Islamic body issues partial ban smoking in Indonesia

The meeting also discussed whether Muslims should avoid yoga.

Islamic body issues partial ban smoking in Indonesia
Indonesia's top Islamic body decided on Sunday not to ban smoking for Muslims in a country which is the world fifth-largest tobacco market and Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

It instead issued a fatwa placing more limited restrictions on tobacco use.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and about 700 people, including Muslim clerics and theological experts, had gathered in West Sumatra for the National Edict Commission meeting, which could have issued fatwas on a range of areas.

The debate over smoking revealed a split between those wanting to make it "haram", or not allowed, and others who favoured "makruh", an Arabic term whereby it would only be advised that smoking is bad and it is better to drop it.

In the end, after a heated debate at the meeting of the Ulema Council, known as MUI, the council said a decision could not be reached and only forbade smoking in public or smoking by council members of MUI, children and pregnant women.

The meeting also discussed whether Muslims should avoid yoga.

The council issued a fatwa, but stopped short of a ban and said Muslims could do yoga as long as it is was only for physical exercise and did not include chanting, mantras or meditation.

The meeting also decided that underage marriage was not forbidden, except if it was "disadvantageous", without elaborating.

Under Indonesian law, men can marry at 19 and women at 16, although under some Islamic laws there is no age limit, and marriage is allowed when the couple is ready for reproduction.

The council, established in 1975, also banned Muslims from abstaining from voting in elections, unless there were no eligible candidates who were deemed honest, faithful, devout, reliable and defended Islamic interests.

A ban on vasectomy remained in place and the council urged the government to implement sharia banking and pornography laws.

Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2009, 15:35
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