The romance of Valentine in Saudi Arabia

Valentines day, the day dedicated to the celebration of love, is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, even for married couples. In Saudi Arabia any kind of interaction between people of opposite sex are forbidden, even just talking. Any public display of affection is taboo.

valentine-haya1

Religious police ”Anti Valentine patrols” roam the malls and shops, they confiscate any red or heart shaped items days before the infidel ‘V-day”.
All this makes Valentines day especially romantic in Saudi. Imagine the dangers, trials and tribulations, not to mention he enormous costs your loved one has gone through to get you that contraband red rose, and heart shaped box of chocolates!

valentine

From AFP Friday 14 2014

Red roses lurk hidden in flower shop back rooms and heart-shaped chocolates are sold under the counter, but Saudis still manage to buy Valentine’s gifts and defy the religious police.

Florist Hussein came up with a simple solution to a ban on red tokens of love: he filled his window with white roses, orange irises and violet hydrangeas.
“I’ve hidden everything red in the shop, so when a religious police patrol comes along, they find nothing to complain about,” he said.
Hussein’s shop window may be blooming with white, orange and violet, but he still has the real thing — red roses — out the back.
“I’ve sold at least 350 red roses at 20 riyals ($5, 3.90 euros) a pop. Many women call us on the phone to order roses, because they fear the religious police.”

val2

Kumar, another florist, was persuaded by a Muttawa visit not even to consider flouting the Valentine’s Day ban. However: “We’re going to sell these to a chocolate shop,” he said, pointing to bouquets of red flowers in a back room of his store.

Confectioners do have chocolate hearts for discreet sale, but only to the right people. “Of course we have them, but the religious police came by and warned us against selling them,” said one chocolate shop owner who asked not to be identified. “We hid them because we don’t want any problems,” he added, smiling, indicating that an illicit transaction involving the chocolate contraband would be more than acceptable.

val1

This year in Jeddah, a city more open and relaxed than most of the rest of Saudi Arabia, some florists have been openly selling red roses, and are unafraid to give their names.
“The religious police didn’t come. We’re doing nothing wrong anyway,” said Abu Zakaria, who runs a flower shop in the north of the city.

Another man, Thamer Hussein, said some people with romantic yearnings marked the Valentine’s festival a day in advance, to ensure the experience was hassle-free. “Some young people celebrated St Valentine’s Day on Wednesday evening, with small parties and exchanges of gifts,” he said.

Read more:

 Ahram online

About these ads

63 Responses

  1. I was expecting this article to come out in this blog today! Predictive. :)

  2. I think that those who work so hard to bring romance to a world starved for contact with the opposite sex should be highly praised. If you think finding the right Valentines Day gift for your significant other is difficult, think about having to do it on the black market!!

  3. When reading the history of Valentines Day, I question that if the Sheiyoukh (Religious Scholars) are even aware of the historical underpinnings of the ‘holiday’ – and if they did, I would expect that they would applaud the efforts of the Roman Priest Valentine to secretly conduct marital ceremonies of the Roman soldiers – which were forbidden by the Pagan Emperor of the time:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-rubin-stuart/historical-origins-of-val_b_4775869.html

    As you know, in Islam, marriage is highly encouraged and I believe they would do the same if encountered with a pagan ruler forbidding marriage. Nevertheless, in recognizing the efforts of the Roman priest, still would not validate celebrating it, but could be used as a point for interfaith dialogue.

    Wa Allahu ‘alim.
    (And God knows best).

  4. Sarah, It’s great that we have such intelligent commentators on bedu.

    Valentines day + a blog about Saudi Arabia = …

    And here your prediction that ”there will be a post on Valentines Day in Saudi Arabia on American Bedu on Valentines Day” actually comes true!
    Amazing!!!!!
    Awe inspiring!
    In fact it’s so Absolutely Astonishing that it makes me wonder if I wasn’t wrong all the time and this kind of mindboggling predictionary prowess is After All proof that you are guided by an invisible higher power…

  5. AA, you are so quick to attack, it makes me smile. Actually I read that same article you wrote in the newspaper minutes ago and I was thinking that this is the kind of thing you love to write about and lo and behold it appeared. That’s it.

    So what makes you jump into defensive mode. I just said it was predictable. So big deal? Makes me wonder about your intentions. :)

    ANMB, this holiday is alien to Islam and not encouraged. Whatever may the story behind it be, its not something that is in Islam. It is pagan custom. Love is celebrated everyday and not on one particular day.

  6. Actually, it is not ‘pagan’ holiday (which is different than Christianity) and it did not begin as a ‘holiday’, but as a way to commemorate the braveness of the Priest to marry soldiers, in defiance of the pagan ruler of his time; and it cost him his life.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/13/valentines-day-bloody-history_n_4768652.html

    The symbolizing that we see today is something that has occurred over the centuries and adapted by various cultures.

    The underlying principal of marriage is not only accepted, but promoted in Islam, although as Muslims, do not ‘celebrate’ it in the same manner. And marriage is a common thread between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and other religions. My point is that it would be a good basis for interfaith dialogue, by focusing on the similarities between the religions.

