Controversy Over Cupid

February 14, 2008 by  


By Sumayyah Meehan

Every year across the globe Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the farthest corners of the World. The holiday is exclusively a practice of Christians, however the appeal of expressing undying affection on this day has drawn in admirers from all of the world’s religions including Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism.

Especially in the Middle East, Valentine’s Day has always been greeted with fanfare. Shops begin decorating their storefronts with red decorations and glitter the first week of February in a bid to attract as many love struck customers as they can. And on the day of Valentine’s Day the streets are jammed with people filling their cars with red roses, specialty chocolates and stuffed teddy bears.

Saudi Arabia banned the celebration of Valentine’s Day by ordering all flower shops and gift shops in the Kingdom to remove all the red-colored items including roses and wrapping paper.

The Saudi religious police will be out in force on Valentine’s Day to ensure that the law is upheld.

This past week the State of Kuwait also took the decision to discuss banning Valentine’s Day.

MP Jamaan al-Harbash told reporters at a recent news conference, ““We call on the commerce minister to perform his duties by banning celebrations of Valentine’s Day which is alien to our society … and contradicts our religion’s values and teachings.”

A meeting set for the day before Valentine’s Day will be conducted to determine whether or not the holiday will go through. However, most residents of Kuwait think the government acted too late, especially since all the gift shops and florists are already decked out in red. “The government should have banned the holiday at the beginning of the month,” laments Pakistani laborer Jamal Ahmed Khan, “many businesses have invested so much into the special Valentine’s stock and will lose a lot of money of it is cancelled at this late hour.”

Florists in Kuwait expect to earn 30% of their total yearly profits on this day alone. Kuwaiti blogs have also been abuzz with the recent comments from some of the Islamist MP’s with one saying that Kuwait is “…turning into Saudi Arabia.”

So why all the fuss about Valentine’s Day? It is pesumed to be a day to express love and affection. But looking back through the pages of history one can see that the holiday is shrouded in gore and immorality. It began in the 4th century BC by the Romans. When Roman boys reached the age of puberty they were invited to join in a lottery of sorts to appease their god named Lupercus. Boys were allowed to draw one name out of a box that was full of all the names of the teenage women in the city. The boy was allowed to spend a full year with the girl whose name he chose to do with as he wished.

Eventually, church leaders realized that the practise was evil and banned it. However, the holiday would morph into a different sort of celebration thanks to a man named Valentine. In 4AD, Roman Emperor Claudius 11 banned marriage altogther because he felt it made his soldiers too soft and weak for battle. Valentine was a Christian priest who used to help couples who were in love marry in secret. He was eventually caught and executed by Claudius. The holiday we now know as Valentine’s Day became famous after Valentine was named a Saint.

It comes as no surprise that Islamic nations would want this holiday banned as it is considered to be shirk, or ascribing partners to Allah. The holiday also encourages dating and relations that are prohibited.

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