As Valentine approaches, the world is taken in by the reds and pinks, the hearts and the halo. Oh, it looks so fabulous and so inviting. Cute little teddy bears and heart cushions fill the aisles of superstores. This was a phenomenon of the West until several years ago when it has found way into the East and just as forcefully.

The sad thing for us in the Eastern region of the world is the lack of realization that we are not just Pakistanis; We are primarily and foremost Muslims. I invite you to understand the reality of the haram and what the charm is on surface in an unhealthy relationship between two people of the opposite gender who “think” they are happy and the world is at their feet, but in reality they are headed for what will become an emotional chaos. Of course, I do not foresee the future, nor can I predict and nor am I being judgemental. I go by the philosophy my Deen has taught me and that tell me plain and clear: If you indulge in the haram, the outcome will not be a happy one, either in the duniya and nor the akhira. Valentines’ celebration is an invitation to just that – unhappiness all the way.

What do we mean by a “wrong” relationship. Relations have been described to us clearly in the verses of the Qur’an. Everyone has been given a place and a role. We have been told that certain categories of men and women are knows as the “muharramat” (those whom you cannot marry):

حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ اُمَّھٰتُكُمْ وَبَنٰتُكُمْ وَاَخَوٰتُكُمْ وَعَمّٰتُكُمْ وَخٰلٰتُكُمْ وَبَنٰتُ الْاَخِ وَبَنٰتُ الْاُخْتِ وَاُمَّھٰتُكُمُ الّٰتِيْٓ اَرْضَعْنَكُمْ وَاَخَوٰتُكُمْ مِّنَ الرَّضَاعَةِ وَاُمَّھٰتُ نِسَاۗىِٕكُمْ وَرَبَاۗىِٕبُكُمُ الّٰتِيْ فِيْ حُجُوْرِكُمْ مِّنْ نِّسَاۗىِٕكُمُ الّٰتِيْ دَخَلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ  ۡ فَاِنْ لَّمْ تَكُوْنُوْا دََلْتُمْ بِهِنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ ۡ وَحَلَاۗىِٕلُ اَبْنَاۗىِٕكُمُ الَّذِيْنَ مِنْ اَصْلَابِكُمْ ۙ وَاَنْ تَجْمَعُوْا بَيْنَ الْاُخْتَيْنِ اِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ ۭاِنَّ اللّٰهَ كَانَ غَفُوْرًا رَّحِـيْمًا     

Prohibited to you [ for marriage ] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’ s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your [ milk ] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives’ mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [ born ] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [ also prohibited are ] the wives of your sons who are from your [ own ] loins, and that you take [ in marriage ] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.
[Surah An-Nissa:23]

All other relationships with regards to the opposite gender are to be dealt with caution and even specific behavioral guidelines have been given to us in Surah An-Nur and Surah Al-Ahzab for a better code of conduct. I would like to state that these rulings are for both the men as well as women. There is really no need for a misogynistic attitude in Islam as it has no place in our Shariah. Our Creator is fair and just by all means and by all standards. Where He has given the ruling for men to lower their gaze, the same applies to women. More responsibility is given to women for the fact that there is a lot more attraction with their love of jewelry, make-up, the shrill of a voice and the manner in which a woman walks, all of which enhances the innate beauty Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) has kept for women. Hence, more caution for the women. It is not more burden, rather it is more of a protection. This is the perspective that we as Muslims see the commands of our Creator. So mixing with the opposite gender in a casual friendship with celebrations of chocolates and flowers on Valentine’s Day are far from being permissible and acceptable.

I would not want to make this article a piece where you are afraid to read on because you the verses of the Qur’an seem heavy and far too binding. I would like to invite you is to consider what happens when we indulge in the haram and reflect on the wisdom behind Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) not allowing relationships with the non-Mahram and securing a relationship with nikah.

The Hurt in the Haram

All famous love stories that we hear about sound romantically enticing, yet all have led to heartbreaks, grief and even suicide or some other form of self-affliction. The end result of all have been a compromised love, instability and a lot of tears. The outcome was to no avail to either parties. False promises were made that were not fulfilled. Poetry and songs were exchanged that meant nothing. There was insecurity given to both people and especially for the women this matters a lot because it is a universal fact that women look for security in a relationship.

