Valentine’s Day has come to a number of Arab and Muslim countries, and has even reached the heartland of Islam (the Arabian Peninsula). In some of the Muslim dominated countries in ASEAN, which include Malaysia, there are numbers of shopping centers and hotels have organized special celebrations for Valentine’s Day recently. Most of the stores and business places were covered in red, and were full of balloons and dolls. Many restaurant owners put on special menu especially for dinner set and some have prepared a special production with ‘cupid’, the idol of love in the Roman myths, and carrying a bow and arrow. Some stores replaced their regular plates with heart-shaped plates, used red tablecloths and linens, and put a red rose on each table for the man to present to his beloved. For less expensive restaurant, they also celebrated this day in their own way. At the same time some local newspapers, social media, radio and television were also demonstrating support for valentine’s day by promoting discussion, specific articles and movies related to this day. Following the customs of the so called ‘Feast of Love’, we observe that as if people and society are in ‘full’ support to celebrate this event. This is, however contradicted with our belief as a Muslim. Thus, it is important to understand why we, Muslims should not support Valentine’s Day!
This question can be explained in different ways as follows:
ISLAM AND FESTIVAL
In Islam, the festivals are clearly defined and well established, and no additions or subtractions may be accepted. They are an essential part of our worship to Allah the Al-Mighty, and there is no room for personal opinion in this regards. Muslims have been prescribed by Allah and His Messenger with proper guideline on the religious-based festival. Allah says in the Qur’an:
‘To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way’ [Quran 5:48] and
‘For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow.’ [Quran 22:67]
In this matter Ibnu Taymiyyah said: ”Festivals are part of the laws, clear way and religious ceremonies”. This means that festivals from Islamic perspective are the most distinctive things by which religions are told apart, so whoever celebrates their festivals is agreeing with the most distinctive rituals of disbelief. Undoubtedly, going along with them in their festivals may, in some cases, lead to disbelief. In this respect, supporting and celebrating valentine’s day has directly against the basic Shariah’s understanding. Agreeing with the whole festival of valentine is agreeing with disbelief. Thus, dabbling in these things, at the very least, is a sin. The Prophet had also mentioned and referred to the fact that every nation has its own festivals when he said:
“Every nation has its own ‘Eed and this is our ‘Eed.” [Al-Bukhaari].
IMITATING NON-MUSLIMS BELIEF
Valentine’s Day means resembling or imitating the pagan Romans. The Christian People of the Book in their imitation of the Romans in something that was not part of their religion too. From the history, Valentine’s Day goes back to Roman times, and was not Islamic times. This means that it was something which belongs exclusively to the Christians, not to Islam. The Muslims have no share and no part in it.
Imitating non-Muslims in general for People of the Book is considered Haram (prohibited), whether that imitation is of their worship which is the most serious form or of their customs and behavior. This is indicated by the Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus) as follows:
The Qur’an: Allah Says (what means): “And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment.” [Quran 3:105]
The Prophet said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Abu Dawood]
Ibnu Taymiyyah said: “This Hadeeth (narration) at the very least indicates that it is Haram to imitate them, although the apparent meaning implies that the one who imitates them is non-Muslim,
as Allah Says (what means): ‘And if any amongst you takes them friends (and helpers), then surely, he is one of them‘ [Quran 5:5].”
With regard to Ijmaa’, Ibnu Taymiyyah narrated that there was agreement that it is Haram to imitate non-Muslims in their festivals at the time of the Prophet’s Companions and Ibnu Al-Qayyim narrated that there was scholarly consensus on this point.
TRUE LOVE IN ISLAM
The love referred to in this festival ever since the Christians revived it is romantic love outside the framework of legal marriage. The result of that is the potential spread of fornication and immorality. It is a mistake to confuse what they call the day with what the real intentions are behind it! The love referred to on this day is romantic love, taking mistresses and lovers, boyfriends and girlfriends. This is forbidden in Islam. There must be a form of restriction for any kind of forbidden relationship among youths, non-married couple or ajnabi.
Some people may wonder and thought that Islam may deprive Muslim of the true meaning of ‘love’. This is based on the fact that this day, people should express their feelings and emotions freely. So what is so wrong with that? Expression of feelings and emotions is not a justification for the Muslim to allocate a day for celebration. Moreover, when we acknowledge the festival like valentine’s day and the festivals was also known to be celebrated by non-Muslims. There is no religion which encourages its followers to love and care for one another more than Islam does. This applies at all times and in all circumstances, not just on one particular day. Indeed, Islam encourages us to express our emotions and love at all times, as the Prophet said:
“If a man loves his brother, let him tell him that he loves him.” [Abu Dawood]
In Islam, love is more general and more comprehensive. It is not restricted only to one kind of love, that between a man and a woman. There are many more kinds of love. For instance, a husband loves his wife throughout the year, and he expresses that love towards her with gifts, in verse and in prose, in letters and in other ways, throughout the years and not just on one day of the year.
Finally, we must enlighten the true nature of this holiday and other festivals of the non-Muslims to those Muslims who have been deceived by them. We need to convince them that it is essential for the Muslim to be distinguished by his religion and to protect his ‘Aqeedah from anything that may damage it. This should be done towards the Ummah for the sake of Allah.
Dr Azizi Ayob
I-Medik Selangor/Wilayah Persekutuan