Friday, October 4, 2019

Hell No to Haram Names

Indonesians really love their spicy food so much so that many eating establishments in the country invoke words that describe fire and brimstone. 

Spiciness, of course, relates to being fiery and this, therefore, has led to restaurants and dishes being given names associated with “neraka” (hell) and “setan” (Satan). 

In one Indonesian province, this popular naming convention has been forbidden by the region’s highest religious authority. 

The West Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a “fatwa” (religious edict) declaring that infernal names given to food and beverages are “haram”, meaning forbidden for consumption by Muslims. 

The fatwa came after authorities in the West Sumatra capital city of Padang began cracking down on damnable F&B names in July. “If [the names] are against Islamic principles such as hell, Satan, or devil, then it’s haram”, Head of West Sumatra MUI Gusrizal Gazahar told state news agency Antara on Sunday. 

Additionally, MUI’s fatwa states that if a dish contains names that are considered “immoral” (by their definition, that is) such as “ayam dada montok” (plump chicken breast) or “mie caruik” (“mie” means noodles and “caruik” means a potty mouth), then it will be considered “makruh” (advised against, but not sinful in Islam). 

West Sumatra MUI have recommended the local government to pass a regulation in accordance to their religious ruling, as well as the Food and Drug Analysis Agency (LPPOM MUI) to not issue halal certificates to the offenders. 

A fatwa is not legally binding in Indonesia, but can be used as a basis to pass laws in the Muslim-majority country. West Sumatra MUI’s fatwa only applies to the province, but may apply nationwide if MUI’s central office adopts the edict. 

The Padang city administration had already announced in July that they would take disciplinary measures on restaurants that have inappropriate names – the reasoning being they are not in accordance with Minang tradition. Such measures reportedly include the issuance of official notices demanding that offenders change the names of their restaurants or dishes. 

According to city’s officials, they located at least 21 eating shops with “extreme” names, such as Mie Setan (Satan’s Noodles) and Ayam Geprek Neraka (Smashed Chilli Chicken from Hell). 

It would appear that Mephistophelian names given to glamorize food are, therefore, unacceptable. 

It would appear also that these clerics are incapable of differentiating names that are nothing more than figurative expressions and examples.

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