    If you have studied the Historical Development of Islamic Jurisprudence, Usool al Fiqh, and Comparitive Fiqh, there are some Scholarly opinions that do accept ‘holidays’ that are based on ‘culture’, but not in contradiction to ‘aqeedah’ (of which there are three main schools of thought). For example, in Saudi, they celebrate the ‘birth’ of the country – yet Islamically, Shar’ia does not recognize a monarchy, that KSA is based on.

    If you would like to discuss these details further, you may contact me directly, as I don’t want to bore the other readers with such details in Islamic jurisprudence.

  7. since the passing of carol, i would like to know the people or person behind this blog. it would be nice to know how much experience and knowledge of the force behind this blog has about the people and actually living in saudi arabia. it’s mean to keep putting down a country and customs constantly, and not give any experience from their own life on the middle east people or islam like carol did, and most people with a blog on arabs. anyone can shoot bullets.

  8. Another thought, to put KSA and their legalistic rulings into the proper perspective, is that in general (not restricted to this topic of Valentines Day), for those who may be unaware, KSA judicial decisions (and most, but not all, Scholarly opinions) are based on Hanbali fiqh, which is a minority Islamic legal school of thought in the Muslim world – and some of their rulings are more ‘strict’ or more ‘literal’ interpretations of the Qur’aan and other sources that Islamic Scholars use, but may come to differing conclusions, that are still valid, but may not be followed by the majority of Muslims around the world on various issues.

    This is a very brief explanation of ‘ikhtilaaf” (differing of Scholarly opinions, known as ‘fatwa'; which by the way, ‘fatwah’ are non-binding religious opinions from a Muslim Scholar; which contrasts to a ‘hukm’, which is a binding order issued by a Muslim Judge from the Islamic courts):

    http://www.suhaibwebb.com/islam-studies/islamic-law/%E2%80%9Cwe-follow-only-the-qur%E2%80%99an-and-sunnah%E2%80%9D/

    And an overview to the Saudi legal system is explained here, which explicitly states that Hanbali fiqh is followed:

    http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/saudi_arabia.htm

    And for those who want to understand more details of the different Islamic legal schools of thought, Dr. Hatem al-Hajj (Ph.D. in Comparative Fiqh), has a video series entitled “The Evolution of FIqh” as aired on al-Huda TV, and available for viewing on youtube.

    By understanding that there are different scholarly opinions (and each Muslim country has a major Islamic school of thought that is followed and a minority school of thought), and that all are valid, it should make one more tolerant when encountering a viewpoint that is different from what one may choose to follow themselves, and without condemning a fellow Muslim; and for non-Muslims, it will help to understand why KSA may have a specific stance on an issue, that other Muslim countries may not (driving is an example). It all goes back to interpreting the sources.

    In addition, KSA has a strange relationship between the Monarchy and the Scholars, and they don’t always agree on issues, so the country is making progress – although some of the people are against it due to embedded cultural attitudes that may be rooted in some of the religious interpretations.

  9. Sarah, you can rest assured that you always make me smile :mrgreen:

    And don’t we all love pagan customs?
    Like walking around buildings seven times, sacred meteorites and throwing stones at devils… :twisted:

  10. Valentine’s day as celebrated today is a Western holiday whose root seems to be the middle ages. As celebrated today it is an artifact of the industrial age with the addition of American commercialism.

    What is so silly is the idea that people need to be reminded of the fact, it must one serve to make it all the more attractive for being forbidden fruit. Since Saudi education has a large amount of religion one would assume most Saudis have a good idea of what is sinful and what is not.

  11. @g,

    “it’s mean to keep putting down a country and customs constantly”

    I think you are programmed to take offense at any article that challenges your preconceived notion about Saudi and its people. As a matter of a fact this article shows a POSITIVE side of Saudi. The people of Saudi are shedding antiquated rules, which prevented people’s freedoms, where a government religious force terrorized them into accepting rules they do not agree with. In previous years, the religious police hassled shop owners, closed the businesses and even attacked them physically. The shop owners in Jeddah are able to sell their flowers without fear. I call that POSITIVE progress. That is unless you view Saudi as a prison run by the religious police, then it is a very sad day for you :)

    Zakaria the flower shop owner put this POSITIVE news best:

    “The religious police didn’t come. We’re doing nothing wrong anyway,”

    Happy Valentines day

  12. What Saudi critics of Valentine’s day should explain is, if Valentine’s day is so foreign to Saudi culture, why are people adopting it at all.

    Most holidays are promoted commercially in the US, yet not all are popular with foreigners. When I worked for a major telecom company we noticed that the only American holiday that Spanish speaking residents celebrated was American Mothers day (how did we know? we knew by the traffic to the home country). Mother’s day resonates with Latino citizens of the US in ways other American holidays don’t.

    Saudi life is changing and culture will adapt to changed circumstances. In the US almost nobody ate sushi 50 years ago, today it is common. People who see other cultures will copy things. A lot of young Saudis are attending school in other countries. What is the point of attending school overseas if you aren’t supposed to adopt any of the behavior you see overseas?

  13. @ Jerry M. > What is unapparent, is that the mutawwah (religious police) believe that by limiting access to a holiday they deem un-Islamic, they are preventing people from falling into sin which is based on an Islamic legal maxim, that can be roughly translated as, “prevention is a form of protection”.

    Nevertheless, it is also known that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’ as stated in Surah al Baqara (2:256), which is interpreted to believing in Islamic creed vs. polytheism; but it also applies to practicing Islamic rituals as a Muslim – and no one can force another to do anything.

