Editor's Picks

12 February 2011


"A group of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish to lead you astray. But they shall not lead astray anyone except themselves, and they perceive not" [Quran 3:69]


What is it and where did it come from?

St. Valentine's Day: Paganization of Christianity or Christianization of paganism?

Christians were aware of the Pagan roots of Valentine's Day. The way the Christians adopted St. Valentine's Day should be a lesson for Muslims. In fact, the failure to fully separate Valentine's Day from its pagan roots explains why Islamic scholars and a number of Muslims avoid adopting traditions of non-Muslims, even though they could possibly be Islamicized.

The Arabic word Bida means adopting something new as a religious practice into Islam. Bida is a sin in Islam. Muslims should avoid things with un-Islamic roots even though they may appear to be innocent.

The history of Valentine's Day serves as a powerful lesson for Muslims.

St. Valentine became a Saint trying to resist free sex. Even though there was an attempt to Christianize it, today St. Valentine's day is gone back to its roots. No one even knows that the Church even tried to ban he St. Valentine's Day. Rather, most people think of romance, cupid and his arrow, which are vestiges of pagan Rome.

Pagan origins of Valentine's Day

The first information about this day is found in pre-Christian Rome, when pagans would celebrate the "Feast of the Wolf" on February 15, also known as the Feast of Lupercalius in honour of Februata Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, and Pan, Roman god of nature.

On this day, young women would place their names in an urn, from which boys would randomly draw to discover their sexual companion for the day, the year, and sometimes the rest of their lives. These partners exchanged gifts as a sign of affection, and often married.

Christian Influence

When Christianity came onto the scene in Rome, it wanted to replace this feast with something more in line with its ethics and morality.

A number of Christians decided to use February 14 for this purpose. This was when the Italian Bishop Valentine was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II for conducting secret marriages of military men in the year 270.

Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young, single men, who made up his military. Valentine defied Claudius and performed marriages for young couples in secret. When his actions were revealed, Claudius put him to death.

Another version of the story says that Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

Valentine was arrested and sent to the prefect of Rome for this. He found that his attempts to make Valentine renounce his faith were useless, and so recommended he be beaten with clubs, and later beheaded. This took place on February 14, 270.

According to the Catholic encyclopaedia, there are at least three different Saint Valentines, all of whom are Christian martyrs of February 14.

One of them is described as a priest from Rome (as mentioned above), another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and the third from Africa.

It was in the year 496 that Pope Gelasius officially changed the February 15 Lupercalia festival to the February 14 St. Valentine's Day to give Christian meaning to a pagan festival. The holiday become popular in the United States in the 1800's during the Civil War.

As well, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery for young women that would take place during the pagan festival. Instead of the names of young women, the box would have the names of saints.

Men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the purpose of this was to copy the ways of the saint they had selected for the rest of the year.

Valentine's Day Customs

A number of the customs connected to Valentine's Day originate in the belief in England and France during the middle Ages, that on February 14, birds began to pair.

Fourteenth and 15th centuries' French and English literatures make indirect references to the practice.

Those who chose each other as husband and wife on Valentine's Day apparently called each other their Valentines.

In terms of the Valentine's greeting "Your Valentine" which today you find on a number of Valentine's Day cards, the above-mentioned Roman priest Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself.

While he was in prison awaiting execution, he apparently fell in love with a young girl who would visit him. Before he died, he allegedly wrote her a letter, signed 'From your Valentine,'

In terms of the virtually naked, arrow-shooting cupid character, which shoots people with its arrows to make them fall in love, this character is a vestige of Roman pagan times. Cupid was described as the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. You usually find Cupid's picture on Valentine cards and other paraphernalia .

Islamic Perspective

Father loves his wife and son

Mother Loves her son

Mother Loves her daughters
Father loves his sons

He Loves his wife
 We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices - We do not need to honour or celebrate the death of a Christian "saint" - Islam does not encourage flirting or suggestions of romantic relationships before marriage - Love between families, friends and married people does not need to be celebrated on a day with such un-Islamic origins.

The Prophet (s) has advised us that if we love somebody we should let them know (of course we know the forbidden relationships are not included in this advise). He (s) said it generally and did not ask us to do it 'on such and such a day'. Prophet (s) didn't ask us to do it only once a year but as often as we can. So are we going to obey him (s) or Mr. Valentine?

The Prophet (s) also said that we should be different from the Jews and the Christians and the unbelievers, so if the non Muslims are busy celebrating Valentine's let's take the Prophet's (s) words of wisdom and be different.


Well brothers and sisters...this is a collection of everything I have on
Valentine's Day...

You judge for yourselves based on what you read.

May Allah taalaa protect us and keep us away from bidaah and haram-doing.
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