Indonesian clerics issue Fatwa against killing endangered species

For the first time a muslim council have issued a Fatwa against the illegal trade in wildlife and illegal hunting. A fatwa is an opinion on muslim law made by a teacher or scholar in the muslim faith. The fatwa issued by the Ulema council determines that illegal hunting and wildlife trading is “unethical, immoral and sinful”.

All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions are haram [forbidden]. These include illegal hunting and trading of endangered animals“, said Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh, secretary of the council’s commission on fatwas.

Whoever takes away a life, kills a generation. This is not restricted to humans, but also includes God’s other living creatures, especially if they die in vain.” he continued in the official statement.

While it is not  thought that the serious poacher of tigers and other endangered wildlife will be discouraged by the Fatwa, Indonesia – outside of the cosmopolitan capital of Jakarta – is still a relatively conservative muslim country. The declaration by the council could see changes in behaviour of many who live and work in the more rural areas of Indonesia.

Farmers and plantation workers who would normally not have issue with killing endangered wildlife that impacts on their lives could soon prefer to take action that avoids killing animals encroaching onto their farms and plantations. The order from the muslim council could also result in local fishermen taking more care to protect endangered marine animals such as turtles and sharks.

While orders issued by the muslim council has no legal standing in Indonesia the order does impact on the lives of many devout muslims who live in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Islamic country.

The Fatwa has not just laid down action for the followers of the faith it has also called on the Indonesian government to take action to protect endangered wildlife and combat the illegal wildlife trade. It calls on the government to monitor the ecological impacts of development, to review permits of companies who are having a negative impact on the environment – particular those oil palm and logging companies in breach of permit conditions – and to bring illegal loggers and wildlife traffickers to court.

The Fatwa was issued after many months of discussions between the council and various ministries in the government and NGO’s. The forestry ministry will be making a joint announcement with the Ulema council on March 12th to make known the government stance and action on the situation.

Acknowledging it was not legally binding, Sholeh said: “It’s a divine binding.”

The effectiveness of the new fatwa should soon be seen. If it is effective and recognised by people then the street markets and pet markets that flourish in Indonesia should diminish as faithful muslims begin to change their actions and stop the trade in endangered species.

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