In the featured article at Human Events today I discuss the joyless reaction to Valentine’s Day in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Good grief. No Valentines for you, Charlie Brown. At least not in Kuwait. And no roses or cards with red hearts for you, Lucy. Not in Saudi Arabia. The ever-tolerant Muslim world is now condemning Valentine’s Day.
Jamaan al-Harbash, a member of the Kuwaiti parliament, has called for Valentine’s Day celebrations to be banned. “We call on the commerce minister,” he declared in a fine froth of moral indignation, “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.” Another Kuwaiti MP, Waleed al-Tabtabai, chief of a committee in parliament that monitors “alien practices,” said his committee will undertake a study this week on how to stop Valentine’s Day from initiating the “moral corruption” of Kuwaiti youth.
Over in Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, the notorious religious police who go by the name of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have banned red roses. The Virtue Cops have even ordered florists and gift shops in Riyadh to take any red item off the shelf, lest Saudi lovebirds associate red with hearts and start a-spooning. Nothing new in that: in 2004, the Saudi fatwa committee forbade Saudis from celebrating the day: “It is a pagan Christian holiday and Muslims who believe in God and Judgment Day should not celebrate or acknowledge it or congratulate (people on it). It is a duty to shun it to avoid God’s anger and punishment.”
This is not just an Arabian Peninsula thing, either. Last year in Malaysia, a government official, Muhammad Ramli Nuh, declared, according to the Bernama News Agency, that “celebrating the Day could be regarded as recognizing the enemies of Islam because Valentine or Valentinus took part in planning and attacking Cordoba, once a well-known centre of Islam in Spain, causing its downfall.” Actually, St. Valentine was a third-century Christian martyr in the Roman Empire, but give Muhammad Ramli Nuh points for imagination.
All this indicates that in at least some parts of the Islamic world the dour spirit of the Ayatollah Khomeini is alive and well. For it was Khomeini, a man who took pains to make sure he was never photographed smiling, who once gave vent to this classic statement of religion-based dyspepsia: “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.” Likewise the jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb, after an unhappy sojourn in America in the late 1940s, complained about that Americans even “go to church for carousal and enjoyment, or, as they call it in their language, “˜fun.–
Ok, students, let’s review: the Islamic jihadists promise poverty, hardship and prayer, from which people are released only at death — which can be hurried along by strapping a bomb on yourself and detonating near some people you don’t like. Such as those Americans who are so misguided that their Declaration of Independence actually enumerates rights (which they — how dare they? — believe are endowed by God) to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Clash of civilizations? If there was ever any indication that it is upon us, it is this. The gulf between that noted American philosopher Dr. Seuss”s lapidary phrase, “These things are fun, and fun is good” and Khomeini’s barren “There is no fun in Islam” is yawning and unbridgeable. Many analysts and policymakers have remarked that the threat of the worldwide jihad has an ideological dimension, but political correctness, multiculturalism, and a fear of offending religious sensibilities have prevented most from articulating this dimension in any meaningful way. Perhaps the annual assault on Valentine’s Day, renewed again this year, points the way: the global jihad pits the civilization of fun and joy against the civilization of anger, rage, and dreariness.
As the controversy continues this week over Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams”s avowal that Britain’s adoption of some elements of Islamic Sharia law is “unavoidable,” it might be useful to bear that in mind. And remember, also, that it was a Muslim woman, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who replied that what Williams “wishes on us is an abomination.” Those who have suffered from the latest crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would no doubt agree — and would probably even ally with the West against the forces of Islamist gloom, given half a chance.
But will there be any Western leaders willing or courageous enough to cast off their multiculturalist shackles and give those people heart — during this Valentine’s Day week — by affirming that our struggle is one for simple joy in existence, against those who would rob us of that joy?