    Islamically, all that can be done is to wisely advise another Muslim, and then hope they accept it, and if not, then you have fulfilled your obligation.

  14. @ANMB

    It is all a question of what one needs protection from. If buying a bunch of roses can lead to sin, so can segregation which limits the ability of women to support themselves, isn’t causing starvation that can be prevented a sin. It is a double-edge sword. T

  15. Oh, Come on, ANMB, I let you philosophize on such trivial and inconsequential concepts such as ikhtilaaf, fatwah, hukm, fiqh and differences between Islamic schools of thought without saying a word, because these are for the most part just a form of mental masturbation, devoid of serious moral content and never applied consistently because of the ambiguities in your sacred writ.

    However, the minute you step on non-Muslim ground, assuming that infidels should be understanding of Islamic doctrines and actions, because it is a matter of interpretation, even if those same interpretations denigrate and slander non-Muslims (not to mention the issue of violence), you have gone too far.

    It would be nice, for once, to find a Muslim who would qualify the ‘no compulsion in religion’ verse with a statement expressing the fact that Muslims do not follow said verse anywhere or that it has been abrogated. Where there is Islam, there is compulsion. Period. The fact that you Muslims can’t agree on how to interpret doctrine says a lot about the perfection and integrity of your canon. Better the 11 simple words of the golden rule than the 77,000+ words in the Quran.

  16. @ Jerry M > There are many women in KSA that own businesses and are very successful financially, although it is a ‘segregated society'; also the ‘segregation’, as practiced in KSA, is an extreme interpretation and practice (compared to some other Muslim countries) meant to prevent illicit relations between the genders, that can result in either unwed mothers and fatherless children, or sexual harassment or rape (as occurs in the workplace in America – and women are blamed for it). If one were to look at Islamic history more closely, women and men did interact, as long as it was on a professional/business like manner – and not necessarily quite as segregated as seen KSA.

    However, as I said, there is tension between King Abdullah and the Scholars – did you know that women are allowed to drive and remove the veil in classes, alongside men at KAUST?:

    http://universitydesign.asu.edu/db/king-abdullah-university-of-science-and-technology

    And my point is that KSA is not always representative of mainstream Islamic interpretations, although Hanbali legal school is considered as a valid school of thought.

  17. @ Jerry M > In this clip, it explains just how financially powerful women are in KSA:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/57625746-saudi-women-flex-new-found-freedoms-financial-autonomy.html

    Also, the narration is incorrect that they have a ‘new found financial freedom’ – the reality is that prior to Islam, Judeo-Christian women had no rights to handle money or inheritance, and were considered as inheritable objects themselves; they had no financial rights, and when Islam came, it gave women control over their monies and the right marry or divorce, in contrast to Judeo-Christian laws; however, in our moden era, not all Muslims follow Islamic teachings, if they even understand them, but many do.

    This is an excellent book available online that details history of woen prior to Islam and after > Women in Islam: Discourse in Rights and Obligations, by Dr. Fatima Umar Naseef:

    http://www.iicwc.org/lagna/catig/products/fatma/

  18. “However, the minute you step on non-Muslim ground, assuming that infidels should be understanding of Islamic doctrines and actions, because it is a matter of interpretation, even if those same interpretations denigrate and slander non-Muslims (not to mention the issue of violence), you have gone too far.”

    I find it strange that a blog article about KSA and Valentines Day is deemed as ‘stepping on non-Muslim ground’. Or perhaps you are referring to my references of America? It is unclear what your point is.

    I also find it strange that some want to superimpose their own belief systems over others, and assume their assumptions are correct; when it would be a wiser approach to first seek to understand and then to be understood, even if you still disagree, hopefully one would be more tolerant, yet is not an ideal world. The late blog owner, Carol, strove to build bridges of understanding between the two cultures, and had some good insights, while I am explaining the religious component that is less obvious to the layperson.

    I explained the details that do make a difference, because there are some who may believe that Islam is monolithic, when it is not. The differing methods of interpretation and criteria for acceptance of sources result in different outwardly details of practice that are unapparent to the untrained eye; which is why I explained it to you, because I would not expect you to know it, and why there are so many misinterpretations related to not only KSA, but to Muslims in general.

    With regard to the Qur’an and ‘use of force’ and compulsion, I would recommend that you read more about Islamic history and how Islam spread so far and wide, in a relatively short period of time; this article cites some good sources:

    http://lostislamichistory.com/did-islam-spread-by-the-sword/

  19. And with regard to use of violence in Islam:

    http://www.juancole.com/2013/04/terrorism-other-religions.html

    And with regard to the common argument that Muslim women are oppressed, it needs to be put into it’s proper perspective:

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/53783/the-biggest-lie-you-ve-been-told-about-the-oppression-of-muslim-women

    The oppression of women is a worldwide problem, as detailed in:
    http://www.halftheskymovement.org/‎

  20. “The fact that you Muslims can’t agree on how to interpret doctrine says a lot about the perfection and integrity of your canon. Better the 11 simple words of the golden rule than the 77,000+ words in the Quran.”

