Malaysia, the Islamic Council issues a fatwa against poachers

L’organo religioso dello stato malese di Terengganu ha invitato i fedeli a proteggere gli animali vietando la caccia alle specie in via di estinzione.

Imagine if the Pope excommunicated those who kill brown bears (Ursus arctos) or common spadefoots (Pelobates fuscus). Something along these lines happened in Malaysia, where the Islamic authority issued a fatwa against illegal hunting and wildlife trafficking. A “fatwa” is a legal decision on issues regarding Islamic law or worship practices.


The population of Malayan tigers has dramatically decreased over the past 50 years, from 3,000 individuals to a mere 500 © Reuters


It’s a religious decree that recognises the poaching and trafficking of Malaysia’s endangered species to be “Harām”, forbidden. The Asian country is the second nation to issue a religious order against poaching, after Indonesia.


Islamic clerics of Terengganu state in northeastern Malaysia, in consultation with experts of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and a group of researchers, have invited Malaysian Muslims to protect wildlife, considered to be Allah’s creatures, and have banned the hunting of protected species.


Orangutans in Malaysia are significantly threatened by deforestation and fires to make space for oil palm plantations © Mark Baker


“I think there was an urgent need for this fatwa because not many Muslims in Terengganu are aware that the Malayan tiger and its prey such as sambar deer are facing extinction, not just in the state, but within the entire country,” said Gopalasamy Reuben Clements, an Associate Professor of the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.


“We do not naively believe that this fatwa will instantly stop the poaching,” Clements explains. “We recognize that many of those who are involved in poaching belong to communities that are predominantly made up of practicing Muslims, and for whom religious leaders and fatwas command respect. At the very least, we hope this fatwa will start to create peer pressure around poachers”.


Malaysian Muslims © Afp


The state of Terengganu demonstrates that religious leaders can positively influence and raise the awareness of believers on environmental and biodiversity conservation issues.

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