Should we ban our teens from Valentine’s Day?

Posted on: February 15, 2009

This article was published by The Jakarta Post on February 14, 2009. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here.

Today is Feb. 14 and it’s saturday. It means it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day. For young Indonesians out there who live in big cities like Jakarta and Bandung, they know exactly what it means. It’s love time! I bet they are busy choosing the right flowers and chocolate for their girlfriends or boyfriends.

If you visit any mall in Jakarta right now you will see how they have been 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 this celebration accusing that this celebration comes from Christian culture therefore it should not be celebrated. And that’s not completely wrong; Valentine’s Day celebration 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 be the ones who 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 be the ones who distributed brochures giving information to others how Valentine’s Day celebration was not something Islamic and it should not be followed.

Several days ago a few younger friends of mine asked me whether or not they could celebrate Valentine’s Day. I answered them by saying that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating it. One of them was not satisfied complaining that Valentine’s Day celebration comes from non-Muslim culture.

I later ended the conversation by telling them that I wasn’t an Islamic cleric. I suggested them to ask someone with better knowledge on Islam.

But what I think about Valentine’s Day is that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating it as long as we know the limits.

Yes, I know the history. 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.

So what?

What if that guy named Valentine had been a Muslim? I’m sure we all wouldn’t have any problem with Valentine’s Day celebration. Before you start preaching me, listen to what I got to say.

I know that I’m not a really good Muslim. I have to admit that. Some of my friends accuse me for being too moderate. And I guess they are probably right; although I’m not really sure what a moderate Muslim really means.

One thing I know, they think I simplify things too much. And again, they might be right. But why should we make things so complicated?

On Valentine’s Day celebration, I just think that this has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s simply a celebration of love. And I believe 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. Relax and take it easy.

So what if Valentine’s Day comes from a non-Muslim culture? Don’t we use internet and learn the whole thing about computer hardware and software when we all know they were all invented by non Muslims? Before you judge that it’s a wrong analogy, please remember that I already told you how sometimes I simplify things too much.

I completely agree with parents’ concern on how Valentine’s Day celebration might affect negatively to their teenagers. Many people have shown their frustration on Indonesian teenagers’ behavior; they complain that Indonesian teenagers are going “West” too much.

But for that case, I don’t think it’s wise if we blame the condition solely on Valentine’s Day celebration. There are thousands of other factors that influence the behavior of our young Indonesians. What about our sinetron, for example? Do you think it represents our proud Eastern culture?

What we need to do is exploit the good things of Valentine’s Day celebration. What we need to make our teenagers understand is that love is not an exclusive commodity for their boyfriends and girlfriends. Valentine’s Day celebration can or should also be rejoiced with their parents, siblings, or other loved ones.

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.

It’s just that simple. I know, I probably simplify things too much.


9 Responses to "Should we ban our teens from Valentine’s Day?"

hebring lah pokoknamah. hehe sorry pake nyunda dikit.
yup ane setuju dengan cara berfikir yang simple namun bertenaga dan punya nilai universal, yakni cinta.
cinta pun seperti kita tahu sangat tergantung dari sudut apa kita melihatnya. namun demikian, cinta adalah bukanlah perang namun sebuah saling pengertian respek, penghormatan dan pengorbanan (unselfishness).

saya pikir sih para cleric kita terlalu normatif dah bahkan dogmatis dalam memahami persoalan sehingga apapun yang datang dari luar lantas dicap tidak islami.
apa sih salahnya merayakan valentine day? ok saya tahu bahwa tidak sedikit orang bilang bahwa dalam islam, memberikan kasih sayang itu tidak terikat oleh waktu tertentu. namun adalah sebuah kenyataan bahwa valentina day juga ternyata dirayakan muda mudi di Indonesia. pada titik inilah saya pikir para ulama bukan malah mengutuk itu dan ini tapi harus memberikan arahan agar perayaan tersebut dilakukan dalam batas-batas yang sehat dan wajar.
saya pikir itu saja dari saya.
anyway, always good posting from you tasa.

Kayaknya justru GBM yang paranoid terhadap Valentine Day, kenapa harus paranoid terhadap Ulama2 yang melarang umat Islam merayakan Valentine Day? Tujuan mereka kan baik agar umat Islam tidak mencampur adukkan segala perayaan2 agama lain dengan agama mereka, sesimpel pelarangan atas rokok. Lagian kan kita gak harus merayakan valentine kan?

ahmad: thanks for your wonderful and insightful opinion. Been long time no see.

Oky: Plis deh! Jgn gara2 pengalaman cinta lo buruk lalu lo serta merta menolak Val’s Day…. Kalau emang gk ada cewek yg bisa lo ajak pas Val’s Day bukan berarti lalu itu jadi haram! Whahahahaha… Peace cuy. Kapan kita jogging lagi?

Apaan sih lo, gw tuh gak ada pengalaman buruk, justru kalo seandainya Val’s day gak diharamkan gw bisa Val’s day tiap hari kali, ah. gw tuh mendukung ulama2 kita yang tentunya berilmu dan cerdas tas.

ummm…Sa, gue ga bisa komen lagi nih…:(

Dear Tasa, you’re absolutely right (in my opinion). And I appreciate that, though you admit not being a cleric, you want to tell a sensible and balanced message. And that it is: sensible and balanced

But when I did read this lines

“I completely agree with parents’ concern on how Valentine’s Day celebration might affect negatively to their teenagers. Many people have shown their frustration on Indonesian teenagers’ behavior; they complain that Indonesian teenagers are going “West” too much.”

I – in my capacity as a Western father and grandfather- wondered what kind of negative “western behavior” in the context of Valentine’s Day is meant here?

Am I that blind that I don’t see evil even if it is right in front of me?

Or is this behavior exclusively bad for Indonesian teenagers and not for European ones?

And, most importantly, what kind of behavior?

I’m just really sick of the overdose of religion in this country. Every sector of life in Indonesia is being seen and judged with respect of religion.

I myself do not like the valentine celebration. But I prefer to argue “secularly”, that it is a waste of time, a waste of money. But I am going to condemn them, as saying it is sinful and you will rot in hell if you celebrate valentine. YOu can celebrate it as long as it is not against the law and your own conscious.

sorry, misstype. “I am NOT going to condemn …” etc

saya termasuk orang yang sangat anti dengan perayaan valentine.termasuk pada orang-orang yang berkata boleh selama dalam batasan-batasan yang wajar! karena menurut saya tak ada batasan bakur dalam merayakan valentine’s day. dan ini masalah akidah! barang siapa yang ikut dalam kegiatan agama atau keyakinan lain , maka ia termasuk didalamnya.

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guebukanmonyet is Tasa Nugraza Barley. He's a free man with unique thoughts and dreams. He sees his life and this world differently from anyone else. That's because he knows what he wants; and for that reason he doesn't want to be the same. Read why he blogs, here.

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