9 Tips and Ideas for Muslim parents and communities

Valentine's Day needs an Islamic response from Muslim parents, Imams, and communities. Here are some ideas that can help:

1. Have a community information session about it and what goes on in schools

Invite both Muslim parents and teenagers to inform parents about what happens during Valentine's Day in public schools.

In particular, let Muslim teenagers take over the event. Their firsthand experience in public schools with this issue will be stronger testimony about what goes on than any parent who hasn't gone through the same thing.

2. Talk about it in a Khutbah

Imams need to read up on Valentine's Day but don't rant. Explain the pagan origins of the holidays and talk about positive gender relations in Islam.

3. Discuss it in Halaqas for parents

Have one of the parents discuss Valentine's Day in public schools during a Halaqa. In fact, make it a special feature and perhaps come up with a parental strategy for what can be done about it (i.e. how to talk to your kids about it).

4. Discuss it in Islamic full-time and weekend school classes for kids

Kids need to be told about Valentine's Day and given an Islamic perspective. Valentine's Day is often the door that opens up to other unIslamic ideas about men, women, romance, love, marriage, etc.

Have a fun but frank presentation on the topic. Make it interactive. Ask the kids if they have received any Valentine's, how many, do they understand the implications, etc.

5. Talk about the most important love of all

One of the beautiful things about Islam is that when something is prohibited, there is always a better option.

Talk about the love that Valentine's Day doesn't-love for Allah and His Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him).

But tell stories of the Sahabah, don't just make it a dry discussion topic. Show how dedicated they were to Allah and the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him). Talk about how love translates into action, and how the behavior of these early Muslims showed their love. You can, for instance, do a presentation on one of the Sahabas as written about in Companions of the Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid.

6. Send a "Just say no to Valentine's Day" card to Muslim relatives abroad where the fashion of Valentine's Day is going on.

If you have the Internet at home, get the kids to send their friends Sound Vision's Just Say No to Valentine's Day cards.

This way, they can send a powerful message to other kids about true love.

7. Avoid the consumer madness-don't buy special candy and chocolate for this day.

While the shiny red boxes of chocolate are tempting, avoid buying candy commemorating the event. Save your money for now, and go on a candy splurge for Eid- ul-Adha in March, Insha Allah.

8. Start making Eid ul-Adha cards

Siphon off the card-making desire that Valentine's Day may bring, get the kids to start making Eid ul-Adha cards. This will teach them to plan ahead and they will probably come up with more creative ideas if they have thought about it well beforehand, rather than making them at the last minute.

9. Talk to them about Muslim festivals

Remind your kids about the two Muslim festivals of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. If you made Eid-ul-Fitr special for your kids this month, recall the memories. If not, start planning for Eid-ul Adha.

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