Cat-poo coffee could face religious ban

MUSLIMS may be banned from drinking the world’s most expensive coffee – extracted from the dung of a civet cat – over concerns it is unclean.

Maruf Amien, acting head of Indonesia’s powerful Ulema Council, said a ruling on the ban could be made yesterday. He said the key issue was whether or not the Kopi Luwak coffee is clean.

It is made from hard beans that have been eaten and then fermented in the animals’ stomachs before being excreted and roasted. It’s highly prized for its smooth flavour and bitterless aftertaste, sometimes fetching more than €150 a pound online.

“God willing it will be an easy decision,” said Amien. “If the farmers clean the beans before they are grinded, they are halal, or legitimate, and there won’t be a problem.”

Kopi Luwak is produced on several Indonesian islands, from Sumatra in the west to Sulawesi in the east, but it also can be found under different names elsewhere in south-east Asia. Only 1,000lb are said to be produced annually worldwide.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

The influential Ulema Council often issues fatwas, or edicts, including several controversial rulings against smoking and yoga. Its edicts are not legally binding, but many devout Muslims abide by them.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Indonesian people been facing Africa, not Mecca, while praying.

The country’s highest Islamic body acknowledged yesterday it made a mistake when issuing an edict in March saying the holy city in Saudi Arabia was to the country’s west. It has since asked followers to shift direction slightly northward during their daily prayers.

“After a thorough study with some cosmography and astronomy experts, we learned they’ve been facing southern Somalia and Kenya,” said Ma’ruf Amin, a prominent cleric of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI.

“We’ve revised it now to the north-west.”

He said Indonesians need not worry, however: The miscalculation did not affect God’s ability to hear their prayers.

“God understands that humans make mistakes,” he said. “Allah always hears their prayers.”

Indonesia is a secular nation of 237 million people, 90% of whom are Muslim, most of them moderate.


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