Thursday, February 14, 2008

Islam is Right about Saint Valentine's Day

By now you must have read the accounts of the Middle East tizzy over Valentine’s Day. Saudi Arabia particularly wants all the red things removed. Besides, Muslims consider all this romantic love celebration just another sign of Western decadence and they’re having none of it.

I don’t blame them, but there is nothing at all Islamic here. The custom has its roots planted deeply in early Christian history, and it is definitely a Western tradition kind of thing.

It wasn’t very long ago that this date was still called Saint Valentine’s Day. That’s how I grew up saying it, even as we passed out those dumb little valentines at school and ate the small pastel candies with the sayings stamped on them. Remember how they tasted like flavored chalk?

The current ones are a bit more up-to-date, but the old, tried-and-true ones date back to the Civil War era.

And if you don’t got nobody, you can buy the bittersweet variety and sit on your pity pot all evening, chewing flavored chalk. In fact if you go to the bittersweet site, try to think of some new sayings and pass them on here. They come in “Dejected” or “Dysfunctional” or “Dumped” flavors. Given our readers’ fine minds I’m sure they can come up with even better bons mots for despair than does. Mere amateurs.

As I said, I think Islam intuits the haram Christian foundation of this celebration, though they get the particulars wrong:

“As Muslims we shouldn’t celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, “ Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a scholar in Islamic studies, told the Saudi Gazette, an English-language newspaper.

Saint Valentine A few years ago, I did some research for my Saint Valentine’s post for The Neighborhood of God. I found out all sorts of interesting things, including the fact that Saint Valentinus himself fell in love with his jailer’s daughter while he was awaiting execution.

Saint Valentine was canonized because he was martyred by the Roman Emperor, Claudius II. And he was martyred precisely because he performed forbidden marriages for young couples in love.

Why would anyone forbid marriage? I’ll tell you:

In what has to be one of the dumbest edicts ever devised, Claudius decided to outlaw marriage, thinking it would be more efficient to raise troops if he didn’t have to tear them away from their families.

- - - - - - - - -
On paper, this decree must have looked good to Claudius, and it’s doubtful anyone was willing to tell him how sand-poundingly stupid his idea really was. After all, what happens when you outlaw normal human behavior? Of course: normal human beings sneak around the corner and do it anyway.

In this case, young people were sneaking off to Bishop Valentine’s house to have their marriage ceremonies. This annoyed Claudius no end, so he had Valentinus hauled before him to explain. He was also offering to do a deal: if Valentinus would stop this marrying business and renounce Christianity, then Claudius would generously allow him to live. Unfortunately, these were non-negotiable items for Valentinus, so the edict was issued:

Claudius ordered the Bishop to be martyred in three stages. I will spare you the details… While awaiting execution, it is said that he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter and that his love cured her blindness.

After he died, he was buried either on the road to Rome or at one of the gates leading into the city. Or maybe there were two Valentinus…Valentini? No one is sure.

Hundreds of years later, Valentinus was canonized and was dedicated not as the patron saint of lovers, but as the go-to-guy for troubled marriages. Over the eons, he became the patron of lots of other endeavors, including beekeepers. Go figure.

You can read the details at NoG, here.

Meanwhile, I agree with the various Muslim countries who are made nervous by the feast of February 14th. Saint Valentine could do with a serious cut in business.

Hat tip: Carpenter first, and others...


Homophobic Horse said...

"Given our readers’ fine minds I’m sure they can come up with even better bons mots for despair than does. Mere amateurs."

Try this: Islamification - You'll wish that you were mad. I'll never forget Conswede going mad.

OMMAG said...

What's the point of pointing out facts to civilized people might care about the true history behind these traditions .... there are very few civilized people left in this world.
None of them are Muslim clerics.

Anonymous said...

Love is not blind. It hallucinates.

X said...

I personally am quite sick of all the soppy crap you're expected to buy on st valentine's so, this year, I decided to do something about it and took the wife for a feast at a local indian restaurant. Nice food. Shame about the giant heart-shaped balloons everywhere...

20 years ago, in this country, St valentine's was not the insanity it is now. There was no multi-million pound industry designed to promote it as another gift-giving day and there was not the constant pressure to buy bigger and more extravagant gifts for your loved one, who you might not even be with next year. Ban it? Hardly. The concept of romantic love is one of the core aspects of our culture. But it'd be nice if people could get a bit of perspective. I hope that's what Dymphna meant, too.

no2liberals said...

