Archaic jurisprudence behind swine kerfuffle, says preacher

Perlis Domestic Trade Ministry’s Assistant Chief of Enforcement, Ahmad Sabri Suri (right) leading an operation to confiscate pig bristles paintbrushes without proper labels, in Kangar, February 7, 2017. — Bernama pic
Perlis Domestic Trade Ministry’s Assistant Chief of Enforcement, Ahmad Sabri Suri (right) leading an operation to confiscate pig bristles paintbrushes without proper labels, in Kangar, February 7, 2017. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 ― Swine products are only “haram”, or forbidden, when ingested, according to all Muslim schools of jurisprudence except for the Shafie school widely practised in Malaysia, independent preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin said today.

The PKR Islamic Council leader said “archaic jurisprudence” has resulted in the sensitivity regarding the issue, and that it would never have happened if there was more openness in interpreting Islamic laws.

“All school of jurisprudence except Shafie states that pigs are only haram when eaten. When touched, not haram,” Wan Ji said in a public post on his Facebook profile.

“This thing became sensitive, only because of the archaicness of jurisprudence. Therefore, the issue of swine leather shoes is not an issue in societies with jurisprudence openness. The ones where it is sensitive, is with societies that are archaic in jurisprudence.”

Muslims are strictly forbidden from eating pork and products derived from pork, with the origin coming from a Quranic verse 2:173 which prohibits “dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah”.

The same verse states that there is no sin for those who do so when forced by necessity.

In Malaysia, only the Sunni denomination of Islam and its Shafie school of jurisprudence are considered official.

Wan Ji, however, contended that despite the claim that Malaysia follows the Shafie school, it does not follow that school in other matters, such as the issue of zakat, or alms, where the Shafie school specifies that it is invalid to use cash for alms.

For example, the Shafie school specifies that the “zakat fitrah” paid during the holy Ramadan month, should be made in the form of staple food within the specific community.

The national fatwa council has since decreed in 2003 that the payment can be made with cash equivalent to a specified value of local rice.

“My reminder is for Malaysia to not play sentiments on these issues. Instead, they have to educate the society on the openness, not the archaicness, of jurisprudence,” said Wan Ji.

“Parties who brought this issue up, I remind them that their actions will cause non-Muslims to hate Islam, they will be cynical towards Islam.”

National news agency Bernama reported Tuesday Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin saying that his ministry seized 2,003 paintbrushes made with pig bristles worth almost RM11,000 in a nationwide “crackdown”.

He reportedly said the brushes were confiscated under the Trade Descriptions (Goods Made from any Part of Pig or Dog) Order 2013, which states that such products must be labelled and separated from other goods.

Punishments for violations of the minister’s order are RM100,000 fines, three years’ jail or both for individuals, while corporations face fines of up to RM250,000.

Subsequently, Muslim Consumer Association of Malaysia (PPIM) called for a logo to differentiate items containing pig-derived parts to inform the “not that smart” Muslim consumers.

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