Sunday, February 11, 2007

Celebrating Valentine’s Day


Someone may ask: why do we Muslims not celebrate this festival?

This question may be answered in several ways:

1. 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 and there is no room for ijtihaad or personal opinion. They have been prescribed for us by Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

“Festivals are part of the laws, clear way and religious ceremonies of which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

‘To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way[al-Maa’idah 5:48]

‘For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow’[al-Hajj 22:67]

like the qiblah (direction faced in prayer), prayer and fasting. So there is no difference between joining them in their festival and joining them in their other rituals. Agreeing with the whole festival is agreeing with kufr. Agreeing with some of their minor issues is the same as agreeing with them in some of the branches of kufr. Festivals are the most distinctive things by which religions are told apart, so whoever celebrates their festivals is agreeing with the most distinctive rituals of kufr. Undoubtedly going along with them in their festivals may in some cases lead to kufr. Dabbling in these things, at the very least, is a sin. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) referred to the fact that every nation has its own festivals when he said: ‘Every nation has its own Eid and this is our Eid’ (al-Bukhaari , 952, Muslim, 1892).” (al-Iqtidaa’, 1/471-472)

Because Valentine’s Day goes back to Roman times, not Islamic times, this means that it is something which belongs exclusively to the Christians, not to Islam, and the Muslims have no share and no part in it. If every nation has its own festivals, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said – “Every nation has its Eid” (narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim) – then this means that every nation should be distinguished by its festivals. If the Christians have a festival and the Jews have a festival, which belongs exclusively to them, then no Muslim should join in with them, just as he does not share their religion or their direction of prayer.

2. Celebrating Valentine’s Day means resembling or imitating the pagan Romans, then the Christian People of the Book in their imitation of the Romans in something that was not a part of their religion. If it is not allowed to imitate the Christians in things that really are part of their religion – but not part of our religion – then how about things which they have innovated in their religion in imitation of idol-worshippers?!

Imitating the kuffaar in general –whether they are idol-worshippers or People of the Book – is haraam, whether that imitation is of their worship – which is the most serious form – or of their customs and behaviour. This is indicated by the Qur’aan, Sunnah and ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus):

(i) From the Qur’aan: Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“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”[Aal ‘Imraan 3:105]

(ii) From the Sunnah: the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (narrated by Ahmad, 2/50; Abu Dawood, 4021)

Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) said: “This hadeeth at the very least indicates that it is haraam to imitate them, although the apparent meaning implies that the one who imitates them is a kaafir, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And if any amongst you takes them (as Awliyaa’ [friends and helpers]), then surely, he is one of them’ [al-Maa’idah 5:51].” (al-Iqtidaa’, 2/722-725)

(iii) With regard to ijmaa’, Ibn Taymiyan narrated that there was agreement that it is haraam to imitate the kuffaar in their festivals at the time of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them), and Ibn al-Qayyim narrated that there was scholarly consensus on this point. (See al-Iqtidaa’, 1/454; Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah, 2/722-725)

Allaah has forbidden imitation of the kuffaar; He has described it as hateful and has warned against the consequences of that, in many aayahs, on many occasions, and in various ways, especially imitation of the kuffaar. Sometimes He does that by forbidding following them or obeying them; sometimes by warning against them or being deceived by their plots, following their opinions, or being influenced by their actions, conduct or attitude. Sometimes He does that by mentioning some of their characteristics that will put the believers off from them and from imitating them. Most of the warnings in the Qur’aan refer to the Jews and hypocrites (munaafiqeen), then the People of the Book in general and the mushrikeen. Allaah tells us in the Qur’aan that imitating and obeying the kuffaar may constitute riddah (apostasy). Allaah also forbids following them, obeying them, or following their whims and desires and bad characteristics.

Prohibition of imitating the kuffaar is one of the basic principles of sharee’ah. Allaah sent His Messenger with guidance and the true religion so that it might prevail over all other religions, and Allaah has perfected His religion for mankind:

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”[al-Maa’idah 5:3 – interpretation of the meaning].

