Islamic leaders celebrated Valentine’s Day again this year by denouncing the holiday as anti-Islamic and calling for a “Modesty Day” instead that celebrates such items as burkas and veils. Students clashed today in Peshawar as dozens of liberal students sought to celebrate the holiday and defy orders from religious leaders to boycott the holiday. The result was an exchange of rocks and bricks between the pro-Valentine and anti-Valentine protesters. At least one student was shot and wounded. In Indonesia, warnings were issued that celebration of the holiday was an offense of Islam. In Malasysia religious monitors have been patrolling the streets looking for unIslamic practices. Valentine’s Day has been declared haram, or forbidden.
We have previously discussed the opposition to the holiday from Islamic clerics.
The latest clash occurred at the University of Peshawar when the rally in favor of the holiday was met by anti-holiday protesters. Some fired shots into the air.
Here is one of the happy Valentine’s Day messages being given to Muslim young people about how the holiday is a conspiracy of Christians and Jews and is worse the Ebola:
Many in Pakistan celebrate the holiday in private to avoid attacks.
What is clear is that Islamic clerics fear that such holidays loosen their control over the populace. Indeed, it has become a symbol for many students of self-determination and free speech. For others, it is simply a nice holiday like this article from a Pakistani student. Indeed, he notes that St. Valentine was not a particularly bad guy even if you viewed this as a religious holiday:
Saint Valentines in whose memory this day is observed is popularly believed to have been imprisoned for performing marriages of those soldiers who were forbidden to marry by the then Roman Empire. He eventually died in jail. If I were to celebrate his memory how can the same act be deemed un-Islamic? Marriage is encouraged under all school of thoughts of Islam and no group of Individuals belonging to any profession be it the army or be it muftis or mullahs are forbidden from getting married under Islam. Now, I am sorry if Saint Valentine did not use to read the Nikah Khutba, since Islam was introduced much after he passed away. . . .
Perhaps we should rebrand Valentine’s day as Waris Shah day or Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai day to make it more acceptable.
It is an odd thing to rage against a holiday committed to love and relationships. Ironically, the true meaning of the holiday is probably best understood in countries like Pakistan where couples defy the government and religious orthodoxy to celebrate or declare their love. While many have denounced the holiday as cheesy and over-marketed, stories like these make me value the holiday a bit more.
As for me, I just dug out the driveway (for a second time after McLean plowed a wall of ice in front of my recently cleaned driveway) and I am now heading out for flowers for Leslie. I hope everyone has a wonderful and a safe holiday. To those young people in Pakistan, history has shown that the bounds of human love and affection are far more lasting than government censorship or harassment. It finds a way like water to undermine the strongest walls. So Happy Valentine’s Day to all, even to those romance-challenged clerics who would apparently would prefer a dose of Ebola over a card of affection.