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Islam and Pluralism ( 12 Feb 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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India’s Muslim Taliban join Hindu Taliban to oppose Valentine’s Day

By Manoj C G

Feb 10, 2009


New Delhi: Bajrang Dal and the Sri Ram Sene will not be alone in opposing Valentine’s Day this year. The Hindu groups have got company from the other end of the spectrum - the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, an outfit which regards Islam as the authentic way of life for all human beings.


Jamaat’s student wing SIO will organise anti-Valentine’s Day in college campuses and other places in several states on February 14. Given the backlash against vigilante groups, leaders of the Students Islamic Organisation say their activities would be peaceful and they have no intention of moral policing.


SIO, which labels itself an ideological organisation working to prepare students and youth for reconstruction of the society under “divine guidance”, will also be organising brotherhood day and solidarity day in states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu to raise awareness against Valentine’s Day.


“Valentine’s Day promotes unethical male-female relations. The celebration of Valentine’s Day is nothing, but giving open license to the youth to indulge in immoral acts. We oppose it strongly. We believe that such activities will erode moral and family values,” SIO chief K K Suhail told The Indian Express.

He said that market forces were promoting Valentine’s Day to reap benefits. “Some state units will be organising solidarity and brotherhood days, wherein they will be raising issues like the Israel’s oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and strive to spread the message of universal brotherhood. We will basically try to raise awareness,” Suhail adds. In cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, the SIO plans to observe February 14 as anti-Valentine’s day.


Jamaat leaders said its opposition to the Valentine’s Day celebrations would be put in action by the SIO as such celebrations were prevalent among youngsters. “We are against such western invasion of our society as it affects family bonds and undermines India’s culture,” the outfit’s political secretary Mujtaba Farooq said.


Islamic clerics in countries like Malaysia and Brunei, which have a sizeable Muslim population, have gone a step ahead and declared that Valentine’s Day is forbidden (haram) in Islam.


Dukhtaran-e-Millat (daughters of faith), the Kashmiri women’s separatist group, has already asked shopkeepers in the valley not to sell gifts or cards for V Day and appealed to restaurant and hotel owners to desist from organising parties.



Muslims forbidden from participating in Valentine’s Day celebration


SOME people celebrate Yawm al-Hubb – Valentine’s Day – on February 14 [the second month of the Christian Gregorian calendar] every year by exchanging red roses as gifts. They also dress up in red clothing, and congratulate one another (on this occasion). Some sweet shops produce special sweets – red in colour – and draw hearts upon them. Some shops advertise their goods which are specially related to this day.

What is the Islamic view [concerning the following]:


1. Celebrating this day?

2. Buying from these shops on this day?

3. Selling – by shop-owners who are not celebrating – the things which are used as gifts, to those who are celebrating?

May Allah reward you with all good!


The ruling

The clear evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah – and this is agreed upon by consensus (Ijmaa’) of the early generations of the Muslim Ummah – indicates that there are only two Eids in Islam (days of celebration): Eid al-Fitr (after the fast of Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (after the standing at Arafah for pilgrimage).


Every other Eid – whether it is connected to a person, group, incident or any other occasion – is an innovated Eid. It is not permissible for the Muslim people to participate in it, approve of it, make any show of happiness on its occasion, or assist in it in any way – since this will be transgressing the bounds of Allah ... and whoever transgresses the bounds of Allah, he has wronged his own self. [At-Talaaq 65:1]


If we add to this fabricated Eid the fact that it is one of the Eids of the disbelievers, it is sin upon sin. This is because it is Tashabbuh (imitation) of the disbelievers, and a type of Muwaalaat (loyalty) to them. And Allah has prohibited the believers from imitation of them and having loved or loyalty for them in His Mighty Book (Al-Qur’an). It is also confirmed from the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam) that he said: Whoever imitates a people is one of them.


Eid al-Hubb (Valentine’s Day) comes under the category of what has been mentioned here, since it is one of the pagan Christian holidays. Hence it is not permissible for any Muslim, who believes in Allah and the Last Day, to participate in it, approve of it, or congratulate (anyone on that occasion). On the contrary, it is obligatory to abandon it and stay far away from it – in response to Allah and His Messenger, and to distance oneself from the anger of Allah and His punishment.


Additionally, it is forbidden for a Muslim to assist or help in this Eid, or any other of the forbidden/illegal celebrations in any way whatsoever – whether by food or drink, selling or buying, production, gift-giving, correspondence, announcements, etc. All of these things are considered as co-operating in sin and transgression and disobedience of Allah and His Messenger. Allah, the Glorious and Most High, says: ... and co-operate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not co-operate in sin and transgression. And fear Allah! Verily Allah is severe in punishment. [Al-Maa’idah 5:2]


Likewise, it is obligatory for every Muslim to adhere strictly to the Qur’an and Sunnah in every situation – especially in times of temptations and corruption. It is incumbent that he/she understands, be aware and be cautioned from falling into the deviations of those whom Allah is angry with (Jews) and those who are astray (Christians) and the immoral people who have no fear of punishment – nor hope of reward – from Allah, and who give no attention at all to Islam.


It is necessary for the Muslim to flee to Allah, the Most High, seeking His Hidaayah (Guidance) and Thabaat (Firmness) upon the Path. Verily, there is no Guide except Allah, and no One who Grant Firmness can accept Him. And the success is from Allah! May the praise of Allah – among the assembly of angels – and security from all harm and evil be granted to our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.



