Egypt religious authorities rule Valentine's Day is 'halal'
"There is absolutely no objection in Islamic Sharia for people to honour someone special on a certain day," Dar al-Ifta's Fatwa Secretary Ahmed Mamdouh said in response to a question about celebrating Valentine's Day.
"Just like we honour mothers on Mother's Day, there is no objection to take a day to celebrate our love for someone special," he said, adding that the celebration does not necessarily need to be only between man and woman, but can be "a celebration of love for our children, our family and our friends".
Valentine's Day, marked on February 14, is one of the most celebrated events in Egypt, despite annual grumblings from the country's conservatives, who have long condemned it as a Western tradition.
"While some people may object to the celebration by claiming it has non-Islamic roots and that it has been made up by non-Muslims, their argument is actually far from truth," Mamdouh said, adding that marking the day is not about copying a Western idea, but about celebrating love.
"The actual origin of the celebration has long been forgotten and now Valentine's Day is being marked by Muslims and non-Muslims alike," he added.
Dar al-Ifta is one of the pillars of religious foundations in Egypt, which also include the ministry of religious endowments and al-Azhar. They play a major role in issuing rulings to the masses and consultations for the judiciary of Egypt.
Recently, state-linked religious institutions have issued regular statements permitting the celebration of Valentine's Day, which has seen spending increase steadily as a result.
Read also: From muzmatch to Minder, Muslim millennials are using 'halal-dating' apps to do their own matchmaking
A study by MasterCard Love Index found that spending in the period leading up to the holiday has gone up by 37 percent in the last three years in Egypt, where the population has passed 100 million.
Since 2017, Egyptians have spent $12m on Valentine's Day-related products and services, according to the study.
Despite a spending craze on the holiday, nearly one in three Egyptians lives below the poverty line since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi assumed power in 2014.
Harsh austerity measures introduced by Sisi's government have hit poor and middle-class Egyptians.
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay connected