Praise be to Allāh [ﷻ], the Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muḥammad, and upon all his family and companions.
Muʾminīn Brothers and Sisters
Allāh [ﷻ] has chosen for us Islām as our religion, and He will not accept any other religion from anyone, as He says in Qurʾān:
❝wa-man yabtaghi ghayra l-ʾislāmi dīnan fa-lan yuqbala minhu wa-huwa fī l-ʾākhirati mina l-khāsirīn❞
[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]― Sūrah Āl ʿImrān (The Family of Imran), Chapter 3 verse 85.
And the Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) told us, that groups of his ummah would follow the the disbelievers in some of their rituals and customs, as it says in a ḥadīth of Abu Sa’īd al-Khudri [ر], who narrated, that the Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) 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 Allāh, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?”
He said, “Who else?”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari in al-I’tisaam bi’l-Kitaab wa’l-Sunnah, Baab Qawl al-Nabi (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) La tattabi’unna Sanan man kaana qablakum, 8/151; and by Muslim in Kitaab al-‘Ilm, Baab Ittibaa’ Sanan al-Yahood wa’l-Nasaara, 4/2054)
What the Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) spoke of, has indeed come to pass and has become widespread in recent times, in many of the Muslim countries. Many of the Muslims follow the disbelievers in many of their customs and ways of behaving, and imitate them in some of their rituals.
The story of the Festival of Love (Valentine’s Day)
The Festival of Love was one of the festivals of the pagan Romans, when paganism was the prevalent religion of the Romans more than seventeen centuries ago. In the pagan Roman concept, it was an expression of “spiritual love”.
There were myths associated with this pagan festival of the Romans, which persisted with their Christian heirs. Among the most famous of these myths was the Roman belief that Romulus, the founder of Rome, was suckled one day by a she-wolf, which gave him
strength and wisdom.
The Romans used to celebrate this event in mid-February each year with a big festival. One of the rituals of this festival was the sacrifice of a dog and a goat. Two strong and muscular youths would daub the blood of the dog and goat onto their bodies, then they would wash the blood away with milk. After that there would be a great parade, with these two youths at its head, which would go about the streets. The two youths would have pieces of leather with which they would hit everyone who crossed their path. The Roman women would welcome these blows, because they believed that they could prevent or cure infertility.
The connection between Saint Valentine and this festival
Saint Valentine is a name which is given to two of the ancient “martyrs” of the Christian Church. It was said that there were two of them, or that there was only one, who died in Rome as the result of the persecution of the Gothic leader Claudius, c. 296 CE. In 350 CE, a
church was built in Rome on the site of the place where he died, to perpetuate his memory. When the Romans embraced Christianity, they continued to celebrate the Feast of Love mentioned above, but they 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.
One of their false beliefs connected with this festival was that the names of girls who had reached marriageable age would be written on small rolls of paper and placed in a dish on a table. Then the young men who wanted to get married would be called, and each of them would pick a piece of paper. He would put himself at the service of the girl whose name he had drawn for one year, so that they could find out about one another. Then they would get married, or they would repeat the same process again on the day of the festival in the following year.
The Christian clergy reacted against this tradition, which they considered to have a corrupting influence on the morals of young men and women. It was abolished in Italy, where it had been well-known, then it was revived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when in some western countries there appeared shops which sold small books called “Valentine’s books”, which contained love poems, from which the one who wanted to send a greeting to his sweetheart could choose. They also contained suggestions for writing love letters. It was also said concerning the origins of this holiday that when the Romans became Christian, after Christianity had become widespread, the Roman emperor Claudius II decreed in the third century CE that soldiers should not get married, because marriage would distract them from the wars they used to fight. This decree was opposed by Saint Valentine, who started to perform marriages for the soldiers in secret. When the emperor found out about that, he threw him in jail and sentenced him to execution. In prison, he (Saint Valentine) fell in love with the jailer’s daughter, but this was a secret because according to Christian laws, priests and monks were forbidden to marry or fall in love. But he is still regarded highly by the Christians because of his steadfastness in adhering to Christianity when the emperor offered to pardon him if he forsook Christianity and worshipped the Roman gods; then he would be one of his closest confidantes and he would make him his son-in-law. But Valentine refused this offer and preferred Christianity, so he was executed on 14 February 270 CE, on the eve of February 15, the festival of Lupercalis. So this day was named for this saint.
In The Story of Civilization, it says that the Church devised a calendar in which every day was designated as the feast day of one of the saints. In England, Saint Valentine’s Day was to come at the end of winter. When that day came, according to them, the birds mated enthusiastically in the forests, and the young men would put flowers on the windowsills of the homes of the girls whom they loved. ( The Story of Civilization by Will Durant, 15/23)
The Pope designated the day of the death of Saint Valentine, February 14, 270 CE, as a festival of love. Who is the Pope? He is the “the archbishop, the supreme pontiff of the universal church, the successor of Saint Peter.” Look at this “archbishop” and how he
prescribed for them the observance of this festival which was an innovation in their religion.
