The clerics are getting “boo”ed, yet again

Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) held meeting last weekend in West Sumatra and issued on Sunday — seven religious edicts.

Besides ban on abortion, vasectomy, voting abstention during electoral season, marriage with minors if it was proven disadvantagous (I haven’t find explaination to this edict yet, once I do I will totally write about it!), the list of edicts also includes ban on smoking.

The problem is that Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest tobacco market and currently Southeast Asia strongest economy, the ever so thriving industry has contributed much to the country’s economic improvements.

In east Javanese town of Jember, the tobacco demands in 2008 increased to 17,032.18 tons from 14,763.18 tons in 2007, and the tobacco farmers, through Abdurrahman, the head of tobacco farmer’s association expressed their rejection on MUI’s edict. Abdurrahman said to Indonesian News Agency ANTARA that the farmers would not obey the edict and would continue growing tobacco to support their families.

“Haram has a relation to sin and so the mosques built by cigarette factories would also be haram, because they were funded by something haram,” said Syafiq Nashan the head of the ulema in the city of Kudus, a centre for the tobacco industry, as quoted by the British news bureau Reuters.

Amin Suma, chairman of the Edict Commission of MUI said that smoking for Muslims is between `haram`, or forbidden and `makruh`, an Arabic term which basically means that smoking is bad and it’s better that one quits it.

Reuters article indicates that there has been a heated debate during the MUI meeting and in the end they can’t decide whether to categorize smoking as ‘haram’ or the other one.

“Makruh means something that God hates, so how come the ulemas still smoke?”, questioned Fauziah Fauzan, headmistress of the Diniyyah Putri Islamic girls’ boarding school, where the meeting was held, said she regretted the decision.

MUI is the country’s largest Muslim body, it is aware of its strength to steer voices (and sometimes forces) of the Indonesian majority.

Fatwa could never be considered as law in Indonesia, due to the state’s secularity.

After major economic collapse in 1998, finally the small ray of hope of better life conditions growing stonger and stronger.

I strongly feel that MUI is a big party pooper for making the people who involves in tobacco industry to feel that whenever they serve their family and their country well, they have displeased God.

Let’s see: Indonesia is a country of 200-something million population, about 90% of them are Muslims. Despite being crowned Southeast Asian latest economic powerhouse, poverty is still a major issue in the country, counting 34.96 million or 15.42% of the Indonesian population (BPS, March 2008), as mentioned by the World Bank‘s website.

MUI counts 700 as members, who said to have acted because some big groups of people asked them to do “the right thing”, and this groups of people belongs to the 90%.

So if they act NOT on the behalf of the people who concerned (read: tobacco farmers, factory workers, etc) because there are some rejections, arguments (even within the body itself), then who did they act for? Who asked them to?

Putting things in mandatory would only extract the elements of education.

I’m pro-health, but I’m also pro-people. If banning of the tobacco was carried out for health-sake, then it’s far better educating people about the hazards of smoking, you know..the good campaign on cause and consequence, and THEN let them assess by themselves and choose what to do.

Or does the MUI feels that Indonesians are mere bunch of astrayed ignorants? And aren’t they Indonesians? From Indonesian families?

Though I’m not Muslim, and currently living abroad, I’m still Indonesian, I love my country and proud of it.

I’m gravely concern of what would the country become in the future when the country’s religious body tries to “purify” the people and the state using God’s name in vain.


One thought on “Smoke and blame: story of hipocrisy and ridiculous excessiveness

  1. ah ya… makes no difference with Indonesian Christian preachers who say that by smoking you taint the “Bait Allah”. your body is Bait Allah. You smoke, you taint it.

    one grave thing about religions in general is that they mean originally good, but the handling has always been misused from time to time. and it is only getting worse.

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