Friday, February 13, 2004

No love in Saudi 

Saudi Arabia's fatwa committee has decreed that Valentine's Day is a non-Muslim celebration that must be banned.

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's religious authorities have ordered Muslims to shun the "pagan" holiday of Valentine's Day so as not to incur God's wrath, the local al-Riyadh newspaper said Friday.

"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," said an edict issued by Saudi Arabia's fatwa committee published in the Arabic-language daily.
They did something similar around New Year's, banning it for the same reason.

Things like banning non-Muslim holidays are the result of a very strict interpretation of the concept of bid'a, or innovation. Innovation, in this sense, is creating something new that is not specifically allowed by God in the Qur'an. This leads to a rigid state of affairs in which Islam cannot change, because Islam is the final word of God. Any change would, in this view, render it something other than Islam.

As a result, people like the Wahhabi clerics of Saudi Arabia see Islam less as a religion and more as a way of life. One in which all things come from the Qur'an, and in which change or reform is heresy against God's will.

Banning Valentine's Day is a small thing, but it's indicative of a larger resistance to change, especially to innovations from the West. And that, right there, is one of the main reasons why their society is stagnating while the modern world is passing them by.
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