valentine's day

Valentine's Day has become an annual date when people all around the world celebrate love. Even though it is predominantly associated with Christianity, the holiday actually originates from the Roman era and was revived by Christians in the 14th century

The day is said to be named after a legend which tells the story of a martyred priest named Valentine, who sent a letter signed in his name to his jailer's daughter before he was executed. 

There are several other versions of the tale behind Valentine's Day, but this is the most widely circulated one. 

In recent decades, the day has become highly commercialized and with that, it has come to be celebrated by people of all different faiths around the world, including Arab Muslims. 

However, some in the region believe celebrating Valentine's Day is considered a sin (haram) in Islam. We spoke to a few of them and here's what they told us:

"I've never, ever celebrated it, nor will I ever"

Speaking to StepFeed, Ahmad, a 27-year-old Lebanese engineer based in Kuwait, told us he has always viewed Valentine's Day as an unIslamic holiday. 

"I've never, ever celebrated it, nor will I ever. It's considered haram (unacceptable) in Islam and it's not part of the holidays we celebrate in our religion," he said. 

When asked to explain why he thinks it's unacceptable for Muslims to celebrate the occasion, the young man added: 

"It's just haram, that's my explanation. It's not accepted, not in our societies nor in our religion. None of my family members celebrate it and we've never understood people who do. Can't married Muslim couples celebrate their love for each other on any other day? Does it have to be on this one in specific?" 

Ahmad also told us that he never expresses his belief on the matter in front of any of his friends because he thinks it would create issues with them. 

"I don't want to debate this with anyone and I know my friends won't accept my belief, most of them do celebrate Valentine's Day and see no problem with it. I think it's a sin."

"This is a Christian holiday, if I celebrated it, it would be like celebrating Easter"

Sarah, a Saudi college student, also shared her perspective on the matter in a statement to StepFeed. 

"I have so many issues with Valentine's day, from it being too commercial to unacceptable within our culture, but the main reason behind my objection to it lies in the fact that celebrating it is haram," she said. 

When asked why she views such celebrations unacceptable within her religion, the young woman explained: 

"This is not my point of view or perspective, this is simply what my religion states. Clear rules set in the holy Quran prohibit followers of the religion from celebrating holidays that belong to other faiths. Since Valentine's Day is not an Islamic holiday or Eid, it cannot be celebrated by a Muslim, it's as simple as that." 

She also went on to add that while she has no problem with Muslims who do choose to celebrate the holiday, she does not understand their point of view. 

"I personally have no problem with people who do celebrate the day and I believe they're free to do as they please but when it comes to me, I cannot do that. This is a Christian holiday, if I celebrated it, it would be like celebrating Easter. Do Muslims think it's OK to celebrate Easter? I really don't think so. So why would they think celebrating Valentine's Day is permissible? It just make no sense at all." 

"If everyone is doing something, that doesn't make it right"

Abdullah, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti marketer who has never celebrated Valentine's Day told StepFeed he thinks the ongoing debate over the matter is void of any meaning. 

"The debate over whether celebrating Valentine's Day is considered a sin or not is a waste of time. I've asked numerous Muslim scholars and sheikhs for edicts on this and they all stated that it's unacceptable to celebrate it. So it's either you follow these rules or choose to ignore them. Why argue over something when it's crystal clear?," he said.

He also added that even though he does believe celebrating Valentine's Day is a sin, many of his family members still celebrate the holiday. 

"My siblings celebrate Valentine's Day every year and ask me not to share my perception of it in front of their friends because it's embarrassing," he added. 

"And it's not only my own family, so many people will tell you that everyone's celebrating it nowadays and that it's normal, but it doesn't matter. If everyone is doing something, that doesn't make it right," he explained.

"The holiday goes against our Islamic values and also our traditions"

Reema, an Egyptian entrepreneur and master's student, also spoke to StepFeed on the matter. 

"I own a concept store and refuse to sell anything related to Valentine's Day because it's haram to celebrate it," she said. 

When asked to explain the reason she holds this belief, the young woman said: 

"In Islam we only celebrate two main occasions, anything else is just not ours to take part in. This holiday goes against our Islamic values and also our traditions. Do we expect people of other religions to observe Ramadan? Do we expect them to celebrate Eid? Why would we be expected to celebrate their holidays?"

While Reema made it clear she is completely against celebrating Valentine's Day or any other unIslamic festivity, she also stressed that this doesn't mean she views them with disrespect.  

"I respect all religions and respect their celebrations but this doesn't mean it's right to participate in them," she added. 

A religious stance on the matter

StepFeed spoke to Muslim scholars, asking them to clarify if celebrating Valentine's Day is actually considered unacceptable in Islam and most said that it is. 

In his statement on the matter, a cleric for Lebanon's Islamic religious institution, Dar Al Fatwa, told us: 

"Celebrating Valentine's day is considered haram (unacceptable) in Islam because it's a holiday that originates in another religion. Therefore, if a person gives their husband/wife a gift on the day with the intent to celebrate Valentine's, it's considered a sin. However, Islam does encourage married couples to express love to each other, it just should not be as part of these celebrations." 

Also speaking to StepFeed, Australian-Iraqi Muslim preacher Sheikh Mohammad Tawhidi said: 

"According to the fundamental teachings of Islam, Valentine's day is not allowed because it’s not an Islamic celebration."

However, Tawhidi also added that outside of the date "there should be no problem in celebrating love or loving someone."

Even though the majority of religious edicts prohibit the celebrations, not all of them do. 

In a recent statement on the matter, Tunisia's Grand Mufti Othman Battikh said Valentine's Day celebrations are not haram, adding that there is nothing wrong with celebrating the event as long as "morals are respected." 

Not all Muslims choose not to celebrate Valentine's Day

Even though the majority of Islamic religious edicts prohibit Valentine's Day celebrations, thousands of Muslims around the world still celebrate it. 

Several Muslim majority countries across the Arab world, excluding Saudi Arabia, also do not ban the holiday and allow businesses to hold events marking the day, in addition to permitting the sale of Valentine's Day gifts in stores and malls.

Speaking to StepFeed, Layla, a Lebanese teacher and academic said:

"I am Muslim and I see nothing wrong with celebrating Valentine's Day. I personally don't celebrate it just because I don't believe in what it stands for, but certainly not because I think it's a sin to do that."

"If we're going to get into the details and history of every single joyful festivity on the planet, we can pull out absurd reasons to prohibit each and every one of them, but we can also find reasons not to," she added.