This is the time of year that we are bombarded with messages of love and romance. Stores and shops are full of flowers and candies enticing us to declare or renew our love for that “special someone”. What is this occasion really about and why should we as parents be wary of this day – February 14th?
Although the roots of this holiday emanate from pagan traditions our focus should not solely be on the impermissibility of partaking in celebrations that emanate from other than Islam. We should also be aware and conscious of the ideas that are being conveyed and whether they are in line with Islam or run contrary to it; as it is the ideas that we hold that will form the foundation of our actions. A quick search on Wikipedia gives us a good summary as to what Valentine’s Day was initiated for:
“The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).”
In other words, Valentine’s Day has come to represent a day in which individuals’ use this as an opportunity to let the person that they desire or love know of their feelings for them. Despite the fact that this occasion lasts for only one day out of the entire year, it sets the basis as to how romantic relationships are established. According to western cultures, romantic relationships start from the initial desire to be intimate with a particular individual, followed by dating which may last from a few days to a number of years and may never end up in marriage between the two. The main idea established on this occasion is that if you desire someone and if they accept you, the both of you are free to do whatever you want with each other, without any responsibilities or obligations towards each other. As such the relationship between men and women is established and regulated by the individuals’ whims and desires and societal norms. From an economic perspective, Valentine’s Day is big business. According to the History channel, “Americans typically buy 180 million roses, 36 million boxes of candy and spend more than $14 billion on gifts.” With such immense contributions to the economy, governments and industries have no qualms about supporting the Valentine’s theme. Boys are encouraged to shower girls with extravagant gifts to win them over. Women are taught that they must be pampered and showered with lavish attention and gifts as a means to decide who is worthy of their love.
With our children being exposed to this occasion from an age where they are emotionally unprepared to deal with the implications, we as parents should be wary and concerned as to the effect it will have on them. If it is not enough that they are bombarded on television and at any store they visit, they can even be introduced to the occasion at school. Beginning in the elementary years our children are encouraged to make cards and giving them to that “special” someone on Valentine’s Day. As they get older and move on to high school, it is not uncommon to feel the peer-pressure that they need to “hook up” with the opposite gender. They are encouraged to act on any feelings they have for someone, whether it is love or lust and the environment makes one feel strange or weird if they don’t engage in these activities.
These concepts of love and romance are not in-line with the Islamic views on this issue. Islam has been sent to regulate the affairs of mankind and has left no sphere neglected. Islam presents a completely different view on the way relationships are established between men and women and how they are regulated. Allah (swt) revealed:
And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect. [TMQ 30:21]
It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and (then) He has created from him his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her. [TMQ 7:189]
In the matter of intimate relationships between men and women, Islam has prescribed marriage as the avenue for establishing this relationship. Thus, Islam limits romance to the realm of marriage and it is after marriage where romance and love are fostered not before. It is not a relationship rooted in lust and desire but preference is given to the person’s character and imaan. Abu Harairah (ra) narrated that RasulAllah (swt) said:
“A man marries a woman for four reasons: for her property, for her rank, for her beauty, and for her Deen. So marry the one who is best in the Deen and character and prosper.” [Muslim]
“The Prophet (saw) said, “When someone with whose Deen and character you are satisfied, asks to marry your daughter, agree to his request. If you do not do so, there will be corruption and great evil on earth.” [Tirmithi]
Love and marriage are intertwined – they cannot exist without each other since in Islam there is no concept of boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Even the concept of love is not limited to butterflies and swooning but it is in the special bond of marriage that the two individuals began a life together – learning about and respecting each other and fulfilling the rights and responsibilities over one another. In a narration by Umar (ra), he said, “If one of you does not love her husband, she should not tell him about this, because only a few homes are based on love; rather, people live together by virtue of good morals and Islam.”
Living in an environment where the norm is to pursue your own romantic escapades we need to teach our children the correct way to align their emotions according to what Allah (swt) and his Rasul (saw) have taught us. Islam does not deny the natural instincts innate in man but regulates them in the correct manner which will result in peace and tranquility to man and society and most importantly be in-line with what pleases our Creator – Allah (swt).
As parents we are the guardians over our children and as such we need to take the appropriate steps to protect them from anything that will harm them in their Deen. Allah (swt) revealed:
Oh you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded. [TMQ 66:6]
In his tafsir, Ibn Kathir says, “Qatadah said [about this ayah], ‘He commands obedience to Allah, to not disobey Allah, he orders his family to obey His orders and helps them to act upon His orders. When one sees disobedience, he stops them and forbids them from doing it.’”
We should be constantly communicating with our children to understand what challenges and issues they are facing and when appropriate to be able to give them advice and guidance as to what the Islamic perspective is on issues they are dealing with. It is obvious that we should not let our children participate in this occasion but it should not begin and end here. From a young age we should inculcate our children with an Islamic personality. What this entails is fostering an understanding that Islam is a complete way of life and has come to regulate the affairs of mankind. That it has provided a solution for all of mans problems until the end of time – essentially Islam is our blueprint on how to live our lives. This will in sha Allah give them the correct basis to judge between what is right and wrong. Furthermore, their yard stick for actions will be the Quran and Sunnah and not other individuals or society.
We also need to be aware of our children’s emotional and physical developments as well as the atmosphere they are constantly exposed to. For example it is commonplace for advertisements and TV shows to promote scantily clad woman and haram relationships as something normal and desirable. Our children are at an age where they are impressionable and their emotions are developing and as such are in a constant state of agitation. When this is combined with the bombardment from social media and the peer pressure they face on a daily basis, the results can be disastrous for our children. We should be understanding of this burden and supportive of our children in helping them abide by the Hukm of Allah even if that means going against social and cultural norms. We should not place barriers where Allah (swt) has not placed them and we should make what is halal easy for our children so that they do not fall into the haram .Consequently we need to seriously consider finding a spouse for our children as soon as they are ready. Narrated by Abdullah:
“We were with the Prophet while we were young and had no wealth whatsoever. So Allah’s Apostle said, ‘O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e. his private parts from committing illegal sexual intercourse etc.), and whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.’” [Bukhari]
May Allah (swt) protect our children from the fitnan they face and may Allah (swt) be pleased with their struggles they pursue in order to please Him (swt). Ameen.