Should Muslims celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Published: February 14, 2011
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Valentine’s Day should become just another excuse to spread the love that Islam encourages.

The internet has been inundated with emails, Facebook posts and videos encouraging people to boycott Valentine’s Day and claiming that Islam prohibits the holiday.

One video made by a group of young boys quotes historical references to prove that V-Day is un-Islamic. I received a text message that said “Speak against the kuffar and boycott Valentine’s Day!”

A student in one of the classes that I teach said:

“Celebrating Valentine’s Day is gunnah.

While another said:

“Do you know the Americans came up with this event to mess with us? They’re trying to take Muslims away from their faith by showing them such celebrations.”

Perhaps these ideas are encouraged to arouse anger among the youth or to make those celebrating this day feel guilty. But my heart skips a beat every time an educated and seemingly enlightened individual says something so misguided. This ‘us’ versus ‘them’ attitude is rooted in insecurities.

We reject other cultures and new rituals because we have a have a paranoid fear of everything that is foreign. Muslims, especially in Pakistan, have become habitually intolerant and blinded when it comes down to the real message of our religion.

Doesn’t it tire us to think about anger and boycotts all the time? Boycott this, reject that, hate the west, throw a tantrum, burn a tyre and love… only myself?

Is that the kind of Islam that Muslims want to represent?

We can redefine the meaning of modern cultural trends that clash with more Islam’s modest ideologies without rejecting them. Instead of closing doors, we should work on welcoming modern traditions with open minds.

If we approach the holiday as a celebration Valentine’s Day should be just another excuse to spread the love that Islam encourages. And this doesn’t mean that you need a significant other to celebrate love; you can express your love to your family, find an excuse to send flowers to your friends, do something fun at your school or make a difference for your country.

For instance, a group of youth activists called the Pakistan Youth Alliance (PYA) in Lahore is taking out a peace rally to show their love for Pakistan.

So, use this day celebrate joy, not hate.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my Muslim brothers and sisters!

Kiran Nazish

Kiran Nazish

The author is an award-winning journalist and co-founder of a global network of support for women journalists, called the Coalition for Women in Journalism, based in New York. She has covered several countries around the world, including Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Mexico, India, Afghanistan. She tweets at @kirannazish (twitter.com/kirannazish)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.