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February 16, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6788

Egyptian Columnist Calls To Celebrate Valentine's Day, Slams Salafis For Boycotting It

February 16, 2017
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 6788

In her February 15 column in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, 'Ala Al-Sa'dani slammed Salafi Muslims for their campaign against celebrating Valentine's Day and other non-Islamic holidays. She wrote that people should make a distinction between religious and non-religious holidays, and that there is nothing wrong with celebrating Valentine's Day as long as one does not overstep religious or moral boundaries. Moreover, she added, today people need love more than ever, considering the hatred and wars that prevail in the world.

The following are excerpts from her column:

 

"I wish Egypt and the rest of the world a Happy Valentine's Day, and [convey wishes] of health and happiness to everyone, always. The whole point of Valentine's Day is that, for one day every year, people celebrate love and send each other such greetings. Sometimes it goes beyond a mere greeting and includes buying gifts, roses, teddy-bears, and so on. So what is wrong with that, unless we think that love is a sin and that greeting people contravenes the shari'a, and therefore – as the [Salafi view of] shari'a [indeed seems to suggest] – exchanging gifts is an abomination and an act of the devil! Yes, that is the ruling issued by some extremist Salafi sheikhs, who, for the last few years, have made a point of launching massive campaigns against the day of love, Valentine's Day, and declaring it forbidden [according to the Muslim shari'a]. Their young [followers] have now launched a hashtag saying 'I am Muslim and do not celebrate Valentine's Day,' and are [waging] other boycott campaigns on social media. They stress the ban on celebrating what they call 'polytheist holidays' and spread fatwas by some of those sheikhs who boycott everything as a matter of principle.

"In any case, these [campaigns] of theirs are nothing new. Have we forgotten that [the Salafis] are the ones who forbade to greet Christians on their holidays and to celebrate Sham Al-Nessim?[1] So why be surprised by their ban on Valentine's Day? After all, they regard it as a deviation from tradition and a mistake that fosters evil and corruption in people's hearts and encourages the emulation of the infidels... [But] the strange thing is that they say one thing and do the opposite. Otherwise, how can we explain their use of social media? Aren't [social media also] a product of the infidel West, as they see it?

"Regardless of the question of whether their fatwas are right or wrong, we must not confuse religion with secular matters. What prevents [us] from celebrating any non-religious holiday, as long as it does not [involve] violating either moral or ethical principles or the directives of the religion?

"[Besides,] I think that today we need love more than ever, in this age when hatred and war prevail all over the world..."[2]

 

 

[1] Sham Al-Nessim is an Egyptian holiday marking the beginning of spring. Apparently pagan in origin, it is celebrated on the day after the Eastern Christian Easter by Egyptian Copts but also by many Muslims, and is even recognized as a national holiday.

[2] Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 15, 2017.

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