Valentine’s Day in Islam?

By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Co-Director, AOBM

I was asked to share my views on Valentine’s Day. Personally, I really don’t see what’s the problem that some people seem to have with this celebration. The fact that it’s a Western, originally Christian festival is in all honesty, completely besides the point. We should celebrate Love everyday!

Many cultures have something similar, a day to celebrate love, to send a message of love to your beloved – a person whom you would like to marry or is already your husband or wife. Seriously, what’s wrong with that? What could possibly be wrong with that?

The only argument I’ve heard against Valentine’s Day, is the same one I hear about every other festival besides the two Eids – it’s not part of Islam. Well, sorry, if that’s the best these people can come up with, it’s a pathetic argument – cars and aeroplanes aren’t technically part of Islam either, but we still use them!

More to the point, a Muslim can celebrate any festival, even the social aspect of those of other religions, as long as this doesn’t mean they end up committing shirk – i.e. worshipping another deity besides God or associating partners with God – and this is the position of the mainstream scholars of Al-Azhar University in Egypt.

Indeed, for the vast majority of people who celebrate it, Valentine’s Day isn’t even that religious, rather it’s just a wonderful opportunity to show loved ones how much you appreciate them – which is something every Muslim should do anyway, even if they do not celebrate Valentine’s Day!

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4 Responses to Valentine’s Day in Islam?

  1. Sir, you might be right but for your own surroundings.

    I have only two objections on Valentine’s Day. First is that the youth is engaged in such acts that are neither allowed in Islam nor could be written in words. And, to be very honest, Valentine’s Day is the Eid of such people. A brother knows that if his sister is going out, where is she going for what purpose and a sister knows that if her brother is going out, where is he going for what purpose. The reason for that is not VALENTINE’S Day but lack of Islamic education that make the youth frustrated and so and so. Until or unless, this frustration exists in Eastern youth (it is also found in West), there should be some governmental restrictions on a few things.

    Secondly, here, people celebrate it, connecting it with Romeo and Juliet. They don’t even know that Valentine is a day in the memory “martyr” St. Valentine. A person should have a knowledge that if he is celebrating Milad, why is he celebrating. Again, lack of education. However, they celebrate this day more enthusiastically than a Milad.

    At the end, whatever the reason is for the lack of education and whoever is responsible, the fact is that it exists and, till whatsoever time it exists, there should be some restrictions on such events. Second thing is, definitely, to educate people. Believe me or not, the Valentine’s Day is seen as something different in the East as it is seen in the West.

    • Salam alaikum Syed Shahrukh.

      As you quite rightly point out, the things you highlighted are not really because of Valentine’s Day, they would most likely be happening anyway.

      Romeo and Juliet is closer to the truth than you think, as this story was in all likelihood based upon similar Islamic ones, like Layla and Majnun which preceded it. To be honest, our modern Valentine’s Day probably owes a greater debt to Geoffrey Chaucer than any of the saints named Valentine.

      Author, Idries Shah wrote about how Chaucer himself was influenced by Sheikh Fariduddin Attar, who wrote the Conference of the Birds (Mantiq-ut-Tair). Thus contrary to popular belief, the actual original influences of today’s Valentine’s Day, may well in fact have been Islamic! Even as I realise this may sound strange to people used to certain interpretations of Islamic culture…

      • The only thing we appeal today is that the Government of Pakistan (and other governments too) should decide some limits and should have some restrictions, especially on public places like Parks. Nowadays, families do not visit parks much because of a huge mess of dates under the shadow of trees.
        The concept of modern Valentine’s Day is not bad. The only thing I object is its name and its way. It’s not COMPULSORY that we should only call it Valentine’s Day that remind us of St. Valentine. We can also call it YAUM-UL-HUBB (The Day of Love). The other thing I object is using the heart with an arrow that takes us back to the Greek Myth.

      • I’m not a big fan of governments imposing limits, this can be a slippery slope… That said however, I do understand where you’re approaching this from, and realise that from your perspective, Valentine’s Day is a cultural import, which naturally can result in some resentment. This is perhaps why you dislike Greek mythology too, which for us is very much a part of our culture.

        A similar situation exists in the United Kingdom, with regards to Halloween. Although we’ve always had All Hallows Eve, some British people don’t appreciate the importation of the Americanised version of the festival – to them it has no relevance or meaning! I guess it’s similar with Valentine’s Day in Pakistan.

        Nevertheless, we are living in an evermore globalised culture, all the Eids, Diwali, Holi, Vaisakhi and Chinese New Year are celebrated by increasing numbers of people here in the U.K., and not only by those minorities you would expect, so it’s only natural that our traditional festivals will travel to other parts of the world too…

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