Every year on February 14, couples across the globe will celebrate Valentine’s day, a day that has been traditionally celebrated for many centuries as the official Day of Love. However, Love is something our tradition does not confine to a single day and it is not just for couples. Love comes in many forms and manifestations. Many choose to reframe this day and expand it to express their affection and appreciation outside of the typical husband and wife framework, in an effort to remind all people how much they are cherished and loved.
Very often we take others for granted and ignore how they are doing and the things, big or little, that they do for us. We should celebrate the many loves, acquaintances, and friendships in our lives by honoring them and acknowledging their value with simple gestures, genuine compliments, and pleasant surprises that create deeper connections and enhance relationships. Although it is customary on this day to exchange material tokens of affection, do not underestimate the power of kind actions or words of care for others. Here are a few suggestions of ways to let others know you are thinking of them:
Parents give their all to their children and expect nothing in return. Sometimes children take for granted the love of their parents. They forget the innumerable sacrifices they made to give them the best life. Making time in your busy schedule to be with your parents is the best way to show them that you love them. Surprise them with breakfast in bed, cook them a meal, or invite them out. Show your affection for them by talking to them about their own life and concerns instead of yours. Show a genuine interest for interesting anecdotes from their past; it will make them feel special. Most importantly, remember that nothing beats those three simple words “I love you”. God the Almighty says, “And We enjoined on man to be dutiful to his parents” (Quran 29:8) and the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of the parents, and the displeasure of the Lord is in the displeasure of the parents.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi)
Siblings come in various packages. They can be annoying, bossy, critical, or competitive or they may be kind, generous, protective, nurturing, or best friends. But no matter what, they are always part of our lives and memories. The bond between siblings is always special and unique. Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with your sibling(s). Whether or not you have a close relationship, let them know how much you value them and appreciate their presence in your life. And for those of you who have young children, encourage them to value each other by having them find one or two things they appreciate and love about their sibling(s). God the Almighty says, “People, have fear of your Lord Who has created you from a single soul. From it, He created your spouse and through them He populated the land with many men and women. Have fear of the One by Whose Name you swear to settle your differences and have respect for your relatives. God certainly keeps watch over you.” (Quran 4:1)
In today’s hectic world, it is all too easy to get sidetracked by life. Distance, work, and family commitments are just a few of the things that have made it easy to grow apart from extended family members. There are many ways to reunite with relatives and show them that you still remember them, such as giving small thoughtful gifts, cards, flowers or maybe even something as simple as a phone call,. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Worship God and do not associate anything with Him, establish prayer, give in charity, and keep relations with your family.” (Al-Bukhari)
Neighbors are an extension of one’s family. They are the first people we turn to whether in an emergency or for something as inconsequential as a leaky sink! Sending them a caring note attached to a small bouquet of flowers or even a plate of homemade cookies, is a simple yet effective way to show them you care. If you have an elderly or widow/widower as a neighbor then the gift of time is the perfect way to show them you care. Pay them a special visit in their home or invite them over to yours. Such a simple gesture may be a world of contentment to them. God the Almighty says, “Worship God and do not associate anything with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away …” (Quran 4:36). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Gabriel continued to urge me to treat neighbors kindly until I thought he would make them heirs(Meaning, to inherit from the Prophet as though they were family members).” (Al-Bukhari)
Since we spend a considerable portion of our day at work, it is especially important to show appreciation and gratitude to the people and co-workers around us. Now is the time to thank a colleague who has helped you with a work assignment, or to go out of your way to help a colleague meet a deadline or complete an urgent task, or even fill in for a colleague who is ill. It is also important not to forget to acknowledge the unsung heroes in the office such as the janitorial and security guard staff, cafeteria employees and maintenance workers. A simple ‘thank you’ for the work they do will not cost you anything, but will have an enormous impact on them. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him said, “A kind word is charity.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
It is often the case that once we graduate from school or college, we forget about those who helped us become who we are today. Teachers devote their lives to their students, helping them acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in life. If you have had a teacher who has touched and made an impact on your life, drop in at school (if they are still working) to say hello or call them up, it would mean the world to them! And if you have children, help them make a thoughtful card for a favorite teacher. The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “He is not one of us who does not respect our elderly, is merciful to our youth, and knows the right of those who teach us.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Another good way to spread love on this day is to acknowledge other people’s presence. There are many people who form an integral part of our social landscape and whose job it is to make our lives easier and more pleasant. Yet we fly by them as they go about their business without so much as a glance towards them; it is as though an invisible fence separates them from the rest of the world. Porters, garbage collectors, traffic officers, manual laborers, restroom attendants are just a few that come to mind. Make this day special for very special people whose contributions we rarely think about. A seemingly inconsequential gesture such as a warm smile, a wave of the hands, or even words of acknowledgment will go a long way to brighten up their day and make them feel appreciated. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “… the one who shows humility, God will elevate him in the estimation of the people” (Muslim) and “When you smile at your brother, it is charity” (At-Tirmidhi).
We all need to feel loved. Take an opportunity to remind those who might be alone that they are not forgotten. Pay a visit to a nursing home, a hospital, or an orphanage and give others who are feeling lonely or in pain the companionship they deserve. It does not have to be a full day, but it is truly amazing the feeling that someone gets when someone makes the time to treat them as special and dear. Smiling, hugging, and engaging them in conversation, even for a brief time will buoy them through their loneliness and difficulties. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Visit the sick, feed the hungry, and free the captive” (Al-Bukhari), “Stroke the head of an orphan, feed the poor” (Ahmad), and “Whoever fails to show mercy to our children and honor to our elders is not one of us.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi)
We are each part of a whole. As we go through our lives, everything we say or do has an impact on others, even on those we do not know. Kindness to strangers has the capacity to bring happiness to others and spread love. Holding the door open for someone, giving up a seat on public transport, helping someone carry something heavy, or helping someone cross the street, are simple ways that make a difference to others. God the Almighty says, “Help one another in righteousness and piety; but do not assist one another in sin or transgression” (Quran 5:2). The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever has the quality of kindness has been given a portion of goodness, and whoever is deprived of the quality of kindness has been deprived of goodness” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi) and “Do not deem any good deed as insignificant, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face” (Muslim).
Valentine’s Day is the day when many people express their love, appreciation, and affection for special people in their lives. But Valentine’s Day should not be just one day in the year or reserved only for those with whom we have a special connection. It is important to share the spirit of love every day and acknowledge the people around us on a regular basis because kindness and appreciation are among the greatest and most basic human needs. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Kindness is not found in anything except that it enhances it and is not removed from anything except that it blemishes it.” (Ahmad)