    It is interesting that you make this claim, while the Qur’an is word for word the same now as when it was revealed, without any dispute amongst the Muslims scholars, and the hadith (saying and practices of the Prophet) were developed into a highly developed science. The differences of opinion relate to the methodologies used to interpret them, and not to any imperfection in the texts themselves.

    This is in contrast to Christianity, that cannot agree on how many books there are in the Bible, with Catholics having more than Protestants:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/asktheexpert/jun01.html

    And even some theologians claim that a large portion of the Bible is a forgery:

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/13/half-of-new-testament-forged-bible-scholar-says/

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/the-bible-telling-lies-to_b_840301.html

    And the Golden Rule is found in several religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam:

    http://www.goldenrulenow.com/golden-rule-quotes/

  21. In my opinion this topic is stale and every year its the same story – nothing new. To be fair, instead of always targeting controversial topics, or negativity in all things Saudi, why don’t you write about the positive things that go on. Diversify a little like Carol used to do. Why not write about the Janadriyah festival that is going on, or about the Saudi women scientist who is to join UN Scientific Advisory Board, or about the two Saudi women in the top 20 Muslim women scientists or the SR100 million arts center … etc. There are many articles you can write to spread positivity. Be creative, it wont hurt.

    After all this blog’s intention was to build bridges not burn them.

  22. ANMB,

    Valentine’s Day is prohibited. It’s prohibition is not just because of it is the 4th festival held in honor of the Roman god Lupercus, in whose honor an annual lottery on the 13-15 of February was held to distribute young women among young men for “entertainment and pleasure,” although this fact alone is enough to prohibit it. Nor is it because of its Christian adaptation in honor of St. Valentine, worshiped by Catholics as the lover’s saint, although this concept of shirk alone is also sufficient to make it forbidden. Nor is it due to the use of pagan symbols of Cupid, the Roman god of desire, erotic love and affection, portrayed as a little boy with a bow, whose arrows pierce hearts and overwhelms them with uncontrollable desire. It is primarily forbidden because it promotes and glorifies sexual abandon and licentiousness in the name of the divinely granted emotional gift of love. While love in the Islamic context is expressed in a balanced way, beginning with the love of God, love of family and love of society – each having its own rights and duties. This moderate view puts love in its proper context, benefiting everyone all year long and not just confined to a commercialized crazy day of ritualized romantic chaos in the name of love. – Bilal Philips.

    I would not mind exchanging views through emails. How can I contact you?

  23. AA, those are not pagan customs. High time you got updated. :)

  24. @ Sarah > Yes, there are differing opinions as to the origins of Valentines Day, as you quoted from Sheikh/Dr. Bilal Philips. opsis:

    Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, did extensive research on the origins of holidays that can be found on youtube – this is an excerpt from a longer lecture:

    Who Invented Valentines Day ? ~ Abdullah Hakim Quick

    There was a quote in the article, that “we are not doing anything wrong” – meaning that they may not know or care about the origins, or if they do, they don’t believe in the religious aspects of it, rather they like the customs and may believe that they are promoting love and romance between ‘married’ couples, and they cannot help it if singles are affected by it, etc; yet the Scholars who use the legal maxim of ‘prevention is protection’ (in this instance) for single individuals, is another reason they forbid the participating in the ‘symbols’ of flowers, chocolate, exchanging gifts, dinners, which are a prelude to intimate relations; and they (Scholars in KSA) want to prevent illicit relationships that they see occur in other societies like the West and believe that Valentines Day promotes that (but it also occurs on other days).

    Yet it is well known that Hanbali fiqh relies more heavily on hadith, than on ijtihaad (reasoning) [as explained in Dr. Bilal Philips book on 'Evolution of Fiqh' that is a good introduction in English], r deny the hadith of the woman who was a prostitute, yet was granted Paradise because she gave water to a cat; meaning that Islam encourages the right from the wrong, but ultimately, each person is responsible for themselves in the end, and that Allah (swt) forgives all sins, except shirk (associating partners with God).

    And I believe that in KSA, in a well-intending, yet poorly executed effort to ‘guide people’ – it appears that the over- controlling of society, which they believe is justified in the sources, actually creates rebellion and more problems – there is a lot of truth in the saying, “You create what you fear”; as opposed to wisely presenting the facts and allowing people to make their own choices in their lives.

    In studying pre-Islamic history, it came when people were the worst of the worst, with girls being buried alive! and it was not forced upon them to change, rather the message and embodiment of it in the manners, words, and actions of the Prophet (pbuh) is what caused people to want to convert. The Qur’anic revelation spoke to their hearts, before reaching their minds, and changes were made gradually, as with alcohol prohibition.

    As Carol states on the ‘about page':

    “The American Bedu blog is not intended as Saudi-bashing. I try to write candidly and openly about experiences and observations on the customs, cultures, traditions and practices of daily life in Saudi Arabia. Some views are very positive and others might be negative while some may be perceived as contraversial. However my posts are reflective of Saudi Arabia which is a land of shifting sands with contrasts and contradictions.”

    She is correct that there are many contrasts and contradictions, and was astute at observing them, but may not have been as aware or informed on the religious underpinnings – as most people are not and believe that Islam is monolithic – in addition to the politics between the Royal Family and the Ulema, and therefore many come to the wrong conclusions about KSA without any deeper analysis.

