Fatwa panel to discuss the use of indelible ink

A new test and decree necessary

(New Straits Times) – THE National Fatwa Council will hold a special muzakarah (meeting) to decide on the usage of the new indelible ink in the next general election.

Its secretary Datuk Othman Mustapha said they have yet to receive an official application from the Election Commission for their view on whether the ink’s use was allowed in Islam.

He said once the meeting was concluded and a decision was reached, they would then issue a fatwa (decree) on the matter.

“We are waiting for the application from the EC. We are ready to hold the meeting as soon as we receive the test result.

“This matter will be given priority as it is important to the country’s electoral process,” said Othman, adding that he would discuss the matter with council chairman Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Abdul Shukor Husin.

Othman was responding to a statement by EC chair-man Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof on Monday that a sam-ple of the new ink had been sent to the Chemistry Department for test-ing.

Aziz also said that the results would then be submitted to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

Othman, who is also Jakim’s director-general, said the special meeting was necessary as the new ink was slightly different from the one which they had declared as ‘halal’ in 2007.

“Previously, we issued a fatwa on the use of indelible ink for the 2008 general election, that its use was not against Is-lamic rules and did not interfere with a Muslim’s ‘ibadah’.

“However, the Election Commission is said to be using a slightly different type for the next general election, thus the need for a new test and fatwa to be issued.”

Othman said the discussion would focus on the ink’s ingredients — whether it contained non-halal substances and whether it would hinder water from contacting the skin.

“These two are the major issues that will be discussed to determine if the ink’s use will be according to Islamic rules, as Muslims can’t use products which contain non-halal substances, and that it must also not interfere with ablution requirements,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Chemistry Department’s deputy director-general (policy) Ismail Talib said they were analysing the indelible ink.

“Our experts are conducting analysis on the ink and the results will be submitted to the relevant authorities soon.”

However, he declined to divulge the expected date for the tests to be completed.