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Indelible ink: Scholars reject call for new fatwa

 | December 7, 2011

The EC may be looking for an excuse to delay its decision, according former mufti Mohd Asri.

PETALING JAYA: Several Islamic scholars have rejected the call for another fatwa on the use of indelible ink to mark those who vote in an election.

They said the fatwa that the National Fatwa Council issued in 2007 made another one unnecessary.

They were commenting on Election Commission (EC) secretary Kamaruddin Ahmad Baria’s statement last Friday that the commission was awaiting approval from the National Fatwa Council. Kamaruddin was speaking to DAP representatives.

Former Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said that the EC should not use Islam as an excuse to dilly dally over its decision on whether to impose the use of indelible ink as a measure against cheating in the coming general election.

“Actually, I am amazed,” Asri told FMT. “It is very interesting that the EC is now mentioning religion even when there is already a fatwa on this.

“Don’t use Islam as an excuse and an obstacle to implementing actions that will bring justice. That’s a very bad attitude.”

The issue of whether the ink would be allowed in Islam was raised recently by Pasir Mas MP Ibrahim Ali. He said in Parliament that the ink might make ablutions invalid.

The National Fatwa Council said in 2007 that the ink had been chemically tested and found to be free of substances considered impure in Islam, medically safe and porous enough to make ablutions valid.

“The use of indelible ink is allowed,” said Asri. “Otherwise in principle we can’t use ordinary pens as well because the ink sticks everywhere.

“The spirit of Islam is to seek justice. For me, where justice is concerned, even if there is no fatwa on the matter, Islam would accommodate it.

“You have mechanics who deal with oils which cannot be washed off thoroughly or a policeman who has to work with dogs. If there are no other options and you absolutely have to work with it, then you may do so.

“To me this is a simple issue which even a village religious teacher can answer. It is about justice.”

Looking for excuses

Ahmad Awang, the former president of the Malaysian Ulama Association, said that since there were many doubts about the fairness of the electoral process, the use of indelible ink was a way of making sure justice was served.

“They are looking for excuses. If they want a new fatwa, which is unnecessary, then they can issue one immediately based on the previous fatwa,” he said.

“In fact in Malaysia, the use of indelible ink should not only be permissible but compulsory.”

The deputy president of the Syarie Lawyers Association, Musa Awang, had similar sentiments.

“In my opinion, the implementation of the indelible ink use during the next general election is good. It would ensure the country’s election is free, clean and fair.

“It would also shut up those who question of the credibility and independence of the EC.”

However, the deputy president of the Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association, Abdul Rahim Sinwan, said a new fatwa would provide more clarity.

“We have to make sure that the particular ink used is the same ink tested for the 2007 fatwa,” he said. “It is best to be sure.”


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