The Day according to Saint Valentine

Muslims are only human. Many of them may wish to celebrate the rituals of “true love” and other illusions and delusions imported from the western world.

Let us remember that when we face our respective Days of Judgment, we will be examined according to how we fulfilled our duties in life, NOT according to how many times we “fell in love”.

The duties upon which we will be examined, after our religious rites and rituals, may indeed require loving relationships and atmospheres to establish. However, this “thing called love” can only be inferred from how we treat our families, relatives, neighbors, and fellow human beings. “Love” in the absence of the hard evidence of good behavior and performance of duties cannot be said to be relevant to our Judgment Day.

There was a saint in Catholic history, named Valentine. Evidently, his heart was pierced as he died upon a cross of some sort, so that he is referred to in connection with all the customs attending to the western habits of romantic love. It seems he loved his people very much and endured a cruel death as punishment for defending their rights to love one another.

Some western government officials once came to Malaysia, to promote education in the USA. When the Muslim students in their audience asked about hostel facilities, they were told that in many American campuses, students could choose between same-sex hostels and co-ed hostels.

Some students mentioned that co-ed hostels would be forbidden to Muslims, whereupon the American officials said something like, “We are sure that your parents have brought you up with good, strong values, so that the co-ed hostel would not cause you to misbehave.”

As the Muslims in the audience sat there somewhat stunned, one of the older Muslim males stood up and said he was sorry, but the Qur’an does not lead us to believe that single men and women of any sexually-active age could possibly trust themselves to avoid the major sin of “zina” in such circumstances as co-ed hostels.

Moreover, he said, the fathers of the young students present WOULD NOT APPRECIATE these westerners offering such facilities to their children. He himself stated flatly that his own daughters would not be allowed within thousands of miles of such institutions, or of people whose understanding of human nature was so totally contrary to what we are taught in our Qur’an and Sunnah.

This man was more or less cheered by the good Muslim youth in attendance at this conference, possibly because they were too polite to speak in this way themselves. The westerners had nothing but silence in response to the older Muslim’s stated position, and that was more or less the end of that conference session.

Muslim youth must understand that the end of the Valentine’s Day customs is exactly what the Americans offered with their so-called “liberal” housing facilities for college students.

Moreover, there is no point taking even one step along a road that you do not intend to travel. There is no point in public school students exchanging “Valentine’s Cards”, with such messages as “You are my Valentine!”, and pictures of red hearts pierced by an arrow (drawn from the original Saint Valentine experience).

Pairing off for marriage is the key to the second 50% of being Muslim, as the Prophet said in one of his accepted Hadith. For this, we need the most wisdom we can possibly gather, whether from our parents, our learned scholars, our older relatives, or whomever else. Do we need the “wisdom” of Catholic statues for this decision?

We learn that sociological statistics do NOT indicate any greater stability or success-rate for romance-based marriages. Marriages arranged by families, or the ones well safeguarded within the Shariah boundaries, however unwelcome they may temporarily seem to their children, or however “out of fashion”, are seen by the sociologists’ statistics to be equally successful as romantic pairing.

The West is so confused on the meaning of “love” that they use the same word in their language for the feeling you have for your spouse, the feeling you have for your parents, the feeling you have for your friend, your house, your hobby, your favorite food, your pet bird, or even eating at McDonald’s.

We have another word for the feelings we have for our parents or children in the Islamic culture – “mahabbah”. It is perhaps relevant for us to refer to one of Syaikh Dr. Muhammad Afifi Al-Akiti’s writings in explaining the concept of ‘mahabbah’ as the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) taught us.

The Hadith “LA yu’minu aHadukumHattA yuHibba liakhIhi mA yuHibbu li-nafsihi” [literally: None of you believes until he wants for his brother what he would want for himself]. Syaikh Afifi : the most judicious explanation of this hadith, by the collector, Imam Nawawi himself (and the same sharh was again related, but later ascribed by some to another Shafi’i jurist, the meticulous Ibn al-‘Imad to the effect: It is better for that (the saying of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) to be interpreted in the sense of universal brotherhood, so that it includes the non-Muslim and the Muslim. Thus he wants for his non-Muslim brother what he would want for himself that is [read: min li-l-bayan] his converting to Islam; just as he wants for his Muslim brother, his remaining in Islam. That is why it is recommended to supplicate for Divine guidance [Hidaya] on behalf of the non-Muslim. [Nawawi, Sharh Arba’in, 123] [See: The Meaning of Universal Brotherhood].

Why, then, observe this Valentine’s Day that celebrates a concept about which the westerners themselves are totally confused, even in their own languages?

The Valentine’s Day concept embraces the model of a Catholic Saint, and its statues, for its observances. It moves you in the direction of that dangerous border between “halal” and “haram”. It may even move you in the direction of the one sin that Allah will never forgive, the sin of “syirik”.

Rejecting Valentine’s Day is therefore not only a matter of sentimental inconvenience. It is a matter of keeping us as far away as possible from a sin or sins that we may find hanging forever around our necks after we die.

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