بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Valentine’s Day, Just Some Innocent Fun?
Valentine's Day in the West is seen as a time to honour romantic love and passion. Couples will profess their love for each other and where it’s a ritual to send anonymous cards, chocolates and gifts between secret admirers on the day.
The narration of the exact origin of Valentine’s Day differs but one explanation is that it has its origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was held in mid-February. The festival celebrated the coming of spring, which included fertility rites and the pairing off of young women with men by a lottery.
As it was as a pagan festival, with pagan rituals, Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia with Valentine’s Day. After Saint Valentine, a religious man who was put to death by the Roman Emperor Claudius, because he defied his order to ban marriages. The Emperor thought married men didn’t make good soldiers and forbade the ritual of marriage. Saint Valentine continued to secretly marry Christian couples in order to protect the institution of marriage.
However the reality of Valentine’s Day has become the exact opposite of what Saint Valentine was trying to achieve. A recent survey for example found that 30% of cheaters will actually stray on this day and spend it with their affair partner. Also it is a day on which especially youngsters will measure their “sex” appeal by competing with each other to see who has received the most gifts of secret admirers and a day on which those left with empty hands are subjected to feelings of worthless and shame.
Also the larger society will give much attention to this day, from the media outlets broadcasting romantic movies and songs, shops selling romantic gifts, and schools and universities organize “romantic activities” such as school dances and parties where youngsters are encouraged to take the first step in starting a romance.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just innocent fun neither does it commemorate the love between a husband and wife. It is just another instrument which is used to promote the notion of sexual freedom a core values within secular western societies. It is a day which helps the individual overcome his or her fear to approach the opposite sex and thus becomes a day which in reality celebrates illicit relationships, fornication and adultery.
Since Western traditions have found their way in the lands of the Muslims and as there are many Muslims living in the West we must recognise which effects these types of customs have on our understanding of relationships and how they slowly reshape the way youngsters view sexuality.
When Muslims participate in St. Valentine’s Day activities they are actually disregarding their Islamic morals and manners and how Islam has defined the relationship between men and woman. The only reference point of a Muslim is the Ahkam Shari’ah (divine ruling). It’s the only valid source of rites, traditions and practices that Muslims are allowed to follow. It’s the source which has been given as a guidance from our Creator.
When explaining why youngster should shun celebrating Valentine’s Day it should be explained that Islam is what should shape their thinking and behaviour and how participating with Valentine’s Day, they would be commemorating behaviour disliked by their Creator. It should be explained that all their actions comes with consequences, whether in this life or the next. The connection that actions lead to either reward or punishment must be made clear as well as their consciousness with their Creator enhanced. Hadiths and verses from the Quran should be connected with their current reality.
Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said:
«إِذَا زَنَى الرَّجُلُ خَرَجَ مِنْهُ الإِيمَانُ كَانَ عَلَيْهِ كَالظُّلَّةِ فَإِذَا انْقَطَعَ رَجَعَ إِلَيْهِ الإِيمَانُ»
“When a man commits fornication, faith departs from him and there is something like a canvas roof over his head; and when he quits that action, faith returns to him.” (Abu Dawud)
Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) reported that Allah's Messenger (saw) said to us
«يَا مَعْشَرَ الشَّبَابِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْكُمُ الْبَاءَةَ فَلْيَتَزَوَّجْ فَإِنَّهُ أَغَضُّ لِلْبَصَرِ وَأَحْصَنُ لِلْفَرْجِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَعَلَيْهِ بِالصَّوْمِ فَإِنَّهُ لَهُ وِجَاءٌ»
“Oh young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford It should observe fast for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire.” (Sahih Muslim)
They should understand that Islam views sexuality from the purpose of why it was created in the first place, the survival of the human race. For this reason Islam encourages marriage as it is seen as the only genuine relationship which can fulfil the sexual instinct. It views the relationship between a husband and a wife as a natural relationship and when they are intimate it is not seen as anything strange or odd. In other words man’s view of this instinct must be orientated towards the purpose for which it is found in him, and that is undoubtedly the survival of the species without distinction between men or women.
Allah (swt) said:
﴿هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَجَعَلَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا لِيَسْكُنَ إِلَيْهَا فَلَمَّا تَغَشَّاهَا حَمَلَتْ حَمْلاً خَفِيفًا فَمَرَّتْ بِهِ فَلَمَّا أَثْقَلَت دَّعَوَا اللّهَ رَبَّهُمَا لَئِنْ آتَيْتَنَا صَالِحاً لَّنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ﴾
“It is He Who has created you from a single person, and He has created from him his wife, in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. When he had sexual relations with her, she became pregnant and she carried it about lightly. Then when it became heavy, they both invoked Allah, their Lord: If You give us a good child, indeed we shall be amongst the grateful.”
Youngsters should also be advised to stay away from situations where there is non-Islamic atmosphere as these can lead to Muslim youth losing their Islamic identity, their values and even their Deen. Youngsters of this age are more influenced by friends than their parents. So the role of parents to help their children choose friends wisely at a younger age is important.
Abu Musa narrated that the Prophet (saw) said,
«مَثَلُ الْجَلِيسِ الصَّالِحِ وَالْجَلِيسِ السَّوْءِ كَمَثَلِ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ، وَكِيرِ الْحَدَّادِ، لاَ يَعْدَمُكَ مِنْ صَاحِبِ الْمِسْكِ إِمَّا تَشْتَرِيهِ، أَوْ تَجِدُ رِيحَهُ، وَكِيرُ الْحَدَّادِ يُحْرِقُ بَدَنَكَ أَوْ ثَوْبَكَ أَوْ تَجِدُ مِنْهُ رِيحًا خَبِيثَةً»
“The example of a good companion in comparison with a bad one, is I like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith's bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” (Bukhari)
In an Islamic society, the rules of Islam will ensure that the family unit is protected. Free mixing amongst men and women will be forbidden and the Islamic dress code will ensure that immoral behaviour will be minimalized. But in the meantime we need to focus on educating our youth in recognizing the dangers surrounding them.
Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by