Valentine’s in the Land of the Depressed
Yesterday was Valentine‘s Day, and in Afghanistan it has been a highly debated topic among the younger generation in recent years. Some believe it is an imitation of non–Muslims and is not appropriate, while others think it encourages prostitution. Mullah Abdul Hakim Haqqani wrote in his book that love for the Taliban is the source of all corruption in the world. The main question is how should societies handle the concept of “love“?
Love has been a part of all cultures, religions, and civilizations since the beginning of time. Studies have shown that this phenomenon exists among many living creatures, from mammals to birds. For example, there are stories of love between parrots, penguins, and swans. Love is often connected to sexuality, but it can also be about companionship, dependence, commitment, and a sense of belonging. This means that love can lead to sexual intercourse, but sexual intercourse does not always lead to love. Human love is much more complex, shaped by culture and civilization. It is also connected to certain principles and customs that have developed over time and go beyond the sexual aspect. As a result, spiritual love, holy love, and other similar categories have emerged, and people have spoken of mystical and transcendental experiences. As Rumi said, “Wherever love goes, it will be our leader, and we shall follow it.”
Love between two people of the same sex is not uncommon, and is exemplified by Mahmoud Ghaznavi‘s love for his slave Ayaz. This is also seen in the love between caliphs and sultans, such as Amin, son of Harun al–Rashid, and al–Mu‘tassim Balleh Abbasi. Qaboos bin Washamgir even devoted a chapter to homosexual love in his book Qaboosnama. Sufis have also praised the love between beauties, mainly teenage boys, in the works of Mawlana Jami, Fakhruddin Iraqi, Ahmad Ghazali and others. However, in societies where women are excluded and imprisoned at home, homosexuality is often not true love, but rather pedophilia or child abuse. This has led to the institutionalization of child abuse in some regions of the country, as seen in the documentaries about Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan.
Love can be studied from the point of view of psychology, sociology, ethics, anthropology and philosophy, and while some of its expressions may be criticized, its fundamental nature cannot be denied. To deny love is to deny one of the most powerful human experiences that most people have encountered, and for some it is a way to spiritual growth and mental wellbeing, while for others it is a source of great suffering and mental anguish. In Afghanistan today, love is not accepted and there is little space for it, causing the entire nation to be depressed.