Allaah has made Islam 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 kuffaar 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 Allaah. Experience has shown that admiration for the kuffaar and imitation of them causes people to love them, have complete faith in them and take them as friends and helpers, and to reject Islam and its people, its heroes, its legacy and values, and become ignorant of all of that.

3. The purpose of Valentine’s Day in these times is to spread love between all people, believers and disbelievers alike. Undoubtedly it is haraam to love the kaafirs. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“You (O Muhammad) will not find any people who believe in Allaah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad), even though they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred (people)…”[al-Mujaadilah 58:22]

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Allaah tells us that there is no believer who takes a kaafir as a close friend. Whoever takes a kaafir as a close friend is not a believer. Outward imitation may be taken as a sign of love, so it is haraam.” (al-Iqtidaa’, 1/490).

4. The love referred to in this festival ever since the Christians revived it is romantic love outside the framework of marriage. The result of that is the spread of zinaa (fornication and adultery) and immorality. Hence the Christian clergy opposed it at some stage and abolished it, then it came back again.

Most of the young people celebrate it because it lets them fulfil their desires, without thinking of the issues of imitation and resembling that are involved. Look at this tragedy, where they go so far as to commit major sins such as zinaa and the like, by imitating the Christians in something which is part of their worship and which may even be kufr.

Some people may wonder, and say, you mean to deprive us of love, but in this day and age we express our feelings and emotions – what is so wrong with that?

We say:

Firstly:

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. It is known to be a day of promiscuity and sex for them, with no restraints or restrictions… They are not talking of pure love between a man and his wife or a woman and her husband, or at least they do not distinguish between the legitimate love in the relationship between husband and wife, and the forbidden love of mistresses and lovers. This festival for them is a means for everyone to express love.

Secondly:

Expression of feelings and emotions is not a justification for the Muslim to allocate a day for celebration based on his own thoughts and ideas, and to call it a festival, or make it like a festival or Eid. So how about when it is one of the festivals of the kuffaar?

In Islam, 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 – not just on one day of the year.

Thirdly:

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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If a man loves his brother, let him tell him that he loves him.” (narrated by Abu Dawood, 5124; al-Tirmidhi, 2329; it is saheeh).

And he 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) salaam amongst yourselves.” (Narrated by Muslim, 54)

Fourthly:

Love in Islam 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 Allaah, love of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions (may Allaah be pleased with them), love for good and righteous people, love and support for the religion, love of martyrdom for the sake of Allaah. There are many kinds of love. It is a dangerous mistake to restrict this broad meaning to this one kind of love.

Fifthly:

What these people think, that love before marriage is a good thing, is wrong, as has been proven in studies and by real-life experience. In a study conducted by the University of Cairo, on what they called “love marriage” and “traditional marriage”, the following was stated:

In marriages which came after a love story, 88% of cases ended in failure, i.e., the success rate was not more than 12%. But in cases of what the study calls traditional marriage, 70% were successful. In other words, the success rate in marriages described as traditional was six times more than those described as “love marriages”. (Risaalah ila Mu’minah, p. 255).

Now let us look at the state of affairs in western societies where Valentine’s Day is celebrated, and ask, what is the state of marriage relationships in those societies, and do these celebrations have any positive effect on interactions between husbands and wives?

Their own studies and statistics show the following:

1- In an American study done in 1407 AH/1987 CE, it states that 79% of men beat their womenfolk, especially if they are married…! (al-Qabas newspaper, 15/2/1988).

2- A study carried out by the National American Office for Mental Health states the following:

- 17% of women who go to emergency rooms are victims of beatings by their husbands or boyfriends.

- 83% of those who have previously been admitted to hospital at least once for treatment of injuries, were admitted as a result of beating.

The study added that there are more women who do not go to hospital for treatment, but deal with their injuries at home.

3- In a report of the Central American Agency for Examination [FPT] it states that every 18 seconds there is a woman who is beaten by her husband somewhere in America.

4- American Time magazine stated that around 4,000 wives out of approximately 6 million who are beaten die as a result of that beating.

5- In a German study it said that no less that 100,000 women annually are exposed to acts of physical or psychological abuse on the part of their husbands or the men they live with. The real figure may exceed one million.

