JAKARTA - Indonesian scholars have urged Muslims not to celebrate Valentine's Day, saying the celebration leads to immoral practices that run counter to Islamic teachings.
"We don't want to completely ban Valentine's Day but it's not for teenagers," Raden Salamun Adiningrat, secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest Muslim group, in Depok in West Java told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"Teenagers see it as a time to express love and affection and they often end up in sex parties, like in the West.
Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14, by many people throughout the world.
In the West, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their feelings for each others.
"It's Western culture and immoral so it's ironic Muslims celebrate it," said Habib Idrus Al Gahdri, the head of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in Depok.
Islam does recognize happy occasions that bring people closer to one another, and add spice to their lives.
However, Islam goes against blindly imitating the West regarding a special occasion such as Valentine's Day.
Hence, commemorating the Valentine's Day is an innovation or bid`ah (innovation) that has no religious backing.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.
Christians, both Protestants and Catholics, make up nearly 12 percent of the country's population.
Hundreds of Indonesian students have also taken to the streets in central Java to protest against Valentine's Day celebrations.
We took the students to join the rally in a bid to remind them not to fall into Valentine's Day moments, Setiyatno, a teacher, told The Jakarta Post.
He lamented that celebrating the western custom turns into immoral practices, especially among youth.
What we see in reality is that youths increasingly have no limits when celebrating Valentine's Day, said Setiyatno who teaches Islam at Al-Fattah Islamic elementary school.
He said the march was a reminder for students to avoid practices that run counter against Islamic teachings.
We deliberately give them an early warning so that they will not be plunged into non-Islamic traditions in the future.
The calls against Valentine's Day celebration have won support from the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI).
Valentine's Day celebrations have led to the channeling of lust between unmarried couples, local MUI chairman Ilyas Husti said.The impact will not just be on them but also on the whole community.