PAS leaders broke into laughter when asked to comment on the concerns of a cabinet minister on wether the use of indelible ink in the general elections would affect the prayer rituals of Muslim voters.The leaders of the Islamic opposition party dismissed this as a trivial issue.On Tuesday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said the decision to use indelible ink will be referred to the National Fatwa Council.
He was concerned that Muslims will not be able to perform their prayers if the ink could not be washed off for a few days after voting.
When contacted, PAS deputy-president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, who was tickled by the question, said he doubted whether the issue was something that should keep Islamic scholars pre-occupied.
“It’s too small an issue to be brought to the level of the National Fatwa Council,” said the former Syariah law lecturer.
“PAS itself would have raised the issue within the party if it was such a concern. In fact, we have been among the ones pushing for the use of indelible ink,” he added.
Nasharuddin said there were other matters that should be referred to the religious scholars to obtain their judgement, such as ‘dead people’ voting in elections.
“What’s the hukum (religious judgement) on the existence of phantom voters after they have been recorded dead for many years?
“Now, this is something which the Barisan Nasional government should refer to the Fatwa Council,” he added.
The PAS leader also wondered whether referring the matter to the muftis was a way for the ruling parties to avoid implementing the use of indelible ink.
Used in other countries
Another PAS leader who found Nazri’s concern amusing was secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaafar.
He said the use of indelible ink was practiced in so many Arab and Muslim countries around the world without any objections.
“We don’t want to ridicule the concern of Nazri with regard to such reservations, but I doubt if indelible ink is really something that interferes with the performance of one’s prayers,” he said.
PAS central working committee member Abdul Ghani Shamsuddin was also in stitches when the question was posed to him.
“Since when has Nazri become so concerned about the prayers of Muslims voters?” quipped the influential religious scholar.
He said even if there were religious concerns regarding the use of such ink, ensuring that every citizen exercises their right to vote overrides the concern over such issues as ablution.
Even if one cannot completely wash off the ink in time for the next prayers, there are other ways to perform ablution, he added.