VALENTINE, THE PAGAN CELEBRATION… BY SHEIK BADRU JAFFAR
Several years ago I was listening to a brother castigating Muslim brethren who celebrate Valentine's Day and I thought to myself how many of us are caught up in the cultural web. Later the brother was seen carrying flowers on the 14th of February and this cemented the idea that our lives have been heavily influenced by western cultures.
Praise be to Allah, in His infinite mercy He has blessed us with Islam as our religion and He will not accept any other religion from anyone, as He says:
“And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”[Al-Imraan 85]
Prophet Muhamad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that groups of his Ummah would follow the enemies of Allah in some of their rituals and customs, as it says in the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), who narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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’s hole, you would follow them.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said, “Who else?!” Bukhary
Imam Bukhary placed this hadeeth under the topic "Fortification (of one's self) with the Kitaab and Sunnah". In his fiqh the Imam is admonishing us to stick to the ways, culture and customs of the Quran and Sunnah. If we choose to follow alien cultures and religions we are bound to adversely affect our iman and akhlaq … after all isn’t celebrating a day such as Valentine's Day celebrating zinaa (adulter and fornication)!
What the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spoke of has indeed come to pass and has become widespread in recent times, Many of us follow un-Islamic customs, and more so when we imitate the West by celebrating their rituals and holidays. Many Muslim countries are grappling with the idea of changing the weekend from Saturday and Sunday as this is a western custom.
The matter has been compounded by the media whereby the rituals and customs of the non-Muslims are now transmitted with the glamorous adornment of sound and image. Many Muslims have been hoodwinked by this deception.
This article seeks to address this phenomenon in terms of its negative effects on the youth and Muslims in general.
The Story of the Festival of Love (Valentine’s Day)
The Festival of Love was one of the festivals of the Romans, when paganism was the prevalent practice in Rome, more than seventeen centuries ago. In the pagan Roman concept, Valentine's Day was an expression of “spiritual love”. When the Romans embraced Christianity, they continued to celebrate the day, but changed it from the pagan concept of “spiritual love” to another concept known as the “martyrs of love”, represented by Saint Valentine who had advocated love and peace, for which cause he was martyred, according to their claims. It was also called the Feast of Lovers, and Saint Valentine was considered to be the patron saint of lovers. The Pope designated the day of the death of Saint Valentine, February 14, 270 CE, as a festival of love.
Some of the activities that mark celebrating this day are:-
1 – Expressing joy and happiness on this occasion, preparing special meals, candle lit dinners and romantic events.
2 – Exchanging red roses, which are an expression of love, the “spiritual love” of the pagans or the “martyr of love” of the Christians. Hence it is known to them as the Feast of Lovers.
3 – The sending of greetings cards, sms messages, love letters. On some of these cards and messages have pictures of “Cupid”, who appears as a child with two wings, carrying a bow and arrows. This was the god of love of the pagan Romans – exalted be Allah far above their fabrications and their association of others with Him.
4 – Exchange of words of love and desire in the greeting cards and sms messages, in verse, prose and short phrases. Some of the cards contain the phrase “Be my Valentine”. This represents the Christian concept of this festival after it was adopted from the pagan concept.
5 – In many societies, parties are held during the day and in the evening, where there is mixing of men and women, and dancing. Many of them send gifts such as roses and boxes of chocolates to their wives, friends and those whom they love or whom they lust for.
6- Dressing up in red.
Anyone who looks at what is said above about the myths surrounding this pagan festival will clearly understand the following:
Firstly: That the origins of Valentine's Day lie in the pagan beliefs of the Romans, where it was an expression of the spiritual love of the idols which they used to worship instead of Allah. Whoever celebrates Valentine's Day is celebrating an occasion of shirk on which the idols are venerated. Allah says:
“Verily, whosoever sets up partners (in worship) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the dhaalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) there are no helpers” [Al-Maa’idah 72]
Imam Ibn Qayyim RA says:
"…as for congratulating the kuffaar on their celebrations, it is haram by consensus, e.g. congratulating them on their fast by saying blessed fast or we congratulate you on this occasion, if the one congratulating them escapes from kufr (disbelief), it still remains a prohibited act. It is of the same ruling as congratulating a non Muslim on prostrating to an idol, but it is more sinful in Allah's eyes, and more blameworthy than congratulating one on drinking alcohol, murder or committing adultery" Ahkaam Ahl-Dhimmah pg 205
It is therefore clearly not allowed to celebrate Valentine's Day, even for married couples.
Secondly: The connection between Saint Valentine and this festival has been questioned by many sources, and it is considered to be far from definite. Therefore, it is purely a pagan form of worship.
Thirdly: This festival was denounced by the Christian clergy in Italy, the bastion of Catholicism, because it was spreading bad attitudes and having an adverse effect on the minds of young men and women. Muslim youth alike should shun this festival as it promotes zinaa (sex outside marriage).
In Islam, the festivals that are to be celebrated by Muslims are clearly defined and well established. They are an essential part of our worship and culture. Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“Festivals are part of the laws, clear way and religious ceremonies of which Allah says:
‘To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way.’[Al-Maa’idah 48]
‘For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow.’[Al-Hajj 67]
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) referred to the fact that every nation has its own festivals when he said:
‘Every nation has its own Eid and this is our Eid.’ Bukhary & Muslim.
Valentine’s Day is surely a pagan celebration and Muslims have no share and no part in it. – “Every nation has its Eid,” – then each nation should be distinguished by its festivals. If the Christians have a festival and the Jews have a festival, which belongs exclusively to them, then no Muslim should join in with them, just as he does not share their religion or their direction of prayer.
Celebrating un-Islamic holidays and rituals erodes our iman. Our shariah intends to create a difference and distinction between believers and non believers which in turn creates influence and loyalty to Allah. This loyalty gives rise to an influential society. Allah says:
'Thus We have made you true Muslims - real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Mohamad peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his Sunnah (legal ways)-, a just (and the best) nation that you be witnesses over mankind' Albaqara 143
Participating in un-Islamic celebrations breeds love for the non-Muslims and their way of life, this goes further to entrench their beliefs in the larger society and for the participants to unwittingly imbibe it themselves. How can Muslims be right and they covet our way of life, they would ask.
'Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim and those with him (Believers), when they said to their people (Non believers); Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allah; we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you hostility and hatred for ever until you believe in Allah alone'. Mumtahinah 4
Imitating non believers even in small ways like congratulating them on their celebrations or giving them gifts is a precursor for adopting and participating in bigger acts of kufr. It is evident some Muslims attend mass during Christmas while others decorate their houses with the cross – may Allah guide us – and these despicable acts started from seemingly innocent congratulations sent to them on their festivities.
How many youth engage in zinaa on Valentine's Day? How many lives are messed up? And how many abortions follow up? This occasion only provides the non Muslims with a wide open door to our hearts and lives to plant seeds of kufr.
May Allah guide us against all forms of idol worship, Amin.
Sh. Badru Jaffar
Patron, Ashabaab Newsletter