Mon, 22 Dec 2003

Edict on bank interest not final

The Jakarta Post Jakarta

The ban against bank interest issued by the edict commission of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) is not yet final, the council's chairman said on Saturday.

It would need approval from the MUI board of executives before it could take effect, according to MUI chairman Sahal Mahfudz.

"When it becomes an edict, then MUI is the authority that will issue it, not the edict commission," Sahal said in a post-Idul Fitri gathering in Semarang.

He said MUI would hold another meeting to discuss the edict, which was announced at the conclusion of the MUI national meeting in Jakarta last Wednesday. Sahal was absent from the meeting.

Sahal said the edict on bank interest was a non-binding agreement among ulemas or the MUI edict commission. Opposition voices were rife following the announcement of the edict, including from Muhammadiyah chairman Ahmad Syafii Maarif who said the edict would not be realistic.

According to Sahal, an edict would only be legally binding if it was approved by the National Sharia Council and the MUI.

Sahal, however, said the edict would not necessarily be revoked as it would not affect the entire banking system.

"The edict will only be applicable in areas where there are sharia banks. So, it shouldn't be a big deal," he said.

He urged the sharia banking sector to intensify its promotion of its existence so that the public became aware of it.

He said before the legitimate edict was issued, it would be up to the public to consider whether bank interest is haram (unlawful according to Islamic law) as the public had the right to choose according to their beliefs.