Thursday, 14 February 2013

Why I am celebrating Valentine's Day as a Pakistani Muslim

Jamat-e-Islami is observing Youm-e-Sharm-o-Haya day today. If you ask Pakistani women they would like Pakistani men or Taaro Maroons to observe this day every day.

Sadly there is a difference in perspective for observing the day. The Jamat wants to observe it to prevent young singles from indulging in public display of affection on account of Valentine’s day whereas Pakistani women in general would just like to keep uninvited stares and advances at bay and like the real Muslim men to respect their privacy.

However, Pakistani women being the more graceful and patient group of the two will sadly have to wait for their turn, again. The Jamat needs to be addressed first. After all they have given me a guilty conscience for celebrating Valentine’s day by quoting Hadiths and Quranic verses on billboards all over the city. These religious commandments are to be interpreted as declaring Valentine’s day haram.

Bravo! Now I just cannot wait for the Jamat to post Hadiths and Quranic verses advocating minority rights and women rights. I mean that campaign is next right? The Jamat being the just, credible and honest flag bearers of Islam should not be impartial in preaching Islam right?

Clearly, the campaign against Valentines days has little to do with Islam and more to do with the anti-American sentiment. Ironically except for F-16 every single import from America or the West in general is looked at with contempt and hate even if it is a love filled day like Valentine’s day. Apparently, it was also Haram to wish Christians Merry Christmas this past year.

As a Pakistani Muslim there are two ways of looking at Valentine’s day; the first in my religious perspective and the second in my cultural perspective. Not so surprisingly, I found Valentines Days to be NOT un-Islamic and as Pakistani as it is American.

And it was then when I realized that perhaps the Jamat confused the ‘American’ Valentine’s day with the American ‘Prom Night’ from the American Pie Movies. The general idea today is to express your feelings towards your loved ones, not to impregnate teens outside wedlock.

To analyze Valentine’s day from a strict religious perspective one cannot just base their premise on how Valentine’s day is observed in pop culture. One has to look at its historical account. Now all those people who think I am qualifying my analysis to justify my beliefs I would like them to consider for one moment how would Islam look like if we analyzed it in terms of how it is practiced by our Mullahs as opposed to what Islam really is in terms of the Quran and Sunnah.

Saint Valentines in whose memory this day is observed is popularly believed to have been imprisoned for performing marriages of those soldiers who were forbidden to marry by the then Roman Empire. He eventually died in jail. If I were to celebrate his memory how can the same act be deemed un-Islamic? Marriage is encouraged under all school of thoughts of Islam and no group of Individuals belonging to any profession be it the army or be it muftis or mullahs are forbidden from getting married under Islam. Now, I am sorry if Saint Valentine did not use to read the Nikah Khutba, since Islam was introduced much after he passed away.

Now coming to the cultural perspective, one has to admit that this day is not entirely kosher. Valentines is also an excuse for unmarried couples to give each other gifts, make cheesy promises of love, have candle light dinners and other stuffs your parents asked you not to do.

But the more you think about love between unmarried couples the more one is reminded of our folklore. Romance is perhaps the most celebrated theme in Indo-Aryan literature where we are amazed by the sacrifices given my two lovers just to be together. Sahiban eloped with Mirza against her brothers' wishes, Ranjha denounced wordly pleasures and became a jogi, Sohni used to meet Mahiwal secretly even after her marriage and Mumal set herself on fire to convince Rano.

These tales and many others like them are still being taught in our curriculums and still being celebrated and adapted in our Dramas and theatres.

Perhaps we should rebrand Valentine’s day as Waris Shah day or Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai day to make it more acceptable.

At the end, if for one day we are socially obliged to make a special gesture of love towards our parents, siblings, better halves, children or girl/boy friends then so be it. I took my mom on a date to a musical last Valentine’s day and she loved it. There was nothing un-Islamic or anti-Pakistan about how special she felt.


  1. Just when i was about to lose hope in humanity. i got to read this.
    Thank you my friend.

  2. I am sorry you are just ignorant

  3. A Pakistani woman patiently waiting for her turn :)


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