Malaysian Fatwa Makes Pollution Illegal

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(Photo by Duen Ee Chan available on Flickr)

The lush 130-million-year-old rainforests, miles of sea-coast, colorful insects, and exotic wildlife make Malaysia one of the richest natural resources in the world. But thick air pollution and dirty waste water are hurting these natural wonders and the people who live there. In response, the Perlis Fatwa Committee in the small Malaysian northeastern state decided that the act of polluting the environment which poses direct physical harm to humans, animals, and plants, is illegal.

“The act of polluting the environment which directly affects the nature’s ecosystem, causing harm to living things is in conflict with the teachings of Islam,” said State Mufti Associated Professor Dr. Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. “Islam is a religion that calls upon its followers to preserve the well-being of human life and the universe, and not perform harmful acts.

In a special press conference, Mohd Asri said the matter was decided during the Committee’s meetings on February 18 and 19. He pointed out the bauxite mining case in Kuantan, pollution of rivers, and burning forests as the environmental issues affecting Malaysia.

Fatwas are typically issued cautiously because they are so powerful — they explain God’s law — and all Muslims have an obligation to obey. When the Indonesian Council of Ulama, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, issued a fatwa against the country’s rampant black market for endangered species, it made international news. In Malaysia, fatwas are given more credence because the decision has been institutionalized and is used in all spheres of administration and activities.

Hopefully, the people in Perlis will obey the fatwa. It’s not just God’s law to protect creation, it’s also a powerful warning for the people in Malaysia to protect the land and people they love.

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .