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Can Muslims Celebrate Valentines Day?

Can we discuss Valentines Day without going at each other’s throats? A non-judgemental, plain facts view of both sides of the argument.

Can we discuss Valentines Day without going at each other’s throats? A non-judgemental, plain facts view of both sides of the argument.

‘Can Muslims be celebrate Valentines Day?’ is a question that gets asked and debated every year. Some Muslims believe it is OK to celebrate a day dedicated to loving your other half, while others deem it impermissible to celebrate owing to the roots and history associated with the day.

We want to take this opportunity to merely present both sides of the argument. We will delve into the history of Valentines Day and look at its modern interpretation to give a balanced view of both sides of the argument. When appropriate we will bring in verses of the Holy Qur’an to aid understanding.

The History of valentines day

There isn’t a unanimously agreed origins story for Valentines Day except for the name of the person the day is dedicated to – St Valentine.

St Valentine Died For Love

Some assert he was a Catholic priest who went against the then Emperor Claudius II after the latter outlawed marriage for young men. Claudius felt married men were too attached to their wives, which prevented them from joining the army for war, whereas single men were more than happy to oblige. As a result, he banned marriage. Despite the ban, St Valentine continued to secretly marry people until he was caught and executed.

Another opinion says Valentine was a Bishop and prisoner who fell in love with a prison guards daughter. Before execution, he sent her a letter signed “From your Valentine” which is considered the first-ever Valentines Day card and is the reason people call their partner their ‘Valentine’ on Valentines Day.

Which story is true – we don’t know. But we can say it has Christian origins with love and romance being central to it – a theme that has continued to this very day.

There is a third opinion. Holders of this opinion say Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with Christianity and is in fact a pagan holiday given the shroud of Christianhood.

Valentines Day and its Pagan Origin

The paganised version of Valentines Day has got nothing to do with St Valentine. People of this opinion say the holiday is used as a guise to celebrate ‘Luparcalia’ – a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

The day would be commemorated by sacrificing a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. The goat would be cut into strips, dipped in blood and smeared across young women to improve their fertility. Later, the names of each young woman would be placed in a big pot with single men picking out a women’s name to pair up with for that year.

Greek Origins of Valentines Day

Aside from the heavy Roman-Christian influence on Valentines Day, the holiday also has a Greek element. You’ve all seen an image of Cupid, right? He’s supposed to represent the Greek god of love, Eros. This is why ‘cupid’s arrow’, if struck on someone, makes them fall in love.

so, is valentines day haram?

If we assess and evaluate Valentine’s Day from the lens of its supposed pagan origins, it’s impossible to argue against the impermissibility of celebrating the holiday. The Holy Qur’an makes it abundantly clear that our Lord is One and none is to be worshipped except Him. In Surah Kafiroon, we are advised to address the people of other religions with the following:

I do not worship that which you worship.”

(109:2)

Polytheism and idol worship is the worst sin in the eyes of Allah (SWT):

God does not forgive the worship of others beside Him.”

(4:116)

Unless they repent and become Muslims before dying.

If these stories are to be believed Valentine’s Day at best is a Christian holiday. ‘What is a Muslim doing celebrating a Christian/pagan holiday?’ is the natural question some Muslims will raise.

The modern interpretation of Valentines day

Although Valentines Day is rooted in Christian or pagan origins, nobody in today’s age celebrates it for those reasons or because of the ancient stories.

In the 20th and 21st Century, Valentine’s Day has become yet another holiday and a reason to take your spouse out for dinner and buy them a nice gift. The phrase ‘Valentines Day’ means nothing else. No Muslim is marking Valentines Day because of a Christian priest or bishop, or because of some mythological demi-gods of love and fertility.

embracing cultures that don’t conflict with religion

By the grace of Allah (SWT), Islam has spread far and wide. Naturally, Muslims have been exposed to and embraced different cultures. Not all cultures are unIslamic either. A Nigerian Muslim will dress differently from an Iranian Muslim. An Eastern European Muslim eats something entirely different to an Asian Muslim. These differences are rooted in different cultures and regions.

So, what about Valentines Day? Can it also be labelled as something harmlessly cultural and therefore acceptable? Many Muslims think so.

They assert there isn’t anything unIslamic in using Valentines Day as an opportunity to express love for one’s spouse and use the day as an excuse to go on a romantic date. What can possibly be haram about expressing love to one’s lawful wedded partner?

Today, Valentine’s Day is ultimately about love. Love is one of the main foundations of our faith. Therefore, Valentines Day is deemed as not being in conflict with Islam whatsoever.

Both the opposing sides have valid points. But is there a right and wrong in this debate?

valentines day comes down intention and interpretation

The scholar ibn Qayim said: “It’s difficult to judge one’s own intentions, let alone the intention of others.”

In the modern age, Valentines Day will down to a Muslims intention and interpretation. Some Muslims will avoid it because of the history associated with the day while others are fine with making romantic plans with their spouse because a modernised Valentines Day doesn’t really have any link to its origins.

Can there be a Muslim version of valentines day?

Dr Bilal Hassam, creative director at British Muslim TV has some ideas on what a Muslim-inspired Valentines Day could look like:

“Perhaps a powerful poem praising your partner or maybe the introduction a small gesture into your relationship, like eating from the same plate, just as the Prophet did, with the hope of rekindling sparks of love and affection.

What about bringing a sense of charity to the celebration, perhaps spending Valentine’s Day in acts of service for those who have lost their loved ones? Or even just helping your single friends who are still on the search.

Love is the balm that will bind us all together, roses and chocolates might help a little, but perhaps this Valentine’s Day we can delve deep into the wisdoms of our faith and enhance what this season of love could be for all.”

 

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