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LANALLAH __Islamic BlogZine__
Sunday, February 13, 2005

THE PAGAN ORIGINS OF ST.VALENTINE's DAY




Every community observes some festivals. The festivals fulfil a fundamental human need, and, hence a few days are set aside for rejoicing and entertainment. In Islam also two such days have been fixed, those of Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adha. These two holidays alone are the real religious and communal festivals of Muslims. Whatever is celebrated beside these two holidays has no religious basis at all.


The following hadith is Narrated by Anas ibn Malik (RA):
When the Apostle of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) came to Medina, the people had two special days in which they engaged in feasting and celebration. He asked: What are these two days (what is the significance)? They said: We used to engage ourselves on them in the pre-Islamic period. The Apostle of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: Allah has substituted for them something better than them, the day of sacrifice and the day of the breaking of the fast.
With this hadith in front of us the question now is how can any Muslim with an atom's weight of iman celebrate Christian and other unislamic holidays that are steeped in paganism? One of these being the upcoming holiday known as St. valentine's day.

It is sad to see in this day and age people professing to be Muslim celebrating holidays that were started by pagans hundreds of years ago. The Catholic Church at first celebrated St. Valentine's Day. Later it was taken off of the list of official church holidays. However St. Valentine is still regarded as a saint in the eyes of the church. Here in Pakistan and also in other Muslim countries around the globe the fashion of celebrating this pagan holiday is taking hold. One sees in the newspaper advertisements for St. Valentine's day.

How many of us really know the origin of this day? The pagans of Rome first celebrated it before Christianity came to that part of the world. All kinds of haraam activities are associated with this day. Clearly this is an event that any rational thinking Muslim will avoid. For the Muslim there are only two holidays (eidain) and no others. We are not in need of any others. The holy Qur'an and the sunnat are replete with advise on who to love and how to love. We should not be following the ways of the ones who are destined for the hellfire.


The Origins of St. Valentine's Day

Although the mid-February holiday celebrating love and lovers remains wildly popular, the confusion over its origins led the Catholic Church, in 1969, to drop St. Valentine's Day from the Roman calendar of official, worldwide Catholic feasts. Some parishes, however, observe the feast of St. Valentine.

The roots of St. Valentine's Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which was celebrated on Feb. 15. For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year. Among the other equally despicable practices associated with this day was the lashing of young women by two young men, clad only in a bit of goatskin and wielding goatskin thongs, who had been smeared with the blood of sacrificial goats and dogs. A lash of the 'sacred thongs' by these 'holy men' was believed to make them better able to bear children.

Pope Gelasius I was, understandably, less than thrilled with this custom. So he changed the lottery to have both young men and women draw the names of saints whom they would then emulate for the year. Instead of Lupercus, the patron of the feast became Valentine. For Roman men, the day continued to be an occasion to seek the affections of women, and it became a tradition to give out handwritten messages of admiration that included Valentine's name.

Due to the serious troubles that accompanied such a lottery, the French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy, Austria, Hungry, and Germany also the ritual vanished over the years. Earlier, it had been banned in England during the 17th century when the Puritans were strong. However in 1660 Charles II revived it.

Esther A. Howland produced the first commercial American Valentine's Day cards in the 1840's and sold $5,000 worth in the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.

There was also a conventional belief in Europe during the Middle Ages that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. Thus the day was dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved. Legend has it that Charles, duke of Orleans, sent the first real Valentine card to his wife in 1415, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. (He, however, was not beheaded, and died a half-century later of old age.)

The next time someone mentions something about celebrating this unislamic event, it is your duty to remind him that Islam was brought to eradicate paganism not support it.

May Allah the All-Mighty guide us all to His straight path! Ameen!


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