This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.
Ahmad Marzuki, a religious leader from Madura, Northeast Java in Indonesia, has been busted for his side hustle as a methamphetamine dealer. As a religious figure at an Islamic boarding school (who himself is an avid meth user), he told his students that the substance can increase one’s drive to study and recite the Quran, bringing them closer to God. He also issued a ruling on Islamic law, or a fatwa, declaring meth to be ‘halal’ or permissible under Islamic law, because it is not explicitly forbidden.
He managed to evade capture for two months after police caught wind of his teachings. While on the run as a wanted man, Marzuki continued to teach at other Islamic boarding schools in the cities of Surabaya and Mojokerto. That's until he returned home to Madura to attend a funeral and authorities found him in his house, where two other people were using meth. Head of local police Rama Samtama Putra said authorities found drug paraphernalia and a small quantity of meth at the scene.
“The suspect is of the opinion that using meth is not haram (forbidden under Islamic law) and helps individuals to recite the Quran. We all know meth is illegal according to national law. It is also an intoxicating substance with countless negative effects,” Samtama told local media.
“I know methamphetamine is illegal under national law, but I found no evidence against it in the Quran,” Marzuki said at a press conference. He will be charged under article 114 of the Indonesian Narcotics Law and face up to 20 years behind bars, plus a Rp10 billion ($784,830) fine.
It’s true that meth is never explicitly mentioned in the Quran, but K.H. Said Aqiel Siradj, head of the Nahdlatul Ulama (Indonesia’s largest independent Islamic organisation), said Quranic verses must be interpreted with common sense, a consensus among Islamic scholars, and deductive analogy. Through this logic, he said, the fact that methamphetamine is illegal on a national level is seldom contested by Muslims.