Today is the festival of St Valentine, and as a Muslim I'm not supposed to celebrate it because apparently it's "immoral". Now, anyone who knows me will know full well that my response to that is "Bollocks". Let me give you the back story to Valentine's Day so that you can judge for yourselves.
St Valentine's Day apparentlybegan as the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Here is the myth-shatterer: Lupercalia is actually a pre-Roman pastoral festival to banish evil spirits and purify cities, releasing health and fertility (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupercalia). Now that we've got rid of that myth, let's move on to the truth.
St Valentine's Day originated as a Roman festival celebrating one or more saints called Valentinus.The most popular martyrologyassociated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddingsfor soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote "from your Valentine" as a farewell to her.Today, Saint Valentine's Day is an officialfeast dayin the Anglian Communion,as well as in the Lutheran Church.The Eastern Orthodox Churchalso celebrates Saint Valentine's Day, albeit on July 6thand July 30th,the former date in honor of the Roman presbyterSaint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).
The day was first associated with romantic lovein the circle of Geoffrey Chaucerin the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly loveflourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which loversexpressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards(known as "valentines").Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shapedoutline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.
I've tried to wrap my head around how on earth Valentine's Day can be seen as a bad thing, and I've come to one conclusion: Islam has become backwards-thinking and old-fashioned in its interpretation. The people who go around shouting about how everything that Westerners do is immoral are the people who give Muslims a bad name and make outsiders think that Islam is a bad thing and that every Muslim is a terrorist! Frankly I can see where they're coming from to be honest - the traditional interpretation of Islam is backwards, over-the-top and paranoid. Traditional Muslims seem to have this idea that every Westerner is immoral and steeped in sin when actually the majority of them are decent, well-meaning people who aren't immoral at all.
To conclude, therefore, I say we should celebrate St Valentine's Day - not as a festival of unsafe sex, but as a festival of love. The Quran does not prohibit love in any form, and until someone can find me a passage that prohibits love I refuse to stop celebrating it. Yes, I agree, love should be celebrated every day, but there is nothing wrong with buying your partner a gift and a card to celebrate the love that you both share.
And now I am off to a lecture. After that I am going out to dinner with my non-Muslim fiancé to celebrate Valentine's Day.
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