Friday, 22 January 2010

Women's hairdos become hot topic for Indonesia's Muslims

Women's hairstyles - now a hot topic for Indonesia's Muslims - stir various opinions amongst locals in Jakarta, Indonesia.

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (JANUARY 22, 2010) REUTERS - To straighten or not to straighten?
Women's hairstyles have become a hot topic for Indonesia's Muslims after calls from some Islamic clerics to have the procedure banned on the grounds it invites moral danger.

Indonesia is a majority Muslim but officially secular country known for its moderate form of Islam.

At one hair salon in downtown Jakarta, hairstylists were busy blow-drying and straightening the hair of a young Muslim woman.

21-year-old Anik comes to the Cing Cing hair salon every three months to get her hair straightened.

She is one of the many young Muslims against the calls from some Islamic clerics.

"I'm still doing this (hair straighten) because I care about how I look and I have no intention of haram fatwa," Anik told Reuters on Friday (January 22) while getting her hair done, referring to breaking the Islamic law.

Anik says she has no intention of stopping.

Cik Telly, 30-year-old manager of the salon, says all she wants to do is to make her customers beautiful.

"We are only straightening our hair and it's the same when you're curling your hair. So why is there no haram fatwa when people make their hair curly?" said the manager.

At one university in Jakarta, female Muslims expressed mixed opinions.

Deswinda, student from the State Islamic University, says she does not agree with the calls from the Islamic boarding school warning to issue a fatwa, which is a religious opinion concerning Islamic law, on banning chemical hair straightening.

"So far, I disagree with the calls. As you know, women need this for their looks," she said.

Another student says she prefers to remain neutral on the issue.

"The important thing is for me to not break the Islamic law," student Dwi Haryati told Reuters.

Islamic edicts have no binding legal power, but that has not stopped the Indonesian Council of Ulama, which consists of elected clerics and scholars, from issuing fatwas on practices ranging from yoga to failing to vote in elections.

On Wednesday (January 20), the council's Fatwa Commission said it had received a request from a group of clerics linked to a girls boarding school in East Java to issue a fatwa banning chemical hair straightening, a type of perm treatment known in Indonesia as rebounding.

The deputy secretary of the Fatwa Commission, Ammunition Yak, said on Wednesday that the East Java Forum Musyawarah Pondok Pesantren Putri had requested a formal edict declaring rebounding a breach of Islamic law "except for women who are married and have the permission of their husband."

"In institutional way, we are the Indonesian Council of Ulama, but we have yet to process since we still have other important agenda," said the deputy secretary.

"The obligation of Ulamas is to keep the faith and Islamic law in community. Practically, each individual has a morality obligation," he added.

The boarding school clerics had also asked for a fatwa banning dreadlocks, punk do's and "funky hairstyles" he said.