Un-forbidden love: Saudis enjoy second ‘religious police-free’ Valentine’s Day

A florist in Jeddah freely sells roses to a customer on Valentine’s Day. In previous years, the religious police confiscated roses on Feb. 14. (AN photo by Adnan Mahdali)
Updated 15 February 2018
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Un-forbidden love: Saudis enjoy second ‘religious police-free’ Valentine’s Day

JEDDAH: Saudis celebrated Valentine’s Day and its message of love and peace in the absence of religious police after a fatwa permitting the celebrations was circulated via Twitter.
Gift and flower shops opened their doors without any hassle or confiscation from the religious police, who formerly banned florists from working on Valentine’s Day and monitored the Kingdom’s streets for any violations. This was confirmed by market visits by a number of Arab News reporters in different Saudi cities.
Speaking to Arab News, Sheikh Ahmed Qasim Al-Ghamdi, former president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Makkah, endorsed Valentine’s Day as a social celebration similar to the National Day and Mother’s Day.
“All these are common social matters shared by humanity and are not religious issues that require the existence of a religious proof to permit it,” he said.
Describing love as a natural feeling, the cleric said that Valentine’s Day celebrated “a positive aspect of the human being.”
Al-Ghamdi said the celebration of love was not limited to non-Muslims. “There are many worldly things that we deal with morally that may be of interest to non-Muslim communities and became more common among Muslim communities because of their popularity,” he said, citing the Prophet as an example. “The Prophet dealt with many worldly things that came from non-Muslims.”
He rejected the view that marking the day is an imitation of non-Muslims and said: “Even greeting peaceful non-Muslims in their special religious holidays is permitted without participating in a forbidden act that contradicts Islam.”
Al-Ghamdi stressed his support for fatwas that permit the celebration of Valentine’s Day and exchanging of gifts.
A fatwa issued on Feb. 13 by the fatwa secretary of Dar Al-Ifta Al-Misriya (Egyptian Religious Edict House), Ahmed Mamdouh, said: “There is no harm to allocate one day to show love to one another.”
Tunisian Grand Mufti Othman Battikh also rejected the claim that Valentine’s Day is solely a Christian tradition. “Anything that brings people closer together is good and desirable,” he said, adding that Muslims can celebrate without departing from Islamic ethics.
Mohammed Al-Shahat Al-Jundi, a member of the Islamic Research Center, said that the celebration helps “maintain ties of kinship.”
Al-Ghamdi described the current religious police as “very useful and conciliatory.”


Efforts continue at Prophet's Mosque to serve worshippers during Ramadan

Updated 24 May 2018
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Efforts continue at Prophet's Mosque to serve worshippers during Ramadan

RIYADH: The General Directorate for the Affairs of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, or the Prophet's Mosque, is carrying on with plans during the month of Ramadan to serve visitors, the Saudi Press Agency has said.
The directorate has prepared the mosque to accommodate worshipers at the time of prayers, in addition to monitoring the Iftar meals offered at the mosque and its external courts.
It also said it has intensified its water services, cleaning efforts and air conditioning around the clock to provide worshipers with an atmosphere full of serenity and reverence.
SPA took pictures of the services offered at the mosque, beginning with guiding visitors and organizing their entry through the gates of the Prophet’s Mosque to the men and women sections. It also directs worshippers to the emptier courts to avoid crowding.
It also captured the preparations for setting the Iftar meals at the mosque, including the installing of water spray fans at the outside squares due to sustain high temperatures during summer, so that visitors pray with ease and comfort.