Respected Brothers & Sisters in Islam,
As we all know that Valentine’s Day is a special day observed on Feb 14. On this day people send greeting cards called Valentines to their lovers, friends and members of their family.
Now, let us take a look at what is the history of Valentine’s Day. World Book Encyclopedia states that different authorities believe Valentine’s Day began in various ways. Some trace it to an ancient roman festival called Luperclia. The ancient Romans had the festival of Lupercalia from Feb. 13th to 15th to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this festival was to hold a lottery to distribute young women to young men for entertainment and pleasure until the next year’s lottery. Another despicable practice associated with this day was that young men struck people with strips of animal hide. Women took the blows because they thought that the whipping made them more fertile. Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn.
Other experts connect this event to two saints of the early Christian Church; their name was Valentine. The Roman history says that they where martyred on Feb 14th. According to one story, the Roman emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry in C.E. 200’s. The Emperor thought that single men made better soldiers. A priest name Valentine disobeyed the emperor’s order and secretly married the young couples. Many stories say that he was executed around C.E. 269. In CE 496, Pope Gelasius I named Feb.14th as Saint Valentine’s Day.
Still, others link it with an old English belief that birds choose their mates on Feb 14th. Geoffrey Chaucer, an English poet of the 1300s mentions this belief in “The Parliaments of Fowls”. William Shakespeare also mentions this belief in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
World Book Encyclopedia further mentions that Valentine’s Day probably came from a combination of all of the above three mentioned sources, plus the belief that spring is a time for lovers. William Shakespeare gives us an example in his famous English play “Hamlet”, that in the United Kingdom and Italy, some unmarried women got up before sunrise on Valentine’s Day. They stood by the window watching for a man to pass. They had the belief that the first man they saw will marry them within a year.
After having mentioned this, we should ask ourselves that should we be part of this festival or not? Though the people don’t participate in these practices anymore, but just by celebrating Valentine’s Day on Feb.14th, we will still be participating and celebrating in something that has its roots in paganism. Had it been a true English festival, it would not have been banned in England during the early 17th century when the Puritans were strong. Charles II revived it in 1660 and from there, it also reached the New World.
It is inappropriate for even a Muslim couple to take the support of Valentine’s Day to express their love and commitment to their spouse, in the light of the above-mentioned facts. Islam is a religion that has emphasized a lot on the rights of spouses, not just for one day in a year but rather for the whole life. We as Muslims don’t need the support of any pagan festivals or festivals of any other religion to recommit ourselves to family life.
And Allah Taala knows best.
Muhammadi Masjid Inc.
681 Elmont Road, Elmont, NY 11003
أستغفرالله لى ولسائرالمؤمنين وآخر دعواناأنىالحمدلله رب العالمين