'MUI Edicts Are Not Legally Binding,' Says Former Chairman of the Constitutional Court


JANUARY 17, 2017

Jakarta. Mahfud M.D., former chairman of the Constitutional Court, said that edicts issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, are not binding, unless they have been translated into law.

"Certification of halal products is binding, as it was made into law. But if an edict is not enacted, it is not legally binding," Mahfud said in Jakarta on Tuesday (17/01).

He said that if Muslims, for example, consume pork, despite the MUI's ban, they must not be prosecuted for doing so.

"They cannot be punished; it is a sin, but not a criminal offense. Religious edicts are needed, but there is no [legal] obligation to follow them."

Mahfud added that only Islamic states, such as Saudi Arabia, have regulations whereby religious edicts (fatwas) automatically become law.

"There are guidelines, public norms, that should be respected, however, noncompliance with them cannot be penalized. For example, I smoke. It is not polite, but you cannot arrest me [for smoking]," he said.