01/18/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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East Java: fatwa against fancy women’s hairdos and pre-marital photos

by Mathias Hariyadi
Fancy perms and photo albums made before marriage are ‘haram’, i.e. contrary to Islamic religion and morality. Two East Java educational institutions issue the ruling in order to preserve the “purity” of customs. Indonesia’s Ulema Council describes the fatwa as “exaggerated”.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Wearing elaborate hairdos and being photographed before one’s wedding are haram, against the Islamic religion and morality. Two all-female educational institutions (pesantren) issued a fatwa to that effect. In doing so, they add more fuel to an already heated debate over bans. In fact, a ban has been imposed on smoking in public places and on women wearing tight jeans or travelling on motorbikes.

The controversial ruling on women’s hairdos comes from the All-Girl Islamic Educational Institutions Forum of East Java Province. Fussing over one’s hair, getting a perm, having one’s hair curled too much or coloured are deemed “morally illicit” and contrary to the principles of Islam.

Premarital photos are also condemned as haram because they favour “extra-marital relations”, and give photographs the opportunity to retouch female bodies to show them in storefronts in order to “attract new customers”.

The fatwa was issued during 12th Female Bahtsul Masail Forum held at the Lirboyo pesantren in Kediri (East Java). Its purpose, activists believe, is to preserve the “purity” of marriage between bride and groom by helping them avoid morally unacceptable behaviour.

Iswatun Hasanah, who chairs the forum, said that the ruling was “to prevent extra-marital relations” before the marriage, and applies to bride and groom, photographers, clothes designers and make-up artists. Physical contacts during photo shoots, kissing on the lips, walking hand in hand are unacceptable behaviours because” the people involved “are not yet married.”

Photographers are guilty of accentuating the “sensuality” of their subjects and of manipulating the pictures shown in public in order to attract new customers.

In the last few years, thousands of couples have had photo albums about themselves made and handed them out to family and friends on their wedding day. This has generated business worth millions of rupees and attracted a growing number of customers.

Indonesia’s Ulema Council (MIU) has reacted to the fatwa by downplaying the whole matter.

MUI leader Cholil Ridwan said that the fatwa against hairdos is exaggerated, especially since it is addressed to women who do not wear the jilbab or Islamic headscarf.

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