Aceh, Islamabad Ban Non-Islamic Valentine’s Day

CAIRO – Muslim scholars in Banda Aceh, in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, warned against celebrating Valentine’s Day, which falls Sunday, calling it un-Islamic celebration.

“Our society and the Muslim youth should certainly not be celebrating non-Islamic holidays,” the city’s mayor, Illiza Saaduddin Djamal, was quoted by The Daily Mail on Friday, February 12.

“The law says it is haram. The government is obliged to protect the public and younger generation from unlawful acts,” he said.

Aceh, located on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, is the only province in Indonesia that permits flogging by cane.

The region was granted partial autonomy from the central government in Jakarta under the Special Autonomy Law in 2001.

Accordingly, the area’s provincial administration adopted a series of bylaws governing the implementation of Shari`ah in the province.

The law is applied only on the Muslim population.

“Non-Muslims can choose whether to be tried under Shari`ah law or the regular Indonesian criminal code,” said Syahrizal Abbas, head of the Shari`ah legal department in the provincial government.

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 other.

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.

Pakistan Too

Pakistan government has also banned all activities linked to the celebration of the Valentine’s Day in the capital, Islamabad.

According to reports cited by India TV, the Interior Ministry said that the decision to ban the Valentine’s Day celebrations was taken at the orders of Minister Nisar Ali Khan. The ban has, however, not been announced officially.

Another report by Hindustan Times said the Jamaat-e-Islami, an ally of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, has threatened to close shops stocking Valentine’s Day-related wares.

“We represent the sentiments of the majority of the population,” said Osama Bin Razi, a member of the Jamaat’s central committee.

The popularity of Valentine’s Day in Muslim-majority Pakistan increased manifold with the proliferation of privately owned TV and radio channels and the advent of the internet.

A decade ago, Valentine’s Day was celebrated only by the elite, usually in urban areas.

“It was so selective, no one took notice of it,” said Shahida Kazi, who teaches media sciences at Karachi’s Ziauddin University.

“Now thanks to broadcast and social media, we see it being marked by young and old all over the country.”