Hmmm...I don't know, it seems the romantic spirit is desperately needed in Western cultures.
The 'Right' Babies.

"The real root of racial tensions in the Netherlands and France, America's culture warriors tell anxious Europeans, isn't ineffective methods of assimilating new citizens but, rather, decades of "antifamily" permissiveness--contraception, abortion, divorce, population control, women's liberation and careers, "selfish" secularism and gay rights--enabling "decadent" white couples to neglect their reproductive duties. Defying the biblical command to "be fruitful and multiply,"

PedroJD said...

There's nothing wrong with St Valentine's Day - I always get cards.

Sure they're mostly birthday cards, but a card is a card.

Mark Garretson said...

The next thing I suppose you'll say it that Saint Patrick didn't introduce green beer to Ireland.
Seriously, don't fall for the equivalency trap. Islam isn't right about Valentine's Day. Muslims oppose it because it is Christian.
It would be like saying that since Joe doesn't like OJ because OJ is and murderer and Fred doesn't like OJ because of the color of OJ's skin, they are in agreement about OJ, OK?

Dymphna said...

I guess I'm just too subtle, for y'all, huh?

I was speaking from the extremist, Wahhibi point of view, which basically says, "eeew. Cooties. It's Western. Ban it!"

And I followed that with an explanation that even though they've taken the "Saint" part of it off the feast, this was a Christian commemoration of married love.

Christian marriage and Islamic marriage are *not* the same.

That's why Saudi Arabia has every right to be concerned. I hope they all go to some place hotter than the Arab desert when they die, but that's beside the point of their seeing a threat in (shh..whisper..."Saint")Valentine's Day.


And I agree about the silliness of all those cards. Hallmark is a marketing genius.

Dymphna said...

average joe--

great saying! I'l send it to

JC Supercop--

You and I have a permanent communication problem


But 20 years ago, could you have gone out for curry instead? Now *that* is a definite improvement in the quality of life. In fact, I've learned to curry the legumes I use for soup so they don't bother the Baron's stomach...

mark garretson--

Me Dublin mother was appalled when she first came to the US and experienced an American St. Patrick's Day. No one got off work, no one went to church, etc., etc...she said they must all be Irish hillbillies carrying on.

OTOH, I'm sure that there's no place like Southie (So. Boston) on March 17th.

Do you think it will ever be called "Patrick's Day" -- with the Saint part lopped off?

Nah...never happen


What goes around ...eventually...

Being pro-family is now starting to be encouraged in Europe. Tax breaks, etc.

Good luck on that one. It goes against too many of their other practices to ever be applied

Quaoar said...

So, can anyone explain the concept of "love" experienced and demonstrated by an Islamic husband to his wife and children?

Perhaps there is no equivalent to the West's experience and demonstration of "love" in the Islamic world?

I know that Muslim men "value" their male children for their proto-sperm that offers continuance to the family line. OTOH, it seems to me that Muslim men treat "their" women as simple procreation devices.

Or, am I wrong?


Dennis Mahon said...

Do you think it will ever be called "Patrick's Day" -- with the Saint part lopped off?

No, they'll just go with the "official" title of "Evacuation Day".

Captain USpace said...

Good one Dymphna, I hope you guys had a nice Saint Valentine's Day.

These Saudi Rulers are actually very insecure about the attractiveness of their 'religion'.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
outlaw Valentine's Day

confiscate ALL red roses
keep men and women apart

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
arrest men and women

if they are holding hands
or having coffee together

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
Valentine's Day is evil

it just reminds the people
about Christianity

R D-C said...

Hi, thanks for the post. This is a personnal message to you, no need to post it, I understand you don't want long comments. I don't know where are the forums you mention. Hope this will be interesting and beneficial to you.

