith of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, who narrated that the Prophet (PBUH)said: “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you,span by span, cubit by cubit, until even if they were to enter a lizard’shole, you would follow them.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, (doyou mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said, “Who else?!”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari in al-I’tisaam bi’l-Kitaabwa’l-Sunnah, Baab Qawl al-Nabi (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)La tattabi’unna Sanan man kaana qablakum, 8/151; and by Muslim in Kitaabal-‘Ilm, Baab Ittibaa’ Sanan al-Yahood wa’l-Nasaara, 4/2054)
What the Prophet (PBUH) told us 1400 years ago has indeed come true in recenttimes. Many Muslims today follow the enemies of Allah by imitating some oftheir rituals, customs and that includes the celebration of Valentine’sDay.
Muslims should avoid celebrating this occasion by:
1- Not expressing joy and happiness on this occasion.
2- Not exchanging red roses, which represent the ‘spiritual love’of the pagans or the ‘love’ of the Christians. Hence it is known tothem as the Feast of Lovers.
3- Not sending greeting cards as some of their cards have pictures of“Cupid” (a child with two wings carrying bows and arrows). This wasthe god of love of the pagan Romans.
4- Not exchanging words of love and desire in the cards or verbally. Some ofthe cards contain the words ‘be my Valentine’. This is theChristian concept of this festival after they adopted from the pagan Romans.
5- Not attending dance parties with mixed gatherings.
Why Muslims should not celebrate this festival.
In Islam, the festivals are clearly defined and well established, andno additions or subtractions may be accepted. They have been prescribed for usby Allah and His Messenger (PBUH).
‘To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way[al-Maa’idah 5:48]
‘For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they mustfollow’ [al-Hajj 22:67]
Agreeing with the whole festival is like agreeing with kufr. Agreeingwith some of their minor issues is the same as agreeing with them in some ofthe branches of kufr. Festivals are the most distinctive things whichdifferentiate religions, so participating in their festivals is like agreeingwith the most distinctive rituals of kufr.
Imitating the non-believers in general –whether they are idol-worshippersor People of the Book is unlawful. This is indicated by the Qur’aan,Sunnah and ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus):
“And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after theclear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awfultorment” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:105]
From the Sunnah: the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (narrated by Ahmad,2/50; Abu Dawood, 4021)
Prohibition of imitation the Non-believers is one of the basic tenets of theIslamic law. Allah sent His Messenger with guidance and the true religion sothat it might prevail over all other religions, and Allah has perfected Hisreligion for mankind.
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favorupon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”[al-Maa’idah 5:3].