بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Love in Islam
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought”
[Al-Qur’an – Surah Ar-Rum (The Romans): 21]
When you step into the supermarket at this time of year near Valentine’s Day, you can’t help but notice the aisles of “red.” You see the stuffed teddy bears with heart-shaped pillows, the heart boxes of chocolate, the candies and chocolates wrapped in red, and more. We see everyone rushing around to purchase these items.
The celebration of Valentine’s Day on a mass scale, is no longer limited to the West. Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day is a very highly celebrated holiday in the Muslim countries also. What should be a Muslim’s stance on all this?
The Basics in Islam:
- Marriage: The only halal (permissible) relationship in Islam, between a non-mehram man and woman, is that of marriage. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has described this as:
هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ
“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.”
[Al-Qur’an – Surat Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 187]
This is a pure and acceptable relationship in sight of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى).
- Engagement: If you are engaged, and awaiting your nikah, the good thing is that you are almost in a 100% halal Zone, yet not completely there. In this stage, be as patient as possible and remember you are not technically married till the nikah takes place.
- Interest in Someone: In a situation where you like someone and if they like you back, rather than dilly dallying and talking to this person for months, or even years, you should simply go through the “Parent Filter.” The quicker you bring this person up to your parents, the quicker you know if your relationship is destined or doomed. Don’t forget to make Istikhara du’a [seek goodness from Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)] before any decision.
- If you are Single: Just because you’re single does not mean you should and can mingle. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women.”[Bukhari: | Book 62 | No. 34]. Islam discourages free mingling of men and women and mandates hijab [covering as per Shariah (the Ordained way)] and modesty for both sexes.
Role Model in Islam
To understand that following any action is of any benefit or not, we need to ask ourselves, “Did the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) celebrate Valentine’s Day or designate of showing only one day of showing love?” The answer is, he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did not. However, just because he didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day did not make him any less loving to his wives.
Nowadays, if you do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, you might be considered weird or backward. It is expected that you wear red on this day, post a Facebook photo of you posing with your fiance/husband in a swanky restaurant, and tweet about the bling gift that you received from him. We need to examine our intentions and think who are we trying to impress? We need to impress Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) instead of the people around us.
There is an extreme story of a wife who filed for divorce because her husband did not give her anything for Valentines Day. She strongly felt on this “Day of Love”, it was absolutely necessary for her to receive a gift from her beloved husband. When he failed to bestow one on her, she felt unloved and promptly filed for divorce. I’m sure she was probably influenced by the media around her.
Thus, from this lady’s story, we learn it is important to express one’s feelings of love. Remember, this love should be expressed only between Husband and Wife, and should not be limited to one day of the year.
In the Example of Uswatun Hasanah (The Exemplary Role Model)
The Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was a great example. He was not shy to express his love to his wives or talk about them lovingly. Years after his wife Khadijah (رضى الله عنها) died, just the thought of her would bring him to tears, and he would reflect, “Verily I was filled with affection for her.” Later, when asked, “Who do you love most in this world?” the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would reply, “Ayesha”. The companions then asked, “No, from the men in the world?” to which he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) answered: “Her father”. He didn’t simply say Abu Bakr (رضى الله عنه), but chose to say “Her father,” linking his love of Abu Bakr (رضى الله عنه) to his beloved wife Ayesha (رضى الله عنها).
Love demands proof of love in terms of actions and manifestations. It can be easy for husbands today to simply tell their wives they love them, but we all know actions speak louder than words. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)’s habits spoke just as loud as his words. When he was home he concentrated on his family and did not bring his work home. He would give full attention to his wives. Furthermore, when the call for prayer would come, he would leave his family and go to the Masjid. However, prior to leaving, he would kiss his wife. Another admirable part of his character was that he would take care of his own housework and help his wives with household duties.
There is much to learn from this balanced man’s life. We should refer to the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) as our role model and strive to be like him in his actions and words.
In today’s society, it is easy to compare ourselves to the couples around us. It is easy to strive to be like another perfect couple that we know of. However, sometimes the “perfect couple” that we know breaks up, and we are left confused and dazed. Again, we should try to emulate the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and his Wives. Note: they were human and this is 100% normal! There is evidence from the Sunnah where the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)’s wives would argue with him. He was not arrogant and never said, “How dare you argue with me? I’m the Prophet!” Husbands should learn from his example: there was no human whose word was more absolute than Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and if he was so humble, all his followers should also practice humility.
Remember, marriage is the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said marriage is half of faith. Not every day of marriage will be a honeymoon day, so it is important to know that you are fulfilling a Sunnah, and we do to do your best at it. If you constantly expect your husband/wife to be perfect, you will undoubtedly be disappointed. Rather, one should always expect from Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) instead and always ask Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)for good. We need to strive to seek the love of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) all the time and know that the love Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has for us cannot be beaten.
اَللّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ حُبَّكَ أَحَبَّ الَأشْيَآءِ إِلَىَّ وَاجْعَلْ خَشْيَتَكَ أَخْوَفَ الَأشْيَآءِ عِنْدِىْ وَاقْطَعْ عَنِّى حَاجَاتِ الدُّنْيَا بِالشَّوْقِ إِلَى لِقَآءِكَ وَ إِذَا أَقْرَرْتَ أَعْيُنَ أَهْلِ الدُّنْيَا مِنْ دُنْيَاهُمْ فَأَقْرِرْ عَيْنِى مِنْ عِبَادتِكَ
Dua: “O Allah! Make my love for You transcend the love of all other things and make my fear of You be more than the fear of all other things,and make my desire to meet You override all the desires of this world. And when the eyes of the worldly people are cooled and comforted by the world make he coolness and enjoyment of my eyes lie in Your worship.”
One question everyone needs to ask themselves, is: Why we do what we do? Do we know why we do what we do? Moreover, do we always have a reason? If we do not, then we ought to, especially as Muslims. Believers have a purpose of existence and an intention behind his/her every deed.
A person who does not know where they’re headed is called ‘Lost’. A person who knows which direction is the right one is called ‘Focused’. The ‘focused’ person reaches his/her destination, while the ‘lost’ one continues to find the way in a maze to no avail.
Similarly, when we celebrate holidays, we have to pause and think, what is the significance of this celebration. Eid-ul-Adha reminds us of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (عليه السلام)’s in Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)’s way. Muharram is the start of the Islamic calendar. Eid-ul-Fitr comes after a month of continuous fasting purely for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى)’s sake. These holidays help confirm, define and further strengthen our belief as a Muslim. It marks our identity. Each of these celebrations begin with the praise of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) through prayer. It is not haphazard nor does it entail an external motive.
On the other hand, the days celebrated by many people worldwide include Christmas, Easter, New Years or Valentine’s but are merely sources of filling up pockets of the already rich companies of the world. Additionally, the real source behind why Valentine’s Day is celebrated is pretty uncertain. The culture of the West has been distorted by turning every holiday into a reason to consume, hence paving the hype of commercialism.
Islam has been made a perfect religion in terms of values, actions that follow as well as the end result these actions will have on individuals and society as a whole. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) clearly said in his last sermon: “O People! No prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. O People! Reason and understand well the words that I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur’an and my Sunnah (i.e. sayings, deeds and approvals), and if you follow these you will never go astray.
It is not to promote just a monthly celebration to “spread love,” one time a year and leave it at that. Islam is a religion of substance, not of temporary material gain and cut-throat values.
Background on Valentine’s Day
Encyclopedia Britannica that says that Valentine’s day has nothing to do with Saint Valentine as is usually propogated, instead it is related to the Roman pagan festival of their god, Lupercalia.
It was celebrated on 15th February and in honour of the goddess Juno Februata, the names of girls were placed in an urn and the men would draw out the name of a girl at random who would then become their date for the remaining festival.
Please do note that this is not a celebration that is part of the Christian faith. Rather, when Christianity came to Rome, it was tried that this obscene yet popular festival be “Christianized.” To bring religion into play, the names of girls were replaced with names of saints. The men were then supposed to emulate the saint, whose name they drew, for the rest of the year. However this attempt proved unsuccessful and the use of girl’s names returned.
Many associated this holiday with Cupid (the virtually naked god of love), the central character of Valentine’s Day hype. Cupid shoots people with its arrows to make them fall in love. His mother is said to be Venus (goddess of love) and apparently the rose was her favourite flower. The question is that if it were so easy to have people love each other with a shooting of the arrow, wouldn’t this world be a place of harmony, love and understanding in general? Yet, the world is in a state of animosity, fighting, arguing and a high rate of divorce.
Another tradition speaks of a Saint Valentine who was killed on 14th Feb. by Emperor Claudius for secretly arranging the marriages of his soldiers whom he had banned from marriage. The Bishop is said to have fallen in love with the jailer’s daughter during his imprisonment and wrote her a letter signed ‘Your Valentine’, which became a tradition for people to come. In 496 Pope Gelasius officially replaced the pagan festival of 15th Feb with St Valentine’s Day on 14th Feb.
All of these various traditions aim at promoting a concept of love that is not in line with what Islam promotes. Hence, it is not befitting for a Muslim to compromise on the principles of Islam, follow the ways of other cultures and celebrate such meaningless occasions.