    Even Muslims have a love/hate affair with KSA, because it is not representative of mainstream Islam. Driving is an example. In Islamic history, the women rode horses and camels and fought in wars alongside the Prophet (pbuh) – and when a woman is alone with a driver, it is not her ‘mahram’, which is clearly against Islamic Shari’ah. Women were not ‘birds in cages’ and participated equally in society during time of the Prophet (pbuh), and in the early centuries, as researched by Sheikh/Dr. Muhammad Akram Nadwi, in an excellent book, al-Muhaddithat (biographical sketches of female contributions to scholarship):

    http://www.al-muhaddithat.moonfruit.com/

    The Royal Family is usurping the wealth of the people, in the name of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques”, yet Shari’a does not recognize a monarchy. Islam is rooted in social justice, yet it is lacking in some aspects within KSA itself, the birthplace of “Islam”. There is a lack of open criticism of the Royal Family for fear of being jailed – yet in Islamic History, and in the Qur’aan, the Prophet (pbuh) was called some of the worst of names – is the Royal Family above the Prophet (sws)?. Shari’a protects freedom of speech. The point is that there is a distinction to be made between Islam (with various interpretations), culture and deeply rooted patriarchial practices, and an individual’s beliefs/attitudes/personalities, etc.

    Another dimension to the misunderstandings of Muslims and Arabs, in general, and in KSA in particular is rooted in the highly sophisticated, and concerted political efforts dressed in the cloak of ‘entertainment’ meant to malign Arabs and Muslims, for over the last century by Hollywood, as researched by Dr. Jack Shaheen, a Lebanese/American Christian who specializes in mass communication, in his documentary of entitled “Reel Bad Arabs”:

    SYNOPSIS

    This groundbreaking documentary dissects a slanderous aspect of cinematic history that has run virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. Featuring acclaimed author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs–from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists”–along the way offering devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today.

    Shaheen shows how the persistence of these images over time has served to naturalize prejudicial attitudes toward Arabs and Arab culture, in the process reinforcing a narrow view of individual Arabs and the effects of specific US domestic and international policies on their lives. By inspiring critical thinking about the social, political, and basic human consequences of leaving these Hollywood caricatures unexamined, the film challenges viewers to recognize the urgent need for counter-narratives that do justice to the diversity and humanity of Arab people and the reality and richness of Arab history and culture.

    http://www.reelbadarabs.com/

    The documentary is here:

    http://vimeo.com/30045931

    and another book, “Guilty: Hollywood Verdict on Arabs after 9/11″:

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?200698-1/book-discussion-guilty

    And from an international political perspective, America is also responsible for even creating some of the extremism that is seen in the Middle East, including KSA, as written by an investigative journalist:

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?190584-1/book-discussion-devils-game

    KSA and the Middle East, is a complex topic of history, religion, and politics (within KSA and outside).

    Again my original point is that for those who believe that Valentines Day is based on the Priest/Saint Valentine, it is a good to recognize the commonality between other religions and respect the differences, while not necessarily participating in it.

    Since this blog is about Saudi Arabia, I prefer to focus on bridging differences, instead of highlighting them (unless done in the proper context), just as King Abdullah has done with the creation of a Center for Inter-Religous and Inter-Cultural Dialgoue:

    http://www.kaiciid.org/en/the-centre/the-centre-kopie.html

    And for those who are interested in learning more about Arabs and Muslims contributions to the world as we know it, I would recommend the following:

    http://www.1001inventions.com/

    http://www.muslimheritage.com/

    And for those who believe that “Muslims are foreigners in America”, – would be surprised to learn that Muslims were in ‘America’ before Columbus!:

    http://www.muslimsinamerica.org/

  25. I keep thinking about other aspects of positive progress made in KSA within recent years, such as in June 2009, King Abdullah reshuffled the cabinet of Ulema:

    “Elsewhere, the Senior Council of Ulema was expanded to 21 members and for the first time in Saudi history it now includes representatives from all four schools of Sunni legal thought
    — until now, only the Hanbali mazhab (the official school in Saudi Arabia) — was represented on the Senior Council. Membership changes were also made at the Standing Committee for Scholarly Research and Fatwa, which is affiliated with the Senior Council of Ulema”

    http://carnegieendowment.org/files/IAA_6__June_pxx_Saudi_Arabia2.pdf

    And an interview with Princess Basma bint Saud on women’s rights in KSA, in which she discusses, among other things, the original purpose of the ‘mutawah’ that has become too controlling and strayed from it’s original mission, which was rooted in Islamic history:

    Saudi Columnist Describes the Treatment of Women in Saudi Arabia

    And this site has interesting facts about Women and Islam:

    http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e2510?_hi=6&_pos=2

    Please read the blog rules. Please keep on topic. Do not overtake the blog with very long comments and endless links. Proselytizing for any religion is not allowed.
    Moderator,/em>

  26. In my opinion it is culture that harms and oppresses women more than religion in general. Muslim women are not oppressed in many countries. What I dislike about Islam is the inequality when it comes to inheritance, divorce laws and even the sorrow of not allowing a widow to be seen by a man for so long after her husband dies. I have a very, very sad story about that one to do with an 80 year old woman who was not allowed to see her milk son who she’d not seen for 50 years and, because of her age, will never be able to see him again. Harsh and stupid.

