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What Would You Wish For? Saudi Arabia Debates Birthdays

Though it's a lightning rod in its own right, My Super Sweet Sixteen pales in comparison to the birthday controversy blowing its way through Saudi Arabia. The country's most senior Muslim cleric has recently denounced birthday parties as an unwanted foreign influence, going head-to-head with another cleric who's said pony rides and cake are just dandy.

Under the strict interpretation, even modest birthday celebrations are "haram," or banned. The Saudi ban on birthdays is observed by the conservative Wahhabi sect that is dominant in the kingdom. Their belief is that all Christian celebrations, plus most Muslim feasts celebrated elsewhere in the Islamic world, are nixed as alien customs.

The cupcake controversy started when the more lenient cleric announced on TV that it's OK to celebrate milestones like birthdays as long as the word "eid" (feast) isn't used to describe them. The blowback was swift and pointed (especially if you've been to a Hallmark store lately) from the cleric: "Christians have Mother's Day, an eid for trees, and an eid for every occasion. And on every birthday, candles are lit and food is given out." Between no birthdays for Muslims and no voting for Jehovah's Witnesses, what would you give up for religion?


Join The Conversation
Matamoros Matamoros 8 years
I used to be a Catholic but I gave it up for lent a few years ago. Now life is much simpler. No church, no prayers, no ashes on my forehead...
hmcmcd hmcmcd 8 years
well, I gave up religion a long time ago, for reasons such as the ones mentioned. I don't need a church to tell me how to live my life or what is moral, I've got that figured out.
milosmommy milosmommy 8 years
The church my dad and my aunt used to go to are (Calvary Baptist) are big time against Halloween and had at one point brainwashed me into believing it too. They think it's pure evil. They also have a big problem with Santa Claus. I wasn't allowed to even wrap presents for my little cousin in Santa paper. A little overboard if you ask me.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I'd give up being Muslim or Jehovas Witness. I also don't understand why All Saints Eve (Halloween) is such a no-no among some religions. It seems to me like those religions are just trying to be extra strict for no real reason.
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
I always thought it was silly for religion to have rules about birthdays and such. Like Jehova's Witnesses who can't have a "birthday party" but can have an "open house." I also felt bad for the kids with the strict religious parents who wouldn't let them celebrate "Satan's holiday" otherwise known as Halloween.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
Michelin, I don't know if the LDS church is prevalent in Canada per se.. though there seemed to be a good number here. There are members worldwide, like most religions. I did live in Utah for a number of years though, and attended BYU for my first year of college which really drove the point home lol
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
I feel like this is less just a religious issue, and more of a religious/Saudi Arabia issue. I mean, it said that even Muslim holidays that are celebrated in other countries aren't allowed because they are "foreign." I mean, our govt. doesn't force Jehovas Witnesses to skip holidays, ultimately it is their choice to follow that religion. Saudi Arabia sucks.
StrawberryBlonde StrawberryBlonde 8 years
crazy, too bad some people decide to live their lives and their children's lives all off of what some men wrote in a book.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that there are certain things that should be given up based on religious beliefs but celebrating your birthday - that's not a religious thing persay - it's more to the point that you're honoring that you were given life and that you've lived another year. it baffles me when there's such debate about this one. i can understand other holidays having significance that perhaps you shouldn't observe if you're of one religious or cultural background - but birthdays?
Michelann Michelann 8 years
Bike, I guess I'm just ignorant, but I didn't know Mormonism was prevalent in Canada. My dad's side of the family is Mormon, and most of them still adhere to that lifestyle you mentioned. My dad let go of that a long time ago, though, so I've never really been exposed to those beliefs.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
I wouldn't give anything up for religion -- not now, anyway, but there was a time when I adhered to strict mormon "suggestions" and "principles" that kept me far from caffeine, alcohol, pre-marital sex, drugs, and generally anything relatively enjoyable in life. I'm currently addicted to coffee, obsessed with cocktails, and living in sin. So that didn't really work. Isn't religion supposed to enrich your life (in theory) not keep you from enjoying it?
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
It never fails to amaze me how religious zealots can manage to twist and turn any religion to fit the wackiest and most absurd beliefs! Hurray for you, Steph - I am totally with you on this one!
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 8 years
well, since i'm not REALLY into celebrating my birthday, and i'm not religious, i am not sure if i would be giving up anything for religion. Obviously the people there are not going to be happy about this. The parties they have at home are when they get to show off their designer clothing and show their hair also, i believe.
stephley stephley 8 years
I'd give up hearing the wacky crap religions come up with to vent about. Would anything that might create the universe out of nothingness really care if we celebrate birthdays?
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