14 February 2010
Valentine's Day -- A Western Tradition, Not a Muslim One...
It always happens that when you have a group of grumpy old men sitting around with too much time on their hands and not enough to do who call themselves the peak Islamic Scholars body of Indonesia, then you are likely to get silly fatwas. These fatwas serve no other purpose than to convince most righteous and modern Muslims that these gentlemen really do not "get it".
Now, the Nahdlatul Ulama is generally accepted as Indonesia's biggest Muslim organization. It also happened to be the spiritual home of one of Indonesia's most vocal proponents of a pluralistic Indonesian community, the late Gus Dur. However, more recently Abdullah Cholil of the East Java branch of the NU decided to tell his Muslim brothers and sisters that it was forbidden (haram) for Muslims to celebrate Valentine's Day (photo) in any shape, manner, or form.
According to Abdullah, the day is celebrated by young unmarried people and this would lead to sinful thoughts and actions, such as free sex (perhaps casual sex would be a better term as sex is generally never free - just ask Antasari who paid USD 500 for a little and is now about to embark on 18 years in prison for oral sex).
Furthermore, Abdullah states that young people are not supposed to be doing either, committing sins or having sex. Nevertheless, if Abdullah's concerns relate to youn unmarried people then it would stand to reason that celebrating Valentine's Day for married couples who are gong to be having sinful thoughts about each other and engaging in some carnal pleasure with each other on Valentine's Day should not be a problem, right?
Well, may be it is. It would seem that Lalilurrahman, of the East Java of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (Indonesian Ulema Council / MUI) went a little further stating that a celebration of romance and love is a Western tradition and therefore haram for Muslims to celebrate as it is not part of Muslim or Eastern culture.
For my mind, this leaves Lalilurrahman a little exposed to the cynics among us who might be tempted to suggest that romance and love are obviously not part of Islamic tradition. Although, I am guessing that there are some more moderate Islamic views on love, romance, and Islamic traditions that remain faithful to the tenets of the faith but make a compelling argument that Laliurrahman and Abdullah have it wrong. I will leave it to them to make those arguments, if they want.
In any event, it goes without saying that Indonesia faces more pressing problems and challenges than Valentine's Day, but then again with a group of grumpy old men who are not getting "any" it seems that if they are not getting their Valentine's Day rocks off then no-one should be getting them off, let's kill it! Or they could just stay home and view some online porn and self-gratify, but that might expose them to being called 'wankers', then again a fatwa banning Valentine's Day might have already taken care of that.