National Geographic News
Endangered animals are sold at the Jatinegara bird and pet market.

Endangered animals are sold at the Jatinegara bird and pet market in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 15, 2008.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK LEONG, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC  

Bryan Christy

for National Geographic

Published March 4, 2014

Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body has issued a fatwa, or edict, against illegal wildlife trafficking.

This unprecedented step by the Indonesian Council of Ulama, in the country with the world's largest Muslim population, declares illegal hunting or illegal trading of endangered species to be haram (forbidden).

For many the word "fatwa" took on ominous tones in 1989 when Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death threat against Salman Rushdie for blasphemy in his novel The Satanic Verses.

But the fatwa itself is merely a call to action. Invoking passages from the Koran, the fatwa (which you can read in full below) is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

The fatwa requires Indonesia's 200 million Muslims to take an active role in protecting and conserving endangered species, including tigers, rhinos, elephants, and orangutans.

"This fatwa is issued to give an explanation, as well as guidance, to all Muslims in Indonesia on the sharia law perspective on issues related to animal conservation," said Hayu Prabowo, chair of the Council of Ulama's environment and natural resources body.

The fatwa supplements existing Indonesian law. "People can escape government regulation," Hayu said, "but they cannot escape the word of God."

Orphan orangutans at a Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation facility.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK LEONG, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Orphan orangutans are housed at a Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation facility.

The Creations of Allah

The fatwa was inspired in September 2013 by a field trip to Sumatra for Muslim leaders co-organized by Indonesia's Universitas Nasional (UNAS), WWF-Indonesia, and the U.K.-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation. Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry and HarimauKita (the Indonesian Tiger Conservation Forum) offered additional consultation.

During a community dialogue with village representatives to discuss conflicts between villagers and Sumatran elephants and tigers, some of the villagers asked about the status in Islam of animals such as elephants and tigers.

The Muslim leaders replied: "They are creations of Allah, as we are. It is haram to kill them, and keeping them alive is part of the worship of God."

Hayu emphasizes that the fatwa applies not only to individuals but also to the government, noting that corruption can be an issue when wildlife, forests, and the interests of such industries as the oil palm business come into conflict.

The fatwa specifically calls upon the government to review permits issued to companies that harm the environment and to take measures to conserve endangered species.

A Time of Unprecedented Wildlife Crime

The fatwa comes at a time when transnational wildlife crime has reached unprecedented levels, with special burdens on countries—such as Indonesia—that are still rich in rare or unusual wildlife and plants.

It comes at a time, too, when governments are struggling to craft laws and pay for enforcement officers to fight criminal wildlife trafficking syndicates that are increasingly sophisticated and violent.

The Council of Ulama hopes its fatwa, which bridges the gap between formal law and crime and gives strong guidance to Indonesian Muslims, will help reduce wildlife trafficking.

Indonesia's action is a response to concern for the country's ecosystems rather than any Islamic practices involving wildlife. Still, throughout history, religion has played an important role as a driver in the consumption of animal species, some now critically endangered.

In 2005, the Dalai Lama called upon his followers to end wildlife trafficking. Recently, the men of South Africa's Nazareth Baptist (Shembe) Church, a traditionalist Zulu church, began using faux leopard skins in their religious ceremonies. As shown in National Geographic magazine's "Ivory Worship," Buddhists in Thailand and China, as well as Catholics around the world, who collect ivory religious statues continue to play a role in the smuggling and illegal consumption of elephant ivory.

Following is the full text of the fatwa pertaining to wildlife issued by the Indonesian Council of Ulama, the country's top Muslim clerical body.


Read more National Geographic coverage of wildlife trafficking:

35 comments
Subudorangutan orangutan
Subudorangutan orangutan


http://orangutanssite.wordpress.c o m/

http://orangutans.beep.com/


Subud established a consistent network of enterprises around the word and in that countries, which are important for them. That includes 


foundations, banks, huge agricultural territories, mines, powerhouses and a wide range of processing trades. The one of the oldest 


organization has been built in Borneo, Indonesia, influencing the whole local region financial life.


Subud could create an empire, consist of free labor forces and industries network, by a microcredit system for the pour and backward Dajak 


folk lived in the island. Dajak families meant a cheap and governable labor, because their children can work with them in the Subud’s mines 


and plantation. One plantation of oil palm tree needs 8 years to become productive, therefore it is important to hold the costs low. On that 


score Subud employs a mass of children. 


Orangutan Banana
Orangutan Banana

http://orangutans.beep.com/


On the plantations of gum and oil palm trees (20.000 hectare - Kalimantan’s Palm Oil Project - the Newsletter of Subud Enterprise Services USA Volume 5 Number 1 www.sesusa.com September 2012) children labor and the environment destruction is a daily activity. Plantations are given rise on the cuttings, effectuated by havoc of the seriously reduced rain forests. All of this causes the disappearance of the territory of a special orangutan species, which exists only that place. Cutting the rain forests causes that the existed orangutan substance has to wander to the plantation, where their attendance are undesirable, therefore these individuals are shouted down by the locals, because the orangutans destroy their only workplaces given them by the Subud. Disciples of the Islam definitely protect the environment and the animals. There are a lot of local Indonesian religious directions about the increased protection of the habitat. All of these facts confirm, that Subud, who call itself as a follower of the Islam, actually use the religion only to hide their real function, the economy and political purposes. 


