First of all, we’d like to shed light on the origin of this festival, known as “Valentine Day” or “Festival of Love”:
The Festival of Love was one of the festivals of the pagan Romans, when paganism was the prevalent religion of the Romans more than seventeen centuries ago. In the pagan Roman concept, it was an expression of “spiritual love”.
There were myths associated with this pagan festival of the Romans, which persisted with their Christian heirs. Among the most famous of these myths was the Roman belief that Romulus, the founder of Rome, was suckled one day by a she-wolf, which gave him strength and wisdom.
The Romans used to celebrate this event in mid-February each year with a big festival.
One of the rituals of this festival was the sacrifice of a dog and a goat. Two strong and muscular youths would daub the blood of the dog and goat onto their bodies, then they would wash the blood away with milk. After that there would be a great parade, with these two youths at its head, which would go about the streets. The two youths would have pieces of leather with which they would hit everyone who crossed their path. The Roman women would welcome these blows, because they believed that they could prevent or cure infertility.
The connection between Saint Valentine and this festival:
Saint Valentine is a name which is given to two of the ancient “martyrs” of the Christian Church. It was said that there were two of them, or that there was only one, who died in Rome as the result of the persecution of the Gothic leader Claudius, c. 296 CE. In 350 CE, a church was built in Rome on the site of the place where he died, to perpetuate his memory.
When the Romans embraced Christianity, they continued to celebrate the Feast of Love mentioned above, but they changed it from the pagan concept of “spiritual love” to another concept known as the “martyrs of love”, represented by Saint Valentine who had advocated love and peace, for which cause he was martyred, according to their claims. It was also called the Feast of Lovers, and Saint Valentine was considered to be the patron saint of lovers.
One of the beliefs connected with this festival was that the names of girls who had reached marriageable age would be written on small rolls of paper and placed in a dish on a table. Then the young men who wanted to get married would be called, and each of them would pick a piece of paper. He would put himself at the service of the girl whose name he had drawn for one year, so that they could find out about one another. Then they would get married, or they would repeat the same process again on the day of the festival in the following year.
The Christian clergy reacted against this tradition, which they considered to have a corrupting influence on the morals of young men and women. It was abolished in Italy, where it had been well-known, then it was revived in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when in some western countries there appeared shops which sold small books called “Valentine’s books”, which contained love poems, from which the one who wanted to send a greeting to his sweetheart could choose. They also contained suggestions for writing love letters.
It is not permissible for a Muslim to celebrate any of the festivals of the kuffaar, because festivals come under the heading of shar’i issues which are to be based on the sound texts.
It is not permissible for the Muslims to imitate them in anything that is uniquely a part of their festivals, whether it be food, clothing, bathing, lighting fires, refraining from a regular habit, doing acts of worship or anything else. It is not permissible to give a feast or to give gifts, or to sell anything that will help them to do that for that purpose, or to allow children and others to play games that are part of the festivals, or to wear one’s adornments.
The Muslims should not do any of their rituals at the time of their festivals; rather the day of their festival should be like any other day for the Muslims. The Muslims should not do anything specific in imitation of them.
The scholars have issued fatwas stating that it is haraam to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
1 –Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked:
In recent times the celebration of Valentine’s Day has become widespread, especially among female students. It is a Christian festival where people dress completely in red, including clothes and shoes, and they exchange red flowers. We hope that you can explain the ruling on celebrating this festival, and what your advice is to Muslims with regard to such matters; may Allah bless you and take care of you.
Celebrating Valentine’s Day is not permissible for a number of reasons.
1- It is an innovated festival for which there is no basis in Islam.
2- It promotes love and infatuation.
3- It calls for hearts to be preoccupied with foolish matters that are contrary to the way of the righteous salaf (may Allah be pleased with them).
It is not permissible on this day to do any of the things that are characteristic of this festival, whether that has to do with food, drinks, clothing, exchanging gifts or anything else.
The Muslim should be proud of his religion and should not be a weak character who follows every Tom, Dick and Harry. I ask Allah to protect the Muslims from all temptations, visible and invisible, and to protect us and guide us. End quote from Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (16/199)
2 – The Standing Committee was asked: Some people celebrate Valentine’s Day on the fourteenth of February every year. They exchange gifts of red roses and wear red clothes and congratulate one another. Some bakeries make red coloured sweets and draw hearts on them, and some stores advertise products that are especially for this day. What is your opinion on the following:
1- Celebrating this day
2- Buying things from the stores on this day
3- Storekeepers who are not celebrating it selling things that may be given as gifts to people who are celebrating it?
The clear evidence of the Quran and Sunnah – and the consensus of the early generations of this ummah – indicates that there are only two festivals in Islam: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Any other festivals that have to do with a person, a group, an event or anything else are innovated festivals, which it is not permissible for Muslims to observe, approve of or express joy on those occasions, or to help others to celebrate them in any way, because that is transgressing the sacred limits of Allah, and whoever transgresses the sacred limits of Allah has wronged himself. If the fabricated festival is also a festival of the kuffaar, then the sin is even greater, because this is imitating them and it is a kind of taking them as close friends, and Allah has forbidden the believers to imitate them and take them as close friends in His Holy Book. And it is proven that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Valentine’s Day comes under this heading because it is an idolatrous Christian festival, so it is not permissible for a Muslim who believes in Allah and the Last Day to observe it or approve of it or congratulate people on it. Rather he has to ignore it and avoid it, in obedience to Allah and His Messenger, and so as to keep away from the causes that incur the wrath and punishment of Allah. It is also haraam for the Muslim to help people to celebrate this or any other haraam festival by supplying any kind of food or drink, or buying or selling or manufacturing or giving or advertising etc., because all of that is cooperating in sin and transgression and is disobedience towards Allah and His Messenger (pbuh). Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Help you one another in AlBirr and AtTaqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.” [al-Maa’idah 5:2]
The Muslim must adhere to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah in all his affairs, especially at times of fitnah when evil is widespread. He should be smart and avoid falling into the misguidance of those who have earned Allah’s anger and who have gone astray, and the evildoers who have no fear of Allah and who do not have any pride in being Muslims. The Muslim must turn to Allah and seek His guidance and remain steadfast in following it, for there is no Guide except Allah and no one can make a person steadfast but Him. And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions. End quote.
3 – Shaykh Ibn Jibreen (may Allah preserve him) was asked:
Among our young men and women it has become common to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which is named after a saint who is venerated by the Christians, who celebrate it every year on February 14, when they exchange gifts and red roses, and they wear red clothes. What is the ruling on celebrating this day and exchanging gifts?
Firstly: it is not permissible to celebrate these innovated festivals, because it is an innovation for which there is no basis in Islam. It comes under the heading of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), according to which the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not part of it will have it rejected.”
Secondly: it involves imitating the kuffaar and copying them by venerating that which they venerate and respecting their festivals and rituals, and imitating them in something that is part of their religion. In the hadeeth it says: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
Thirdly: it results in evils and haraam things such as wasting time, singing, music, extravagance, unveiling, wanton display, men mixing with women, women appearing before men other than their mahrams, and other haraam things, or things that are a means that leads to immorality. That cannot be excused by the claim that this is a kind of entertainment and fun. The one who is sincere towards himself should keep away from sin and the means that lead to it.
And he said:
Based on this, it is not permissible to sell these gifts and roses, if it is known that the purchaser celebrates these festivals or will give these things as gifts on those days, so that the seller will not be a partner of the one who does those innovations. And Allah knows best. End quote.
And Allah knows best.