Stating my opinion, I would like to express disagreement towards the views expressed by Mr Tan in his post. I feel Mr Tan has poor understanding of Malaysian multiracial and multireligion society and thus leading him to produce such statement.
Quoting his statement "I regret the statement by PAS Youth Chief that implied Valentine’s Day would be filled with sinful activities and immoral acts.",
followed by his other statement "This is clearly a blatant insult to those who celebrate Valentine’s Day in Malaysia. It would indirectly cast doubt over the morality of all those who will celebrate Valentine’s Day."
From these two statements it is clear that Mr Tan doesn't really understand the situation in our multireligion society in Malaysia. By saying that Valentines Day would be filled with sinful activities and immoral acts, PAS Youth Chief Nasruddin Hassan is generally viewing Valentine Day from the point of view of Islam. Mr Tan needs to understand that for Muslims, it is sinful even for unmarried couples to be alone together. Moreover in Valentines Day where most couples will take opportunity of this day to embrace each other in manners intolerable to Islam or in even worse condition leading to sexual intercourse between unmarried couples.
The reason for this is because Islam respect the value of women and the right of men. Value of women where women are to take good care of their chastity and good morality. This is important to ensure the 'right' for her 'future' husband is fulfilled because it would be unfair for the man to find out that his 'future' wife is no longer chaste and had been 'enjoyed' by other men due to various reasons, one of it being the reason of 'love'.
The second reason for this is to help prevent further social problems. All of us agree that abortion is immoral because it's the same as killing a soul with life. Having said this, we also agree to abandon newly born baby due to various factors is even worse. The problem is, Mr Tan, unmarried couples who get involve with sexual intercourse and then leading to the girl being pregnant, the result in most cases of unwanted pregnancy by unmarried couples is either abortion or the baby being born and abandoned. This leads to other social problems which will take another thousand of words to be discussed on so I'll leave it for now.
Quoting another sentence from the blog, "PAS Youth must understand the nature of Valentine’s Day with an open mind and do not interpret the celebration with their “narrow mind”"
Reversely, I would want to plead Mr Tan to view the issue of Valentine's Day from a 'bigger' and not such narrow perspective of celebrating love. We should see the issue of Valentine's day from a wider perspective of morality, social problems, value of women and the rights of men rather than only talking from the point of view of love. There are bigger implications from Valentine's day towards social problems and issues of morality rather than just celebrating love. Should this issue not addressed, Malaysia is in danger of being in serious social dilemma like what the United Kingdom is facing.
Having the chance to study in the United Kingdom I come to understand, among biggest social problems faced by the UK Government are 'alcohol consumption' and 'teenage pregnancy'. Even modern and developed country like UK is facing problem with teenage pregnancy which impacted them not only socially but also in many other aspects. So, why should us, Malaysia, which is still a developing country, take the issue of 'teenage pregnancy' lightly? Hence, Valentine's day play quite a significant role in contributing to unwanted pregnancy and teenage pregnancy because the day itself is used as a 'formal' platform where most teenage lovers will find opportunities to embrace each other.
Quoting his statement in the post, "Malaysia, a multiracial and religion country, has long been a moderate country and free of extremism." Being an active politician, Mr Tan should understand that a multiracial and religion country and society consist of people with different views and beliefs. Hence, in order to make decisions we will need to consider people of different beliefs. I would not say things on behalf of other group of people, instead I would refer to this issue from the point of view of Islam.
As a nationalist in Malaysia, Mr Tan should understand more than 50 percent of Malaysians are Muslims. The nature and teaching of Islams are such where we prohibit sexual intercourse before getting married. Having said this, it also means all actions directing to sexual intercourse before marriage should be actively discourage. Hence this is why our good Malaysian, Ustaz Nasrudin Hasan Tantawi is initiating a campaign to discourage such activities which happen rampantly during Valentine's Day.
I understand, being a non-muslim, Mr Tan might not comprehend fully the understanding and the preachings of Islam. However, there is no excuse for a politician like Mr Tan to disrespect the rights and beliefs of other group of people, in this case, the Muslims in Malaysia to discourage the celebration of Valentine's Day as this is our right.
Quoting another statement by Mr Tan: "This latest statement by PAS clearly signify more efforts by PAS (with the support of their partners in Pakatan Rakyat) to create their extreme version of Islamic State in Malaysia."
In my defence of the action, I would like to call upon Mr Tan to understand that what is done by PAS Youth Chief, is not in any sense considered as extremism. Instead we are trying to defend the teachings of Islam and at the same time will be benefiting Malaysia and Malaysian society by helping to prevent social problems from increasing.
On the other hand, I would like to point out that to disallow and disrespect others rights, in this case, the Muslims rights to practice the teaching of our religion which is to discourage the celebration of something detrimental to Islam and the society such as Valentine's Day among Muslims is a sign of extremism itself. So perhaps Mr Tan can reconsider the stance taken by yourself in this issue.
Lastly, quoting the last statement from Mr Tan: "PAS must learn to understand the culture of all Malaysians, comprising of various race and religion.". I would like to kindly urge Mr Tan to learn and try to understand the nature and culture of all Malaysians, comprising of various race and religion because if you do understand, then you'll know why are Muslims such as Ustaz Nasrudin actively discouraging the celebration of Valentine's Day. This is a friendly reminder to Mr Tan as it is important for yourself because if you want to develop your career and become successful politician, you will need to fully understand the context of pluralism in Malaysia.
Having done with my arguments rebutting Mr Tan's post, I would like to point out a statement from our Ustaz Nasrudin quoted from thestar online:
"In Penang, PAS youth is working closely with the Islamic Religious Department to check immoral activities among Muslims, he said."
Having said this, this activity of discouraging the celebration of Valentine's Day only involves the process to check immoral activities among 'Muslims'. Hence, if Mr Tan wants to celebrate Valentine's Day, feel free to celebrate. However, I would like to stress, the right to take care and monitor our own beloved brothers and sisters of Islam is still our right and I shall support this noble campaign as a Muslim.
The intention of this post is not to undermine any individual but to educate the people as to why do Muslims are against Valentine's Day. Furthermore, this post is to stress that we should have proper understanding of certain issue to make a fair judgement to it. And to our Muslim friends, we should start educating our non-Muslim friends as to why we discourage the celebration of Valentine's Day so all of us can have the same understanding. From understanding then only will come tolerance.
This post is written and consist of personal opinion by,
Mohd Faiez Mohd Ali
A Malaysian undergraduate student.