Is it permissible for a Muslim to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Q: Is it permissible for a Muslim to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
A: This issue falls under the category of new matters and local custom. There is a disagreement on this issue among jurists. There is a broad group of modern scholars who deem celebrating Valentine’s Day as impermissible and they cite the following justifications for their fatwa.
1. It has a filthy history and until this day is widely celebrated by encouraging sinful relationships outside of marriage.
2. It is a holiday for disbelievers and that we are prohibited from celebrating non-Muslim holidays. Due to the prophet (PBUH) telling Abu Bakr on Eid when some girls were singing “Each nation has their holiday and this is our holiday” (Bukhari 952). Anas narrates that when the prophet first migrated to Madinah he noticed them celebrating a couple days and they said we used to celebrate these in Jahiliyah. The Prophet (PBUH) responded, God has replaced those days with better one, “Eid al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha”. (Abu Dawood 1134). They also remind us of the prophet’s warning, “Whoever imitates a people is counted as one of them.” (Abu Dawood 4031)
3. It is an innovation in religion. “Whoever introduces something into Islam which was not from the practices of the prophet and his companions will have it rejected.” (Bukhari 2697)
This is the common opinion in Saudia Arabia and those who follow their school of thought, Pakistan and India. It is also the opinion of the council for Fatwa in Jerusalem.
Other scholars deem it permissible with conditions such as the fatwa councils of Jordan and Egypt and scholars such as Sh. Ahmad Al-Kurdi from the council of fatwa in Kuwait and Sh. Ahmad Al-Ghamidi who is the director of the committee for promoting good and forbidding evil in Makkah.
They refute the previous points with the following arguments –
1. It goes without saying that Muslims would never promote or celebrate fornication or any other sin for that matter.
They don’t use the history of Lupercalia as a justification since the broad culture doesn’t carry those practices. Some support taking part in it by citing the fact that St. Valentine rejected the emperor’s decree against marriage in order to get soldiers without families to be more courageous in the battlefield by holding secret marriages and was thus killed for promoted marriage against the decree. They cite how the prophet saw overlap with the Jews of Madinah when they were fasting on Ashura in celebration of Moses and the Jews being saved from Pharaoh. So obviously using the example of St. Valentine so Muslims as an opportunity to promote the sanctity and importance of marriage in a world that deems fornication as normal.
2&3. They affirm that we only have two holidays and the prohibition of believing or promoting any other day as an act of worship in Islam, but they distinguish between the modern secular culture of occasions and celebrations that are not specific to one religion but are more customary. They deem this as a customary occasion which is not celebrated as a religious holiday.
They put the condition that the celebration can only be among spouses and family members and that Muslims avoid any part of normalizing pre-marital relationships and that they use this occasion as an opportunity to promote the sacred institution of marriage.
Conclusion: I personally agree with the points of those who permit Valentine’s Day.
Imam John Ederer
Muslim Community Center of Charlotte