Peraj Karbaschi
Peraj Karbaschi

This is not the first Fatwa about harming wildlife.


Ayatollah Khomeini Also Fatwad about cutting a kind of slow growing tree is Haram.


You are a few decades behind.

Daniel Rolan
Daniel Rolan

The importance and centrality of the natural environment is often very undervalued in religious organizations. One spiritual movement that emphasizes the importance of preserving the environment, especially direct action on human-caused Climate Change, is called The New Message from God (http://www.newmessage.org). It claims to be a direct message from God to humanity concerning the degradation of the Earth and the need for unity and restoration of the human family.

Abdi Arif
Abdi Arif

This is great to such fatwa, hoping will minimize the poaching & illegal trafficking of wildlife.


m s
m s

I am very surprised by this. It's actually a brilliant thing to do. I'd like to see this with the two other militant religions, Judaism, and Christianity. It would be a huge turn for the positive on preserving wildlife!

JOSEPHUS WINTERS
JOSEPHUS WINTERS

big step forward towards animal protection......good news indeed!

Naomi Doak
Naomi Doak

Wonderful news and a great step forward. Interestingly though not the first ever Fatwa issued against illegal wildlife trade. Yemen's Grand Mufti, the country's highest religious leader, issued a fatwa which stated that killing rhinos was against the will of God. It was made into a poster and displayed around Yemen. 


This important and incredibly powerful action was after the Action Plan drawn up by the Yemeni Foreign Minister in collaboration with WWF in 1986 to address the rampant rhino poaching to meet demand for dagger handles in Yemen.


No doubt some amazing advocacy and discussions behind the scenes in this one and credit to all those involved.

Judith Reynolds
Judith Reynolds

This is a great step towards saving the elephants and rhinos and tigers from extinction!

Mukoon Rashid
Mukoon Rashid

I believe it's a really positive attitude taken by these Ulemas.


Brita Ekberg
Brita Ekberg

What a great step towards the better, I am so thankful to the parties involved. This is the way religion should be used!

Reza Hendrawan
Reza Hendrawan

Good news. Need more fatwa on environmental protection

Rian Wahyu
Rian Wahyu

now it's counting on us, whoever we are, we know the price we'll pay....

Mirza Yawar Baig
Mirza Yawar Baig

Absolutely right. Wildlife trafficking and poaching, habitat destruction must be opposed most strongly and stopped.

christopher ewing
christopher ewing

this is awesome news!!! thank you Indonesia !!!  now other countries. Africa, USA, Australia, UK, Russia, and ASIA!!!!  wake UP!

Galang Galang
Galang Galang

Terbuktilah indahnya islam jika digunakan dengan baik dan benar oleh muslim.

Fatwa yang dikeluarkan Majelis Ulama Indonesia tentang proteksi spesies langka untuk menjaga keseimbangan ekosistem.

Sami Ach
Sami Ach

people dont know the islam as a religion ... they know islam from ben-ladin ! ...

islam is pefect ..humain not . 

Hasib Azizi
Hasib Azizi

I think if the Muslim clergies spend time and money issuing "Fatwas" like this would be much better for all the living creatures in this world, rather than the "Fatwas" which are not compatible with the 21st century's lifestyle.

Leise Christiansen
Leise Christiansen

Not a minute too soon - Great work, and may YOUR GOD be with these animals, endangered or not <3

mirza mushir
mirza mushir

Sometimes back I noticed in the rain forest of south east that the big trees were pasted the relevant quotations from the Holy Quran so that people do not cut down the trees. I was told that it worked! An excellent technique for protecting the national wealth! 

Nuno Mira
Nuno Mira

never thought i could actually approve a fatwa....but it seems i didn't knew what it meant....Thanks Indonesia clerigs !

James Lucier
James Lucier

The Quran, according to this article, mentions that animals  HAVE SOULS and can appear before God to report how they were treated by individuals.  Time in Hell is certain if you tormented an animal.

Also recommended in the Quran - if you plant trees and allow the animals to feed of the fruit - you will be blessed. 


-So I guess I won't chase off  or  kill those danged squirrels in my nectarine and apple trees after all...


Worth thinking about.  I could almost like this religion.  

Almost.

Rinae Rashaka
Rinae Rashaka

Wow this is amazing! I believe this will help preserve endangered animals, no matter what religion, we are all aiming for the same cause. This is amazing!


Now if we can get China to stop Shark Finning!. 

christopher ewing
christopher ewing

@James Lucier yea I wish their King James version preached that, instead they say "rule" the animals...I have photos I acquired today of that so called "rule" and it's horrific

Rachel Lee
Rachel Lee

@Alan Lieberman Sorry what do you mean by 'China's demand'? I think anyone who owns a computer and has the leisure to type such frivolous comments is just as much a consumer. Your demands , your ecological footprint, is also adding to the destruction of this earth, as you put it. Why blame one race? It just seems narrow-minded.

Joseph Rajewski
Joseph Rajewski

@Rachel Lee @Alan Lieberman  Because the Chinese choose to eat bland shark fin soup with their new found wealth. They also choose to acquire illegal ivory as a pointless medical technique.  If you want to talk about coal mining and burning, and rare earth metals mining, then I agree with you.  As far as destruction of large African mammals and ocean going sharks go, no other nation even comes close to China's footprint.

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