BISHKEK - Muslim scholars in Kyrgyzstan have issued a fatwa banning New Year celebrations in the country, drawing mixed reactions from residents.
This New Year is not a religious holiday, Ravshan Eratov, head of the Kyrgyz Muslims' Religious Administration, told Al-Jazeera website.
It is not related to Muslims at all.
Religion Under Siege in Kyrgyzstan
Eratov stressed that Muslims have their own holidays as `Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and `Eid Al-Adha, which marks the end of hajj as well as the Friday weekly prayers.
Only those are our holidays. The rest is not about Islam," he said.
New Year celebrations are a tradition in the former Soviet Republics, including Kyrgyzstan.
Eratov said the money spent on celebrating the New Year could be used in a better way as helping children and the poor.
Muslims make up 75 percent of Kyrgyzstan's 5-million population.
Around 50,000 people are evangelical Christians and many others are Orthodox Christians.
But the ban has drawn mixed reactions from residents.
They think people will eat non-Muslim food, or go out to the street to light fireworks and cause harm to each other, said Svetlana Ibrayeva, a teacher.
They see only bad things about the New year.
But I think you can find a lot of good things about the New Year and make a very happy New Year celebration.
But other Muslims said they would abide by the ban.
No, if they said it is not allowed according to Shari`ah then it is not allowed, said 23-year old Ramil.
It is not even up for the discussion. If it's the case, we'd better oblige the Shari`ah law, he added.New Year remains an official public holiday in Kyrgyzstan despite the fatwa.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net