Is it permissible for a man to buy a present for his wife on Valentine’s Day?

The Details of the Question

Is it permissible for a man to buy a present for his wife on Valentine’s Day?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, calendar, history, holiday, entertainment, feast and the customs related to them are the culture of a nation.

Culture is the embodiment of religion and ideology. It is not possible to distinguish one from the other. If some people try to separate religion and culture from each other and try to break the connections between them - it is difficult but if they can do so - , they will start to change religion along with culture. The religion that loses its body piece by piece will leave (from the life of the nation); it will be replaced by the religion or irreligion of the new culture.

Since there is such a link between culture and religion, the change of culture interests the religion closely.

One of the five fundamental aims of Islam is to protect religion (Islam in the life Muslims). An act that adversely affects the preservation of Islam, a cultural exchange and imitation of a culture are haram; it sometimes causes people to exit their religion.

When our Prophet (pbuh) migrated to Madinah, he found out that there were two festivals (eids) in Madinah and that there were celebrations in these eids. Since festivals were important cultural elements in terms of influencing religion, he changed them and informed the Muslims about eid al-fitr and eid al-adha feasts instead of them.

In many other hadiths, the Prophet prohibited Muslims from observing customs and practices related to other religions or having symbolic values/functions in them.

Nevertheless, there is no objection to a person’s buying a gift for his wife on Valentine’s Day, birthday and marriage anniversary without having the intention to resemble non-Muslims.

We also recommend you to read the following article regarding the issue:

Not Valentine’s Day, Day of Love and Affection

The importance and value of be"love"d originates from love; however, it is unjust to make love peculiar to beloved only; the existence of all beings and continuation of their existence depend on love.

According to Islamic thought/understanding, there is a close relationship between beings and beauty, and goodness and love. Allah has absolute perfection and beauty. He wanted this beauty to be known and created the beings.

Existence is nothing more than the manifestation of His existence (and hence His perfection and beauty). Ugliness means evil and lack means non-existence; where there is no divine manifestation, there is no perfection and beauty.

The duty of man in the world life is to try to be worthy of the manifestation ofperfection and beauty. Man loves perfection and beauty; then, all love is directed at perfection and beauty. Since all perfection and beauty are from Allah (from the manifestations of His existence), the goal of all love – whether conscious or unconscious – is divine love.

Poets expressed this meaning in poems like the following:

"I love every beauty because they are your work,
The heart wants manifestations of beauty; it does not have fun,
O Fuzuli! Give up the desires except the ones related to God
Wish to attain the face of God no matter where you are."

There is no perfection and beauty in harams, prohibited things and the deeds that are contrary to the consent of Allah; therefore, those whose natures are unspoiled do not love them; on the contrary, they hate them. If a man and a woman come together with the bond of marriage, there is perfection and beauty in it; if they have an intercourse without marriage, there is lack and ugliness in it. It is contradictory to bring together the ugly and the missing with love; it is an indication of deviation of a person’s nature.

The heart wants what it wishes.  A person can fall in love with someone from the opposite gender and love him/her; in our culture and civilization, this is sometimes only in the heart of the lover and his/her allusive expressions (for example, in poems); it is sometimes shared with the other gender and with some confidants, but the relations do not exceed the boundaries of the divine consent; it is not known by the society; ugliness is not allowed to be made in public and to become legitimate.

Since love originates from Allah, becomes manifest in all beings and returns to Him, this love should be with us every day, every hour, every moment; It is also all right to allocate one day to it symbolically once a year; however, everything that is remembered, regarded valuable and is underlined should be "love"; love aimed at all perfection and beauty, embracing all.

In some parts of other cultures - in fact, mostly today - , it is regarded legitimate and has become a custom for people to fall in love with each other and sometimes even without considering the gender difference, to express this love and to show this love openly before public (to declare it with various acts).

This behavior, which is contrary to our culture, has not stopped at this point; those who make ugliness legitimate in the name of love have tried to replace beauty and love, which includes beauty, with this and have started to replace marriage and family with the togetherness of the people who say that they love each other.

It is necessary to discredit this ugly and destructive trend.

Affection is essential in marriage even if love does not exist; the lovers to whom Valentine’s Day is attributed should have this affection in their marriage. Or rather, it should be a “day of affection” so that feelings like love, affection, peace and altruism will be dominant in the world instead of violence, hatred, war and egoism.  

Hayrettin Karaman (Prof. Dr.)

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