No Free Love: Muslim Groups Reject Valentine’s Day

A number of Acehnese Muslim senior high school students protest against Valentine’s Day celebrations in Banda Aceh, on Feb. 14, 2014. The Acehnese Ulema Council forbid celebrating Valentines Day for Muslims, because it is considered as a celebration of another religion and not in accordance with the teaching of Islam. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

A number of Acehnese Muslim senior high school students protest against Valentine’s Day celebrations in Banda Aceh, on Feb. 14, 2014. The Acehnese Ulema Council forbid celebrating Valentines Day for Muslims, because it is considered as a celebration of another religion and not in accordance with the teaching of Islam. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

Jakarta. As couples the world over celebrated Valentine’s Day on Friday, vocal opposition to the holiday mounted in Indonesia over concerns of morality and religion, as it does every year.

In Bandung, West Java, at least 20 activists with the Indonesian Muslim Student Action Union (Kammi) urged Indonesian Muslims to avoid celebrating Valentine’s Day.

“Valentine’s Day should be strictly rejected and [not] celebrated by young people by committing immoral deeds such as premarital sex,” Jabar Zurniawati, the head of Kammi’s women’s empowerment division, said on the sidelines of the rally, as quoted by news portal Detik.com.

Considering the majority of Indonesians are Muslims, she said, young people should maintain more Eastern traditions and reject Western celebrations of love like Valentine’s Day.

Various branches of the Indonesia Council of Ulema (MUI) called on Muslims to forgo Valentine’s Day celebrations. On Saturday, the South Sumatra branch of the MUI banned Muslims from celebrating the holiday, saying that the holiday is antithetical to Islam.

“Valentine’s Day is not in Islamic culture, and celebrating it causes more harm than benefits,” Sodikun, the chairman of the South Sumatra MUI, said as quoted by Merdeka.com.

He added that even though Islam teaches its adherents to respect other cultures, those cultures must be consistent with Islamic teachings.

“A culture that clearly violates religious norms [should not be tolerated],” he said. “That should not be.”

On Thursday, Tengku Zulkarnain, the MUI’s vice secretary general, emphatically denounced the day, echoing the sentiment that Valentine’s Day is inherently Western and therefore must be prevented at all costs.

“[It is a] cultural bandwagon that is irrational and preventable,” he said according to Republika.com.

He explained that in Islam, there is no single day that goes by without a demonstration of compassion.

“The Prophet Muhammad once said, ‘Anyone who does not have compassion will not have mercy,’” he said.

He argued that Valentine’s Day was still being celebrated in Indonesia because many are not in tune with their religious beliefs. Society, he said, especially teenagers, don’t have a proper understanding of Valentine’s Day’s background.

Hundreds of members of the hard-line Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) gathered in front of the city hall in Mojokerto, East Java, on Thursday took it a step further and demanded that the local government ban the holiday all together, arguing that it is directly responsible for the spread of promiscuity.

Men, women and children were involved in the demonstration, brandishing posters, banners, flags and loudspeakers.

“Valentine’s Day should be removed,” Indra Darmawan, the chairman of the local branch of the HTI, said according to Detik. “It causes the onset of promiscuity in Mojokerto.”

Indra said that he plans to hold meetings with the city’s education department on the issue.

“We hope that there is a common understanding with the government,” he said. “So we can agree to ban the celebration of Valentine’s Day.”

He voiced concern over the prevalence of free sex among students in the city.

“Although the MUI issued a fatwa on Valentine’s Day, it has not suppressed free sex in Mojokerto,” he said. “If there is a call from the local government, law enforcement can take action because it has a clear legal basis.” The Jakarta Globe

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