And reveals he’s not that moderate after all. For instance, after pointing out that the main problem the ulema have with Valentine’s Day is its Christian origins, he does not suggest that Muslims should cease being so hostile to everything Christian, but rather attempts to extrapolate Valentine’s Day from its Christian roots, thereby making it less offensive to Muslims. And this is the moderate approach…
“Should we ban teens from celebrating Valentine’s Day?” by Tasa Nugraza Barley for the Jakarta Post, February 14:
Today is Feb. 14 and it’s Saturday – a perfect day for Valentine’s Day celebrations.
Young Indonesians out there who live in big cities like Jakarta and Bandung know exactly what this means: It’s love time! I bet many of them are busy choosing the right flowers and chocolate for their girlfriends or boyfriends.
If you visit any mall in Jakarta at the moment you will know they are covered with red and pink love-shaped accessories. It seems that everyone wants to be part of this special celebration.
But that is not the case.
In reality, not everyone in Indonesia is a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Indonesian Islamic clerics have long condemned Valentine’s Day, claiming that this celebration comes from Christian culture and therefore should not be celebrated. And that’s not completely wrong; Valentine’s Day does come from a Christian-dominated society, the West.
I remember when I was in high school, my friends would be divided into two groups. One group would talk about Valentine’s Day weeks before. They would trade information on where the best florist was or what kind of chocolate they could get.
The other group would distribute brochures giving information to others on how Valentine’s Day was not Islamic and therefore should not be followed.[…]
There are several versions of the story of Valentine’s Day. According to one person, a priest named St. Valentine was killed by a king after helping couples to get married. For some reasons which I don’t quite know for sure, this king didn’t want people to get married.
What if that guy named Valentine had been a Muslim? I’m sure we wouldn’t have any problem with Valentine’s Day celebrations.
But he wasn’t; he was a Christian — hence why Valentine’s Day is anathema to Islam.
But why should we make things so complicated?
I just think Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with Christianity – It’s simply a celebration of love and every religion in this world believes in the power of love.
The fact that its history involves a priest is not a big deal. The fact that this celebration comes from a non-Muslim culture, I think, shouldn’t be exploited too negatively.
But it should still be a deal — not necessarily a “big” one — and exploited negatively, just not “too” negatively? This sentence alone shows how sympathetic this supposedly “moderate” Indonesian is to Islam’s xenophobia.
So what if Valentine’s Day comes from a non-Muslim culture? Don’t we use the internet and learn about computers when we all know they were all invented by non Muslims? Before you judge that as a wrong analogy, please remember that I already told you how sometimes I simplify things too much.
I completely agree with parents’ concerns over how Valentine’s Day celebrations might have a negative affect on their teenagers. Many people have shown their frustration regarding the behavior of Indonesian teenagers, they complain that Indonesian teenagers are becoming far to Western.[…]
All I want to say is that we shouldn’t be too paranoid about this. Not everything from the West is bad for all of us. There are things that we could learn. But, there are also things that we shouldn’t follow.
Things Muslims are interested in learning from the West: making weapons and bombs, and all the necessary technology to facilitate their use. Things Muslims don’t want to learn from the West: an open society that led to the development of such technologically sophisticated weapons — not to mention general equality, prosperity, and freedoms, or even the responsibility associated with using such weapons.