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Smoking and Islam
Only ‘Political Fatwa’ To Be Enforced
The Star, October 7, 1997
PORT DICKSON: The Government will only enforce fatwa (religious decrees) issued by muftis (clergy) on political matters and not on moral issues.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdul Hamid Othman said this was one way to maintain harmony and stability in the country, particularly under certain political circumstances.
“We cannot digress from that because the country consists of people with various religious beliefs”, he said after giving away prizes for a Quran reading contest in Kampung Baru Jimah on Sunday.
Extremism, no matter how small, would be a danger to the nation as it would lead to confusion in the administration of Islam, he added.
As such, he said the Government would attempt to educate Muslims in dealing with issues pertaining to matters of behaviour, etiquette and morality and confine enforcement measures to political matters.
Citing the example of the Memali incident in 1984, Hamid said PAS was going around saying that those who died in the incident has mati syahid (attained martyrdom).
“If people were to believe them, then they will think that opposing the Government and dying will make them martyrs”, he said.
The Government then gazetted the fatwa saying that those who died during the incident were not martyrs.
Hamid noted that muftis always supported the Government on matters of "“political interpretation"” hence the need to gazette fatwas on such matters.
Citing the example of smoking among imams (religious leaders), he said, if muftis ruled that it was banned, it could not be enforced.
“It will be a difficult matter. We will then have to arrest imams who smoke if we gazette the fatwa”, he added.
Hamid said it might be satisfactory for some government officials to enforce, arrest and prosecute people on such matters but it would be difficult in the administration of the country as a whole.
On the 60,000 invalid marriages as reported recently. Hamid said they were being validated.
He said those found not abiding by the syariah (Islamic laws) would have to go through the process again, adding that it was an offence if they were not done according to syariah laws.
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