(Part 1)

Using independent thought and looking at what is actually happening according to each teachings, nevermind whether it's the truth, we can retrieve the following facts:

- Islam commands the worship of God alone, with no partners, it is therefore a call to pure monotheism.
- People celebrate seasons, cycles of time, people, etc...The hadiths tell muslims that there are only two celebrations : one comes after a monthly struggle of refraining from the permissible (halal) such as eating and drinking, to defend oneself better from the forbidden (haram). So it is based after an actual performance of a spiritual, physical, emotional and mental kind, related to the third pillar of Islam. Therefore, the celebrations are deserved but many muslims feel really sad to leave the Holy month of Ramadan because favors from God are multiplied during it. The other one is related to sacrifice of the highest order, as illustrated by Prophet Abraham's story, regarding one of his sons. One of the universal wisdoms is this: be ready to let go for the sake of God alone not only anything around you, but precisely the very thing or person that you love most, as it is a preparation for the biggest of realities called death. Ultimately, death separates us from everything hereunder, whether we want it or not. It is His mercy to make us anticipate it. It's also related to the pilgrimage (hajj), the fifth pillar of Islam. Another celebration day is the weekly Friday, according to another hadith. If you find muslims celebrating other things, they have no justification in Qur'an or hadith, the only sources of Islam.
- La Saint Valentin, as I was also growing up hearing, has the aspect of dedicating 24 hours for love. Muslims don't use that concept of split of attention into 24-hour periods. People dedicate one day for one saint, another day for another. Another day is for the Earth, another day would be for the mothers, and one is for our birth/ego, etc...Islam is the integral tool to just focus on worshipping & obeying God alone so that love, the continuity of life, care for the environment, the family, and justice, harmoniously fit together. Split attention is division, and it rather leads to schizophrenia, and muslims seek to remain consistent and coherent all the way, just like a Church attendance is expected to behave like Christians not just one day of the week.

We can explore and verify more to find out what is actually taught in Islam.

1. Treatments of women in Islam. You can suggest some of your readers a person that typically defies all stereotypes: white Westerner, educated, emancipated. This UK district judge has seen all sorts of cases involving marriage and has the authority to speak about law, including Islamic ones. She has the experience and expertise, unlike most of us. She knows the gap that often happens between what Islam says and what muslims do. Her name is Marilyn Mornington.

Just 100 seconds of this video are necessary dispel the misconceptions, hosted by user IslamOphil

Your reader apparently doesn't know that the most important woman in Islam is the virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.
Here is an excerpt from a complete surah named after her, about the birth of Christ and how she actually responded those accusing her:
Feel the power & beauty of the recitation without even reading the translation.

Why hijab? Take all the makeup & accessories in the world, you still have a real woman. Put all the makeup in the world on a queer guy, you'll never have a true woman.

The actual supernatural benefits of the hijab till 8:18

Christian women wear headcoverings too.

R D-C said...

(Part 2)

2. What is actually the Qur'an as a document? People with humility will admit that they always seek guidance, whether from society or elsewhere. But societies change, values too, and people are limited, therefore, an ideal set of guidance shall be timeless and simple enough to answer everything, anytime. Such is the point of having one final messenger to complete guidance to refer to. In order to remain relevant, the message has to be perfect, thus, divine. All previous prophets performed miracles and delivered messages but none of us were there to testify those miracles. Logically, then, the last message must also be the miracle, so that it certifies its timelessness and Divine validity.

How can we verify it? By looking at it. The first 15-30 mins in this next video gives a pretty good description of what we're dealing with. The original version is the miracle, while meanings can be translated, miracles can't. Meanings can be lost in translation (just like Tolstoy in Vietnamese isn't really accurate in grasping the original intents of Tolstoy), so only a proper understanding of the language can help us face how miraculous or not the Qur'an is. There also he reveals the true level of language that any critic of the Qur'an should reach. Most deniers focus on the messenger without even knowing the message, nor even meeting the criteria to analyze it. It's nice they can gather a long list of how wrong can Islam be, but not honest and intellectually flawed to not gather the good as well.

Nouman Ali Khan | The Brilliance of The Book

« This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah » [Quran 2:2]

We can't say the same with the Bible, unfortunately.

3. How do you say Holy War in Arabic?


4. Islam is backwards? Then let's go back to the Middle Ages!

"When the Moors ruled Europe"

We could go on dispelling all falsehood but the Qur'an says that « And say, "Truth has come, and falsehood has departed. Indeed is falsehood, [by nature], ever bound to perish." » [Qur'an 17:64]. Interestingly, if the Qur'an is false, then it should vanish, which validates its own content as not false...

Thank you for reading. May God guide us