As Salaamu Alaikum,
Is it permissible to celebrate Valentine’s Day, if not why?
Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
It is not permissible for Muslims to celebrate Valentine’s Day since it is a non-Muslim celebration which originated from the Roman pagans and Christians.
Much has been written about the history of Valentine’s Day, but the following is a gist/summary of how it began:-
‘The ‘Day’ got its name from the famous Christian saint, St. Valentine, a Roman priest who lived in the 3rd century AD. It is written that the Emperor at that time had banned marriage (for soldiers) since he thought that married men were bad soldiers. St. Valentine thought that this was unfair, so he broke the rule and arranged marriages in secret. When the Emperor found out, Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to death. There, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was taken to be killed on the 14th February, he sent her a love letter signed ‘from your Valentine’.
The martyrdom of Valentine was later honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.
As years passed by (in the 5th century), the ‘Day’ was combined with the pagan festival known as ‘Lupercalia’, and both were celebrated together, by Christians and pagan Romans.
(‘Lupercalia’ was a feast celebrated by Romans from 13th – 15th February each year. The feast was celebrated in a manner that men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. They (the women) believed this would make them fertile).
Over a period of time, some writers, poets and playwrights began to romanticize the holiday of ‘St. Valentine’s Day’ and it gained popularity through Britain and the rest of Europe. Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World’. (The Dark Origin of Valentine’s Day – npr.org; Valentines’s Day – Encyclopedia Britannica).
Today, although it may be celebrated through the world as a day of Romance, love and affection, it is really observed in honor of St. Valentine, in following the tradition of the feast of Saint Valentine, which started with the pagan Romans and continued with the Roman Christians.
From the above, it can be clearly seen that Valentine’s Day started as an innovation of the Roman pagans, and was later adopted by Christians. A celebration of this nature has no place in Islam, and Muslims are prohibited from following such practices, and from supporting or becoming part of such Un-Islamic festivals and celebrations.
Allah Himself Has prohibited the believers (Muslims) from following the ways of the ignorant people and those who are misguided. In this regard, Allah revealed to the Prophet (S.A.S), saying ‘Then we have put you on a plain/clear path of (Our) commandment (Shariah). So follow it, and do not follow the vain desires of those who have no knowledge’ (Surah Al Jaathiyah (45) Verse 18).
In this verse, Allah issued an official command to the Prophet (S.A.S) and his Ummah, saying that they must follow the Shariah (way/path) which He sent to them, and must never follow the ways, practices and customs of those who have no knowledge of the truth, since they follow nothing but their vain desires.
In another verse, Allah says to the believers, ‘And Verily, this (the religion of Islam) is my path, which is the straight path. So follow it, and do not follow other paths, for they will separate you away from His path. This, He Has ordained for you that you may become righteous’. (Sura Al An’am Verse 153)
Like the above, there are many other verses of the Holy Quran which inform Muslims that they must follow the teachings of Islam which Allah Has given to them, and at the same time, they must refrain from following the customs, practices and teachings of non-Muslims.
The Prophet (S.A.S) has also warned Muslims about following the ways of the Jews and Christians, and has clearly instructed them to oppose their ways and practices. He has given direct guidance to his followers and said, ‘Oppose (the ways) of the Jews and Christians’.
[Bukhari, Muslim from Abu Hurairah (R.A); Abu Dawood and Hakim from Shadad bin Aws R.A)].
These verses of the Holy Quran, as well as traditions of the Holy Prophet (S.A.S) make it abundantly clear that it is totally prohibited for Muslims to follow the practices and customs of the pagans, Jews and Christians. Therefore, since ‘Valentine’s Day’ is nothing more than a practice invented by pagans and Christians, it will not be permissible for Muslims to celebrate it; to show happiness and joy on account of the day; to exchange gifts/flowers on that occasion; to call another his or her Valentine, and to exchange cards/letters wishing each other a happy Valentine’s Day.
Engaging in any of these acts, shows support and acceptance of this pagan custom which is unbecoming of a true and sincere Muslim.
Muslims must not view the exchanging of gifts, flowers and sweets on ‘Valentine’s Day’ as acceptable and okay for them since these seem to be good acts.
When any of these is done on ‘Valentine’s Day’ (by Muslims), it becomes a direct support, and an endorsement of a pagan (Mushrik) custom/practice, which is totally prohibited in Islam.
On its own, the exchange of gifts, flowers, sweets etc. between a husband and wife is good, as it enhances love and goodness between the spouses. But this should be done regularly through the year, (if they wish to do so). They should not wait for the 14th February to do it on the specific occasion of ‘Valentine’s Day’, since this shows that they attach significance to this day which in reality, is based on a pagan custom.
As for the exchange of flowers, chocolates, cards etc. between Muslim boys and girls on Valentine’s Day, this is not permissible at all, since Islam does not allow such relations between non-blood relatives, and also does not allow Muslims to be a part of the “Valentine’s Day’ celebration.
And Allah Knows best
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.