Is Celebrating Valentine’s Day Actually that Bad?Zubair Akram
As the month of February begins, we start to see our surrounding environments filled with giant teddy bears, heart shaped chocolates and red roses. To young girls especially, this aesthetic is very attractive. The pressures of popular culture make girls feel as though someone should buy them these things, and if they don’t receive anything, they begin to feel dejected. On this day, those who are single are brought under the intensity of the spotlight, feeling a greater consciousness for the fact that they are alone.
‘So who’s your Valentine?’
At school, work and on the TV, conversations bounce between light hearted statements and flirtatious jokes about Valentine’s day. As Muslims, we sometimes become immune to the varied themes of conversations and events that take place around us that are of an un-Islamic nature. It’s just a joke though, it’s not really a big deal…right?
The history and commercialism surrounding Valentine’s day both promote ‘love’, which can stoke feelings of desire and lust in the youth and the unmarried, which can lead to immoral behaviour. In the Quran, Allah (subhanahu wa-ta’ala) says,
‘Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed […]’ (7:33).
In Islam, all forms of immoral speech and actions are prohibited. Following this principle protects our morals, honour and chastity. To compromise this principle would be a dishonour and disservice only to ourselves.
More worryingly, the holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. So Valentine’s Day has very strong pagan origins and traditions.
As Muslims who have submitted to God (Allah), and guide our lives through the Quran and Sunnah (the way of the Prophet, peace be upon him), what does Islam say about this?
One relevant historic incident that helps to guide us in this regard is when the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) came to the city of Madinah. At the time they commemorated two festivals from their pagan traditions so the prophet (PBUH) enquired about these days. He (peace be upon him) then said:
“Allah has replaced them for you with something better than them. The day of al-Adha and the day of al-Fitr.”
This hadeeth explains to us that non-Islamic festivals have been replaced for Muslims by the two Eid celebrations (al-Adha and al-Fitr). The hadeeth also helps to clarify our stance towards all other commercial and religious festivities such as Christmas, Easter, Valentines day and Halloween etc.
Ultimately this occasion has many harms and can results in evils and haraam (forbidden) things such as wasting time, singing, music, extravagance, unveiling, wanton display, men inappropriately mixing with women etc or things that are a means that leads to immorality that cannot be excused by the simple claim that this is a form of entertainment or fun. The sincere Muslim will always seek to stay away from sin and the means that lead to it.
So even though at times it can become tempting to take part just for the fun of it, as Muslims we must remember to always protect ourselves. When our environments both internal and external begin to feel pressured, we can turn to prayer, as Allah (subhanahu wa-ta’ala – glorified and exalted be He) says:
‘Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do. (29:45)