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Saturday, February 12, 2011

BE MY VALENTINE?


February 14th, they say, is the “Day of Love” – “Valentine’s Day” – in which millions of heart-shaped cards and boxes of chocolates are sent to lovers to symbolise the significance of the day. Even our schools are not immune – children are made to draw names from a box and exchange heart-shaped notes which ‘pair off’ the children and is said to be ‘all in fun.’ People of all ages are part of the fun. Everywhere you go or turn to, the words you hear are, “Be My Valentine.”
It is surprising that many Muslims and Christians nowadays do not question the origin of the customs they involve themselves in, and teachers are silent about what they are forced to teach in today’s schools. Do they have any choice? People do not want to ask questions but prefer to do what others are doing.
This column, today, is speaking not only from Islamic perspective but a multi-religious one. Muslims and Christians are part of the celebrants of this soul and heart affair. Yes, Valentine’s Day has to do with the human soul and heart – love. Both the Qur’an and the Bible have this to say: “…the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy…” (Yusuf, 12:53).The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart; I try the reins, even to give every man according to his wages, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).
Why are Muslims and Christians not asking questions regarding Valentine’s Day? Is there any basis for such celebrations in the Qur’an or the Bible? What is the origin of these customs and this unusual day? Why is the colour red used? What is the meaning of the heart shape?
The month of February, in the days of the Roman Empire, was the last and shortest month of the year. Originally, February had 30 days, but when Julius Caesar named the month of July after himself, he decided to make that month longer and shortened February to 29 days while making July a month of 31 days. Later when Augustus, also known as Octavius Caesar, came to power, he named the month of August after himself, and not be outdone he also subtracted a day from February and gave the month of August 31 days. And it remains that way to this day.
“The ancient Romans believed that every month had a spirit that gained in strength and reached its peak or apex of power in the middle or ides of the month. This was usually the 15th day, and it was a day when witches and augurs or soothsayers worked their magic. An augur was a person filled with a spirit of divination, and from the word augur we get the word “inaugurate” which means to “take omens”. Since February had been robbed by Caesars and had only 28 days, the ides of February became the 14th day of that month. Since the ides of a month was celebrated on the preceding eve, the month of February was unique, because it was the 13th day that became the eve of the Ides that month, and it became a very important pagan holiday in the Empire of Rome. The sacred day of February 14th was called “Lupercalia” or “day of the wolf.” This was a day that was sacred to the sexual frenzy of the goddess Juno. This day also honoured the Roman gods, Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary twin brothers, who supposedly founded Rome, Remus and Romulus. These two are said to have been suckled by wolves in a cave on Palatine Hill in Rome. The cave was called Lupercal and was the centre of the celebration on the eve of Lupercalia or February 14th. On this day, Lupercalia, which was later named Valentine’s Day, the Luperci or priests of Lupercus dressed in goatskins for a bloody ceremony. The priests, made red with sacrificial blood, would run around Palatine Hill in a wild frenzy while carving a goatskin thong called a “februa.” Women would sit all around the hill, as the bloody priests would strike them with the goatskin thongs to make them fertile. The young women would then gather in the city and their names were put in boxes. These “love notes” were called “billets.” The men of Rome would draw a billet, and the woman whose name was on it became his sexual lust partner with whom he would fornicate until the next Lupercalia or February 14th.
“Thus, February 14th became a day of unbridled sexual lust. The colour red was sacred to that day because of the blood and the “heart shape” that is popular to this day. The heart-shape was not a representation of the human heart, which looks like it. This shape represents the human female matrix or opening to the chamber of sacred copulation.”
                            Heart Shape, or Female Opening...?
Doubtless, Muslims and Christians should avoid Valentine’s Day celebration because it is evil. In the sight of God, it is still “Lupercalia”, the “Day of The Wolf.” Men become wolves, as they carry on the satanic rituals of fornication, which means sexual intercourse without marriage.
Let us ask ourselves, Muslims and Christians, if it is fitting that we be associated with this celebration of evil roots. Should we be doing what the heathen have done for so many years and try to justify it as love? The Qur’an and the Bible have the answer: “And those who do not witness falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity.” (Al Furqaan, 25:72). “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).
I was leaving the Millennium Park, Abuja on Sunday 7th February, 2010, after spending the evening relaxing with my wife, children and the family of a friend, when, before I could go into my car, a well-dressed gentleman approached me with a leaflet. ‘Good evening sir,’ he said handing me a leaflet, ‘we’d like to invite you to our programme.’
