February 16, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9182

Qatari Columnists: Celebrating Valentine's Day And Adopting Other Western Customs Compromises Our Values

February 16, 2021
Qatar | Special Dispatch No. 9182

On the occasion of Valentine's Day – which originated as a Christian holiday, and is now celebrated all over the world, including in the Muslim world – two columns were published in the Al-Sharq Qatari establishment daily which disparage the custom of celebrating the holiday in Qatari society.

Media advisor to the Qatari Foreign Ministry, Na'ima 'Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Mutawa'a, wrote a column in the February 14, 2021 edition of Al-Sharq, titled, "Keep the Innovations Away From Society," in which she protested against the adoption of Western holidays and customs, including Valentine's Day, Halloween, New Year's eve celebrations and the keeping of pets, and warned that these phenomenon may undermine the enlightened values and principles of Islam. She urged families, the media and educational institutions to raise awareness of the dangers of these customs.

Another of the paper's journalists, Ibtisam Aal Sa'd, published an article which claims that instead of rejoicing on Valentine's Day, Muslims today should be lamenting the fact that they cannot undertake the hajj because of the Coronavirus, and should feel ashamed of the deplorable situation in several Arab countries.

It should be noted that two years ago Aal Sa'd published an article titled, "Kill Valentine's Day," which emphatically attacked the celebration of Valentine's Day and the adoption of other Western customs.[1]

The following are translated excerpts from the two columns:

Gift shop decorated for Valentine's Day (Source:, February 3, 2020)

Media Advisor To The Qatari Foreign Ministry: Adoption Of Western Customs Harms Our Society's Values

Na'ima 'Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Mutawa'a wrote: "Many of us have begun adopting Western customs, behaviors and occasions that have nothing to do with us. We adopt them and even encourage our children to do so. [I refer to customs like] celebrating [the Christian] New Year [by] holding dance parties at home and waiting for midnight in order to scream and shout [in excitement] and [only] then eat supper; or celebrating Halloween in October [by] doing everything [the Westerners] do: wearing strange costumes and scary masks, holding frightening competitions and [decorating] our homes with images of demons, skulls and the like.  

"And here we are today, preparing red roses and red-wrapped presents to celebrate the Festival of Love [Valentine's Day], which has nothing to do with love but only with reprehensible behaviors of men and women. The stores are all decked out in red and the flower shops may be trying to outdo one another in displaying the best of their wares. The custom of inviting some friends for dinner [on this day] and exchanging gifts featuring red hearts and the like is growing more and more common. 

"None of these things are part of [our] religion and traditions, yet we confidently adopt them and even boast of them without shame. We have adopted even their strangest customs: We are beginning to see women leading dogs around, and men walking around the neighborhood leading two dogs. Some young women raise cats and dogs inside their homes and spend money on their care, causing other people to open shops devoted exclusively to the needs of pets…

"If we could only ignore these issues and not relate to them and prohibit them - especially in light of the fact that they are easily passed on to the coming generations through the family and the schools - then we will discover [that we have raised] a generation that brings no benefit to the state and does not tread the path of growth and revival. We must not let a few people harm the values of society without anyone to deter them. We must condemn many [phenomena] that threaten to undermine the noble values and principles enshrined by the Islamic faith…

"We - our families and our social, education and media institutions - must pay attention to our surroundings. [We must] try to improve [the behavior] of our children and cultivate social awareness regarding the dangers threatening our values, morals and principles, and not let others make holes in [our] ship and sink it."[2] 

Al-Sharq: Better That We Celebrate Our Holidays With The Appropriate Joy

Ibtisam Aal Sa'd wrote: "Despite the stubborn COVID [pandemic] that [continues] to lie heavy on our hearts, today the globe will be painted red, the color of roses and hearts, on the occasion of the so-called Festival of Love [Valentine's Day]. Today everyone is talking red. February 14 comes around once a year to drown us all in red and revive the trade in roses, hearts and teddy bears, while the world becomes preoccupied with exchanging greetings and cards [expressing] love.

"Those [non-Muslims], who practice no religious restraint, [celebrate this holiday], and that is their affair. But what can we say of ourselves, the best nation that has been given to mankind?[3] What can we say about the nation of Muhammad, which is now immersed, just like the ignorant nations, in this holiday that means nothing but hollow thoughts and jaded feelings that arise only once a year? [It is] just like Mother's Day, which reflects, with frightening clarity, that in the West mothers are neglected and forgotten people whose children remember them only once a year, on March 21. Can it be that our lack of independent judgement has really reached such levels?!...

"Some might say, 'What is wrong with celebrating for just one day, and seeing this as a holiday on which all are entitled to be happy and drive sorrow from their hearts?' I'll answer that with a question of my own: 'Why shouldn't we celebrate every day, but in ways that will not count against us but rather in our favor [on the Day of Judgement]? Why don't we devote so much joy and attention to our real [Islamic] festivals, which, by Allah, deserve it more [than Valentine's Day]? It is a real disgrace that we celebrate a holiday that has nothing to do with us, when instead we should be sorry that we cannot perform the pilgrimage [to Mecca] due to the frightening pandemic. It is shame we should be feeling, because while we immerse ourselves in red [on the occasion of Valentine's Day], there are Arabs whose red blood is being shed, yet we do not lift a finger except to utter some banal words of condemnation… The Arab mind is preoccupied with pleasures, and I do not know if this should continue when Jerusalem has become the eternal capital of Israel and while blood-soaked wars are destabilizing Libya, Syria and Yemen…

"I do not need to celebrate these holidays that are alien to my homeland, my faith and my heritage just to appear civilized and so people will call me modern. It's enough for me to cleave to my ideals that are anchored in my faith, which forbids me to be influenced by the West and all its distorted customs that are alien to me. I have had more than enough of this kind of civilized [behavior]."[4]


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7891: Article In Qatari Daily: 'Kill Valentine's Day', February 14, 2019.

[2] Al-Sharq (Qatar), February 14, 2021.

[3] This is a paraphrasing of a verse from the Quran: You are the best ‘Ummah ever raised for mankind… (Quran 3:110)

[4] Al-Sharq (Qatar), February 14, 2021.

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