People have gone into depression and deep sorrows when “things didn’t work out”. There was defame and rumor involved. There was character-assassination that was done. When a person suddenly “falls out of love,” it brings about a huge sense of loss and betrayal. Yes, there is a lot of hurt in the haram because there is no obligation to do the right by either person. There are no duties assigned and no real roleplay involved. It is all a fake sense of elative feeling that is based on infatuation and a bubble waiting to burst. I hope it will not be too much of a gender-bias to say that the women suffer more because somehow they are seen to be the more vulnerable ones in the relationship. But this is not to discount that men also are sensitive and go through hurt and a grief-cycle.

Regardless of men or women, the outcome is low self-esteem and a low sense of worth. There is a loss of belongingness and many tears that are wasted.

So what is to be done when one realizes that this was not the “real relationship?” It was wrong and there is shame and guilt for indulging into it.

Moving to Healing

For a believer who has indulged into this, there is the sense of guilt of the sin. At least there should be. Yes, it is a sin because the mixing of non-mahram as given in the verse above has been gravely discouraged in Islam. Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) in His ultimate wisdom has advised us against this for the very same reasons as given above. Is it the end of the world? Never!

Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) in His Ultimate Mercy has kept the doors of tawbah open for us. This is not to encourage people to continue to the sin or think that they can sin and then continue to do tawbah as one of the conditions of tawbah as per scholars is that the person promises to stay away from the sin in the future. So if repentance is asked of Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) with a hidden intention that the sin will be continued, that tawbah is most likely to be rejected.

Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) says in the Qur’an:

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
[Surah Az-Zumar: 53]

Moreover, this particular verse is a proof of the grandiose mercy of our Rabb. Despite all the wrong that we commit, look how He accepts sincere repentance.

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ وَلَا يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَا يَزْنُونَ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا, يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَانًا , إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.

يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَانًا

Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated –

Where the warning is given, the next verse gives the relief!

إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا,‏ وَمَن تَابَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَإِنَّهُ يَتُوبُ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَتَابًا

 ‎ Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

وَمَن تَابَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَإِنَّهُ يَتُوبُ إِلَى اللَّهِ مَتَابًا ‎

And he who repents and does righteousness does indeed turn to Allah with [accepted] repentance.

The Beauty in the Halal

Let’s now look at the halal relationship and the halal love that is advised. There is wisdom in it. In a verse of Surah An-Nissa, Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) addresses the women as:

وَّالْمُحْصَنٰتُ مِنَ النِّسَاۗءِ

And [ also prohibited to you are all ] married women
[Surah An-Nissa: 24]

The Arabic words have roots from which they are derived. So the word ‘muhsinat’ is derived from the three root letters of the Arabic alphabet: haa, saad, nun (ح – ص – ن). A hisn (حصن) is a fortress. Since ‘muhsinat’ is referred to married women, what is implied is that they are fortified. Fortified with respect to living in a fort implying immense protection. Hence, beautiful and halal relationship of nikah brings about this strong bond where the husband as a caretaker (qawwam) is given the responsibility for the entire well-being of a woman. Not only does it give protection, it provides the woman with honor, dignity and support at all levels. She is under the shade of her husband who has promised Allah (عَزَّوَجَلَّ) that he is to take care of her and she is to do the same in return. What a pure, powerful and phenomenal relationship it is that is meant to last a lifetime together.

Why in the world would anyone want otherwise? In the haram is nothing but hassle. The wisdom behind the halal relationship provides a place and a foundation of a strong relationship that not only bonds two individuals but creates generations. SubhanAllah, what strength does the halal have to offer, if only we would understand the beauty of it.

We are too dazzled by the wrong and too involved with the duniya. We would rather cry at the end of it all and feel terrible, rather than make better life choices. Let’s become wiser, smarter and better Muslims and say ‘No’ to Valentine’s and any other days that bring nothing to the relationship except consumerism and facade. Let’s save ourselves and our youth from the hurt. For those who have been hurt, make dua, do tawbah, put it behind you and move on to a greater love and a more profound relationship with the Creator. This will give not only contentment but also a better today and a better tomorrow all the way to the Akhira. In Sha’Allah, it is never too late to stop the futile, declutter and make sense of what has been made special and long lasting for us.