As we greet the month of February on our Calendars and the anticipated Valentine’s Day approaches, it becomes incumbent upon every Muslim to pause, step back and understand the true reality behind this day in light of Islam.

In today’s world, Valentine’s Day is an occasion endorsing the illicit union of couples, expressions of outward love, exchanging of gifts and flowers and everything in between – but do we ever stop and think about WHY this day is celebrated in the first place? Does it have anything to do with Islam? If not, why do we still participate in it?

The history of Valentine’s Day traces back to the time of Romans and is thought to be rooted in Christianity. The details of this festival, however, are quite muddled. It was originally a pagan festival denoted as the ‘festival of love’, which was celebrated annually in February. It was a festival focused on ‘spiritual love’ where, according to historians, animal sacrifices were also carried out.

After the Romans embraced Christianity, their concept of ‘spiritual love’ then took on the concept of ‘martyrs of love’ upon the death of a Saint by the name of Valentine, who they perceived to be an advocate of love and peace and who died more than 1700 years ago on the 14th of February. Some historians believe he defied the Roman king Claudius’s orders of prohibition of marriage due to military reasons and continued to marry off couples in secret. When found out, the king had him executed. Others believe that St. Valentine may have been executed for aiding Christian prisoners in their escape from the Roman jails. They also believe that he might have fallen in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her the first ever Valentine letter signed “From your Valentine” – a phrase that is used to this day alongside "Happy Valentine's Day".

A lot of Muslims tend to join the bandwagon and participate in the traditions followed on Valentine’s Day, but in actuality, Muslims should not associate themselves with rituals and festivities with no Islamic origin or connection. Celebrating a festival of the non-Muslims is looked down upon in Islam. In Islam, the only festivals that Muslims should participate in have already been laid out in a crystal clear manner such as Eid ul-Adha, Eid ul-Fitr etc. There is nothing that Allah (SWT) has left out and given us a perfect religion, hence, if it is not of Islamic origin, it should have nothing to do with a Muslim.

“To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way” (Quran 5:48)
“For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow” (Quran 22:67)

In short, festivals and traditions of a religion make up the very essence of that religion and all that it stands for. Hence, to take part in un-Islamic festivities is pretty much the same as taking part in the kufr of those festivities. Every Muslim must be cognizant of what he/she does in his/her life. Islam encourages people to understand and realize the gravity of their actions and warns those wrongdoers who take part in kufr but are unaware of it.

Moreover, the whole concept behind Valentine’s Day is about going out of your way for your significant other and making them feel special on this particular day. What Muslims fail to realize is that Islam is a religion of love and it calls for every individual to appreciate their spouses and loved ones every single day, not just once a year. Islam places great emphasis on cherishing your spouse, making them feel special and loving them each passing moment – it is characteristic of being a good Muslim.

It is important for Muslims to realize that they should not get lost in the status quos of society and understand the meaning and significance of whatever they choose to be a part of. Lastly, don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to make your loved ones feel special - Get them flowers and chocolates every other day, not just one day in a year!