No love lost: Religious police see red _ or not _ as Valentine's ban takes over Saudi Arabia

By DONNA ABU- February 12, 2009


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Just days before Valentine's Day, a young Saudi woman desperately searched for a red teddy bear to buy for her boyfriend. But all Nof Faisal could find were blue and white ones, minus the "I love you" she wanted hers to declare.


It's not because the store couldn't keep up with demand. It is because fear of the religious police forced the store's owner to strip the shelves of all red items, including the hottest-selling item: heart-festooned red plastic handcuffs inscribed, "Take me, I'm yours."


As Feb. 14 approaches, the police begin inspecting gift shops for items that are red or are intended as gifts to mark the holiday — a celebration of St. Valentine, a 3rd century Christian martyr — which is banned in Saudi Arabia. Such items are legal at other times of the year, but as Valentine's Day nears they become contraband.


At best, shops caught selling Valentine's gifts are ordered to get rid of them. Some salesmen have been detained for days.

The Valentine's Day prohibition is in line with the ascetic Wahhabi school of Islam that the kingdom follows. Marking Christian holidays is banned in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and a country where non-Muslims are banned from openly practicing their religion.


Celebrating any holidays but the two most important for Muslims — Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr— is taboo because they are considered "religious innovations" that Islam does not sanction. Even birthdays and Mother's Day are frowned on by the religious establishment.


As Feb. 14 approaches, newspapers reprint a fatwa or religious edict issued by scholars a few years ago, declaring "eid al-hob," Arabic for the feast of love, a "Christian, pagan feast" that Muslims should not celebrate. Teachers remind students they must not mark the festival, and girls are warned against wearing anything red.


Nevertheless, Valentine's Day quietly creeps into the capital, Riyadh: While gift stores don't trumpet their Valentine's wares, they acquire a deep red hue as shelves are stocked with artificial flowers, heart-shaped frames and other knickknacks.


Lingerie stores display red lacy underwear and sheer short nighties. Boxes packed with teddy bears, some inscribed with "I love you," appear on supermarket shelves. Newspapers advertise diamond and ruby heart-shaped pendants.


And salesmen urge shoppers to snap up their gifts early because no one knows when the religious police will begin their rounds.

"My colleague spent a night in jail last year because of the colour red," said one salesman, who insisted on anonymity, fearing his colleague's fate.


It is a challenge for courting Saudi couples to be together at any time of the year because of strict gender segregation. Unmarried men and women cannot take a drive together, have a meal or even talk on the street unless they are close relatives. Dating consists of long phone conversations and the rare tryst. Infractions are punished by detention.


"I wish things were different," said Faisal, a 20-year-old student, who said she would like to be wined and dined by her boyfriend. She has arranged to have red roses, a red box containing perfume, chocolate and a CD of love songs delivered to him.

Abdul-Aziz al-Shammari bought his girlfriend 10 red roses — one for each month he's known her — five days before Valentine's Day and stored the bouquet in his refrigerator to keep it fresh.


"I don't consider it a day venerating (St.) Valentine," said al-Shammari, a 24-year-old student. "I see it as an international day of love."

For at least businessmen, the commercial draw of the holiday was too strong.

Waleed al-Khuleiwi's store was perhaps the only one in Riyadh still brimming with Valentine's goods with just days to go.

His cheeky defense: "I'm not selling the items with the intention of celebrating Valentine's."



On Valentine’s Day

By Fouzia Khan

SOME Muslims, out of ignorance, have fallen into the evil of celebrating Valentine’s Day. Shopkeepers have jumped into preparing gifts for this day in the hope of earning some extra bucks. It’s sad that a pagan festival that promotes immorality is being observed by Muslims undermining their faith and Islamic values.

The Permanent Committee for Islamic research and verdicts of Saudi Arabia declared it impermissible for Muslims to celebrate non-Muslim occasions like the Valentine’s day, which is also known as the ‘festival of love.’

“(This) is one of the festivals of the pagan Romans, when paganism was the prevalent religion of Romans, more than 17 centuries ago,” said Dr. Su’ad Ibrahim Saleh, professor of Fiqh at Al-Azhar University, Cairo in one of his articles.

Several customs connected with the Valentine’s Day originate from the beliefs held in England and France during the middle ages. One such example is that birds begin to pair on February 14. According to research, the Romans introduced this pagan festival into the Christian world. In Saudi Arabia, however, it’s not permitted to celebrate this festival and the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice strictly banned the sale of any red roses, hearts or even wrapping paper on this day.

In Islam, expressing love is fine as long as it doesn’t fall into what is Haraam. Among the greatest of all types of love is the love for Allah and His Messenger, and the love for Islam. Loving our parents, family and relatives is very much encouraged. Love of courtship is allowed only between married spouses. Islam highly recommends that spouses show affection and mercy towards each other. Islamic requirements are only in the best interest of the society, to protect morality and nourish familial values. Immorality and Haraam relationships lead to disintegration of families and ultimately to the degradation and destruction of a society. Islam is the best model to follow. All praise and thanks be to Allah for giving us this blessing. We, who have the divine guidance, are not in need of imitating the West.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that Muslims would eventually fall into this error. Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you, span by span, cubit by cubit, until even if they were to enter a lizard’s hole, you would follow them.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said, “Who else? !” (Al-Bukhari, 8/151, and Muslim, 4/ 2054)

This Hadith should serve as a stark reminder for all of us. We, instead of influencing others to enter the fold of Islam, are following them at the expense of our religion. May Allah protect all Muslims and guide them to the straight path. Aameen. – SG