‘Thank you.’ I responded collecting the paper.
It was clear from his clerical dress that he is an evangelist. Reading through the leaflet I understood the invitation to be from the All Christian Fellowship Mission, to a “40 Days of Love Celebration” starting from 14th February 2010. ‘This must be a Valentine’s Day programme.’ I said.
‘No sir; it’s not.’ He answered
‘But why are you starting the event on the 14th of February?’ I enquired
‘I assure you sir; it’s nothing to do with Valentine...’
 ‘Look, my brother, I will not attend your programme; period!’ I snapped conclusively.
At home, after the Ishaa prayer, I realised that both I and the Millennium Park evangelist had made a mistake. I should have deciphered (and the evangelist should have explained to me) from the absence of any mention of Valentine on the leaflet that the All Christian Fellowship Mission had organised the event to take away the attention of its flock from the celebrations of Valentine. Though 40 days is rather too lengthy a period in contrast to 14th to 15th of February Valentine’s Day celebrations, All Christian Fellowship Mission deserves commendation for this welcome diversion.
This is a challenge to Muslim organisations to create their own version of days of love to divert the attention of their youth away from the satanic celebrations of Valentine. The Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness (MICA) staged an event which they christened as Couples Night Out on the 13th of February, 2009 at the Chelsea Hotel, Abuja. Was the choice of the date a coincidence, or did MICA place it to clash with the Valentine’s activities? It would have made more sense, for obvious reasons, to include the youth rather than confine it to couples. The programme was well attended. The participants were Muslim couples; only Mr. and Mrs. –no children. A baby sitter was at hand to keep the young ones busy so that papa and mama could have some uninterrupted, quiet moments for the duration of the event – 7pm to 10pm. The setting was truly romantic; not more than two couples on each table decorated with perfumed flowers; the hall was incensed, dimly illuminated; a couple could only gaze at each other’s face by the faint lighting of the scented candles between them, hardly recognising the occupants of the table next to them. Couples were encouraged by the anchor of the programme to quietly move out of the hall for a short walk around the hotel garden and speak to themselves in a way they have not done for years. Take a sentimental journey in reminiscence of how you met with your spouse, the early reluctance in giving in, the language you used to win them over, and the realisation of genuine love evoked by that success. Think very deeply about what makes your spouse such a special person and just tell them. The programme had sessions for Ishaa prayers, dinner in open buffet, and time for surprises where, hitherto unknown-to-the-partner gift items were exchanged between couples.
Though some brethren were opposed to the above event seeing it as part of the celebrations of Valentine, programmes like these should be replicated and improved upon by Islamic bodies so that Muslim couples could call to mind the good old days. Eating out is not within the radar of some Muslim families. Attendance of such programmes should be expanded to include the youth for they are most vulnerable to the evils of the Valentine celebrations. Contention on the date could be averted by having a 3 day programme for instance, starting from 13th February through 15th. It could take the form of series of activities like lectures on Islamic themes, quiz and Qur’anic recitation competitions, sports and other indoor games. I do not see this as celebrating Valentine; it is rather a swerver of attention from the dangers of the evils of the time to something that is sure to be educative, entertaining, and rewarding. That is exactly what Islamic Vocation Courses (IVCs) aim to achieve. Such courses are usually organised to coincide with non-Islamic activities. The April IVC, for example, will keep Muslim students busy during the Easter festivities; while that of December through January screens our children from Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Valentine’s Day celebration is a pagan practice associated with idolatry and adultery. It is a day in which a lot of innocent girls are impregnated by wayward youths under the pretext of proving their love. Valentine’s Day breeds unwanted pregnancies and has probably done more to spread HIV AIDS than any other event in modern times. This evil day is alien to both our religions and cultures. If a Muslim takes part in any form of this celebration even by buying a card (let alone engaging in any carnal activity), they have sinned and committed an act of shirk (idolatry) which Allah does not forgive until the offender truly repents.

3 comments :

  1. Assalamu alaikum,
    May Allah reward you abundantly for this educating and wondeful piece (already sent to me via email yesterday). JazakalLah khairi Jazaih.
    Abdullahi Ahmed Yusuf PhD,
    Social Insects Research Group,
    University of Pretoria.

    ReplyDelete
  2. nice very well said and suitable for my blog to for valentinefevers.blogspot.com in which i write make valentine for your parents as they are there true love of all time

    ReplyDelete