    I agree that Saudi will progress. It has to happen. Youth have access to the world now via the internet and progression will happen there as it has in other countries. Laws in North America 50 years ago were quite restrictive when it came to women and still there is not equality of pay between men and women in both Canada and the USA … especially the USA.

    I applaud the people who get around the ‘mutts’ and still enjoy their hearts and flowers. Makes those hearts and flowers all the more important and special because they are so hard to come by. It’s great for romance … much greater than being confronted by the mega million dollar hype that goes on in the USA about the day.

  27. ANMB,
    Dear sis, however much you try to validate it, Valentine is not Islamic, its kufar invention and there is nothing good in it other than boosting sales for chocolates and flowers. And its nothing but deviation. Its has illicit sexual tones attached to it. There is no need to assign a special date for love between married couples. Everyday they celebrate it. Alhamdulillah. People can write various articles but you know and I know it is deviation. Please keep that in mind and do not justify it.

  28. ANMB,
    We cannot allow more of these very long comments with many links and videos on this thread.
    Please take your comments to the debate page, you are writing too many, too long comments and are overtaking the thread with off topic comments.
    Blog Moderators

  29. In my opinion this topic is stale and every year its the same story – nothing new. To be fair, instead of always targeting controversial topics, or negativity in all things Saudi, why don’t you write about the positive things that go on. Diversify a little like Carol used to do. Why not write about the Janadriyah festival that is going on, or about the Saudi women scientist who is to join UN Scientific Advisory Board, or about the two Saudi women in the top 20 Muslim women scientists or the SR100 million arts center … etc. There are many articles you can write to spread positivity. Be creative, it wont hurt.

    After all this blog’s intention was to build bridges not burn them

    sarah this blog is run by people with no real experience with saudi or know its people..it will never happen until then. and we are the ones keeping this blog afloat with our experiences.

    ‘And don’t we all love pagan customs?
    Like walking around buildings seven times, sacred meteorites and throwing stones at devils’

    if she can say that then we should be able to say what we want if we are that low. try having old mamas spit on your head to save you from the evil eye. and not a saudi mom.i never met a person who actually had saudi friends or lived in saud be so juvenile about the people

    anmb
    you wrote good stuff. and yes you know that the kaust is its own world. the students mix and hang out with each other if they want. and among other stuff going on.

    @moq
    my comment wasnt about the valentines day. go celebrate if you want.

    i want to know about the ones behind this blog. a short story can be made for all of us to read about them.

  30. g, you must have missed the comment right at the start then where I asked if there’s any topic anybody would like to see addressed on the blog. It’s a pity you can’t just answer that with a list of subjects you’d like to see.

    ANMB, you might have a look around you and see how women are treated in Muslim, and especially sharia ruled countries, how do you explain they are treated like sh*t in these countries? Even killed, burned, mutilated, gangraped. Where your religion has full sway women suffer.

    You may construct endless intellectual acrobatics trying to make out Islam, (or the other Abrahamic religions) is good for women,<strong. reality proofs us differently.
    Your religion especially seems completely incapable of inspiring respect, equality, freedom, humane and decent treatment towards women in any place on this planet it has power. (and the same goes for Christianity, except secularism forced Christianity to behave better)

  31. @ American Bedu – I apologize for the lengthy comments – I get passionate about some issues; and this is a highly complex topic with several intertwined aspects.

    In fact, I should thank you for your patience, because this discussion has given me a positive outlet since enduring 3 major (historical setting) snowstorms over the last week on the East Coast (including losing power, was restored, and then lost heat, forcing us to relocate until it is fixed) – perhaps I have cabin fever? And it has also provided a break from studying Arabic verb conjugations. ⊙_☉

    Good this is what the debate page is for. You have all the space to let it rip there.
    Sorry to read that you are in the snow zone. I hope you are safe and comfortable now, and that your home won’t sustain any damage. Defenitely enjoy discussing on the debate page as much as you like. And on this thread too of course but here you will have to keep it short and to the point.
    Please read the blog rules, these were instated by Carol to make the blog userfriendly for everybody.

    Moderator

    http://americanbedu.com/2013/02/28/american-bedu-blogrules/

  32. @ Modderator EM > I sent this via email, but wanted to include it here, if you don’t mind, please.

    I wish you would have sent this privately – as I was unaware of a posting length. Nevertheless, I do not understand the last sentence – as prostelytizing is defined as trying to convert someone to another religion, which I have not done. With regard to the gentleman that attacked the Qur’anic revelation [and interpretations], I was showing the differences between it’s preservation vs. Christian texts that are well known to be corrupted, even by Biblical scholars – yet,I did not ask him to give up his religion (which is unknown to me) and follow Islam.

    Also, since KSA is a Muslim country and it is based on Islamic Law, that determines many of the government decisions and societies choices. There is no ‘separation of church and state’ in most Muslim countries, including KSA, and one cannot escape discussing religion when discussing the culture of KSA – even ‘urf / customs are included as a principle within Islamic Law.

    By understanding the Islamic legal underpinnings, whether one agrees with it or not, helps to build bridges of understanding, and without trying to ‘convert’ anyone. I also do not view my comments as ‘debating’ rather presenting various aspects of highly complex issue, so that one can come to a more informed conclusion.

