Indonesian Muslims discouraged from observing Valentine's Day

Indonesian Muslims discouraged from observing Valentine's Day

The rally against Valentine's Day in Aceh. (ANTARA/Irwansyah Putra)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) -  Saying that Valentine's Day is not in accordance with Islamic teachings as embodied in  shariah, ulema,  Islamic scholars, in several Indonesian cities have warned Muslims not to celebrate the day.

Ulema in Lebak, Banten Province, also expressed their opposition to Valentine's Day celebrations, which fall every February 14.

Secretary of the Lebak MUI (Indonesian Ulema Council) Baidjuri said in Rangkasbitung, Banten, recently that that young people usually observed the day by engaging in sex and drinking alcoholic beverages.

"We urge our young men not to follow the outside culture," he said.

In the past, 'Valentine's Day' was meant to help the poor and the hungry, but now it is misunderstood by directing it toward free sex and getting drunk, he said.

In Aceh, a ulema told Muslims and the younger generation in particular, that observing Valentine's Day is not allowed in Islam and against sharia law, which is in force throughout Aceh province.

"It is haram for Muslims to observe Valentine's Day because it does not accord with Islamic shariah," Tgk Feisal, general secretary of the Aceh Ulema Association (HUDA), said in Banda Aceh, Aceh Darussalam Province, recently.

In Islam, he said, love should not be expressed or shown on a certain day only, but every day. "Therefore, Islam's younger generation should not participate in the celebration of a foreign festivity," he said.

Faisal Ali, who is also chairman of the Aceh branch of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), called on Muslim parents , especially those in Aceh, to teach and supervise their children in this matter.

"We must prevent the younger Muslim generation in Aceh from being poisoned by a culture that contradicts our Muslim values.

Therefore, everybody, parents in particular, should give our youth the proper guidance," he said.

He also called on the government to uphold and implement Islamic shariah in "serious and sincere ways and not just out of political expediency or momentarily."

"Islamic shariah cannot prevail in Aceh, as expected, if it is not fully supported by the government and other parties in authority," he said. The government must also watch out for youths who observe Valentine's Day at certain locations in Aceh, he added.

A similar warning was voiced by ulema in Palembang, South Sumatra,  saying that celebrating Valentine¿s Day is haram because it runs counter to Islamic norms.

Also, the chairman of the South Sumatra Ulema Council (MUI Sumsel) Sodikun said Valentine's Day must not be observed because it is a holiday in which non-marital sex occurs among young people.

He urged parents to advise their children that Valentine's Day is not an event to celebrate.

However, he said for those wanting to observe the day, they could do it by conducting social activities such as blood donations.

In Pekanbaru, Riau, also on Sumatra Island, about 500 senior high school students joined a street rally to reject Valentine's Day.

The students carried banners with slogans such as "Don't be cheated by Valentine's Day" and "Be My Valentine, Preett..".

"The rally against Valentine's Day is the sixth this year that we have organized in Pekanbaru so far," he said.

Hasyim, a member of the Pekanbaru MUI, said the MUI is strongly against Valentine's Day.

"Valentine's Day is not in line with Islamic teachings nor the noble Eastern culture, as well as the traditions of the Pekanbaru Muslim community," Hasyim said, urging parents to warn their children about the day which imitates Western culture.

"We also hope that plazas, malls, hotels and restaurant managers will not facilitate the celebration of Valentine's Day," he said.

Another protest rally was organized by tens of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) members in Sukabumi, West Java, on Sunday, Feb 12.

"Valentine's Day is not part of Islamic culture and we strongly reject its celebration. Besides, we urge the government to ban people from observing Valentine's Day," Dadun Abdul Manaf of the Sukabumi HTI said.

However, the call apparently fell on deaf ears as businessmen are trying to take advantage of the event by selling Valentine's Day accessories and gifts.

In Bandung, West Java, malls and factory outlets offer special discounts for Valentine's Day merchandise.

Also, a Valentine Band competition is to be organized in Ambon, Maluku, on February 14, by Mandiri Nusantara Enterprise in honor of the day.

"The competition is held to celebrate the day of love," Chairman of the Ambon chapter of Mandiri Nusantara Enterprise, Rio Rehatta, said in Ambon, recently.

In Semarang, Central Java, the demand for chocolates and red roses have been soaring during the two days before Valentine's Day.

"I have sold 500 kilograms of chocolates and we expect more demand  on February 13 and 14," Leni Arjani, the owner of Conetta Chocolate Shop, said in Semarang on Sunday.

Additionally, some expensive restaurants in Jakarta have offered a special package of candle light dinners at prices of up to Rp2000,000 per couple for those wanting to celebrate Valentine's Day in a romantic atmosphere.