Nigeria: Who Is Your 'Valentine'?

14 February 2020
opinion

Brethren, it happened a couple of days ago. I placed a call to one of my colleagues here on campus. While waiting patiently for the call to connect with the said friend, I heard a voice welcoming me to the season of 'love'. I thought it was an error. I cut the call in order to re-dial again but lo and behold! the error was not on the side of the network but on mine. I did not know the world had moved on to another level in its pursuit of the transient, the ephemeral.

The voice on the network which sounded like that of the female among the genies and the message it sought to pass across to me were meant to remind me of the fact that the Valentine's day was in the corner; that we are now in the season of 'love'. Brethren, February 14, has been dedicated to mark the day lovers usually find the beloved; a day humanity is expected to show love and more love.

Dear sister, immediately the voice on the phone network invited me to partake of its offers to mark the Valentine's day, I realized I needed to remind myself of what exactly the day is all about; I thought I needed to know Valentine.

St. Valentine's Day is said to have started as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrology. A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.

Given the above information, I guess the question that demands contemplation is this: of what importance is this occasion for an ordinary Muslim's spiritual development? To what extent is it permissible for a Muslim to engage in festivals and celebrations of icons with roots outside the religion of Islam? Is it good for a Muslim to join every social stream in the society just because it is the event that is presently 'trendy'?

Scholars of Islam are in agreement that celebrating any other festival aside from the Id al-Kabir and Id al-Fitr is one of the gravest sins that a Muslim may commit. Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) had warned against this trend when he said: "Whoever imitates a people becomes one of them." In fact, an uncritical imitation of the appearances and practices of others usually leads to the development of love and affection between the imitator and the one who is imitated.

Hence, the laws instituted by the Almighty, His proclamations and injunctions which are clearly stated in the last testament, the glorious Qur'an, is meant to prevent criminal occlusion of the barriers between Islam and activities and trends which do not belong to the religion; 'to you your religion and to me, mine", so says the Last Testament.

Thus, dear brother, an indulgence on your part in what I would refer to as 'Valentinism' is a conscious perversion of the deen: that you desire something more than what your Creator has given to you. Your involvement in Valentine's day means you are in agreement with the sexual licentiousness and moral perversions that usually take place each time February 14 falls due. By celebrating the Valentine's day you are saying that what makes Islam unique actually exemplifies its inferiority in relation to other religions. You are saying Islam lacks platitude, that it lacks element of love.

But brethren, I find this whole idea of dedicating a day to celebrate an ideal quite ribald and puerile for another reason. In other words, if February 14 is a day love, does it mean the remaining three hundred and sixty four days of the year should be dedicated to hatred?

Listen to him, one more time; read what the Prophet (upon him be peace) says again: "You will follow the (wrong) ways of those before you so completely and literally that if they enter the hole of a lizard, you too will enter it.". Do you desire to enter this hole'?

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