This reminds us of what Allāh says in Qurʾān:
❝ittakhadhū ʾaḥbārahum wa-ruhbānahum ʾarbāban min dūni llāhi wa-l-masīḥa bna maryama wa-mā ʾumirū ʾillā li-yaʿbudū ʾilāhan wāḥidan lā ʾilāha ʾillā huwa subḥānahū ʿammā yushrikūn❞
[They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allāh (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allāh)] ― Sūrah al-Tawbah (Repentance), Chapter 9, verse 31.
Among the most important symbols of this holiday:
1 – Expressing joy and happiness on this occasion, as on their other major festivals.
2 – Exchanging red roses, which are an expression of love, the “spiritual love” of the pagans or the “love” of the Christians. Hence it is known to them as the Feast of Lovers.
3 – The sending of greetings cards. On some of these cards are 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 Allāh far above their fabrications and their association of
others with Him.
4 – Exchange of words of love and desire in the greetings cards which they send to one another, in verse, prose and short phrases. Some of the cards contain comical pictures and funny words, and they often contain the phrase “be my Valentine”. This represents the
Christian concept of this festival after it was taken from the pagan concept.
5 – In many western countries, 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. Anyone who looks at what is said above about the myths surrounding this pagan festival will clearly understand the following:
That its origins 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 Allāh. Whoever celebrates it is celebrating an occasion of shirk on which the idols are venerated.
Allāh says in Qurʾān:
❝ʾinnahū man yushrik bi-llāhi fa-qad ḥarrama llāhu ʿalayhi l-jannata wa-maʾwāhu n-nāru❞
[Verily, whosoever sets up partners (in worship) with Allāh, then Allāh has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zālimūn (polytheists and wrongdoers) there are no helpers.]
― Sūrah al-Māʾidah (The Table), Chapter 5, verse 72.
That the development of this festival among the Romans was connected to myths and legends which no sound mind can accept, let alone the mind of the Muslim who believes in Allāh and His Messengers (peace be upon them). Can anyone of sound mind believe that a she-wolf suckled the founder of the city of Rome and gave him strength and wisdom.
Moreover, these myths go against the belief (‘aqeedah) of the Muslim because the One Who bestows strength and wisdom is the Creator, may He be glorified and exalted, not the milk of a she-wolf! The same applies to the myth that their idols could protect them from evil or keep wolves away from their flocks.
Among the ugly rituals of the Romans on this day was the sacrifice of a dog and a goat, the daubing of their blood onto two youths then washing the blood off with milk, etc.. This is something that would cause revulsion in anyone of a sound nature, and it is unacceptable to the sound mind.
The connection between Saint Valentine and this festival has been questioned by many sources, and it considered to be far from definite. It would have been better for the Christians to reject this pagan festival in which they imitated the pagans. So how about us
Muslims, who are commanded to be different from the Christians and the pagans before them?
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. So it is better for the Muslims to reject it, warn others against it and to fulfil their duty towards it of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.
Why do we Muslims not celebrate this festival?
In Islām, the festivals are clearly defined and well established, and no additions or subtractions may be accepted.
Allāh says in Qurʾān:
❝li-kulli ʾummatin jaʿalnā mansakan hum nāsikūhu❞
[We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow]
― Sūrah al-Ḥajj (The Pilgrimage), Chapter 22, verse 67.
From the Sunnah: the Prophet (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) said:
❝Whoever imitates a people is one of them.❞ ― Narrated by Ahmad, 2/50; Abu Dawūd, 4021.
Further, Allāh says in Qurʾān:
❝yawma ʾakmaltu lakum dīnakum wa-ʾatmamtu ʿalaykum niʿmatī wa-raḍītu lakumu l-ʾislāma dīnan❞
[Today I have perfected your religion for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have approved Islam as your religion.] ― Sūrah al-Māʾidah (The Table), Chapter 5, verse 3.
Allāh has made Islām cover all (human) interests at all times and in all places and for all people. So there is no need to adopt the ways of the disbelievers or imitate them. Imitation causes defects in the Muslim personality, such as feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, weakness and defeatism, then it leads to shunning and keeping away from the path and laws of Allāh.
There is no religion which encourages its followers to love and care for one another more than Islām 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 (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) said:
❝If a man loves his brother, let him tell him that he loves him.❞ ― narrated by Abu Dawūd, 5124; al-Tirmidhi, 2329; (it is Sahīh).
And he (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) said: ❝By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you truly believe, and you will not truly believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something that, if you do it, you will love one another? Spread (the greeting of) salām amongst yourselves.❞ ― Narrated by Muslim, 54.
Love in Islām 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. There is the love of Allāh, love of His Messenger (ṣall Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa-sallam) and his companions [ر], love for good and righteous people, love and support for the religion. There are many kinds of love. It is a dangerous mistake to restrict this broad meaning to this one kind of love.
We ask Allāh to protect the Muslims from the harm of temptations and from the evil of their own selves and the plots of their enemies, for He is the All-hearing Who answers prayers.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allāh’s (ﷻ) Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allāh (ﷻ) Alone Knows Best and He (ﷻ) is the Only Source of Strength.