Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NU disagrees with Muhammadiyah on anti-tobacco edict

Jakarta, NU Online, 2010-05-13
General chairman of the Central Board of Nahdlatul Ulama (PBNU) KH Said Aqil Siradj said that he disagreed with the Majelis Tarjih (Islamic Law Council: read) of Muhammadiyah for its anti-tobacco edict.

"We are really sorry before, We have disagreed with the Muhhamadiyah's edict. Do not issue an edict, let's see its impacts," Siradj said on the sidelines of a meeting with members of the House at the PBN U headquarters here on Wednesday.r />

Siradj said the edict had given social and economic impacts for not considering the fate of a large number of cigarette companies' employees whose livelihoods depend on the existence of cigarette factories.

"At least, some employees in cigarette companies, tobacco farmers, till security officers and others consider that they have so far done forbidden things. Whereas, they are mostly NU followers (Nahdliyin)," he said.

Sirajd aslo said that it's not easy to issue edicts of haram except for things explicitly forbidden under Islamic law like pork, wine and blood.

"All these things can clearly be declared as haram," he said.

Muhammadiyah which has around 20 million followers across the country, recently declared smoking to be haram, or forbidden under Islamic law.

The edict has sparked protests, particularly from the country’s tobacco industry and groups protesting the perceived meddling by religious groups in private affairs.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) earlier issued an edict banning smoking, but only for children and pregnant women. (nam)

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Indonesian Clerics Join Smoking Fatwa Row

A growing debate in the religious arena over smoking intensified on Sunday, with senior officials from the country’s largest Muslim organization and its top council of clerics deriding a recent fatwa issued against the habit.

Officials from Nahdlatul Ulama and the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) both took issue with Muhammadiyah, the nation’s second-largest Muslim organization, issuing the religious edict last week, saying it went too far. Both organizations maintained their positions that smoking cigarettes was not haram, or forbidden in Islam.

“It’s not that easy declaring something as haram. There are many considerations that should be taken into account,” Masdar F Mas’udi, an NU deputy chairman, told the Jakarta Globe. “Nahdlatul Ulama still considers smoking as makruh [undesirable], and we have no plan to change that in the near future.”
Masdar said a full ban on cigarettes would adversely affect the tobacco industry, which directly employs 600,000 workers, as well as 3.5 million tobacco and clove farmers.

Masdar said there were more sensible ways to curb smoking, such as better awareness campaigns, enforcing smoking regulations in public places and raising taxes on cigarettes.

Muhammadiyah issued the fatwa on Tuesday, comparing smoking to suicide, which is prohibited in Islam. The next day, the organization and antitobacco campaigners jointly targeted cigarette advertising as one of the main culprits behind a spike in underage smokers.

Over the weekend, however, Muhammadiyah found itself on the defensive, denying that the fatwa was related to a grant it received from a US-based antitobacco organization. The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, funded by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, lists a November 2009 grant to Muhammadiyah worth $393,234 on its Web site.

Among the grant’s stated purposes is “the issuance and dissemination of religious advice on the dangers of tobacco use.”

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