Celebrating Valentine’s Day isn’t always straightforward for some Muslims – here’s why

Whether or not you’ve embraced the season of affection with roses and chocolate otherwise you’re already itching for the day to be over, Valentine’s Day in all probability hasn’t evoked any deep existential questions on your religion and identification – but for a lot of British Muslims, it does simply that.

Now amplified by way of social media, yr on yr, we see a heated debate on the place Valentine’s Day ought to or shouldn’t have inside Muslim communities, with some even denouncing the celebration as literally pure evil.

Combing over this antagonism to Valentine’s Day, we see the majority of the aversion is linked to its speculative pagan roots. In pre-ancient Rome, mid-February marked the festival of Lupercalia, a celebration of fertility. Centuries later, the reminiscence of this archaic ceremony, alongside imagery of the mythological god of erotic need, Cupid, fused along with the tragic story of a persecuted Christian priest named Saint Valentine. As legend has it, on the day earlier than he was to be executed, the soon-to-be-martyr wrote to the daughter of his executioner, signing his letter with the immortalised phrases, “out of your Valentine”.


Wrap all of that narrative in a glittery, love-heart laden, immoderately-commercialised competition, and it’s comprehensible why Muslims, particularly these arriving into the West, may need been apprehensive in assimilating the thought of Valentine’s Day into their communities.

So why then do the overwhelming majority of Muslims, nearly 9 out of 10, surveyed lately within the UK appear to have no qualms with celebrating Valentine’s Day? The reason being fairly easy. British Muslims are culturally rooted within the UK and being born and bred on this island affords you a singular insider perspective into the social and cultural milieu of what it means to be British.

Identical to many different communities, British Muslims are challenged with reconciling their globalised fashionable identities with the standard values of their religion. Islam, like every other faith, can not exist inside a cultural vacuum. There isn’t a Islam and not using a cultural context, the context of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him), was seventh century Arabia, and the context we discover ourselves in now, is 21st century Britain.

From Andalusian Spain to the heartlands of China, wherever Muslims unfold all through the world, they embraced and enhanced the cultures they stumbled on by way of indigenising the timeless values, rules and ethics of their religion.

Muslim communities of the UK, particularly younger individuals, have organically developed a way of cultural maturity that will be unimaginable amongst earlier generations. Therefore we see British Muslims embracing Valentine’s Day, not as a non secular competition or for its obscure pagan roots, however slightly as cultural insiders, taking it for what it’s; a season to rejoice love and affection.

Something that fosters love between two individuals, inside the framework of what’s acceptable in Islam, is embraced. Something that doesn’t is left behind.

Inside the very DNA of the Islamic custom lies knowledge of sustaining cultural familiarity wherever Muslims might go.

This grew to become an indicator of Islamic civilisation and is what anchored the religion in so many distinct peoples and locations, and it’s this spirit that British Muslims are invoking as we speak; rediscovering the position Islam can play as a crucible for the perfect of what each heritage Muslim cultures and Western civilisation has to supply.

Love is the very basis of Islam. It permeates the whole corpus of the custom, from the lives of the Prophet Muhammad and his household and companions, to the tales of Layla and Majnun and the poetry of Rumi. Thus, it’s my hope that Muslims can resist conceding to the industrial cacophony that Valentine’s Day has develop into and slightly use this present day as a possibility to revive the legacies of affection inside the Islamic custom to assist higher {our relationships} as we speak.


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So, what might a Muslim-inspired Valentine’s Day appear like? Maybe a robust poem praising your associate or possibly the introduction a small gesture into your relationship, like consuming from the identical plate, simply because the Prophet did, with the hope of rekindling sparks of affection and affection.

What about bringing a way of charity to the celebration, maybe spending Valentine’s Day in acts of service for many who have misplaced their family members? And even simply serving to your single pals who’re nonetheless on the search.

In the present day we’re promised love on the swipe of our fingers, and but individuals have by no means felt extra remoted and lonely than ever earlier than.

We are able to do higher than this. We should. The Prophet Muhammad said you could’t declare to have religion if you happen to don’t love each other, and but so many are nonetheless looking for love and that means of their lives.

Love is the balm that can bind us all collectively, roses and candies may assist just a little, however maybe this Valentine’s Day we will delve deep into the wisdoms of our religion and improve what this season of affection might be for all.

Dr Bilal Hassam is a author, broadcaster and artistic director at British Muslim TV


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