In what could be a bizarre move, a Pakistani university has decided to celebrate Sisters’ Day on February 14 instead of Valentine’s Day to promote ‘Islamic traditions,’ according to the vice chancellor.
According to local news reports, female students can be gifted scarves and Abayahs (clothes) as decided by Vice Chancellor Zafar Iqbal Randhawa of the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad and other decision makers.
The vice chancellor believes it was “compatible with Pakistan’s culture and Islam”, the report said. February 14 is celebrated as Valentine’s Day across the world. On the day, people express their love and affection with greetings and gifts.
The university announced that it will celebrate Sisters’ Day on February 14 to “promote Islamic traditions”, Randhawa said. While speaking to Dawn NewsTV, he said that he was not sure if his suggestion to celebrate Sisters’ Day “would click or not”.
He said that although some Muslims have turned Valentine’s Day into a threat, “My thinking is that if there is a threat, convert it into an opportunity”. The report quoted Randhawa as saying that women face certain conditions related to their attire which dictate that their body should not be revealed.
“Women are at a very high rank for us. Today the era of gender empowerment is here, Western thinking is being promoted. But the best gender empowerment and division of work is in our religion and culture,” the vice chancellor said.
He claimed that celebrating Sisters’ Day would allow “a soft image to develop”, and that people will realise that this is how much sisters are loved in Pakistan.
“Is there a love greater than that between brother and sister?” On Sisters’ Day, it is greater than the love between husband and wife,” Randhawa said.
Valentine’s Day has been a controversial subject in Muslim-majority Pakistan for years, with some celebrating and others protesting against it. The Islamabad High Court in 2017 and 2018 “banned” all Valentine’s Day celebrations, and print and electronic media were warned to “stop all Valentine’s Day promotions immediately”.
In 2016, then president Mamnoon Hussain urged Pakistanis to forego celebrating Valentine’s Day, saying it was not a part of Muslim tradition, but a Western innovation.