Muslim clerics in Kyrgyzstan have issued a fatwa against New Year celebrations in the country as they are not related to Islam and are too expensive.
The chief Muslim authority of the central Asian country have called for the ban urging Muslims to ignore the holiday altogether.
“This New Year is not a religious holiday. It is not related to Muslims at all,” said Ravshan Eratov, head of the Kyrgyz Muslims’ Religious Administration.
He also said that Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha and the Jumah (Friday prayer) are the only holidays in Islam.
“Only those are our holidays. The rest is not about Islam,” he said.
The Soviet Union, which Kyrgyzstan was formerly a part of, regarded New Year’s Day as the biggest holiday of the year – a tradition which is still practiced in many former Soviet countries including predominantly Orthodox Christian Russia.
Kyrgyzstan is a predominantly Muslim country.
Eratov stated that the money spent on celebrating the New Year cold be put to better use such as helping children and the poor.
Some citizens in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek disagree with the idea of banning New Year celebration.
“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.”
However, some younger people are more willing to take up the advise from Muslim clerics.
“No, if they said it is not allowed according to Sharia 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 Sharia law,” he added.
New Year remains an official public holiday in Kyrgyzstan despite the fatwa.