Allaah has chosen for us Islam as our religion and He will not accept any other religion from anyone, as He Almighty Says (what means): “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.” [Quran 3:85]Prophet Muhammad told us that some of his followers would follow non-Muslims in some of their rituals and customs, as in the Hadeeth (Prophetic narration) narrated by Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri : “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you, span by span and cubit by cubit, until even if they were to enter a lizard’s hole, you would follow them.” We (listeners) said, “O Messenger of Allaah, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said: “Then who else?” [Al-Bukhaari]What the Prophet 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 non-Muslims in many of their customs and ways of behaving, and imitate them in some of their rituals and in celebrating their holidays.The matter has been made even worse by the opening up of mass communications between peoples, whereby the rituals and customs of the non-Muslims are now transmitted with the glamorous adornment of sound and image from their countries into the Muslim countries, via satellite TV and the World Wide Web (Internet). Many Muslims have been deceived by their glamour.
In recent years, a new phenomenon has spread among the Muslim youth – males and females alike – which does not bode well. This is manifested in their imitation of non-Muslims in their celebration of the Valentine’s Day, which has led the scholars to explain the rulings of Sharee’ah (Islamic Law) concerning that, out of sincerity towards Allaah, His Messenger the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk, so that Muslims may have a clear understanding of this issue and so that they will not fall into that which will undermine the ‘Aqeedah (belief) with which Allaah has blessed them.
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, and 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, 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.
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.” The archbishop has prescribed for the followers of his faith the observance of this festival which was an innovation in their own religion.
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 is 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- Sending greeting 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 is Allaah and far above their fabrications and their association of others with Him.
4- Exchange of words of love and desire in the greeting 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:
Firstly: 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 Allaah. Whoever celebrates it is celebrating an occasion of Shirk (associating others with Allaah Almighty) on which the idols are venerated. Allaah Says (what means): “Verily, whosoever sets up partners (in worship) with Allaah, then Allaah has forbidden Paradise to him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the polytheists there are no helpers.” [Quran 5:72]
Secondly: 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 Allaah and His Messengers may Allaah exalt their mention. 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 of the Muslim because the One Who bestows strength and wisdom is the Creator, the 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.
Thirdly: 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.
Fourthly: 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?
Fifthly: 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, Muslims are to reject it, warn others against it and to fulfill their duty towards it of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.