Love in Islam: Unveil the Truths

by Helmy Sa'at

Love. A powerful word that conveys a gossamer layer of feelings and emotions.

A true enigma that has been contemplated for centuries by generations of thinkers and philosophers. At times, its infliction could send an individual to spiral into derangement when it is unrequited. 

Albeit it permeates every aspect of our lives as natural as blinking or breathing, yet our obsession with love remains inextinguishable. Every year, on 14 February, the world is swept by the tidal celebration of love. However, there are variations of the celebration globally, which includes celebration of friendships.

Visceral Valentine

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Though Valentine’s Day is universally loved or hated and celebrated or condemned, its origin is shrouded in mystery. In essence, it has no clear origin. It is popularly linked to a persecuted Christian priest known as Saint Valentine. However, in digging deeper, its origin could also be traced back to remnants of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions, many centuries ago.

The first Valentine’s Day cards were mass-produced in the United States in the 1840s. Today, it has evolved to become one of the most popular celebrations which drives astronomical profiteering on the part of businesses eager to cash in on love. In America alone, approximately 145 million cards are exchanged every year, on Valentine’s Day. And more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold each year! It is no surprise that it became a USD$27 billion industry in 2020, up from USD$20 billion in 2019. From flowers, particularly roses, jewellery and gift cards, to chocolates and even more flowers. The tangible expressions of love runs the gamut which provides opportunities for every age group to partake.

Love In Islam: Intersectionality Of Modernity And Faith

Millions buy such gifts on Valentine’s Day as a romantic gesture, and Muslims are no exception in their desire to express love for their loved ones. It is only natural to be swept away by the widespread active expressions of love everywhere. After all, Allah has created a partner for you.

 يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱتَّقُوا۟ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَٰحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَآءً ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِۦ وَٱلْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

O humanity! Be mindful of your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it He created its mate, and through both He spread countless men and women. And be mindful of Allah—in Whose Name you appeal to one another—and honour family ties. Surely Allah is ever Watchful over you.

[Surah An-Nisa 4:1]

The implicit societal pressure to celebrate one’s love is strongly compounded by clever and sneaky marketing tactics of commercialism. In Britain, for instance, one survey uncovered that almost 9 out of every 10 British Muslims celebrate Valentine’s Day in some fashion.

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A strong magnetic commercialism pull, in addition to social indulgence, begs the following question: Are we buying into a pagan celebration which has roots in encouraging fertility through animal sacrifices?

Somewhere on the dialectical spectrum, which is persistently pervading almost every aspect of our lives, not just when it comes to the celebration of love, lies the answer.

يَـٰبُنَىَّ أَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَأْمُرْ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَٱنْهَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنكَرِ وَٱصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَآ أَصَابَكَ ۖ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ ٱلْأُمُورِ

Son, establish Prayer, enjoin all that is good and forbid all that is evil, and endure with patience whatever affliction befalls you. Surely these have been emphatically enjoined.

[Surah Luqman 31:17]

Because of Valentine’s Day’s problematic history, it might be best to stay away from it in order to not be trapped into extravagant indulgence which could potentially corrupt one’s religious piety, specifically for unmarried couples, in the eyes of Allah.

Still, there are pockets of Muslim communities, such as Egypt, that have unravelled the issue of permissibility as Valentine’s Day has morphed to become a social occasion devoid of any religious attachments. Akin to diverse Muslim families in any community, under the rubric of Islam, reflecting the heterogeneity of Muslim communities worldwide when it comes to religious interpretations and conscious implementations. This, in addition to sharing societal spaces with others of differing faiths, thus appropriating Valentine’s Day sans practices that contradict Islamic teachings.

Love Lights The Path

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهُ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏ “‏ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لاَ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ حَتَّى تُؤْمِنُوا وَلاَ تُؤْمِنُوا حَتَّى تَحَابُّوا ‏.‏ أَوَلاَ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَى شَىْءٍ إِذَا فَعَلْتُمُوهُ تَحَابَبْتُمْ أَفْشُوا السَّلاَمَ بَيْنَكُمْ ‏“‏


Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! You will not enter Jannah until you believe, and you shall not believe until you love one another. May I inform you of something, if you do, you love each other. Promote greeting amongst you (by saying As-salamu ‘alaikum to one another)”. [Muslim].

[Riyad as-Salihin 378]

Why not recalibrate the thinking and approach to Valentine’s Day? With the other 364 days available to us all, must our wholehearted energy be channelled into one single day when it comes to celebrating love and our loved ones?

We could always start with a simple pledge to express love for a different person in your life, with every passing day. Express gratitude and appreciation for any relationship you have been blessed with through your own way, not dictated by commercialism.

And, never forget your love for Allah, another connection which remains a priority.

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At the same time, let’s keep the space for conversations open, especially, for supposedly taboo subjects. It serves to demystify perpetuated misinformation and opposing cultural perceptions by creating a greater understanding of the diversity in the world we are living in.

Unveiling the subject of love in Islam in relation to Valentine’s Day is as good a start as any other day.

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6 Comments

  1. Labeeb abdulazeez

    I love this write up thanks a lot

    Reply
  2. Walid

    Mashaa’Allah very beautiful and informative article; I know we are not supposed to celebrate Valentine’s Day but my wife is a new Muslimah and has a hard time letting go of old traditions from days of ignorance. I pray Allah opens up her heart and reveals to her the truths and ugliness of this dunya ameen!!

    Reply
  3. Nasir Manzoor

    AOA,
    Jazak Allah for this excellent and timely article. My one suggestion would be to use easier English vocabulary for ease of comprehension. I’ve been in the US for over 30 years with multiple master’s degrees and I have difficulty understanding the words used in the articles written in Muslim Pro. Please use words easier to understand in common English 🙂

    Reply
    • Akbar

      Totally a different view from you. I thought this article was really well written and it is understandable. It doesn’t make a difference if you mention that you have been living in the US for 30 years with multiple master’s degrees. It shows the credibility of your knowledge. Suggestion for you: prepare a dictionary if you need to. Even if there’s words that I don’t understand, at the very least I will check the meaning and learn from it. To writer: please continue such well written and such style #mythoughts #thumbsup

      Reply
  4. Amar

    Interesting article. Love in Islam and as a Muslim.

    Reply
  5. Alexius

    This is really a well written article. The fact that how some Muslims are against any form of Valentines Day Celebration, this article enlightened me.

    Reply

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