22 November 2009
2012 Movie, Muslims, and Fatwas
When is a film just a film, and when does it become an unbridled insult of a religion, in this case Islam, that requires a fatwa (edict) to be issued warning Muslims not to watch it?
Well, this has seemingly been uncovered in Indonesia. It also highlights how little some Indonesian Muslim scholars follow the news and how narrowly they read in the case of the movie 2012.
2012 is the last year of the Mayan calendar. There have been doomsday predictions floating around for many centuries, Nostradamus has a few of them himself. However, ask a couple of Mayan scholars and experts, and you will soon come to the conclusion that the fact 2012 seems to be a cut-off date is not as evil as it seems with respect to the world ending.
In any event, it is a movie. Movies are designed to entertain, this movie has awesome special effects, and lacks somewhat on a real good plot (supposedly - I have not watched it myself, yet).
However, the very idea of a doomsday movie got the Malang (East Java) and Solo (Central Java) Chapters of the Indonesian Ulama Council (Majelis Ulema Indonesia / MUI) to thinking about how blasphemous the movie is because all good Muslims know that only Allah knows when the world will end. They forgot to add that part that all good rational Muslims also understand that this is a movie, it is not real. And, it is not likely to be the trigger for them to suddenly change their beliefs or to question Islam.
Nevertheless, these Ulamas or scholars thought that the best approach was to issue a fatwa banning Muslims in their constituencies from going to watch the film. To date this has been nothing more than a few talking heads looking for 15 minutes of fame and a few bylines in the papers (and of course the ridicule of most bloggers Muslim and non-Muslim alike). In any event, a fatwa seems unlikely.
It is worth noting that one of the key features of the movie is the scene that does not appear. The film does not show Mecca the destruction of Mecca or any other religious symbols of Islam. The director omitted the destruction of these things in order to avoid a fatwa being issued against the film.
It certainly is one of those shake your head moments where you find yourself giggling to yourself wondering if these gentlemen are for real. It would be better use of their time to be focusing on issues that have real meaning to people throughout Indonesia. For example, how about a fatwa on the prohibition of men marrying children? Or a fatwa on perils of corruption? There are so many more important things happening in Indonesia and the world compared to a Hollywood film exploring what doomsday might look like.
I have plans that go past 2012. Do you?