Saudi Cleric Sparks Outcry For Ruling Muslims Can Celebrate Valentine’s Day

CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty
CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV — Saudi Cleric Ahmad Bin Qassem al-Gamedi caused a firestorm in Saudi Arabia for ruling that Muslims are allowed to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

According to al-Gamedi’s ruling, it is permitted to receive gifts of red roses on Valentine’s Day, even though celebrations of the holiday are still banned in Saudi Arabia.

Valentine’s day isn’t a religious holiday, reasoned al-Gamedi, and therefore there is no reason not to bless those interested in celebrated it by giving and receiving gifts of red roses.

“There is no ban on receiving and returning gifts,” said the cleric. “It’s even allowed to receive the blessings of those who don’t believe in our holidays of al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as there is no proof that doing so goes against Islam.”

The statement from the well-known religious leader caused a firestorm on social media where many expressed appreciation and agreement with the progressive position it represented. Others, however, claimed that his words conflict with Islam and its values as well as the tradition by which the kingdom has operated on the subject for decades.

Tunisian Mufti Othman Batih has also stated that celebrating Valentine’s Day isn’t forbidden as long as moral standards are not diminished. The mufti’s position is in opposition to many clerics in Tunisia who believe that Valentine’s Day is a Christian holiday and that celebrations are an “imitation of the Christians,” which is forbidden by Muslim religious law.

“Valentine’s Day isn’t forbidden and extremist claims that it is an imitation of the Christians are incorrect because this isn’t an adoption of their religion or their beliefs. What brings people together is something positive and desired,” said Batih. “There is no ban on celebrating the holiday as long as moral standards are not diminished.”

The Tunisian mufti condemned those who are quick to forbid such holidays and events and said that clerics must support people in moving closer to one another and loving one another.

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