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What is it and where did it come from?

Consider Valentine's Day, a day that after dying out a well-deserved death in most of Europe (but surviving in Britain and United States) has suddenly started to emerge across a good swath of Muslim countries. Who was Valentine? Why is this day observed? Legends abound, as they do in all such cases, but this is much clear: Valentine's Day began as a pagan ritual started by Romans in the 4th century BC to honor the god Lupercus. The main attraction of this ritual was a lottery held to distribute young women to young men for "entertainment and pleasure"--until the next year's lottery. Among 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, which had been smeared with 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.

 As usual, Christianity tried, without success, to stop the evil celebration of Lupercalia. It first replaced the lottery of the names of women with a lottery of the names of the saints. The idea was that during the following year the young men would emulate the life of the saint whose name they had drawn. (The idea that you can preserve the appearance of a popular evil and yet somehow turn it to serve the purpose of virtue, has survived. Look at all those people who are still trying, helplessly, to use the formats of popular television entertainments to promote good. They might learn something from this bit of history. It failed miserably) Christianity ended up doing in Rome, and elsewhere, as the Romans did. The only success it had was in changing the name from Lupercalia to St. Valentine's Day. It was done in CE 496 by Pope Gelasius, in honor of some Saint Valentine. There are as many as 50 different Valentines in Christian legends. Two of them are more famous, although their lives and characters are also shrouded in mystery. According to one legend, and the one more in line with the true nature of this celebration, St. Valentine was a "lovers'" saint, who had himself fallen in love with his jailer's daughter.

Due to serious troubles that accompanied such lottery, French government banned the practice in 1776. In Italy, Austra, Hungary, 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. From there it also reached the New World, where enterprising Yankees spotted a good means of making money. Esther A. Howland, who produced one of the first commercial American Valentine's Day cards called--- what else--- valentines, in the 1840s, sold $5,000 worth--when $5,000 was a lot of money--the first year. The valentine industry has been booming ever since.

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 the 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 honor 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 got married.

Islamic Perspective

We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices - We do not need to honor 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 Qur'an mentions: "The wasters are the brothers of Shaitaan".

Valentine's Day brings along with it a host of parties, balls, dances, social functions, etc…Unfortunately; these are havens of free mixing, alcohol, drugs, and illicit sexual encounters.

As Muslims we need to distance ourselves from such frivolous events. We should not participate in anything associated with Valentine's Day nor should we encourage it in any way. As fathers and mothers we should pay attention to our children. We should ensure that we guard them from such activities by educating and monitoring them.

Remember that by participating in Valentine's Day we are destroying our Islamic morals and standards of respect and dignity. Let us become the army of Allah not the army of Shaitaan.


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