6- In France, approximately 2 million women face beatings.

7- In Britain, in an opinion poll in which 7,000 women took part, 28% of them said that they had been subjected to attacks by their husbands and boyfriends.

So how can we believe that Valentine’s Day is of any benefit to married couples? The truth is that it is a call for more permissiveness and immorality, and the forming of forbidden relationships.

The husband who sincerely loves his wife does not need this holiday to remind him of his love. He expresses his love for his wife at all times and on all occasions.

The Muslim’s attitude towards Valentine’s Day

From the above discussion, the Muslim’s attitude towards this holiday should be clear:

(1) He should not celebrate it, or join others in their celebrations of it, or attend their celebrations, because of the evidence quoted above which shows that it is forbidden to celebrate the festivals of the kuffaar.

Al-Haafiz al-Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “If the Christians have a festival and the Jews have a festival, which belongs only to them, then the Muslim should not join them in that, just as he does not join them in their religion or their direction of prayer.” (Tashabbuh al-Khasees bi Ahl al-Khamees, al-Hikmah magazine, 4/193).

Because one of the basic principles of the pious predecessors was al-walaa’ wa’l-baraa’ (loyalty and friendship vs. disavowal and enmity), it is obligatory for everyone who says Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Muhammad Rasool Allaah to follow this principle. So he should love the believers and he should hate the disbelievers, oppose them, and be different from them. He should know that that will bring immeasurable benefits, just as imitating them causes far greater harm. In addition to that, when the Muslims imitate them it makes the kuffaar happy and fills their hearts with joy, and it leads the Muslims to love the kuffaar in their hearts. If any Muslim girl who celebrates this holiday because she sees Margaret or Hilary or whoever doing so, this undoubtedly reflects the fact that she is following them and approves of their behaviour. But Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliyaa’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Awliyaa’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Awliyaa’), then surely, he is one of them. Verily, Allaah guides not those people who are the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust)”[al-Maa’idah 5:51]

One of the bad effects of imitating them is that this makes it look as if there are more of them, as if they have more supporters and followers. How can it be appropriate for a Muslim who recites in every rak’ah, “Guide us to the Straight Way, The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray” [al-Faatihah 1:6-7 – interpretation of the meaning], to ask Allaah for guidance to the Straight Path of the believers and to keep him away from the path of those who have earned His anger and of those who went astray, then go and follow their path by choice and willingly?

Statistics indicate that Valentine’s Day is second only to Christmas in popularity. So it is clear that the Feast of Love is one of the festivals of the Christians and that it is second only to the festival of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of the Messiah. So it is not permissible for Muslims to join in the celebrations of this date, because we are commanded to differ from them in their religion, customs and other things that belong exclusively to them, as is stated in the Qur’aan and Sunnah and scholarly consensus.

(2) He should not help the kuffaar in their celebrations, because it is one of the rituals of kufr, so helping them and approving of what they do is helping them to manifest kufr and make it prevail, and approving of it. The Muslim’s religion does not allow him to approve of kufr or help others to manifest it and make it prevail. Hence Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “It is not permissible for the Muslims to imitate them in anything that is specifically part of their festivals, whether it is food, clothing, bathing, lighting fires, or changing a custom of daily life or worship… To sum up, they should not do any of the specific rituals of their (the kuffaar’s) festival on that day; rather the day of their festival should be just another ordinary day for the Muslim.” (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 25/329)

(3) He should not help any Muslims who celebrate it. Rather it is obligatory to denounce them, because for the Muslims to celebrate the festivals of the kuffaar is an evil action which must be denounced. Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) said: “Just as we should not imitate them in their festivals, so too we should not help a Muslim to do that; rather he should be told not to do that.” (al-Iqtidaa’, 2/519-520)

Based on what Ibn Taymiyah said, it is not permissible for Muslim businessmen to deal in gifts for Valentine’s Day, whether they are particular kinds of clothes, red roses, or whatever. Similarly, it is not permissible for the one who is given a gift on this occasion to accept it, because by accepting it, he is showing approval of this holiday.

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