    With HRH Basmah [video], I found the history of her father forming of of the mutawwah (which is what the Valentines Day article is discussing) interesting, and she herself points out that the original role of a woman in Islamic history, being appointed over the markets – which is in contrast to what one sees today there; also the link to the oxford studies shows how women were treated more equally in early Islamic history, which supports the point KSA is not the best represtation of mainstream Islam, rather patriarchal practices.

    At any rate, thank you for continuing the blog after Carol’s passing – as I find it interesting to read from time to time.

    Best regards.

  33. hey aafkee so where are you in this life to help the suffering saudis and muslims in this world other than shooting off. im doing my part. im raising arab american kids. what contacts do you have of this world. other than having a friend. or a book. if that. really, im very interested.

  34. g, I see you have to resort to the ad hominem attack fallacy?
    So you cannot debate the topic. No arguments to prove your case…
    Oh well, never mind, another day, another topic, better luck next time :mrgreen:

  35. Hey guys why don’t you do something constructive in life instead of commenting about other religions and countries ; we westerners seem to forget the domestic violence our women get subjected to , come on !
    You should be able to differentiate between religion and customs.
    This forum should be more positive about Saudis ,I lived there for 10 years and believe me they were the best years of my life. I only met good hearted people and happy Saudi women. I really envy them as a woman .

  36. g, yes I agree with you. Honestly, the interesting thing about this blog is the comment section. And yes the comments keep it alive even though the articles are stale.

    And I do like to add fire from time to time to make it interesting and to keep the blog going – my own contribution to the blog and tribute to Carol :)

    The writers do not have experience living in KSA nor are they well versed in Islam. Furthermore, they have no desire to learn from their shortcomings and expand their knowledge. Instead they beat around the same old bush over and over again heeding no attention to the correction of their false beliefs and notions. Oh well!

    ANMB, interesting comments. I enjoyed them and thanks for sharing.

    Your previous comment was deleted, because it has no objective but to attack others. If you do not like the articles on the blog and think you can do better, I recommend you start your own blog and stop the constant complaints. Take it somewhere else. We maintain this blog for Carol’s memory, not to satisfy your demands.

    Moderator #2.

  37. I am not sure which of my comments were deleted. I would have thought that my last comment was more of an “attack”. I cannot remember which of my comments was deleted. I could have taken that stance only because I felt attacked. I apologize if it hurt anyone. That was not my intention.

  38. Back on topic, the article is a celebration of the Saudi people’s love for each other and ingenuity. Gotta love those strategic ways the shopkeepers use to sell red roses and chocolates, and the tenacity of the Saudi people to make sure that that their loved ones get pampered with red roses and chocolates in the face of persecution by the religious police!

    How anybody can read this article as negative is beyond me, the Saudi Government and wacko religious police are not (thank god) the Saudi people. The Saudi people are a lot better than that.
    And this article actually shows they have the same sensitivities and goodness like everybody else on the planet to express their love for each other.

    What’s new about Valentine in Saudi Arabia this year, is that the powers of the religious police have been reduced in places like Jeddah so much that they don’t even harass shopkeepers who openly sell valentine related stuff anymore. This is new and a great improvement.

  39. And as we all know … if you forbid something it makes it all the more interesting and tantalizing doesn’t it?

  40. One thing that people might not notice Valentine’s day isn’t just about romantic love, it is often about friendship. A woman I have known for years has a facebook page and one of our mutual friends, a man, posted a valentine’s image. I can guarantee you that there is no hanky panky going on, just simple friendship (I’ve known the people involved for 25 years or so.

  41. @jo
    so right about that.

  42. Moderator #2
    I think I know what happened. You have deleted a comment posted by someone else who suggested that you make a blog forum about Arabs/Muslims/Americans in other parts of the world. And that is the comment you deleted if I am not mistaken. That comment is not there anymore and maybe removed. And that is the comment you were referring to when you asked the commentator to make his/her own blog.

    My comment is still there. If this is the case you have addressed and attacked me wrongfully. ☻

  43. @Jo,
    I think most of us distinguish between religion and culture. But you are leaving out the law as well. There is no comparison to the west regarding domestic abuse. I must also say it is unlikely that you would have had the opportunity to meet Saudi women who are in difficult circumstances and suffering because of the system. So while you might envy a certain subclass of Saudi women with good, kind, generous guardians- I doubt very much you envy those with oppressive, abusive guardians, living in a county with little social or legal recourse.

    @Aafke, I disagree that the roots of Hajj are pagan- but no, I can’t “prove” that to you. However, within Islam- the rituals are fully accounted for.

    @ANMB You said “…(Scholars in KSA) want to prevent illicit relationships that they see occur in other societies like the West”
    These things happen in KSA as well- they just deny it and sweep it under the rug. And KSA is not an Islamic country, it’s a Patriarchal and Tribal one. Unless you believe Islam is oppressive- which some Muslims and some non-Muslims believe.

    So I disagree with most of you here. I guess I’m just disagreeable today :)

    Personally, I don’t care much about Valentine’s Day one way or another. I think if one’s intentions and actions are right -ie flowers to a loved one to make them happy that’s fine. I don’t think origins are that important- but I can respect that for some people they are, but I don’t think they should try to stop others. I just find Backbiting and abusing people are real problems, more worthy of all the fuss.

  44. A muslim should express the love toward her beloved one 24h a day, 7 days a week, and 365 of the year… how poor are those who want to make one day for the lovers and forget the rest… it is very paradoxal that a Priest (the founder of Valentines day) have to tell us ,how should we love our wifes, since they never get married- hence they have treated women as Un-human…Or we have to look to our relegion (ISLAM) that gave the highest position for the women… refering to the meaning of the Hadith… The best of you, is the one who is the best to his wife.

  45. Why are my comments not appearing? Am I banned?

    You have been put in moderation due to repeated infringements of the blog rules, (going off topic and personal attacks) after being warned.

    Moderator

  46. @Afrim- why be so judgmental? Who says they only love one day a year and forget the rest? Why belittle others just to make yourself feel better? Let others have their beliefs- it doesn’t harm you.

    @Sarah,
    I see lots of your posts- I don’t know if there are many missing but I see many here.

  47. Valentines Day is fun! Of course people should express their love and friendship 24/7 but it’s fun to have a day when everyone is in the spirit of love … and fun!

  48. I agree Wendy! I am Dutch and Valentine isn’t a big deal there, but I just had a lovely day with my love and I am very pleased with Valentine!

    Anyway I am game for celebrating any holiday/celebration/special party day.
    Bring ‘em on!
    Especially if they include present giving, flowers and food!

    Actually, Valentine isn’t a very big deal in Holland, but we do have lots and lots of other important days, Easter, Pinksteren, Christmas (three days) New year, Saint Martin, liberation day, birthdays, mother’s day, father’s day, it’s a looong list, and then we have all the holidays and vacation periods…

    I love looking forward to a special day, preparing extra nice food and gifts, it’s just so exciting to please your loved ones and be pampered in return.
    You know; spreading sweetness and light :)
    I love it!
    (And especially the ones with chocolates and gifts. ;) )

    And for those periods where nothing happens, for say.. 2 months, I make one up! Festivus!

  49. Afrim, by your logic you are only a Muslim during Ramadan and Eid.

  50. In addition to the Eids- I celebrate International Waffle Day, American Thanksgiving, Cinco de Mayo, and St. Paddy’s. Mostly they’re all about the food!

  51. Exactly!

  52. Sandy, yes, I have had my first thanksgiving dinner last year, made my first turkey and pecan pie! It was great!
    There’s also Kwanzaa, Eid, Mardi gras, groundhog day, Hanukkah, Independence day, Diwali, Halloween, and I just heard there is a ”friendship day”.
    I plan to make this a very festive year!

  53. I never heard of an International Waffle day? I suppose it’s about waffles.

  54. International Waffle Day is March 25. There is also an American one. I think this is one of the most important holidays because it should be able to unite EVERYONE. Who can’t enjoy a waffle? It may be the only thing the whole world can agree on. It could save the world if enough people get on board.

    WAFFLE POWER FOREVER!

  55. I’M IN!!!!!
    Waffles Rule! I actually have my own waffle iron!

    And I forgot two very important ones: International Talk like a Pirate Day (in honor of The Flying Spaghetti Monster) and International Towel day! (In honor of Douglas Adams)

  56. Where I live we have created a new Statutory Holiday in February called Family Day! Love the concept!

  57. Islam doesnot support man made days and events. Why is the vocalisation or expression of love left for just one day. Why cant flowers or chocs be bought on just any other day? Love when it can be expressed everyday doesnot need a day for its celebration. For others who arent muslims they can celebrate it however they like!

  58. Why not have a day for the celebration of love? Why shouldn’t Muslims have a bit of fun too? There’s no reason Islam should be a killjoy, read it up, Mohammed himself said it was ok to join in other people’s festivities and accept presents on their special days.
    Live and let live, party and let party is what I say.

    Sure you can eat waffles every day, sure you can choose for yourself not to do International Waffle Day, but the prophet would think it’s ok, and you are missing out on a lot of fun!
    And waffles…

  59. @Angelinefire
    Who says the expression of love is only for one day? Is the expression for joy only for Eid? If it isn’t for you- I understand that. But no need to put it down. Do you think others should “put down” Ramadan simply because it isn’t part of their tradition? Or do you hope they have the good manners to try to understand it and respect your choices? Do you only appreciate food and sacrifice during Ramadan?

    If you think Muslims shouldn’t celebrate- you shouldn’t. But no need to put down those that see it differently.

  60. Hi. The only two holidays for Muslims are the two EIDs. Valentines Day is not a Muslim holiday and should not be celebrated in Saudi or any other Muslim country. Other religions don’t celebrate EID so I don’t see why Muslims would want to disobey Allah/God to do something that He forbids…Mind boggling!

  61. How could Allah forbid Valentines Day? It certainly wasn’t mentioned in the Quran.

  62. @Wendy. The Quran contains God’s will, it is the most authoritative source of the law – the final word.

    The Sunna is the example of prophet Mohammed (pbuh), embodied in stories about his sayings and conduct.

    If it’s not in the Quran, then refer to the sunnah.

    However it is clearly stated that ONLY the TWO EIDs should be celebrated. So there is your answer right there…

    Plus with religion, the teachings should be set for all times, so we can’t modernize or change it to fit in with what’s hot today.

    My question to you is why don’t you celebrate Eid? If it not mentioned in your Book, then why not celebrate it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,129 other followers

%d bloggers like this: